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         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

The Book of Revelation & The Verb "Signified"


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
1 hour ago, Invicta said:

The book of Revelation is a book written to the church and refers to the church.  The old covenant doesn't come into the book of Revelation.

So, Brother David, is either the old covenant OR the new covenant directly referenced anywhere throughout the book of the Revelation?

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On Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 9:01 PM, Ronda said:

Pastor Markle, excellent  study on the word "signify" as well as the Greek "semaino" used in  Rev. 1:1 (as well as in all the other verses you brought forth)! Showing again that scripture compared with other scripture actually interprets itself!  The importance of literal interpretation  is so very important as well!!! If a person is willing to allegorize (symbolize or spiritualize) scripture, I believe it shows a lack of reverence for God's word. I believe He meant what He said and said what He meant.

There are cases of symbolism in the Bible, however, in most of those cases the interpretation is also given. For instance: I once had an argument with another (supposedly) Christian on the meaning of the "seven heads" given in Rev. 17:3... the actual interpretation is GIVEN to us in verse 9 "..The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth". Yet this other person demanded (to my exasperation) that that is NOT what they seven heads were! I should have ended the discussion then, but instead furthered to discuss it by stating that the meaning for "mountains" were actual, physical mounds of earth, and were certainly not symbolic.... the "heads" were symbolic, the interpretation (mountains) was NOT symbolic. But this person couldn't seem to see the difference at all! Which proved to me (for the hundreth time likely) that in matter of the Bible, those who do not use a literal interpretation cannot grasp even the simplest of differences in interpretation... to them it's ALL symbolic!!! I believe those who allegorize scripture will never be able to comprehend even the most basic parts of eschatology. I've heard some say that allegorizing is a "lazy" approach, I think it's worse than "lazy", I think it show the lack of respect for God's word.

I recently started a thread here entitled "Jeremiah 49"... the reason being, I have had many discussions elsewhere (not on OB) regarding this section I referenced (Jer. 49:35-39, and even more specifically verse 36).  There are so few (who claim to study eschatology) who use a literal interpretation. I have many fellow friends who I believe DO use literal interpretation, yet they have no interest (or little interest) in eschatology and/or Bible prophecy. And the other (professing) Christian friends who DO claim to have interest in eschatology and/or Bible prophecy, but do not use literal interpretation.  Some admit they allegorize... sadly (and possibly worse) others SAY they interpret literally, but actually DO interpret allegorically, mixing and matching (a horrible mistake) of both literal and allegorical interpretation (likely to "fit" a theory).  So I brought this forth on OB hoping there would be at least one person who uses literal interpretation rather than allegorization.  I wasn't really wanting to argue the verse (other than if I had to, if someone attempted to allegorize the meaning of "wind", etc), I was more interested in what others (if any  have) already studied on this, and the conclusion they arrived at... using literal interpretation. I did get one brief answer, but not enough description to give me a clue about where they were headed with a conclusion.... so anyways... I do hope someone will come forth with some thoughts/conclusions on Jeremiah 49:36 (using literal interpretation).

Sorry to "derail" your thread... I simply wanted to commend your study on "signify" as well as commend the literal interpretation as well (as usual my brain went off down the trail to the next thought and I didn't stop typing, lol)

Hi Ronda, this is not my favorite topic, but on the symbolism, I think there is cases of double symbols, or symbols being explained in symbol, I can think of one case off hand from Revelation,

Revelation 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband....Revelation 21:9  And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

So we have the City and the Bride, both symbols of the same thing which presumably must be the Church, or am I wrong? I think the gulf between the heavens and earth are so vast that symbols are needed to convey some glimpse of the heavens and the spiritual realm to us.

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Hi Ronda, this is not my favorite topic, but on the symbolism, I think there is cases of double symbols, or symbols being explained in symbol, I can think of one case off hand from Revelation,

Revelation 21:2  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband....Revelation 21:9  And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

So we have the City and the Bride, both symbols of the same thing which presumably must be the Church, or am I wrong? I think the gulf between the heavens and earth are so vast that symbols are needed to convey some glimpse of the heavens and the spiritual realm to us.

There is also the harlot, mystery Babylon, which is explained as being Rome.  The direct opposite to the bride and the new Jerusalem.

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There is also the harlot, mystery Babylon, which is explained as being Rome.  The direct opposite to the bride and the new Jerusalem.

Well It does sound like Rome, and I know it has been taken as Rome by friend and foe in one shape or another, but politics aside, both 'heads' and a 'beast' sound like living things and one would wonder why a hill of soil or rock would be represented as a living creature, and I wonder if there might be a bit more to the beast than simply a literal mass of land, if Rome was the beast, then it was one of its heads which was wounded, but there was only one Pope over Rome, perhaps the heads are seven power structures of which Rome was one. We also have in Revelation the Mystery Babylon, and in History we Have the Mystery Religion, So the seven mountains of Rome might represent seven different occult entities all similar in nature and intent, but each with some degree on self governance. Such as Kabalism, Gnosticism, Illuminate in more modern times, But there might be seven spirits leading seven heads in an effort to supplant the seven spirits of God.Re 3:1

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Well It does sound like Rome, and I know it has been taken as Rome by friend and foe in one shape or another, but politics aside, both 'heads' and a 'beast' sound like living things and one would wonder why a hill of soil or rock would be represented as a living creature, and I wonder if there might be a bit more to the beast than simply a literal mass of land, if Rome was the beast, then it was one of its heads which was wounded, but there was only one Pope over Rome, perhaps the heads are seven power structures of which Rome was one. We also have in Revelation the Mystery Babylon, and in History we Have the Mystery Religion, So the seven mountains of Rome might represent seven different occult entities all similar in nature and intent, but each with some degree on self governance. Such as Kabalism, Gnosticism, Illuminate in more modern times, But there might be seven spirits leading seven heads in an effort to supplant the seven spirits of God.Re 3:1

It might, but it doesn't agree with how the angel explains it.

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I have never heard proof of the sybolism in Revelation as being supported by this one word Bro. Scott.

As for your other verses you mentioned way up the list of posts, I can see where the words do mean the same as "signified" in Rev. 1:1, yet not exactly.

I think the symbolism is quite noticeable in the whole book. And focusing on this one word is quite a weak stand indeed.

Thanks.

(My Bible says "shewed" by the way.)

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Another way to describe signify, apart from figure that the scripture uses, would be representative.  One image represents a real person or country, etc.  The Harlot represents a false church, whereas the bride represents the true church., etc.  

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The title and Pastor Markle's discussion focuses greatly on the "verb" signified.  So I looked it up and the word "signified" is actually a noun, while the words "signify" and 'signifying' are verbs.  The definition of "signified" is "the meaning expressed by a sign rather than the physical form it is expressed in" (Collins dictionary).  As a noun the word "signified" combined with "it" (signified it) can describe a state or quality, that is the state of revelations being in signs or sketches rather than literal.  

A major problem with accepting that there is a mix is that people get to cherry pick which parts they consider literal and soon enough another revelation is born, a literal thousand years on earth after the resurrection is a long running beauty for example.  No Apostle mentioned this and it's nowhere else in the Bible, and Jesus refutes it in John 18:36 (also Romans 14:17 is worth looking up).

 

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10 hours ago, Paul said:

The title and Pastor Markle's discussion focuses greatly on the "verb" signified.  So I looked it up and the word "signified" is actually a noun, while the words "signify" and 'signifying' are verbs.  The definition of "signified" is "the meaning expressed by a sign rather than the physical form it is expressed in" (Collins dictionary).  As a noun the word "signified" combined with "it" (signified it) can describe a state or quality, that is the state of revelations being in signs or sketches rather than literal.  

A major problem with accepting that there is a mix is that people get to cherry pick which parts they consider literal and soon enough another revelation is born, a literal thousand years on earth after the resurrection is a long running beauty for example.  No Apostle mentioned this and it's nowhere else in the Bible, and Jesus refutes it in John 18:36 (also Romans 14:17 is worth looking up).

 

Understand from "the get-go" that I haven't read this thread. This post, therefore, has nothing to do in defense nor opposition to any contents of said thread. With all that stated:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

Would you care to take this sentence and show how, in the phrase "he sent and signified it", the word "signified" is used as a noun and not as the past tense of the verb (to) signify?
 

Incidentally, Webster's 1st edition has the following concerning both etymology and definition of the verb "signify" (which you acknowledged as a verb). So the past tense of such a "making known (def #4)" would be ...?

SIG'NIFY, v. t. [L. significo; signum, a sign, and facio, to make.]

4. To make known; to declare. The government should signify to the protestants of Ireland that want of silver is not to be remedied.

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 2:36 PM, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Revelations 1:1-2 states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

Due to the use of the verb “signified” in Revelation 1:1, some indicate that the book of the Revelation is to be taken as a prophetic communication of symbolism, rather than literalism.  So then, is this a valid understanding and restriction due to the use of the verb “signified”?

The verb “signify” in Revelation 1:1 is translated from the Greek verb “semaino.” This Greek verb is also employed five other times throughout the New Testament, and every one of those times it is translated with some form of the English verb “signify.”  These five other times are as follows:

John 12:32-33 – “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.”

John 18:31-32 – “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.”

John 21:18-19 – “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

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.”

Acts 25:27 – “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”

Now, there is not a single one of these five other uses for the Greek verb “semaino,” as translated by some form of the English verb “signify,” wherein the verb means “a communication of information through symbolism.”  Rather, in every one of these five cases, the verb means “a communication of information through description.”  As such, although the communication that is indicated by this verb may, or may not include some symbolism within the communication, the meaning of the verb itself does not at all indicate a communication with a focus upon communicating through symbolism, but rather indicates a communication with a focus upon communication through description.  Even so, although the prophetic utterances of the book of the Revelation may indeed include some symbolisms, the use of this verb in Revelation 1:1 would move us to expect, not a prophetic utterance that is primarily symbolic language, but a prophetic utterance that is primarily literal description.

(Note: There are two other Greek verbs that are also translated with some form of the English verb “signify.”  The first is the Greek verb “emphanizo” in Acts 23:15, which Greek verb means “to manifest, to show, to exhibit, to reveal, to make know; and in the passive, to appear.”  The second is the Greek verb “deloo” in Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 12:27; 1 Peter 1:11, which Greek verb means “to declare, to make evident, to reveal.”)

3 hours ago, Paul said:

The title and Pastor Markle's discussion focuses greatly on the "verb" signified.  So I looked it up and the word "signified" is actually a noun, while the words "signify" and 'signifying' are verbs.  The definition of "signified" is "the meaning expressed by a sign rather than the physical form it is expressed in" (Collins dictionary).  As a noun the word "signified" combined with "it" (signified it) can describe a state or quality, that is the state of revelations being in signs or sketches rather than literal.  

A major problem with accepting that there is a mix is that people get to cherry pick which parts they consider literal and soon enough another revelation is born, a literal thousand years on earth after the resurrection is a long running beauty for example.  No Apostle mentioned this and it's nowhere else in the Bible, and Jesus refutes it in John 18:36 (also Romans 14:17 is worth looking up).

In the first place, the above posting is not accurate to my word study.  My word study did NOT focus primarily upon the English verb "signified."  Rather, my word study focused primarily upon the GREEK VERB "semaino," from which the English verb "signified" is translated in Revelation 1:1.  In the Greek, the word "semaino" is MOST DEFINITELY A VERB.

In the second place, the above posting is not even precisely accurate to the claims of Collin's dictionary.  While Collin's dictionary does indeed present the word "signified" itself as having a usage as a noun, Collin's dictionary also presents the following word forms for the VERB "to signify" -- "signifies, signifying, SIGNIFIED."  Thus even Collin's dictionary, which is the specific dictionary authority that is being used in the above posting, acknowledges that "SIGNIFIED" is a VERB form for the verb "to signify."  Now, since Collin's dictionary would thus be indicating that the word "signified" could either be grammatically used in a given sentence as a noun or as a verb, we must ask -- In which grammatical way is it being used in Revelation 1:1?  In answer I would contend that since the English word "signified" is translating the Greed VERB "semaino" in Revelation 1:1, we should recognize that the English word "signified" is also to be taken grammatically as a VERB.

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On 1/20/2016 at 2:36 PM, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Revelations 1:1-2 states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

Due to the use of the verb “signified” in Revelation 1:1, some indicate that the book of the Revelation is to be taken as a prophetic communication of symbolism, rather than literalism.  So then, is this a valid understanding and restriction due to the use of the verb “signified”?

The verb “signify” in Revelation 1:1 is translated from the Greek verb “semaino.” This Greek verb is also employed five other times throughout the New Testament, and every one of those times it is translated with some form of the English verb “signify.”  These five other times are as follows:

John 12:32-33 – “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.”

John 18:31-32 – “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.”

John 21:18-19 – “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.  And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

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.”

Acts 25:27 – “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”

Now, there is not a single one of these five other uses for the Greek verb “semaino,” as translated by some form of the English verb “signify,” wherein the verb means “a communication of information through symbolism.”  Rather, in every one of these five cases, the verb means “a communication of information through description.”  As such, although the communication that is indicated by this verb may, or may not include some symbolism within the communication, the meaning of the verb itself does not at all indicate a communication with a focus upon communicating through symbolism, but rather indicates a communication with a focus upon communication through description.  Even so, although the prophetic utterances of the book of the Revelation may indeed include some symbolisms, the use of this verb in Revelation 1:1 would move us to expect, not a prophetic utterance that is primarily symbolic language, but a prophetic utterance that is primarily literal description.

(Note: There are two other Greek verbs that are also translated with some form of the English verb “signify.”  The first is the Greek verb “emphanizo” in Acts 23:15, which Greek verb means “to manifest, to show, to exhibit, to reveal, to make know; and in the passive, to appear.”  The second is the Greek verb “deloo” in Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 12:27; 1 Peter 1:11, which Greek verb means “to declare, to make evident, to reveal.”)

 

I think that many misunderstand the symbolic aspect of the revelation, as while it is true that parts of it are given in symbolic terms and visions, they all line up with OT prophecies, and they all pretty much refer to a real historical events or persons just being described in symbolic ways.

 

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The Greek word "semaino" means: "to indicate (show/communicate) by the use of signs or symbols."  This meaning is verified by almost all Greek Lexicons and Dictionaries available to any true seeker of Biblical understanding and interpretation.  There may possibly be some literal interpretation/understanding within the Book of Revelation.  However, having said this, we must understand that any literal interpretation and understanding that there may possibly be within the Book of Revelation should always be considered as a secondary interpretation/understanding.  Everything within the Book is set forth in the language of "signs" and "symbols."  Remember that John "was in the Spirit" when he saw these things.

In the five verses that were previously quoted from the New Testament it is plain to see that the Holy Spirit was using literal things and realities and events as "signs" or "symbols" to point to other, and far more important Godly and spiritual events, which have deep spiritual meaning, such as the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jonah was literally in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, but his literal experience was a "sign" or "symbol" pointing to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

If we were to interpret/understand the Book of Revelation in the literal sense we would be subjecting God's Word and Vision to our own carnal and natural thought processes.  We are admonished in the scriptures to "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)  Unfortunately, we, all too often, do just the opposite of this.  It is very unfortunate that most of those who insist on interpreting the Bible literally will abandon their literal interpretations/understandings in favor of symbolic or spiritual interpretations when a literal interpretation does not verify/justify their biased doctrinal positions.  Most literal interpreters of the Scriptures like to pick and choose which portions of the Bible they will interpret literally and which portions they will symbolize or spiritualize.  They (the literalists), of course, should be the ones to let the rest of us know which portions of the Bible should be literal and which portions should be symbolic or spiritually interpreted/understood.

I will give a quick example of what I am talking about.  In Matthew 5:29 & 30 the following words of Jesus are written:  29) "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee:  for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  30) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee:  for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."  Now here is a very interesting thing to me.  I know of no literal interpretationist who literally believes that we, or anyone, should be plucking out our literal right eye and cutting off our literal right hand.  They rightly interpret the first parts of these verses as being symbolic/spiritual.  However, they will take the second parts of these same verses and interpret them as being literal when it comes to being cast into hell.  Does this make any Biblical sense to anyone?  Of course not!

To symbolize/spiritualize the first part of a verse of Scripture and literalize the second part of the same verse of Scripture is ridiculously foolish and absurd.  It is Biblical madness to say the least.  To say that the plucking out of an eye and the cutting off of a hand is definitely symbolic/spiritual language and then say the hell that a person is cast into is definitely literal, within the same verse, is nothing more than Biblical gymnastics and Scriptural hoop-jumping.  This is done so that the literal interpretationists can justify their belief in a literal burning, blazing and blistering hellish lake of fire without making themselves look too foolish by saying that people should literally pluck out their eyes and cut off their hands.

Well, I have written much more than what most people really want to read or hear.  I am sorry if anyone is offended by my lengthy exposition.  

Edited by D. Bovee
correcting misspelled words
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I literally believe that it is indeed literally better to pluck out one's eye or cut off one's hand (and live the rest of one's life maimed) than to literally spend eternity in the literal lake of fire.

There is literally nothing symbolic about the comparison that Christ was referring to. 

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