The Kingdom and Baptism
"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Matthew 3:5-9
Baptism is from the Greek word baptisma which is from baptizo meaning "to dip repeatedly". Baptisma appears 22 times in the New Testament and is always translated Baptism. In the Greek context it simply means "immersion, submersion".
Most people think you enter the Kingdom of Heaven by baptism of water and a profession of faith.
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. We are all born of water but not all of the Spirit." John 3:5
Baptism with water has its place as an outward sign of preparation and intent. It serves a useful purpose in the perception of men.
Yet, baptism with water is not what John prophesied as the important aspect of baptism in his teachings.
"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." Mark 1:8
This is not speaking against baptism with water, but done in a hope of putting baptism with water in its true proper perspective. Christianity is not dependent on magical ceremonies and incantations but only on an outward spiritual change with the outward ritual only to demonstrate the direction and intent. The outward seeking of the Kingdom and its inner sanctuary of God's covering and protection is always dependent upon a spiritual reality rather than physical form.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." 1 John 5:7-8
A man has a body but also has a mind or spirit and he has a soul which in combination is his corporeal and incorporeal status and/or hereditaments. This is not such a mystery but actually rather a simple reality dependent on physical and metaphysical truth. They should be in agreement to make a complete individual who is not at war with himself, or suffering with inner conflict.
For this discussion we may assume these are all part of a whole. In other words one may be baptized with water but neither the intent nor the authority of the event took place and therefore the spirit is not present simply because they were not in agreement with the spirit.
This is also evident in the reality that many people say they love and accept Christ as their savior but they are neither keepers of His Commandments nor doers of His words.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." James 1:22
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 7:21
"When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:" Luke 13:25
You cannot conjure up salvation with personal proclamations nor magic professions of faith. A belief must be real.
Historically Baptism had been a regular ritual and ceremony cleansing and purifying oneself before a change among many cultures, including the people of Israel with Moses at the mount. *
There was more than one type of Baptism around in the days of John the Baptist. The Baptism of John and the apostles had a particular significance and originally only established the intent of the people in what eventually became a political relationship. Baptism by the Church established by Christ would establish the status of individuals in relationship to the power and authority of the governments of the world.
The Baptism of John was not always suggested or recommended as the solution for men who were of a particular status.
"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? ..."
There seems to be some question as to whether they can even be Baptized. Could this be because faith and allegiance are synonyms? The answer to the soldier may have satisfied them but may beg more questions from us.
"...And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse [any] falsely; and be content with your wages."
The soldiers did not appear to be even baptized nor was it offered to them as an option. We do not want to read to much into the question and response but it is clear by the exchange that baptism was more than the emersion in water and at that time it did not even include a profession of Christ. Were these unique instructions an alternative to baptism in which to seek the kingdom for the time being. If so, then why?
"Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Luke 16:9
Mammon meant entrusted wealth and at that time baptism meant membership. There was more than one baptism at that time and one made you a part of one Mammon and the other allowed you to be identified with the other. One involved a righteous trust or faith and one was unrighteous system requiring membership and service. The same may be true today.
"If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16:11,13
Part of the problem may have been that the soldiers were under oath to another king. These systems of baptism suggested a loyalty because Herod was also baptizing men. For some soldiers to be baptized might be considered a breach of their loyalty to their king and master. This would not be true if baptism was a purely religious ceremony. There was religious freedom in the Roman Empire. Baptism was a distinctive political act whose history stems back at least to man's separation from Egypt and the ways of its civil power and bondage of man over man.
Those bound by oath, such as soldiers, could put on the character of Christ seeking the kingdom when their oath of office had passed or the 'unrighteous mammon', which they served, failed they would be ready to enter the kingdom. Jesus spoke of the Centurion with great faith and told the people to give to Caesar what was Caesar's. He understood that men are bound often by oaths and swearing, that is why he also said in Matthew 5:34:
"But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."
And in James 5:12:
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."
Later there were Christian soldiers in the Roman army and some may have even been baptized. At first this may not have been a conflict as Rome had recognized Jesus as a king through Pontius Pilate and the ministers of that kingdom were not allowed to exercise authority which in general prevented any conflict of command. We know that many Roman Christian centurions were put to death because they refused to take certain oaths of allegiance and loyalty that were eventually demanded of them by the Emperors in their fight against the terror of the Barbarians.
Baptized into a kingdom of a god or God
Who began baptizing the people into the kingdom of Heaven on earth before Jesus began his ministry?
Was John the Baptist the first?
It had been a tradition for years to begin a new thing or change your status and relationship with God and His ways to wash. It was not a new idea to the Jews. But an examination of the different baptisms at the time of Christ may give us a deeper understanding of where the conflict between John and Jesus and the religions of the religions world actually rested. To understand the conflicts between Christ and the governments of the world it is helpful to understand exactly what the different types of baptism were really all about.
Herod offered a grand social welfare scheme to expand his political power base in the world. This new deal, with a vast world wide membership involving a network of evangelists and missionaries, made his government popular with many and lucrative.
"The aim of gaining six hundred thousand members to form a New Israel was to be achieved by a project of evangelism lasting forty years, the first generation of the millennium."
"The missionaries... with their leather wallets full of white stones, would come back with the same wallets full of money, in foreign currency. Once put into Jewish currency by the money-changers, it would be stored in vaults, ready to be used by Herod for his vast building projects, or any subsequent causes."
"Herod's scheme of initiation into a new form of Judaism was immensely successful. Jews everywhere were willing to join the worldwide society whose meetings were held in the evenings in private houses. Entry was for members only; they had to show at the door an admission token in the form of a white stone from the river Jordan which the missionaries gave them at baptism. On the stone was written their new Jewish name."1
To prove you were a member of this society of social security run through the temples you had to show a token in the form of a white stone from the river Jordan with your new Hebrew name carved on it. You would receive that stone at your baptism. A contribution would be required and recorded by scribes and benefits would be supplied at any of several temples or numerous synagogues according to prescribed statutory rules and regulations.
These new temple customs and legal systems had taken on many Roman and Hellenistic ideas of control, commitment, enforced pledges and even social democracy. They required a different kind of faith and even though they had religious overtones they were not Pure Religion.
A man named Menahem and his order of Essenes became an advisers of Herod's kingdom. These Essenes were similar to the Palestinian Essenes "but did not espouse their unworldliness and strict views on morality." They were considered by some to be 'seekers-after-smooth-things'.
Yes, Herod had sent out those Essene missionaries and Pharisee teachers who supported his idea of a vast kingdom of God on earth. It bound the people in a system of social security and commercial affluence that was becoming more and more common throughout the world. He was very successful and built the temple in Jerusalem and many more in other countries. Between his war on poverty and treaties with Rome's new world order his "Great Society" was lulling the people into a state of apathy and bondage.
"Jerusalem was a major city in a cosmopolitan culture. It contained not only the Temple, but also a large arena for chariot and horse races (a hippodrome), a stadium for athletic contests (a gymnasium), and massive Theaters." 2
People needed to be entertained, appeased with security, distracted with excitement and deluded with pleasure into state of pacification and acceptance.
"...In 20-19 B.C.E. Herod the Great set in motion plans to make the Jerusalem Temple the largest and most magnificent religious building in the world. The platform on which it stood, built with huge blocks of stone, stretched a quarter of a mile long by a fifth of a mile wide. Gleaming gold plates were set up in the inner courts. From its ramparts silver trumpets heralded each dawn. Twenty thousand functionaries were employed in its servicing, and a further sixteen thousand craftsmen and laborers were drilled as construction and refurbishing teams that would be kept occupied for three quarters of a century. 3
Most people did fine under Herod as most people do fine under existing governments of the world today. Business was good, money flowed and success and prosperity was common if not just around the corner.
"Outside Palestine he [Herod] subsidized games and festivals. And everywhere he provided water; his palaces were supplied by aqueducts, as were Caesarea and Jerusalem (impressive remains are still visible at both). Not only cities, but also the countryside benefited from improved water supplies; thanks to improved irrigation, the kingdom became much more productive agriculturally. And when famine struck at home, Herod supplied grain from his own funds."4
Success was good for everyone. These massive building projects financed by required contributions collected from its ever growing membership brought prosperity and prestige. Harbors and roads expanded and those employed in the task prospered with these tax supported stimulating expenditures of great wealth flowing through the heart of Judaism, the city of Jerusalem.
Herod had his enemies both real an imagined but they were quickly dispatched, condemned as antigovernment conspirators or generally frightened into silence. Herod's Kingdom was not yet conquered by Rome but was merely a "client Kingdom" of its Pax Romana.
The relationship between pre-Caesar and Caesar's Rome and Judea was some what confusing but Rome, or at least Pompey, had been originally invited there to help determine and settle who was the rightful king. Often advocates for the position appealed to Rome for their recognition as rightful king. Whoever had the support of Rome was fairly secure in their political position and power. In 40 or 39 BCE Herod's election as the "King of the Jews" was recognized by the Senate of Rome.
At that time Antigonus held the throne so he had to go back and oust the contender, hopefully with Roman aid. To consolidate his claim he accumulated another wife, the teenage niece of Antigonus, Mariamne. She would be the mother of Antipas and Phillip but would also eventually be executed by her own husband, Herod.
Whoever became king would hold of an office of extreme power over the lives and wealth of the people. It would require support of the different or strongest factions and none were more powerful than Rome who enjoyed a strong presence in Judea.
Herod continued to enforce a separation between the religious hierarchy and the political power encouraged by Roman ideology. This was popular with the priesthood which had become increasingly corrupt as long as the privilege of exemption allowed them a comfortable affluence. It was during this time that a violent coup had taken place which caused the death of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist. But priests needed supporters and the fundamentalist popularity of the Pharisees and their socialist agenda created a strong political alley.
Love it or leave it
The Love of Caesar
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."5
To some Caesar was a great Father of society, the founding father of a new system where society prospered with liberty and justice for all. His promise of returning to the Constitutional Republic, his advocacy of family values, his pledge of welfare reform constantly raised the hopes of the masses. Rome's military success, its system of justice and its golden eagle heralding it as the greatest nation in the world won him great popularity and unquestioning loyalty.
"The year 2 B.C. marked the 25th anniversary of Caesar Augustus's rule and the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Huge celebrations were planned. The whole empire was at peace. The doors of the temple of Janus were closed for only the third time in Roman history. To honor their emperor, the people were to rise as one and name him pater patriae, or Father of the Country. This enrollment, described in the Book of Luke, which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, has always been a mystery since no regular census occurred at this time. But the pater patriae enrollment fits perfectly."6
Even the benevolent benefactor of Augustus Caesar was impressive to the people of Judea. He was not the hated tyrant with occupying army. Things were good or getting better. Taxes were getting higher but so were profits as the concept of inflation began to insidiously creep into their lives. Eventually a series of devastating recessions would bring down the economy of Rome and all those who were plugged into its flow of power and affluence but for now things were good.
All Jews did not hate the Emperor (Emperator,7 the commander in chief ) of the mighty multinational military force that kept the peace throughout the world.
"The annual Temple-tribute was allowed to be transported to Jerusalem, and the alienation of these funds by the civil magistrates treated as sacrilege. As the Jews objected to bear arms, or march, on the Sabbath, they were freed from military service. On similar grounds, they were not obliged to appear in courts of law on their holy days. Augustus even ordered that, when the public distribution of corn or of money among the citizens fell on a Sabbath, the Jews were to receive their share on the following day. In a similar spirit the Roman authorities confirmed a decree by which the founder of Antioch, Seleucus I. (Nicator),[d Ob.280 B.C.] had granted the Jews the right of citizenship in all the cities of Asia Minor and Syria which he had built, and the privilege of receiving, instead of the oil that was distributed, which their religion forbade them to use, [e Ab. Sar ii. 6] an equivalent in money. [Jos.Ant. xii. 3. 1] These rights were maintained by Vespasian and Titus even after the last Jewish war, not with standing the earnest remonstrances of these cities. No wonder, that at the death of Caesar [g 44 B.C.] the Jews of Rome gathered for many nights, waking strange feelings of awe in the city, as they chanted in mournful melodies their Psalms around the pyre on which the body of their benefactor had been burnt, and raised their pathetic dirges."8
Jews did not hate Rome for the most part. Many loved and desired their protection, generosity and social security, besides they were good for business. There were rebels, as always, malcontents and doomsdayers. There were tax protesters, religious zealots and extreme fundamentalists who spoke of moral declines. The Roman system was prepared for these rabble. As long as the people were generally comfortable and busy and divided the local courts and their judges and centurions could handle the riffraff and rebels that resist the progress of society and liberal morals.
The Rulers and Caesars of the world were the protectors of the peace, the benefactors of their welfare systems but they exercised authority one over the other.
There was corruption, as always with a balancing distribution of reform. But as mires will do the more the people struggled the deeper they sank.
2 Peter 2:22 "But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
"His reign gave them a third of a century of peace and prosperity and the new harbor at Caesarea increased trade. But Herod's lavish building programs cost immense sums of money and taxes were necessarily high. By the standards of the time he was not a bad ruler. He was brutal but far less so than the Hasmonaeans. Herod's greatest asset was in fact the very thing for which Jews most criticized him - his half-hearted attitude towards Judaism. Augustus had realized Herod's true value when he gave him Samaria and the coastal strip for although Herod was careful not to offend the Jews he did not oppress the Samaritans and non-Jews. A Hasmonaean ruler would certainly have persecuted them and similarly a non-Jewish ruler would have had little sympathy with the Jews."
"Herod's greatest fault was his ungovernable passion both in love and hate. This coupled with his constant fear of losing this throne led to most of his 'crimes' especially those committed within his own family."9
Herod entertained and cultivated his relationships to Essene prophets like Menahem, who had predicted his rise to power when he was a boy. There are reports that Herod had even agreed to divide his dominion with the Messiah whose arrival was also expected and prophesied. Herod had been ruthless but even ruthless dictators have their fans. Herod's popularity, though great, was not universal and as economies stumbled the people look for scapegoats real or imagined.
"As an Idumean he [Herod] was disliked by Judeans; as the usurper of the Hasmoneans he was resented by the aristocracy. During his reign he succeeded in creating his own 'aristocracy' from those loyal to Rome and appointed by himself."10
This magical system of prosperity and social welfare was sweet in the mouth but sower in the belly. All things that are to good to be true eventually come to an end and Herod's Great Society and Social Experiment was no exception to the rule.
"Herod was forced to tax the Palestinians beyond their abilities to pay, eventually in many cases seizing others' wealth for himself and reducing many Jewish landlords to tenant farmers (Ant 17.304-9). Property (chrema and ousia are the Greek words employed) was seized; in addition to the taxes, 'tribute' was imposed 'on everyone each year,' and these entailed 'lavish extra contributions' (Ant 16.308)."11
Before the end of the century a series of devastating recessions or "dearths"12 had spread across the Roman Empire. Popularity of Rome, along with its comforts and privilege diminished, as the power over its subject and client states shifted from social benefits to a forced compliance and heavy tribute or taxes. To pay for excesses the power of this created authority would only relent after the people were expended, exhausted and oppressed.
The other King.
The promoters and ministers of Herod's kingdom of God on earth were not the only evangelists and missionaries of that time who followed the traditions of Israel in the "washing" of new members into the kingdom. There were others who were involved in such baptismal matters with a different paradigm and Essene teachings.
They too were also baptizing with the waters of the Jordan. There were differences between the Baptism of Herod and the Baptism of John and the apostles. Whereas Herod's scheme required membership, statutory contributions and benefits in the form of entitlements, John's Baptism did not. John came to tell men to "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight". His ways were God's way and his path was the way of Christ. When he was asked how this other baptism and social welfare scheme worked they were told:
"... He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."
By another "authority" these people began a journey into a different kind of Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This other king was not Idumean nor a foreigner [Deuteronomy 17:15]. He was proclaimed the Highest Son of David by the people and by the world would be proclaimed the king of the Jews. He took the kingdom from the Pharisees and the Herod's of the world and appointed his Kingdom to his own ministers.
Those did not exercise authority one over the other but served the people. They established His Kingdom not by Corban schemes of social security enforced by statutes nor did they collect the contributions of the people with Mokhes and Gabbai publicans who by the accounting of the scribes filled the treasure house of Herod's Kingdom.
The treasury of Christ's kingdom was found in the love of God and of neighbor for neighbor. A system of social security based on a network of that love through offices of service of the people, by the people and for the people was at the core of their society. Christians did not covet their neighbor's goods but learned to govern themselves according to the perfect law of liberty.
This other King was the Highest Son of the House of David, a righteous king and Son of Adam. He walked amongst the people and His disciples were not of the ruling elite but working men like themselves. This other King operated by faith, hope, charity and love. He forgave them as they forgave one another, gave to them as they gave to one another and appointed servant ministers to care for them like good shepherds.
His ministers were servants of the People who operated on Faith, Hope and Charity under the perfect law of liberty.
They too baptized and spoke of white stone and new names on a different and spiritual path....
"To him who conquers, I will give a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it." Revelations 2:17
Confessing their sins
"And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." Matthew 3:6 [Mark 1:4, 5]
In this reference to confessing their sins the word sin is from hamartia [amartia] which is equivalent to hamartano [amartanw ] which is defined "to be without a share in".
Were those who went out to get the baptism of John confessing they had no share in the benefits of Herod? This would mean that they were willing to live by faith, hope and charity and the perfect law of liberty. They would no longer covet their neighbors' goods through the social welfare schemes of Herod. They would no longer pray to the men who called themselves benefactors but who exercised authority one over the other. Rome would not be their Father, nor men like Herod. No more covetousness, only charity, no more entitlements, only hope, no more forcing others to provide for them, only faith in God.
They would become followers of Christ, hated by the socialists who had become dependent upon the welfare of the government temple system. Eventually when they professed Christ they would be cast out of that welfare system of Herod still operating in the temple after his death.
"These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." John 9:22
After Christ's death and resurrection His apostles provided the needs of the people from house to house with justice and mercy. The faithful of Christ would be cast out but they would set the table of the Lord. They would share their bread with one another and care for one another. With Jesus Christ proclaimed as a "King of the Jews" by an official Roman proclamation nailed to the cross, the people were free from the hand written ordinances of the Pharisees who had control of the congress, the Sanhedrin. When Jesus' ambassadors worked daily in the temple, set up institutions to handle the daily ministration through charity, they could also go all over the world Baptizing in His name and freeing people from the systems of welfare that had become a snare because they had set the table of the Lord.
"Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap." Psalms 69:22
"And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:" Romans 11:9
There is much more to understand
Pilate was god because he was appointed by the Apo Theos of Rome. Herod was a god in one sense of the word because he was the ruling judge of the system of Corban, and what this had to do with the things that are God's and tribute through systems of corvee like those found in Egypt. Those who believed in Herod's system were the faithful by being baptized into obedience under the state religious order. Herod and Rome were actually 'Making the word of God of none effect through their tradition' [Mark 7:13] by their corban or qorban respectively.
to understand the religious aspect of these governments schemes people may need to seek to understand why "there were gods many", why the Corban of the Pharisees made the word of God to none effect, why you were to call no man on earth Father, and the coercive Church. It would also help to understand what pure religion is, why Jesus' kingdom was not a part of the world and when the voice of the people goes wrong.
Other Links and Articles
Video > Baptism 4-5 5:23
Entering the Kingdom of God, The Water
Baptism, Christening and the Holy Spirit
Baptism, Washing up
The Corban of the Pharisees
It made the word of God to none effect.
Is our Corban making the word of God to none effect today?
The Nicolaitan who God hates?
Because they covet their neighbor's goods
The Coercive and Non-Coercive Churches
Concerning what the "Church" is or should be and what it is not.
Audio On the Coercive Church
The Coercive Church BlogTalkRadio 29:10
The Coercive Church TalkShoeQandA 48:43
Call no man Father
What was Christ trying to tell us about fathers on the earth?
1 Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Barbara Thiering, Harpercollins (May 1992).
2 Jesus Within Judaism by James H. Charlesworth, SPCK Publishing (March 30, 1989).
3 Jesus, The Evidence, Ian Wilson, Regnery Publishing, Inc.; 1 edition (October 1, 2000).
4 The Old Testament World, John Roberson and Philip Davies, Cambridge University Press (March 9, 1989).
5 Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3
6 The Star of Bethlehem by Crag Chester, Imprimis D/96 Hilsdale College.
7 Emperator, emperatoris m. commander in chief. Collins L.E. Dict. '62.
8 Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah Chapt. V
9 Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth by Peter Connolly, Oxford University Press (October 20, 1983).
10 The Old Testament World by John Roberson and Philip Davies, Cambridge University Press (March 9, 1989).
11 Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1992), p. 170 James H. Charlesworth, Anchor Bible; 1st Paperback Ed edition (July 1, 1995).
12 Acts 11:28 "And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." dearth 3042 limos probably from 3007 (through the idea of destitution); AV-famine 7, hunger 3, dearth 2; 12 1) scarcity of harvest, famine