Monday, January 12, 2015

The Warnings of the New Testament by Anastasios Kioulachoglou #9 & (final in the series)

The Warnings of the New Testament 

The message of many frequently 
avoided New Testament passages.
by Anastasios Kioulachoglou



John 3:16 is perhaps one of the most frequently quoted
passages, especially when it comes to salvation. Here is the
passage together with some of its context:

John 3:14-18
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the
Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have
eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever
believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is
condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of
the only Son of God.”

Three times in the above five verses we meet the phrase
“whoever believes in him”, followed by a wonderful promise. Just
taking the most popular of these verses, John 3:16, we learn that
“whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”.
See that the word “believes” here is in the present tense, denoting
something that is a reality now. Many however, read the passage

as if it says: “whoever believed” i.e. once in the past. This is
obviously not what the passage says. This passage, as well as
those seen in the first chapter of this study, is in the present tense.
Therefore, such passages speak about something that is
happening now, about a present, an active, state and not about
something that happened once in the past. They speak about a
present reality instead of a past history.

In fact it is worth mentioning some facts concerning the
present tense in Greek. The website has an abundance of
information on the matter, with lots of references and examples.
The basic conclusion (you can check it out in the above or in other
similar scholarly websites) is the following: as a rule, the present
tense in ancient Greek denotes duration. It can also denote
something that is happening currently in the present and will not
happen again but this is an exception to the rule and it becomes
very obvious from the context. The rule is that the present tense of a
verb denotes duration, i.e. denotes that something “goes on” happening.
Applying this rule, John 3:14-18 would read9:

John 3:14-18
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the
Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever goes on believing in him may
have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
Son, that whoever goes on believing in him should not perish but have
eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to
condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved
through him. Whoever goes on believing in him is not condemned, but
whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has
not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

The promises of John 3:14-18 are in no way promises to
people who once upon a time believed but eventually moved
9 For more on this see David Pawson: “Is John 3:16 the gospel?”, pp. 38-45,
TerraNova Publications, 2007. 

away without returning. In contrast, they are to people who
believe now, in the present, and they go on believing.

Understanding that the present tense in Greek indicates
duration, i.e. that something goes on happening can really
revolutionalise the way we understand many passages. My
suggestion would be that whenever you see the present tense
(“believes”, “forgives” etc.) replace it, after checking the context,
with the construction “goes on” + the present participle ( for
example: “goes on believing”, “goes on forgiving” etc.). This will
perhaps change the way you read many passages.



Many will consider this question as rather unnecessary
and say that, of course, the gospels are relevant to us. But there are
some who implicitly or explicitly believe, that the gospels do not
have such importance for they do not, according to their view,
refer to us but to Jews, living under the age of law. Foundation of
this theory is the so called dispensationalism, which taken into the
extreme concludes that relevant to the believers of today are only
the epistles (and in some extreme forms of dispensationalism,
only parts of them!), while the remaining Word of God is rather
for our information only. Indeed, the Bible contains parts that are
not for the application of the Christian. For example, the law with
its ordinances, is something that covers a big part of Exodus,
Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. As the law of Moses is no
longer valid (Hebrews 8:13, Colossians 2:13-14) we would be right
to say that these parts are not there for our direct application but
rather for our information and benefit. This does not, of course,
happen for everything in the Old Testament. Psalms and Proverbs,
for example, are books of eternal truths that have no connection to
a particular age. The same is also true for many prophetic writings.
So, instead of what many do, classifying the part before the
gospels as “Old Testament” (those who support that the gospels
are not relevant to us, put this separation in Acts), I would rather
pay attention and read what is said and then ask myself whether
there is a reason that what I read could possibly not refer to me.
To say it differently instead of breaking the Word of God into
parts like Old Testament and New Testament (which are human
divisions anyway) I would rather take the Word of God, as ONE
and evaluate whether there are reasons that something would
perhaps not refer to me. Thus, much in Numbers or Deuteronomy
etc. does not refer to me: it relates to the Old Covenant and those
living under it. I have reasons to not apply the killing of goats, the
various sacrifices etc. as these are obsolete: Jesus Christ gave His
blood once and for all and no other sacrifice is needed. The same
we could say about the law of the Sabbath, the law of the tithe etc.
I can learn from them but they are no longer a law valid for my
direct application.

Moving to Jesus now and His teachings, some have taken
the fact that when Jesus was speaking the law was still there,
being fulfilled by Him (it was fully fulfilled with His crucifixion),
and based on this they support that what Jesus said does not refer
to us but to people under the law. Thus parts of the epistles are
elevated and the gospels are downgraded as not that relevant to
us, hence creating an artificial antithesis between Jesus and the
writings of His very disciples. I believe this is wrong, for though
Jesus lived in an age when the law was valid and was still being
fulfilled by Him, He did not come to teach about the Mosaic law! What
was His mission then? Why was He sent? Let’s allow Him to give
the answer. This He does in Luke 4:43 where we read:

“But he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of
God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose."

The purpose for which Jesus was sent was to preach the
good news of the Kingdom of God. He did not come to preach just
some good news, but something specific: the good news of the

Kingdom of God, the good news that the Kingdom of God is
coming! The preaching about the coming Kingdom of God, was –
as He Himself said - the very reason He was sent!

Matthew 4:17 verifies very clearly that the Kingdom of
God (or Kingdom of heaven, as it is called in Matthew) was the
start and remained the main subject of Jesus’ teaching:

Matthew 4:17
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

And again after a few verses:

Matthew 4:23
“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues
and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease
and every affliction among the people.”

What was Jesus preaching was not the law but the gospel
of the Kingdom of God. Then in his first recorded in Matthew
teaching, the so called sermon of the mount, we find Him opening
it as follows:

Matthew 5:2-3
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are
the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Furthermore in Luke 8:1
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages,
proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God”.

And Luke 9:59-60
"To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first
go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead
to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom
of God."

The phrases “kingdom of God” and its synonym
“kingdom of heaven” occur in total 84 times in the gospels. The
Kingdom of God was the main subject of the teaching of the
Master. So guess what: what He mainly spoke about and which is
recorded in the gospels is about the kingdom of God – Jesus’ main subject
and mission - and not about the law, though of course since the law
had not yet been fulfilled but was being fulfilled, you can see
things here and there referring to the law. But in no way can
somebody classify the message of Jesus as referring only to the
Jews living under the law. In contrast, the message of Jesus was
about the good news of the Kingdom of God and how to enter
into it. Is not this, the entering into the Kingdom of God, the main
goal for me and you? If yes, let us pay attention to what the
specialist on the matter, the King Himself says about it, instead of
making the grave error of essentially putting Him aside as not
relevant to us.

Moving on, let us look at what Jesus was speaking about
with His disciples after He was raised from the dead and until His
ascension. In Acts 1:3 we find a summary of it:

“He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many
proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the
kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom of God was not something that Jesus was
teaching only before His crucifixion or just a topic among many
others. In contrast it was chief topic, the chief topic I would say, of
His ministry. He was preaching about it before the crucifixion and
continued to speak about it after the resurrection too, all the way
up to the time of his ascension. Now what did the disciples do
after the ascension? Was there a change of policy? Again the book
of Acts gives us the answer:

Philip, preached the Kingdom of God (Acts 8:12):

“But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the
kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized,
both men and women.”

Paul and Barnabas, preached about the Kingdom of God
and how to enter it, which apparently is “through many

Acts 14: 21-22
“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made
many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to
Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them
to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we
must enter the kingdom of God.”

Paul again, this time in Ephesus:
Acts 19:8
“And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke
boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.”

Paul, now in Rome, in arrest:
Acts 28:23
“When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his
lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he
expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to
convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from
the Prophets.”

And the book of Acts closes as follows, referring to this great

Acts 28:30-31
"He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and
welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and
teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and

without hindrance."

To summarize: the Kingdom of God was the purpose that
Jesus was sent. He preached about it all the time, all the way up to
His ascension. Then the apostles took over and did the same. Paul
preached about the Kingdom of God proclaiming it all the way till
the end of his life. The same did Philip and I am sure all the others
too. We see therefore that the message did not vary: both Jesus
and His apostles were preaching about the Kingdom of God. It is
a grave error to downgrade the gospels as supposedly being part
of the law, because though the law was still being fulfilled, what
the gospels mainly describe, what their main theme is, is the
Kingdom of God and not the law.

The gospels therefore have much more to do with the new
era we are living in than with the old era of the law. This is
especially so for the parts we read previously in chapter 3 of this
study, which were in fact addressed to His disciples and were
given – most of them - just hours before His arrest. To the
question then: are these passages for us, the answer is short and
simple: yes, they are. If we are disciples of Christ, people who
want to enter into the Kingdom of God, what both the Master and
His apostles say is relevant to us and they do not contradict each
other. How could they, anyway? Here is what the Lord
commanded His disciples just before His ascension:

Matthew 28:18-20
“And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and
on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of
the age."

The Lord commanded the apostles to make disciples and
teach them to observe “all that I have commanded you”. “I have
commanded you” is in the past tense. Therefore it was not new
revelation He was speaking about here, but commandments and
teachings that He had already given to them and there is only one
place where these already given teachings and commandments of
the Lord are recorded: the gospels.

So, are the gospels, the sayings of Christ, and in particular
His sayings to His disciples, relevant to the Christian of today?
Absolutely! Let us make no mistake about it.



After the gospels and with the exception of some very
small passages in Acts and the epistles, it is in Revelation where
we find Jesus speaking again in the first person. Chapters 2 and 3
contain letters that were sent to seven churches in Minor Asia.
Jesus directly dictated these letters to the apostle John,
commanding him to write them down, and send them to these
churches, together with the whole book. It is surprising however
how little attention these epistles of Jesus receive. Similar to the
theory that essentially puts aside the gospels by classifying them
as not relevant to us, one theory put forward is that these epistles
of Jesus, together with the book of Revelation as a whole, do not
really refer to us. Instead they refer – according to this theory - to
some future believers and they are going to understand the book
of Revelation, implicitly meaning that we can safely ignore this
book or consider it as something “just for our information”.
Concerning the seven churches, these are, so the theory goes,
future churches and to them these letters refer10. However, these 
10 Of course there are many other theories concerning the meaning of the book of
Revelation, almost all of which are missing the relevancy of the epistles to the
seven churches (this is the focus of this appendix) and they treat them not as real 

churches were real churches when John wrote the letters, exactly as there
was a real church in Corinth to which Paul addressed his letter. In fact,
some of these churches, such as the church of Ephesus and
Laodicea, we can find in Paul’s letters as well. Truly, the whole
argument of these epistles not really referring to believers living
under the age of grace breaks down if we see what Jesus Himself
ordered John to do with the message he was about to receive. This
is given in no unclear terms in Revelation 1:11

Revelation 1:11
“Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to
Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to
Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

So guess what John did? He wrote it and sent it right away
to the seven churches mentioned. Therefore, the letters of Jesus to
these churches refer to Christian believers in these churches and
they are as much relevant to us, as the letters of Paul sent for
example to believers in the church of Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia etc.

One of the reasons why some people haste to put these
letters ín the pretty big box they have with the name “not relevant
to us” is because they essentially do not like what Jesus says. They
see Jesus saying for example: “I know your works” (Revelation
2:2), “repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come
to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you
repent” (Revelation 2:5) etc. and they realize that such and similar
– “harsh” according to them – sayings do not reconcile with what
they believe as the gospel and their image of Jesus. Therefore,
ways have to be devised to avoid it as much as possible. And the
way which many find is to consider these letters and Revelation in
general as mainly referring to future believers that will be living in
those days. The truth however is that they are as relevant to us as
the epistles of the apostles: both kinds of epistles were written for
epistles addressed to real people in real churches but as something either
metaphoric or past, with not present application, or future with also no present

real churches and real believers of that time and therefore both
refer by extension also to us.

Going now to the epistles themselves, we see there that the
way Jesus is looking at each church (and the church is not a
building but people) is like a coach who cares about his athletes
who are running a race or fighting a fight. So you will see that the
feedback to these churches is different in each case. A couple of
them are faring well. They should keep up like this. But the rest of
them are having problems. The Lord does not tell them “you
know it is OK.. I have paid the price so that you do not have to do
anything.” Instead what He does is after telling them their good
points (this He did to all except to the church of Laodicea) He
passes on to the criticism He has for them. In four out of the seven
churches He tells them “Repent”, change course! In fact He does
not tell them just “Repent” but “Repent or else..”. Here are some:

Revelation 2:5
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do
the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your
lampstand from its place–unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:15-16
“Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the
Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you
quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

Revelation 3:2-3
“Be watchful …. hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not
watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know
what hour I will come upon you.”

Some cannot comprehend that their Jesus would have ever
spoken like this to churches. But dear brothers the Bible shows us
Jesus from various angles and one of them is in Revelation 1:11-18:

Revelation 1:11-18
"Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches,
to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and
to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea." Then I turned to
see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven
golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a
son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash
around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white
wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were
like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like
the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars,
from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was
like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his
feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying,
"Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and
behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and

Does our view or image of Jesus has space for the above
picture also or is Jesus for us just a sweet little blond young man
with blue eyes that would not touch a fly?

To go back to our original question: do the epistles of Jesus
to the seven churches refer to us too by extension, exactly as the
epistles of Paul to the Galatians or the Corinthians refer also to us
by extension? The answer is yes they do. All were supposed to be
read and be acted upon by their respective listeners. And if we
have an ear –as we should – for the epistles of the apostles to the
churches, so also we should have an ear for the epistles of the
apostles’ Master to the churches.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the

churches.” (Revelation 2 and 3). 


I am a Greek Christian born in 1969 and living since many
years in Germany. I am married with three children. I am teaching
the Word of God since 1994 and I have been the main author and
publisher of the Journal of Biblical Accuracy, a Bible teaching
magazine and perhaps one of the first to appear online (in 1996).
The related address is: and there are hundreds
of articles in many different languages. Please visit the site and
subscribe for free to receive more.

This is the second book I have written. The first one is
titled “Tithing, giving and the New Testament” and as this one is
available for free to read and download on my website.

On the private side: I earn my living by working as a
business consultant. I am traveling every day about 100 Km by
train to reach my work place. It is true to say that most of the
work for this book has been done in trains commuting to work. I
am not affiliated to any organization nor am I supported
financially by one. I am by education an Economist, having also a
Ph.D. on the subject. I am speaking Greek (mother tongue),
English and German. My aspirations? To run the race of faith to
end and to be a fruitful disciple of my Lord, loving Him and my
neighbor as myself and living the Word in practice.

Posted January 12, 2015
The End

        Available at

No comments:

Post a Comment