Children part of the NT Church in Scripture

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WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Follow me for a second if you will ...

- The Jerusalem council met over a controversy related to Jewish customs and practices being imposed on the Gentiles.
- At this time, the Church was largely Jewish, with the Gentile mission being relatively new
- Jews were commanded at Pentecost to baptize, in order to bring one into the NC Church (Acts 2:41), not circumcize (which was the method to bring one into the OC congregation)
- The Jerusalem council allowed the Jews to continue circumcising their sons (Acts 21:21), but did not force it on the Gentiles, as their exclusive sign of the covenant was baptism (Remember Paul was accused of not allowing the Jewish Christians to continue circumcision, an accusation he denied)
- The Jews practiced both circumcision and baptism (at least until A.D. 70 when the "age of the OC" ended); the Gentiles practiced only baptism
- The Jews continued circumcising their children, as a "promise" related action, until the "end of the age", at least

So, would it not be right to conclude that we have, at this point, several children (Jewish boys) who were brought into the covenant community (the Church at this time, meeting in synagogues; cg James 2:2; 5;14) by circumcision (and likely baptism as well)?
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
I guess you missed it, unless you're just being rude:

So, would it not be right to conclude that we have, at this point, several children (Jewish boys) who were brought into the covenant community (the Church at this time, meeting in synagogues; cg James 2:2; 5;14) by circumcision (and likely baptism as well)?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Which God Gabe? By what authority or name was it done in? What are the parents beliefs? Maybe I am not getting your point.

[Edited on 6-23-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Which God Gabe? By what authority or name was it done in? What are the parents beliefs? Maybe I am not getting your point.

[Edited on 6-23-2005 by puritancovenanter]

I think he is basically pointing out that due to the Jewish and Gentile differences in the apostolic era, the time-period when circumcision was performed "overlapped" with the time-period that baptism was performed. Thus, when the New Covenant community had definitely been established already (since even the Jews were commanded to baptize), we see Jews still practicing circumcision for a short time, which included children - hence his main point of it possibly showing that children were considered a part of the covenant in the New Testament church.

Gabriel, while I of course agree that children were covenantal members of the New Testament church, one point at which I think the above situation fails to serve as applicable evidence for that fact is that, as you noted, in Acts 2 the Jews were commanded to use mark covenantal membership with baptism, rather than circumcision. That leads me to see the Jerusalem council in Acts 21 as allowing them to still circumcise their children simply as an allowance for their cultural comfort, rather than still serving as a covenantal sign. Thus, without the covenantal significance still attached to circumcision (even though it was still permissible), the situation fails to serve as evidence for children's covenantal inclusion in the New Testament Church at that time.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
We're still missing the information for that conclusion, as well, though. I'm basing this on the info we have, and, although admittedly vague, we have some indication that children of believers were considered part of the church at this point in time. There's nothing in the NT stating anything about circumcision's "covenantal significance" as having changed.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
I understand the 70th week being fulfilled, but what makes you say that the OC ended at 70 AD? Just curious.

God's judgment against apostate Judaism in the destruction of Jerusalem, desolation of the Temple, etc. by Titus' Roman armies, fulfilling Christ's message in the Olivet Discourse.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
We're still missing the information for that conclusion, as well, though. I'm basing this on the info we have, and, although admittedly vague, we have some indication that children of believers were considered part of the church at this point in time. There's nothing in the NT stating anything about circumcision's "covenantal significance" as having changed.

I see what you're saying. I suppose the issue is whether or not we can conclude that there could biblically have been more than one effectual sign of the covenant at the same time.
 

doulosChristou

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Follow me for a second if you will ...

- The Jerusalem council met over a controversy related to Jewish customs and practices being imposed on the Gentiles.
- At this time, the Church was largely Jewish, with the Gentile mission being relatively new
- Jews were commanded at Pentecost to baptize, in order to bring one into the NC Church (Acts 2:41), not circumcize (which was the method to bring one into the OC congregation)
- The Jerusalem council allowed the Jews to continue circumcising their sons (Acts 21:21), but did not force it on the Gentiles, as their exclusive sign of the covenant was baptism (Remember Paul was accused of not allowing the Jewish Christians to continue circumcision, an accusation he denied)
- The Jews practiced both circumcision and baptism (at least until A.D. 70 when the "age of the OC" ended); the Gentiles practiced only baptism
- The Jews continued circumcising their children, as a "promise" related action, until the "end of the age", at least

So, would it not be right to conclude that we have, at this point, several children (Jewish boys) who were brought into the covenant community (the Church at this time, meeting in synagogues; cg James 2:2; 5;14) by circumcision (and likely baptism as well)?

Gabriel,

You've assumed several prior conclusions that seem Scripturally unwarranted (at least by the references you've provided.) The first one is that circumcision brought one into the covenant. The second one is that baptism brings one into the covenant. The third is that baptism was the exclusive sign of the covenant for Gentiles. On the first point, it seems to me that Jewish children were born into the covenant because they were born into the household of Abraham, thus they received the sign of the Abrahamic covenant because they were already members. On the second point, baptism brings no one into the New Covenant. Paedobaptists, I think, would argue that their children are born into the covenant (just as in the OT) and are therefore baptized (which is basically the new circumcision in their system). Baptists like myself would argue that there is no correlation between circumcision and baptism, that only believers are members of the New Covenant (Jer 31) and are publicly baptized out of obedience to the Lord as an answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3:21). On the third point, you assume that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. God nowhere says such a thing. I would argue that the exclusive sign of the New Covenant for Gentiles and for Jews is the cup. Christ said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood." I'm not interested in arguing credo vs. paedo for the millionth time :D , but I do think you should subject your three assumtions above to the scrutiny of Scripture before answering your main question.

In Christ,

dC
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by doulosChristou

You've assumed several prior conclusions that seem Scripturally unwarranted (at least by the references you've provided.) The first one is that circumcision brought one into the covenant.

Where do you see that assumption in his post? I don't see it. He said nothing and implied nothing about circumcision bringing people into the covenant.

Originally posted by doulosChristou

The second one is that baptism brings one into the covenant.

Again, where do you see that assumption in his post? I don't see it. He said nothing and implied nothing about baptism bringing people into the covenant.


Originally posted by doulosChristou

The third is that baptism was the exclusive sign of the covenant for Gentiles.

<snip>

On the third point, you assume that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. God nowhere says such a thing. I would argue that the exclusive sign of the New Covenant for Gentiles and for Jews is the cup. Christ said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood." I'm not interested in arguing credo vs. paedo for the millionth time :D , but I do think you should subject your three assumtions above to the scrutiny of Scripture before answering your main question.

Is there any connection between water baptism and baptism by the Holy Spirit? Or do you think that they have no relation to one another whatsoever? I would argue that the one signifies (though does not effect) the other.

The Holy Spirit seals us in salvific covenantal relation to God (cf. Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). The Holy Spirit seals our membership with the invisible church.

Water baptism pictures Spirit baptism. So it seals our membership with the visible church.


You cannot say that baptism isn't a seal of covenant membership, without also denying the Holy Spirit's seal of covenant membership, unless you suggest that water baptism has no relation whatsoever to Spirit baptism.


In other words:

physical circumcision - pictures - heart circumcision

and

water baptism - pictures - Spirit baptism


And interestingly enough, the apostle Paul ties together heart circumcision with Spirit baptism in Colossians 2:11-12.

Thus, physical circumcision and water baptism ARE tied together!
 

doulosChristou

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by doulosChristou

You've assumed several prior conclusions that seem Scripturally unwarranted (at least by the references you've provided.) The first one is that circumcision brought one into the covenant.

Where do you see that assumption in his post? I don't see it. He said nothing and implied nothing about circumcision bringing people into the covenant.

Originally posted by doulosChristou

The second one is that baptism brings one into the covenant.

Again, where do you see that assumption in his post? I don't see it. He said nothing and implied nothing about baptism bringing people into the covenant.


[\quote]

Perhaps I misunderstood him but when he wrote, "children (Jewish boys) who were brought into the covenant community (the Church at this time, meeting in synagogues; cg James 2:2; 5;14) by circumcision (and likely baptism as well)," that's what I got.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by doulosChristou

Perhaps I misunderstood him but when he wrote, "children (Jewish boys) who were brought into the covenant community (the Church at this time, meeting in synagogues; cg James 2:2; 5;14) by circumcision (and likely baptism as well)," that's what I got.

Fair enough . . . but I honestly don't think that's what he was getting at. He will have to speak for himself, but I imagine he looks at the tie between covenant membership and baptism/circumcision as closely as I do, *without* making them simultaneous.

In Genesis 17:14, we find that the babies were automatically covenant members before circumcision. They were automatically circumcised *because* they were already covenant members.

Nevertheless, in the very same chapter, God said of circumcision, "this is my covenant". So the sign itself is tied directly to covenant membership. The two are not precisely identical, but we shouldn't be driving a wedge in between them either.

You mentioned the Lord's supper in an earlier post. Jesus said, "this is the new covenant in my blood" . . . do you therefore think that a person is not in covenant with Christ until they partake of their first communion? Of course not. You realize there is a close connection, without making first-communion simultaneous with becoming a covenant member.

Somewhat similarly, I would not say that Israelite babies were not covenant members prior to circumcision. But at the same time, I don't have a problem with people using language suggesting that circumcision "brings them into the [visible] covenant community".

Anyway, that's what I think he was really getting at. But I can still see why you took it like you did. Fair enough.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Which God Gabe? By what authority or name was it done in? What are the parents beliefs? Maybe I am not getting your point.

[Edited on 6-23-2005 by puritancovenanter]

No, not trying to be rude (not sure why I would be asked), but I still am not getting the point entirely.:pilgrim:
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Which God Gabe? By what authority or name was it done in? What are the parents beliefs? Maybe I am not getting your point.

[Edited on 6-23-2005 by puritancovenanter]

No, not trying to be rude (not sure why I would be asked), but I still am not getting the point entirely.:pilgrim:

It was basically a challenge to the Reformed Baptists on the board, attempting to be yet another way to demonstrate children's membership in the New Covenant as biblical.

[Edited on 6-24-2005 by Me Died Blue]
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
The question of the Jewish believers prior to AD 70 is a very interesting one. Acts 2:41. 'Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.' There is no mention of infant children here or in verse 47; indeed they appear to be specifically excluded unless one supposes that such children can understand and believe. There is not the slightest suggestion anywhere in Acts that infants were baptized.

However, all those who were baptized had also been circumcised since they were Jews. They continued to attend the Temple (2:46 ) and to follow the various Mosaic laws (10:14 ). Perhaps it seemed natural to them that, as male children were born to them, they should have them circumcised. After all, the Temple was still standing, and all the Old Covenant practices were still being performed. Doubtless it would have been better if the Apostles or the elders had prevented this, but perhaps even they were confused (Gal 2:11ff).

When Paul made his return to Jerusalem for the last time (Acts 21:15ff), he found a situation in which the church leaders were at odds with their congregation. The leaders were delighted to hear of Paul's actions among the Gentiles, but the people were still 'zealous for the law' (v21 ).

Paul's (and therefore God's) teaching is very clear: the 'wall of separation' between Jew and Gentile had been broken down in Christ (Eph 2:14 ) and 'the law of commandments contained in ordinances' (v15 ), including circumcision, had been 'abolished'. However, he allowed himself to be persuaded to sponsor some men in a Jewish purification rite (Acts 21:26 ). It seems that God was prepared to give the Jews time to wean themselves away from their former customs. In AD 70, however, the Judean Christians had to decide whether to fight along side their fellow-countrymen or follow their Lord's command to flee (Luke 21:20-21 ). Church history tells us that they fled, presumably leaving their Jewish customs behind them. That which had already been, 'obsolete and growing old' (Heb 8:13 ) had finally passed away.

Grace & Peace,

Martin
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Martin,
To begin with, welcome!

Consider those of the past whom hold to covenant theology and their level of intelect. If it is as simple as you imply, how do you reconcile thier deduction? Obviously they did not just have a bad theological day.

Hermeneutics! Question: Would the Jewish hearers think that their children were excluded? Is the tithe in the NT excluded, since following your premise, there is no mention of the tithe either; or woman taking the supper for that matter.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
The question of the Jewish believers prior to AD 70 is a very interesting one. Acts 2:41. 'Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.' There is no mention of infant children here or in verse 47; indeed they appear to be specifically excluded unless one supposes that such children can understand and believe. There is not the slightest suggestion anywhere in Acts that infants were baptized.

This statement is logically indefensible. Infant baptism is not "specifically excluded" here. The only way it would be excluded would be if the text said that "only those who gladly received his word were baptized." (And even then, we would have to discuss the question of infant faith.)

But the text does not say that "only" the glad receivers were baptized. Were some glad receivers baptized? Of course! We would hope so! But the text doesn't say whether others were or were not baptized. You would have to read that into the silence of the text.

However, it IS clear that children were included in the covenant promises in this text. In Acts 2, Peter relies heavily on prophecy in Joel 2, which has a covenantal focus. And Peter *explicitly* tells his listeners that the promises are not only for them, but for their children too.

We need to pay attention to what IS specifically said in this text, rather than trying to import pet theologies in places where the text is silent.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
By the way, Martin, now that I'm temporarily off my soapbox . . . :welcome:

Welcome to the Puritanboard! :pilgrim: Wow . . . you jumped right into the baptism section of this board . . . get your flak jacket on quick!!! :lol:
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Gabe,

Noble effort indeed!

Calvin once said regarding Acts 2 (the promise is to you, your children, etc..) that this should forever silence all questions regarding the marking of believers children. It is THAT obvious. He is absolutely correct.

When I first was reading in Acts many moons ago I came across this passage and before ever reading John Calvin, I pretty much was shaken in my baptist boots and began thinking the same thing. Yet, when I asked other brother baptist about it - they'd patronize my query and explain it away with "spiritual children" blah blah blah. I thought to myself, "Now that's interesting. Who is now bringing something TOO the text for the system which requires it?"

My point is not to argue that passage here, oy vey, but simply this; when someone is staring at the noon day sun and you say, "That's the sun" and they reply, "No its not", you realize for the first time that you've got an uphill battle.

Ldh
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
When someone asks, "Are Children part of the NT Church in Scripture?" I would immediately want to ask why they are asking a silly question. There are silly questions. Silly questions come about when hermeneutics are ignored. Its always the death of theology when that happens. If I were asking the question, I would have intended it as a trap for Dispensationlists to answer. If they answered it, it would prove their dispensationalism immediately.

Its a silly question because 1) the church is the church and has always functioned like the church from the time of its inception in the garden with Adam. 2) If you asked the Apostle Paul or Peter the same question, in the time subsequent to Jesus' ascension, they would have pulled out their Scriptures and explained it to you, and their bible was the the Old Testament - so start there. 3) As more Scriptures were written, they would have not, in any way, contradicted the OT ideas about a child's inclusion in the church by way of covenant.

To throw all that away is to disregard hermeneutics.

When we stray from that line of thought at the outset (i.e. considering our overall hermeneutic) then we will walk down Darby Lane, take a right onto Schaffer blvd, to wind up at Walvoord Manor. Our shortcut, there, would bypass The Early Church Tavern (a very nice spot with some great brew) Reformation Street (lots of great stores there), and a world reknown social club that plays really cool music known as the Westminster Brass. ;)
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by webmaster
When we stray from that line of thought at the outset (i.e. considering our overall hermeneutic) then we will walk down Darby Lane, take a right onto Schaffer blvd, to wind up at Walvoord Manor. Our shortcut, there, would bypass The Early Church Tavern (a very nice spot with some great brew) Reformation Street (lots of great stores there), and a world reknown social club that plays really cool music known as the Westminster Brass. ;)

Now that has got to be one of the coolest bits I've read in a while! :cool:
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by SolaScriptura
Originally posted by webmaster
When we stray from that line of thought at the outset (i.e. considering our overall hermeneutic) then we will walk down Darby Lane, take a right onto Schaffer blvd, to wind up at Walvoord Manor. Our shortcut, there, would bypass The Early Church Tavern (a very nice spot with some great brew) Reformation Street (lots of great stores there), and a world reknown social club that plays really cool music known as the Westminster Brass. ;)

Now that has got to be one of the coolest bits I've read in a while! :cool:

:ditto::detective:
 

Presbyrino

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by webmaster
When we stray from that line of thought at the outset (i.e. considering our overall hermeneutic) then we will walk down Darby Lane, take a right onto Schaffer blvd, to wind up at Walvoord Manor. Our shortcut, there, would bypass The Early Church Tavern (a very nice spot with some great brew) Reformation Street (lots of great stores there), and a world reknown social club that plays really cool music known as the Westminster Brass. ;)

:lol:

I once was stuck on Scofield Ave, even though the sign said "Warning, Dead End".
 
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