Bible Studies/Gods body in OT

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Question
Bro Readout,
I recently listened to a teaching session where you discussed the topic of whether God had a body in the O.T. and if Melchizedek was one. I agreed with you in that he had to be God himself according to the definitions given in the Bible of him that would not fit a mortal. You did not convince me that God had no previous body though. Just the opposite, especially with Melchizedek.

Below are some direct quotes from you.
a.  "if Melchizedek was Gods body in the OT what need would he have for another, he wouldn't, it was a temporary manifestation".
b.  "if Melchizedek was more than a temporary priest there would be no need for Christ because he is a priest forever"
c. " how could there be another without there being two or more bodies?"
d. " God had many manifestations but only one body, Melchizedek and the Angel of the Lord were only temporary manifestations, Jesus was his only body"
e.  "if Melchizedek's body was the same as Christ's what need would there have been for Christ?"
f.  "Melchizedek was a temporary manifestation of God as was the dove", "physical appearance does not mean body", " he was a theophany".
g.   " Christ was born, not pre-existant"
h.   " The question is your definition of body"," I'll define body from the Bible, it has to have tangibility and the ability to decompose into its base elements, return to dust or see corruption". " The Angel of the Lord and Melchizedek had a body only in appearance because they couldn't decompose".
i.  "Any argument that says God had a body in the OT is trying to confirm a trinitarian idea and contradicts scripture, the Word became flesh".

         Questions and Comments on the above!
a.  the reason he would need another body was because the OT body had no blood. 1Jo 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood ...;
b.  Melchizedek is also a priest forever if he has no end of days. Can Melchizedek be with no beginning and no end if its just a temporary manifestation. "No end", cannot mean temporary.
c.  the OT body is the Logos of John 1. Logos = expression. The OT body was Gods expression and was with God and was God and became flesh.
d.  Melchizedek (this manifestation) was without days, never ceased to be but did change or become flesh.
e.  OT body was not the same, it became flesh.
f.   Agree that physical appearance does not mean body.  Also does not mean the opposite.
g.  Agree, the man Christ Jesus had his beginning at his birth.  The Word or His expression was with God prior to Christ.
h.  I think the Bible definition given is incomplete. The definition provided is suitable for a fleshly or human   
body but not for a Biblical body or an OT heavenly or angelic body. In Corinthians Paul mentions terrestrial and celestial bodies. So there can be a body without it being fleshly or visible to humans or being able to see corruption.  As far as there bodies being able to go back to the base elements of which they were created from I suppose it would be likely, Col. 1:7 by Him all things consist.
i.  I'm not a trinitarian or bitarian. I just don't see a problem with God having a real heavenly body in the OT.  I don't think a body has to relate to the physical realm. Supernatural bodies are as real as natural.

  Conclusion:
It seems to me that God did have a body in the OT.  God is invisible to his creation so he has a body to relate to them. In the beginning (Genesis) God created and in the beginning (John 1) was the Word and it was with God and was God. The translation of Logos to the Word in John 1, I would like to retranslate with expression. So His expression was with Him in the beginning. Was that expression a body? Was His body with Him in the beginning? The Word became flesh. Did His body or expression become flesh? Appears to me that He had the body that was Melchizedek at the beginning. This body wrestled with Jacob, it was tangeable and with substance, it was real, albeit not fleshly. Like angel food. This body was able to be a priest but not able to
purchase redemption so it had to become flesh and blood. This did not create two bodies, the prior OT body, its essence actually being God became flesh after its prior similitude which was the image of the invisible God. There is a Temple in heaven so there needed to be a High Priest. Melchizedek was that and was without end, Jesus is also that and lives eternally. The Word became flesh, not two or another.  I do not contend that
all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in the OT body or that it needed to in the OT times.

Question or statement?   God is invisible.  But not to himself or there would not be an image.

Thanks for entertaining my comments and questions,
 Keith

Answer
Dear Keith,

It is easier for me to reply using the things you wrote as markers.  The things you wrote will be followed by my responses:

You wrote:
I recently listened to a teaching session where you discussed the topic of whether God had a body in the O.T. and if Melchizedek was one. I agreed with you in that he had to be God himself according to the definitions given in the Bible of him that would not fit a mortal. You did not convince me that God had no previous body though. Just the opposite, especially with Melchizedek.

I respond:
Some of the difficulty you are having comes from the fact that you have missed much that was dealt with in the eighty sessions that preceded this one.  Some of the difficulty arises from the fact that you did not understand the purpose of the lesson, what it was meant to convey to the audience. (We Podcast our services for a specific audience, not the general public.  Unfortunately, I cannot govern who hears the Podcast, nor how those who download the audio distribute it, in spite of the fact that I own the distribution rights.)

So, I did not teach the lesson with any intention of convincing you of anything.  Neither do I intend to convince you of anything by responding to your comments.  But, I will take some time to offer you some suggestions for further study.

The lesson you heard began with a question I had been asked some time ago.  Actually, several people have asked me the question, in various forms.  The first thing I gave in my written response, and which is in the recording you heard were these two questions:
“Did either of you define “body”?  Did either of you consider that physical appearances may not define the reality of the existence?”

I made an issue out of the necessity of coming into agreement about the definition of “body” before it would be possible to come to agreement on an answer to the question.

That issue stands unresolved between us, and perhaps even impossible to resolve.  I had no personal agenda or belief to defend when I responded to the original question.  I was able to look into the Scripture without a bias in order to determine if it spoke to the question.  I wrote my conclusions, and finally taught them in the 81st session of a lesson titled “The Revelation of God from Eternity to Eternity”.

Please consider my reply carefully.


You wrote:
Below are some direct quotes from you.

I respond:
How accurate are these ‘direct quotes”?  Are they actual quotes, or your personal summaries of things I said?  Since some of them contradict my teaching, I suggest that at least some of them are not “direct quotes” at all.


You wrote:
a.  "if Melchizedek was Gods body in the OT what need would he have for another, he wouldn't, it was a temporary manifestation".
b.  "if Melchizedek was more than a temporary priest there would be no need for Christ because he is a priest forever"
c. " how could there be another without there being two or more bodies?"
d. " God had many manifestations but only one body, Melchizedek and the Angel of the Lord were only temporary manifestations, Jesus was his only body"
e.  "if Melchizedek's body was the same as Christ's what need would there have been for Christ?"
f.  "Melchizedek was a temporary manifestation of God as was the dove", "physical appearance does not mean body", " he was a theophany".
g.   " Christ was born, not pre-existant"
h.   " The question is your definition of body"," I'll define body from the Bible, it has to have tangibility and the ability to decompose into its base elements, return to dust or see corruption". " The Angel of the Lord and Melchizedek had a body only in appearance because they couldn't decompose".
i.  "Any argument that says God had a body in the OT is trying to confirm a trinitarian idea and contradicts scripture, the Word became flesh".

         Questions and Comments on the above!

I respond:
Having read all of your “question” before I began writing my response, I can offer you the conclusion here at the beginning:
Until we can agree on the definition of “body” and the difference between it and “manifestation” it is very unlikely that we will ever agree on this subject.

You do not prove any point for which you are contending, and do not prove anything in the lesson I taught to be incorrect.  Much of what you are stating as “fact” is really only assumption.  I will highlight a few examples, but not take the time to expose all of them.


You wrote:
a.  the reason he would need another body was because the OT body had no blood. 1Jo 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood ...;

I respond:
This is an assumption.
1John 5:6 certainly has no application to this particular question.  Our definitions of “body” do not agree, but, supposing that they did, is there any passage of Scripture that states that Melchizedek’s “body” had no blood?

Furthermore, if blood is a component of bodies which decay into the base elements, then the argument that Melchizedek had no blood would eliminate the possibility of him being a “body”.  If “bodies” have blood, and Melchizedek did not, then he wasn’t a “body”.


You wrote:
b.  Melchizedek is also a priest forever if he has no end of days. Can Melchizedek be with no beginning and no end if its just a temporary manifestation. "No end", cannot mean temporary.

I respond:
Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

“Made like unto the Son of God…”  In what ways was Melchizedek made like unto the Son of God?

The phrase “abideth a priest continually” is the one phrase that has the greatest force in the arguments of those who contend that Melchizedek was not a theophany, but a mortal man.  I will not take the time to quote them.  You can do that research yourself.  But, consider this:

The question asked in Hebrews 7:11 can easily apply to this erroneous idea.  If Melchizedek’s “bodily” existence has no end of days, “what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec?”

Remember, neither of us are willing to accept conjecture, so, the assumption that, “Melchizedek’s body had no blood” has no more authority than “the sky is green”.

Where is Melchizedek now?  What is he doing?  When will he stop doing it?


You wrote:
c.  the OT body is the Logos of John 1. Logos = expression. The OT body was Gods expression and was with God and was God and became flesh.

I respond:
That comment begins with an outright error.  Logos absolutely cannot be defined as “body”.

The meaning of “logos” is immensely greater than “expression”.  Much time in previous sessions was given to the definition of the words used to define Jesus Christ in the Bible.  Did you have any opportunity to hear them?

In any case, what Scripture supports the idea that “The OT body was Gods expression”?

It is apparent that you are not defining “body” in any consistent manner based on Scripture.


You wrote:
d.  Melchizedek (this manifestation) was without days, never ceased to be but did change or become flesh.

I respond:
What do you mean by, “but did change or become flesh”?
Again, this is an assumption, without Scriptural support.


You wrote:
e.  OT body was not the same, it became flesh.

I respond:
I think a close examination of Philippians 2 might refute whatever it is you are claiming here.


You wrote:
f.   Agree that physical appearance does not mean body.  Also does not mean the opposite.

I respond:
Is there some relevance to this argument against what I taught?  I never suggested that a “body” would NOT have physical appearance.


You wrote:
g.  Agree, the man Christ Jesus had his beginning at his birth.  The Word or His expression was with God prior to Christ.

I respond:
Seriously, you need to study the meaning of Logos.


You wrote:
h.  I think the Bible definition given is incomplete. The definition provided is suitable for a fleshly or human   
body but not for a Biblical body or an OT heavenly or angelic body. In Corinthians Paul mentions terrestrial and celestial bodies.

I respond:
1st and 2nd Corinthians do indeed have much to say about bodies.  Please go back and consider all of what it says, and also other verses that relate to it.  You might notice that it establishes significant differences between them, and specifies that they are not coexistent.  You will have to be changed before you can inhabit the one that is both from heaven and eternal in the heavens.

For example, our future body will be like unto his glorious body.
Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
1John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

And, His resurrection body was flesh, and could be handled by mortal men.
Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Furthermore, my definition of “body” was not intended to be exhaustive.  Neither did I suggest that it applied to every possible use of the Hebrew and Greek words that can be translated “body”. I offered two very specific components the Bible applies to the definition of “body” in the same sense the question I was asked used it.


You wrote:
So there can be a body without it being fleshly or visible to humans or being able to see corruption.

I respond:
Considering that Philippians 3:21, 1John 3:2, and Luke 24:39 prove that the resurrection body of Jesus Christ included flesh and bone, your statement remains an assumption, not a Biblical fact.


You wrote:
As far as there bodies being able to go back to the base elements of which they were created from I suppose it would be likely, Col. 1:7 by Him all things consist.

I respond:
I think you meant to write “their” (belonging to them)  rather than “there” (at that location), and Colossians 1:17 rather than 1:7.  If not, please explain what you intended.

If I were going to try to establish that idea, I would not take [Colossians 1:17] out of its context to attempt it.  Maybe 1Corinthians 15:24-28 would be useful.
But, all of that is irrelevant to the question I was addressing.


You wrote:
i.  I'm not a trinitarian or bitarian. I just don't see a problem with God having a real heavenly body in the OT.  I don't think a body has to relate to the physical realm. Supernatural bodies are as real as natural.

I respond:
I really do not mean any of my comments to be offensive, but that paragraph sums up the problem pretty well.  You do not offer a Biblical argument to support your belief, nor to refute what I taught.  You do have a belief into which you are strongly invested.  The fact that you do  not see the problem I see does not mean the problem does not exist.  The fact that you do not think a body (however you define it) has to relate to the physical realm does not mean that it doesn’t.  Actually, you and I would probably not agree about how to define “physical realm” and “spiritual realm”.  I have spent much time working on that subject, too.  It was a very challenging and uncomfortable study.

My agreeing or disagreeing with you, or your agreeing or disagreeing with me is irrelevant, since we have not agreed on the definition of the terms applicable to the question I was answering or the reason for which I was teaching it to my congregation.


You wrote:
  Conclusion:
It seems to me that God did have a body in the OT.  God is invisible to his creation so he has a body to relate to them.

I respond:
Can you offer me some way to define “body” as it relates to Him who is Omnipresent?  Or are you demanding that God is NOT omnipresent, or that He somehow ceases to be omnipresent when He becomes a “body”?


You wrote:
In the beginning (Genesis) God created and in the beginning (John 1) was the Word and it was with God and was God.

I respond:
John 1:1 chronologically precedes Genesis 1:1.   Those who heard the earlier sessions of this study know the undeniable biblical proof of that statement.


You wrote:
The translation of Logos to the Word in John 1, I would like to retranslate with expression.

I respond:
“Expression” does not even come close to defining “Logos” as used in either the gospel or first epistle of John.

My summary of what I learned when I studied the meaning and use of “Logos” (particularly in John and 1John) was taught early in the series (before and in session #37):
“The totality God’s self-revelation. The outward expression of the essence of the mind thinking the thought expressed.  The communication whereby the mind finds expression.  A collection of those things which are put together in thought, gathered together in the mind, and having been thought, are expressed in words. Accordingly, a twofold use of the term is to be distinguished: one which relates to speaking, and one which relates to thinking.
“Logos does not imply visible appearance or physical substance.”

That definition is a summary of what many scholars of Biblical Greek have written about the meaning of The Logos.


You wrote:
So His expression was with Him in the beginning.

I respond:
When you have read Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1, have you ever asked yourself the question, “In the beginning of what?”
Did God have a beginning?  No, God is eternal, having neither beginning nor end.  He is BEFORE all beginnings.

Knowing what “the beginning” is the beginning OF is theologically important. (All of that was explained in earlier sessions of this lesson, too.)

So, was the Logos “with God” BEFORE the beginning?

What does Revelation 3:14 mean when the Lord Jesus claims to be “the beginning of the creation of God”?
What does Colossians 1:18 mean when it defines Jesus Christ as BEING the beginning?


You wrote:
Was that expression a body?

I respond:
Only if the Scriptural definition of “body” includes “expression”.  You seem to define it arbitrarily, so, by your nebulous definition “body” can include whatever you want it to include.

I offered a definition based on direct statements from The Bible, and by that definition, the Logos became a body, as is recorded in John 1:14 and many, many other passages.


You wrote:
Was His body with Him in the beginning?

I respond:
Physically? As a secondary being?  As a thought or a plan?  Immaterial?  Local or omnipresent?  By the definition I agree to, the answer to your “question” is “No.”


You wrote:
The Word became flesh. Did His body or expression become flesh?

I respond:
The questions are nonsensical.  No definition has been established.  Can a being be “flesh” without also being a “body”?

By the definition of body that I offered with Scriptural support, The Logos was not a body until He became flesh.

You have the right to define “body” however you’d like to define it.  But, that does not mean your definition will be correct.


You wrote:
Appears to me that He had the body that was Melchizedek at the beginning. This body wrestled with Jacob, it was tangeable and with substance, it was real, albeit not fleshly.

I respond:
What Scripture states that it was “not fleshly”?  None of the opinions you are stating are validated by Scripture.


You wrote:
Like angel food. This body was able to be a priest but not able to purchase redemption so it had to become flesh and blood. This did not create two bodies, the prior OT body, its essence actually being God became flesh after its prior similitude which was the image of the invisible God. There is a Temple in heaven so there needed to be a High Priest. Melchizedek was that and was without end, Jesus is also that and lives eternally. The Word became flesh, not two or another.

I respond:
All of these comments express opinions, but, the Scripture does not support those opinions.  I am willing for you to make a claim and give the text that validates it.  But, you have given me no reason to agree with those opinions.


You wrote:
I do not contend that all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in the OT body or that it needed to in the OT times.

I respond:
Are you claiming that God’s OT body (or bodies) is/are portions of Himself?  Or divisions of His Person?  Yes, you are.  You may not mean to, but that is what you are saying.  Look at your own words:
“There is a Temple in heaven so there needed to be a High Priest. Melchizedek was that and was without end,”

You insist that Melchizedek was a body, and that body still lives and functions as a priest in the heavenly temple.  So, you have Melchizedek, God’s OT body forever functioning as priest in that temple, and Christ, God’s NT body, existing at the same time, in the same place, and also officiating in the heavenly temple.  So you are teaching that there are two bodies, each body not being the other body, both bodies existing forever, and both bodies doing priestly ministry.  I must absolutely disagree.

Jesus Christ is the One who officiated in that Temple.
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;  12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.


You wrote:
Question or statement?   God is invisible.  But not to himself or there would not be an image.

I respond:
What do you mean when you write, “Question or statement?”  You make two statements.  One is easy for me to agree with, since I know enough Scripture to validate it.  But the second statement expresses a serious lack of understanding, the very lack of understanding “The Revelation of God” lesson was written to eliminate.  I regret it could not be helpful to you.


You wrote:
Thanks for entertaining my comments and questions,

I respond:
Actually, I did not recognize anything you wrote as being questions.  They seem to be more objections to a Biblical answer that contradicted your belief, and an attempt to convince me that my answer was wrong.

My conclusion is that your ideas about this subject are simply wrong.  Some of your opinions are contradictory, none of them are supported by Scripture, and your conclusions are erroneous.

I will happily send you a document that contains the exact text of the slide presentation I was teaching from in that session if you send me an email directly (to <readout@mac.com> and specify AllExperts in the subject line).  It might help you to see what was said, so that what you heard can be refined to resemble what I actually said.  If you will also tell me enough about yourself, I might be convinced to email you a current copy (it is a work in progress) of the whole 472 page lesson, which includes the text used in the slides.  I will not promise to send it, but I will consider it.  I will promise to send the portion that was used in the slide presentation for session #81.

That is the best I can do for you, Keith.

CR

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Clifford H. Readout, Jr.

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Expertise: Preferred subject areas: Biblical doctrine, problem texts, and application of Bible teachings in daily life. Willing to consider questions concerning other aspects of Christianity, as well. Experience and qualifications: Converted to Christianity in 1970 while a student at Indiana University; active in Christian ministry since 1971; President, 1971 - 1973, then Chaplain, 1973 - 1975 of a campus ministry at Indiana University; Director of Campus Ministry for North Central Region of the U.S.A. and Canada, 1975 - 1976; director, dean, and teacher for a Bible College in Kaiserslautern, Germany, 1977; Pastor of the same church since 1978; founder and director of The Foundations Forum (Christian think tank), 1991 to present; District Foreign Missionary Director, 1981-2000; District Superintendent, 2000-2009; Founding Coordinator of Friendship International, a ministry to college and university students around the world, 1997 - 2001; Special Advisor to Friendship International, 2001 to present; Secretary and member of the Board of Trustees for a Graduate School of Theology, 1999 to 2012, and Trustee Emeritus, 2012-2015; Chairman of the Board of Directors and faculty member at the Apostolic Leadership Institute, 2000 to present; internationally known and requested Bible teacher, ministering by missionary and other official invitations in more than fifty nations, and at least thirty-three of the United States; and other minor functions. Husband to the same wonderful lady since 1970, father of three college graduates, and one delightful Down Syndrome son born in 1994.

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