Review：The baptism of the Holy Spirit (Betray one's true self)
It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is not the mind that moves. Even the patriarch, you do not see anywhere. If you have a close grasp of the matter, you will see how the two monks, intending to buy iron, got gold. Then the patriarch will impatiently burst into laughter and betray his true self.《The Gateless Gate, Case 29: Not the Wind, Not the Flag》
The epicenter of gentile church movement
As early as the third century BC, translation of The Old Testament into Greek was initiated in Alexandria which was one of the leading cultural centers of the Hellenistic world. The initiative is attributed to Egyptian King Ptolemy II Philadelphs. This indicates that Judaism had already been spread among gentiles, especially the Greeks who did not understand Hebrew, till the third century BC.
According to Mr. Shlomo Sand, Professor of history at Tel Aviv University, the Jewish population in Palestine was only about 800 thousand in the 1st century. In contrast, the Jewish population in the world was about 4 million. At its high point there, Judaism was professed by 7 to 8 percent of all the Roman empire's inhabitants. There might have been much more huge number of reserve army of believers who had not been circumcised and could not participate in the synagogue.
Overwhelming majority of Jews used Greek
It means that the overwhelming majority of Jews used neither Hebrew nor Aramaic but used Greek at that time. In other words, the center of Judaism had been moved from Hebrew and Aramaic-speaking Jews of Israel to Greek-speaking believers in overseas by the time Jesus was born. And that is why the Apostles, including Paul, also exclusively used the Greek translation of the Old Testament.
Aristobulus, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher of the Peripatetic school, who lived in Alexandria in the 3rd or 2nd century B.C., attempted to interpret Judaism with Greek philosophy. His successor Philo merged Plato's philosophy with the Bible. Mr. James D. Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, says, "The Jewish philosopher Philo (c25 BC-47 AD) honored Plato, the great advocate of ascetic dualism, next to Moses himself."
Given that Egyptian King Ptolemy II initiated to translate The Old Testament, which has big volume and a wide range, including stories, poetry, legal documents and proverbs, rather than documents on diplomacy or trade which have been translated in various regions of the world over the history of mankind and Roman emperor Nero appointed a Samaritan called Simon Magus, who is often referred as the founder of Gnosticism and is also said to be one of the disciples of John the Baptist, as his religious adviser, it appears that the ethnic policy toward the Jews was one of the most important political issues of the Mediterranean world at that time.
Rufus's mother and Paul's conversion
Paul wrote, "Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me. (Roma 16:13)" at the end of 'Epistle to the Romans.'
As Roman soldiers led Jesus to the place called Golgotha to crucify him, they forced a man called Simon from Cyrene passing by to carry the cross. It is a story that appears in all three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Especially the Gospel of Mark notes that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. This note implies that Alexander and Rufus were prominent leaders of Christ church at the time.
Although the three gospels seem to describe Simon as a country man, Cyrene was a big city facing the Mediterranean Sea, comparable to Alexandria in those days. Given that some versions of the Gospels have translated into "farm" instead of "rural," then he might have had been an owner of ranch. In any case, Simon should have been influential person with a financial power to pilgrimage to Jerusalem with two his sons all the way from North Africa.
It is also difficult to believe that Roman soldiers forced a stranger just passing by to carry the cross instead of Jesus being executed for treason. Therefore Simon might have been appointed to carry the cross from the beginning. Otherwise, the writers of the Gospels had no way to get the informations such as his name and his place of origin.
Rufus seems to have become a disciple of Jesus in latter's lifetime because Paul describes him as a disciple whom the Lord picked out to be his very own. And if Rufus mentioned by Paul in his letter is same person of the son of Simon, Jesus might appointed by himself Simon to be a man to carry his cross and follow him.
Furthermore, it seems quite be unusual that Paul describes Rufus' mother "She has been a mother to me." It is impossible that Paul was a uterine brother of Rufus. Then it might mean that she was a spiritual mother who converted Paul to Christianity.
Manifestos of Church Movement
Paul wrote this letter in the city of Corinth in southern Greece during his second evangelistic journey and listed 27 names of leaders and families belonged to the Church of Rome including Rufus and his mother. A name looked like a member of Herod royal family, Herodion, is also seen in the list. It seems that Tertius, one of the followers in Cenchrea, a city near Corinth, wrote the letter for Paul under the witness of Gaius, a host to the whole church in Corinth and Erastus, the city treasurer and his brother Quartus and Phoebe, a deacon in the church in Cenchrea, was entrusted the letter to send to Rome.
Therefore, it can be seen that the communities of the vast gentile believers were present not only in Asia Minor but also in Greece and even in Rome. The origins of these gentile believers' communities can date back to a few hundred years before the birth of Jesus. The content of this letter, which consists of 16 chapters, is vast and diverse. It can be said a manifesto to clarify the position of the church movement that Paul led to the Church of Rome rather than a personal letter of Paul.
At the end of the letter, Paul also says, "And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people's faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. (Roma 16:17)" Thus it can be known that there were different groups with different manifestos approaching the gentile believers around the Mediterranean coast.
Warning against factionalism
In 'the First Epistle to Timothy,' Paul says, "Then you will hold on to faith. You will hold on to a good sense of what is right and wrong. Some have not accepted this knowledge of right and wrong. So they have destroyed their faith. They are like a ship that has sunk. Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them. I have handed them over to Satan. That will teach them not to speak evil things against God. (1 Timothy 1:19-20)" And in 'the Second Epistle to Timothy,' he is warning, "Remember Alexander, the one who works with metal. He did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will pay him back for what he has done. You too should watch out for him. He strongly opposed our message. (2 Timothy 4:14-15)" If the men called Alexander in 'the First and the Second Epistle to Timothy' are a same man, the Alexander seems to be different from the son of Simon who carried the cross for Jesus.
In 'the Second Epistle to Timothy,' Paul once again warns, "Stay away from godless chatter. Those who take part in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like a deadly sickness. Hymenaeus and Philetus are two of those teachers. They have turned away from the truth. They say that the time when people will rise from the dead has already come. They destroy the faith of some people. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)" Apparently it seems the difference of recognition with respect to the timing of the resurrection of the dead had occurred among the believers.
Paul's faith of "Second Coming"
Before this, Paul preached that Jesus' second coming would realize while he was alive and at that time, the martyrs, the dead in Christ, would rise first and then believers who were still alive, including Paul himself, would be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, in 'The First Epistle to the Thessalonians,' which was also written in Corinth.
He says, "For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)"
Ambiguity of Paul's theology
However, on the one hand, Paul taught that the believers could obtain eternal life after the Second Coming of Christ, saying, "And this is the message I proclaim — that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone's secret life. (Roma 2:16)" On the other hand, he preached that those who believed in Jesus could obtain eternal life at that point in time, saying, "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Roma 6:4) And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Roma 8:2)"
And he said, "So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. (Roma 3:28)" on the one hand. But he preached on the other hand that believers had an obligation to do right, saying, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Roma 6:18)"
More over, he was using the word of 'death' as the meaning for 'spiritual death' and for 'physical death' separately. For example, he says, "Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, in sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. (Roma 7:9-11)"
Therefore, the disciples, who did not understand such ambiguity of Paul's theology, seem to have criticized each other. Although both 'the First and the Second Epistle to Timothy' mentioned above have been included in the 14 Paul's letters of the New Testament, after recent research, it is found that these two letters are extremely less likely to have been written by Paul himself, according to the Japanese version of Wikipedia.
Rebuilding of the faith of "Second Coming"
In contrast, 'the First Epistle to the Thessalonians' is one of the 7 letters which are said to be the most likely to have been written by Paul himself. Therefore, Paul seems to have actually preached, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)"
At the time, the coming of savior based on the prophecy of the Old Testament Book of Daniel was believed widely. And the manifesto of the Jerusalem Church was made also based on such folk belief. However, after all, the second coming of Christ did not happen in the lifetime of Paul. As a direct result of the Jewish war, Jerusalem church itself also disappeared. It seems that for this reason, 'the Book of Revelation' was written as a sequel of "Daniel's prophecy" and tried to rebuild the faith of "Second Coming."
Betray one's true self
When the sixth patriarch HuiNeng (638-713), one of the great Chan (Zen) masters during the period of the Tang Dynasty in China, was still young and stayed at a temple called FaXing-si in Guangdong province, he hoisted a flag to let people know that Chief priest YinZong was going to hold the lecture of the Nirvana Sutra. Two monks started to have an argument looking at the flag flapping by the wind. One said, "The flag is moving." The other said, "The wind is moving." They argued back and forth but could not reach the truth. The sixth patriarch said, "It is not the wind that moves. It is not the flag that moves. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe.
WuMen HuiKai(1182-1260), who wrote "WumenGuan," an analects of Koan (Koans are subjects which Zen masters give their students in the meditation hall) during the Sung Dynasty in China, commented, "It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is not the mind that moves. Even the patriarch, you do not see anywhere. If you have a close grasp of the matter, you will see how the two monks, intending to buy iron, got gold. Then the patriarch will impatiently burst into laughter and betray his true self." 《The Gateless Gate, Case 29: Not the Wind, Not the Flag》
Incidentally, Sojun Ikkyu (1394-1481), a distinguished Zen priest who lived in the late Muromachi period of Japan and is said to have been the illegitimate child of Emperor Gokomatsu, composed a comic tanka poem, saying, "The Buddha is mischievous, come to this world to lead many people astray."＜To be continued.＞
What is "Baptism with The Holy Spirit"?
According to the dialectic of the Gospel of John,
【Thesis】"A man can possess eternal life through accepting testimony of the Son of man and being baptized by him." (John 5:24)
【Anti-thesis】But "The one who comes from the earth cannot accept the testimony by one from heaven."(John 3:32)
How then can a man possess eternal life?
【Synthesis】"If you want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, you can just go back to the word which was with God in the beginning (John 1:1) and certify that God is truthful. (John 3:33)"
When he said, "You are Huichao," Zen Master Fayan thrusted vivid Self in Huichao in front of his eyes. (P.171)
◆Recruitment of Ad-SEAnews Canvassers
Your Comments / Unsubscribe
SEAnews world circulation