“And God Was the Logos”

Holy Trinity fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta 1738–9, St Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea

Holy Trinity fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta 1738–9, Public Domain

An Excerpt

The following is a preview excerpted from Chapter 2, entitled, “. . . Was the Logos,” of the upcoming book, The Fullness That Fills:  The Unifying Principle of Biblical Revelation by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div.


In his Gospel, John uses the common Greek concept of the Logos (λόγος), “Word,” to introduce aspects of the Messiah concept to Hellenistic readers.

It is no coincidence that John’s Gospel begins with the same words that initiate Genesis, “In the beginning.”  The God who spoke forth the creative Word by which the worlds were made expresses himself not only in Creation but also in his eternal Plan.  At the center of this Plan God placed a self-generating and self-determining (“free-will”) creature, i.e., Man, who represents the height of God’s Creation.  Man, as the height of God’s self-expressive acts of creation flowing out of his very nature, further presupposes redemption of such a creature who seems predisposed to fall.  Connecting the dots, the instrument of redemption from this fall, from the beginning, is a Savior not only commissioned for the task but possessing the divine potency and status to redeem God’s creation.  Who would possess status on the level of God’s stature except a participant in, indeed an associate member of the Godhead?  John is saying to the Greeks and Hellenistic Jews that this Logos for whom they have been looking, and to whom in their philosophy they have perhaps already related the Messiah, is none other than the one immediately preceded by John the Baptist, preached by him, and by whom was baptized—and who now has become Savior of the world.

Here, this preview omits the following headings:

  • “The Personification of Wisdom”
  • “‘Son of Man” and ‘Son of God'”
  • “‘Firstborn’ and ‘Only-Begotten'”
  • “Hellenistic and Rabbinic Speculations”
  • “The Logos and the Prologue of John”

Logos in Greek

“And God Was the Logos

Therefore, approaching the Prologue of John without a “doubtful mind” toward its origins, let us examine its content in regard to its overall contribution and application to the present study, meanwhile attempting to dispel any misapprehensions or myths.

The Prologue begins as a transparently intentional reflection of Genesis 1.  Its first words, en archē, are identical with the Septuagint rendering, along with other verbal correspondences, including its simple modes of verbal expression.  The correspondence to the Hebrew original, b’reshith, “in the beginning,” is no less striking.  Robinson further notes in detail the verbal correspondences between John 1:1 and 1 John 1:1 f.1  The latter begins with ho ēn ap’ archēs, “that which was from the beginning,” referring not directly to “the Word of Life” (seemingly a personification of Eternal Life in the form of Christ, its giver), but indirectly, by way of that which had been observed of him by the Apostles during his Incarnation.  That the Word was (existed) in the beginning obviously signifies preexistence, but by itself neither justifies nor denies the Arian view that Christ was created along with the rest of Creation, or was created, chronologically, first.  The Imperfect Tense of the verb “was” does not simply express past action but carries about as much of a continuous sense as is typical of the Present Tense, or at least expresses duration.  It is not punctiliar (the opposite of durative), as is the Aorist Tense, expressing action that occurred then ceased at a point in time; nor does it, as in the Perfect Tense, emphasize the action as completed.  B. F. Westcott writes, “The ‘being’ of the Word is thus necessarily carried beyond the limits of time, though the pre-existence of the Word is not definitely stated”; hence “was” describes “a continuous state.  The imperfect tense suggests in this relation, as far as human language can do so, the notion of absolute, supra-temporal, existence.”2  According to Johnston, “In the beginning the Logos already was, and then at a point of time all things came into being through Him. Thus eternal existence seems to be implied, though not directly asserted.”3  “The former is a ‘being,’ the latter a ‘becoming.'”4  Stevens agrees,

The Word was at the beginning; he existed before the world came into being. It is true that John does not employ the words eternal or eternity in the connection, but we hold that this idea is involved in the logical relation between the terms was and in the beginning. When John speaks of that which comes into existence he uses both a different word and a different tense [panta di’ auton egeneto, etc., 1:8]. All things came into being, but at the beginning of all things, he was.5

More provocative, if only by way of implication, is Christ’s statement of John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Oepke purports that in John, “ideas of pre-existence develop almost imperceptibly from the underlying general conception.”6  Let it suffice for now to presume that if Christ is, in his person, the self-expression of God, there was no conceivable time in the past, ad infinitum, that God did not in some way express himself.  John Calvin objects to those who “reduce Christ to the common order of the world,” by accounting him to be a created being, giving “insult not only to the Son of God, but to his eternal Father, whom they deprive of his wisdom,” and follows Augustine of Hippo in deprecating “those who conceive of any point of time when he went before his Wisdom,” who thus “deprive him of his glory.”7

John 1:1-2

Both verses 1 and 2 state that the Logos was pros ton theon, most often translated “with God.”  However, pros in this construction overwhelmingly means “toward.”8  T. K. Abbott prefers “with a view to,” perhaps “looking to,” either of which carries much the same thought as “toward.”9  Coupled with the example of pros ton patera (“toward the Father”) in 1 John 1:2, and in contrast to meta tou patros . . . (“with/after the Father,” etc.) in the following verse, Meyer is on solid ground to infer from our passage “the existence of the Logos in God in respect of intercourse.”10  A. T. Robertson states that “The idea seems to be ‘facing,'” comparing pros to German gegen, and suggesting the meaning in John 1:1, “face to face with God.”11  The fact that it is Logos who is the subject and God the object of the preposition seems significant: one conceives the Logos being disposed toward, attentive to, even beholden toward God, whereas God is the focus of that concern.  Stevens explains that the choice of the preposition pros over para “emphasizes a direction or tendency of life.  The moral movement of his life is centred in God, and ever goes out toward God.”  John’s purpose was “to show how the Son is fitted to reveal God to mankind, and it is his essential and eternal relation to the Father which would constitute the ground of that fitness.”12

The phrase commonly translated, “the Word was God,” represents perhaps the stickiest exegetical problem of all, bearing as it does on the fundamental nature of the Godhead in regard to the Trinity.  Its meaning hinges upon a deceptively simple but rigid syntactic and semantic construction, including the internal order of its words, such that the depth of its meaning lies beyond the competence of “armchair” interpreters.  (Indeed, it has suffered at the hands of many purported “scholars.”)  The phrase does not read, “the Word was the God” (ho logos ēn ho theos), which would seem to particularize and equate both God and the Word, but “God was the Word” (theos ēn ho logos). To equate the person of God with the person of the Logos, Meyer notes, is contradicted by pros ton theon in verses 1 and 2, which already distinguishes two persons.  Theos “can only be the predicate, not the subject,” so that “The predicate is placed before the subject emphatically (comp. iv. 24 [pneuma ho theos), so that] the progress of the thought [is], ‘He was with God, and (not at all a Person of an inferior nature, but) possessed of a divine nature . . . .'”  Thus “John neither desires to indicate, on the one hand, identity of Person with the Father; nor yet, on the other, any lower nature than that which God Himself possesses,” even though the subordination of the Son to the Father is maintained.13  Calvin concurs:

We have already said that the Son of God is thus placed above the world and above all the creatures, and is declared to have existed before all ages.  But at the same time this mode of expression attributes to him a distinct personality from the Father; for it would have been absurd in the Evangelist to say that the Speech was always with God, if he had not some kind of subsistence peculiar to himself in God.14

Johnston moreover notes that John uses theos and not ho theos, such that “the thought is rather of the nature of the Logos than of His personality.”15  By virtue of this very strict grammatical construction, John maintains the distinction between God and the Logos and, at the same time, “an identity of essence.”16

From his exalted position beside God, the Logos participated in the creation of all things.  As the Word, by which God spoke forth, “Let there be light,” etc., the Logos was not just the personification of a divine faculty, as was Wisdom, but the instrument by which God’s purpose was accomplished.  “God is the Creator in the absolute sense, but the Logos is the co-efficient agent of God in creating, sustaining, and governing the world,” wrote Stevens; “All things were created by (dia) him, and for (eis) him,” (Col. 1:16, see also Heb. 1:2).17  (Literally, John 1:3 begins, “All things through (dia) him became,” etc.)  That there was nothing done without the presence or instrumentality of the Logos speaks not only of his presence throughout, but his own exclusive status as firstborn and only-begotten.  It must also be suggested that this statement further supports his preexistence to Creation since, were he part of “all things,” he could hardly be said to have created himself.

Moreover, John writes panta and not ta panta, the latter suggesting “in a mass” or in “totality”; rather, “each separate thing is the handiwork of the Divine Logos.”18  As shall become clear during the course of this study, original Creation was just the precursor, foundation, or firstfruit of the fullness which is ever bestowed by God on his created beings, and ultimately through Christ on his Church.  “And of his fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16).19

“In Him Life Was”

john1-1-5“In him life was,” en autō zōē ēn, “and the life was the light of men,” kai hē zōē ēn to phōs tōn anthropōn.  John uses the same Imperfect Tense verb, “was,” used in verses 1 and 2, to express not only a durative state of being full of life, but also in terms of Christ constantly bestowing, through his life, light upon Mankind (and through his light, in turn, life upon Mankind).  Robertson describes the sense of the Imperfect as “a sort of moving panorama, a ‘moving-picture show.'”20  Add to this the Present (and durative) sense of “shines” in the following verse, and one may presume that to John, the past endowment of life invested in the Logos endured and was still shining in his own time and beyond.21  Bernard exclaims, “Jn. does not say ‘the Light SHONE,’ but ‘the Light SHINES.'”22

The equation Life = the Light of Men in verse 4 may be explained in terms of John 8:12:  Christ as Light of the World conveys the light of the truth of the Gospel, able to bring life to those who follow him (see also 9:5).  In 3:14 ff., Christ has provided for Eternal Life, but those who choose evil hate and reject the light.  Those who fail to walk in the light stumble (11:9 f.), hence should do their walking while they have the light (12:35 f.).  Since Christ lights the world, Men need not walk in darkness (12:46).  Eternal Life stems from knowing God and Christ (17:3, et al.).  “Life was that which existed in Him, of which He was full,” writes Meyer.23

Men should walk in the light because God is light (1 Jn. 1:5 ff.).  Not only does Life = the Light of Men, but John maintains a strict dichotomy (or dualism) between darkness = sin, versus light = goodness and truth.  “Light and darkness in the prologue, and in the Gospel elsewhere, are not abstract metaphysical conceptions, but ethical conceptions,” concludes Stevens.  “Darkness is sin, and light is goodness.”24

In verses 7 and 8, Light is personified, obviously as a metaphor for the One who gives light, in terms of spiritual, arguably even intellectual enlightenment (“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” Jn. 8:31 f.).  John the Baptist had only represented God’s light in a metaphorical sense (Jn. 5:35) as one who conveyed the “light” of Gospel truth consciously and intellectually (i.e., the message); but in doing so, he refers to the One and Only who is himself the personification of that truth (Jn. 1:6 ff., see also 1:15, 26 ff.), as well as of the Eternal Life which that truth conveys.  Just as “In the beginning,” echoes Genesis 1:1, references to Jesus as “that Light” in John 1:4 ff. echo the creation of light in Genesis 1:3.25

The next few verses proceed in logical, not chronological order. (Some interpreters delay consideration of the Incarnation until verse 14, whereas verses 10 and 11, “He was in the world,” etc., obviously refer to Christ’s Incarnation, as well.)  John’s point is the acceptance or rejection by “his own” versus “as many as”—those believing and accepting him—being granted the gift of “power” (exousia, “authority,” “right,” “ability,” not dunamis, “power,” “might,” “ability”)26 to acquire sonship through believing.

Both the concepts light and sonship through new birth (“born of God,” Jn. 1:13) are paralleled by Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 as he marvels that a “teacher of Israel” could remain ignorant of spiritual rebirth.  Christ speaks of the things “which we know” and “which we have seen,” amounting to the light of the Gospel which has been received, and equivalent to those “heavenly things” which cannot be understood except by way of faith in the Son of Man, who “came down from heaven” (3:10, 12 f.).27  Yet the choice is Man’s, to “hate the light” and avoid it in an attempt to evade conviction, or to “do truth” and “come to the light” to display works of God wrought through faith (3:20 f.).  The “light” has nevertheless been provided if Man will accept it.  Johnston considers that “every man” refers to “Not all men in the mass, but every individual receives his own share of the Logos-light.”28  “But the Light, while it is the prerogative of men, is the possession of all men. If it is limited to men, it is not limited to any one section of humanity.  The Light is diffused everywhere.  It shineth in the darkness.”29  Johnston concludes,

The separation of the world from God is not the result of any inherent law of the universe, but the result of sin, the moral choice of human free will.  The divine order of the universe is that in which the Logos-life and the Logos-light should everywhere be present and potent.  But it is in the power of man’s free will, as we shall see in vv. 10, ii, to violate and oppose this divine order.  The activity of the Logos is thwarted, though it is not defeated, by the sinfulness and selfishness of man.  Sin is a deliberate shutting out of the Logos-light, and a remaining in the darkness and isolation of self.30

The above thoughts perhaps help interpret “the light of men” (Jn. 1:4) and “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (1:9).  Everyone has been provided with a measure of light, but not all receive it, and not all light is “true light.”  As Jesus said,

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.  Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.  If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light (Lk. 11:34–36).

And similarly,

For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.  And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?  Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth (Jn. 9:39–41).

“And the Logos was made flesh, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us” (Jn. 1:13).

“Tabernacle” (skēnē or skēnōma) literally means “tent” or similar structure, the implication being that of a temporary, short-term, or perhaps unsubstantial dwelling.  The word is used in the Septuagint to describe the original “tent of witness/testimony” (as Ex. 38:21) or “tent of the congregation” (as Ex. 39:32), but was sometimes applied later to the temples that replaced it, even a future heavenly one.  Still “tabernacle” is differentiated from a temple referred to as a “house” (as 1 Chr. 6:32), and God declared his intention, up till the establishment of David’s kingdom under Solomon, to have no permanent dwelling place (1 Chr. 17:3 ff.), further implying the transitory nature of tabernacles.  At the Transfiguration, Peter suggested that they erect tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, respectively (Mt. 17:4 and parallels), probably thinking more in terms of temporary resting places, by way of hospitality, than shrines (for which substantiality would seem more appropriate, but which would also be problematic in terms of Jewish religious prohibitions against idolatry and competition with the Jerusalem Temple).  The idea of a tabernacle became a metaphor for the mortal body, with emphasis on the transient nature of human existence and a preference for future immortality (2 Cor. 5:1 ff., 2 Peter 1:13 f.).  Meyer notes that the tabernacle was the place where God’s shekinah was revealed, which in his mind is reflected in John’s statement, “we beheld his glory” (Jn. 1:14).31

After another use of the Imperfect Tense (“He was in the world,” 1:10), the last segment of the Prologue now presents us with a spate of Aorist Tense verbs.  Zerwick and Grosvenor account “tabernacled” in verse 14 to be either an inceptive (also called ingressive) use of the aorist, i.e., he “took up his abode (incarnation)”; or a constative (global) use, i.e., he “dwelt among us (earthly life).”32  Robertson classes the same verb a constative aorist, which carries the basic connotation of the Aorist Tense, that of expressing action simply taking place at a point in time (hence, “punctiliar”).  “The ‘constative’ aorist,” he explains, “just treats the act as a single whole entirely irrespective of the parts or time involved.”  He assigns diverse usages to the other verbs in the passage.  “Know” in verse 10, “received” in verse 12, and “became” in verse 14, are ingressive aorist, emphasizing the beginning of the action.  Robertson describes “beheld” in verse 14 and “received” in verse 16 as examples of the effective (or resultative) use of the Aorist, in which the conclusion of the action is emphasized.33

Regardless, John’s choice of tense in this passage makes it clear that in his mind, all the action that he describes is accomplished—”done, and done”:  hence, by the Word the world became (accomplished).  The world did not know him (accomplished).  He came unto his own (accomplished), but his own did not receive him (accomplished).  But all who received him (accomplished), he gave power (accomplished) to become sons of God (accomplished).  From God, those who believe in him were born (accomplished).  The Word became flesh (accomplished) and dwelt among us (accomplished).  We beheld his glory (accomplished).  From his fullness we have all received (accomplished).  The Law, Moses gave (accomplished), but grace and truth through Jesus Christ became (accomplished).  No one has seen God, but the only-begotten Son declared him (accomplished).  Thus John sees Christ’s work, in terms of a new Creation through his Incarnation, to be finished.  In Christ’s own words,

My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work (Jn 4:34).

But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape (Jn. 5:36 f.).

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do (Jn. 17:4).

It is finished (Jn. 19:30).

With the words, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt. 3:2 and parallels), the Baptist had launched the New Testament Gospel; and by baptizing Jesus, inaugurated the Church Age, the Age of the Indwelling Spirit.  “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17, see also Mk. 1:14 f.).  In Christ’s revelation of himself as the Logos, moreover, he has revealed God’s unfathomable grace toward Man.  The age is to be that of “grace and truth,” drawing upon the fullness of the risen Christ, and the worship to be “in Spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23 f.), according to his example and his commandments.  For these purposes, God through Christ provided the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, as the resource for spiritual enablement and the continuing bestowal of grace.  Hence Paul applies the term charismata (“graces,” “grace things”) to miraculous, spiritual manifestations of grace.

“We became sharers, in the plenitude of divine blessing which came to the world in Christ, and, in consequence, one gift of grace has succeeded another,” Stevens summarizes, with reference to “grace upon grace” (charis anti charitos) in Jn 1:16.34  Contrary to popular conception, the preposition anti does not usually mean “against.”  Often it carries the connotation of substitution or exchange, perhaps “equivalence.”35  Compare “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” (Mt. 5:38), and “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17).  According to Robertson, its “etymological picture” is “face to face,” suggesting the image of two men carrying a log while facing each other.36  In regard to its use in John 1:16, Zerwick and Grosvenor suggest the “idea of succession rather than substitution, one grace after another, grace upon grace.”37  Robertson does not disagree:  “As the days come and go a new supply takes the place of the grace already bestowed as wave follows wave upon the shore.  Grace answers (α̉ντὶ) to grace.”38


1 John A. T. Robinson, “The Relation of the Prologue to the Gospel of St John,” New Testament Studies 9 (January 1963):123 f.

2 Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes, vol. I (London: John Murray, 1908), p. 5.

3 J. S. Johnston, The Philosophy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study of the Logos-Doctrine: Its Sources and Its Significance (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1909), p. 21.

4 Johnston, p. 27.

5 George B. Stevens, The Johannine Theology: A Study of the Doctrinal Contents of the Gospel and Epistles of the Apostle John (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894), p. 89.

6 Oepke, “Eis,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. II, p. 423.  See further on preexistence, F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), pp. 60 ff.

7 John Calvin, Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John, vol. I, trans. William Pringle, The Calvin New Translations, Instituted A. D. 1843 for the Publication of the Works of John Calvin in English (Edinburgh: Printed for the Calvin Translation Society, 1847), pp. 27 f.

8 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934), pp. 622 ff.

9 T. K. Abbott, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1916) p. 276 f.

10 Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of John, Vol. I, 2d ed., trans. William Urwick, trans. rev. and ed. Frederick Crombie, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Part II, ed. William P. Dickson and Frederick Crombie (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1883), p. 67; see also Johnston, p. 23.

11 Robertson, p. 623.  The Centenary Translation of the New Testament, trans. Helen Barrett Montgomery (The American Baptist Publication Society, 1924), concurs with “face to face with God.”

12 Stevens, p. 90.

13 Meyer, pp. 67 f.

14 Calvin, p. 28.

15 Johnston, p. 25.

16 Stevens, p. 91.

17 Stevens, p. 93.  Dia, “by” or “through,” instead of the locative en, “in,” or the instrumental en, “by.”  Eis, normatively translated “into” or “unto,” often conveys purpose or result, e.g., “for the purpose of.”

18 Johnston, p. 28.

19 See Stevens, p. 96.

20 Robertson, p. 883.  He notes, pp. 882 f., that the aorist form for “was” (ēn) is identical, but a punctiliar sense hardly fits the passage at hand.

21 Aorist “comprehended” is, in relation to present-tense “shines,” perhaps an example of a “timeless Aorist.”  This accords well with Westcott’s earlier description of a “supra-temporal” sense; nevertheless, its normative action would be punctiliar, though sometimes translatable as Present Indicative, see Robertson, pp. 842 f.

22 J. H. Bernard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, The International Critical Commentary, ed. A. H. McNeile, vol. I (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929), p. 5.

23 Meyer, p. 71.

24 Stevens, p. 100.

25 See Peder Borgen, “Logos Was the True Light:  Contributions to the Interpretation of the Prologue of John,” Novum Testamentum 14 (April 1972):124.

26 See Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed., trans. and adapted by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, rev. and aug. by F. Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979), under exousia and dunamis, respectively.

27 Verses 11–13 probably refer to Dt. 30:11-14, in which Moses declared that the Hebrews need not wonder about God’s will, and imagine that they need to send a prophet to fetch and inquire into it, since it has already been delivered to them in the Law, if only they believe and obey.  To this text Paul refers, Rom. 10:6 ff., specifically in reference to acquiring the righteousness which is by faith—which lately had been declared in the Gospel, but ought to have been understood already from the examples of Abraham and the intent of Moses’ Law.  Christ, after this reference, proceeds immediately to cite the example of the brazen serpent of Numbers 21, which demonstrated salvation by faith in response to obedience to God’s command.

28 Johnston, p. 35.

29 Johnston, p. 29.

30 Johnston, p. 32.

31 Meyer, John, p. 89.

32 Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, rev. (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1981), commentary to the verse cited.  On ingressive aorist, see Robertson, p. 829.

33 Robertson, pp. 829, 832, 834.

34 Stevens, p. 96.

35 Robertson, pp. 573 f.

36 Robertson, p. 573.

37 Zerwick and Grosvenor, commentary to the verse cited.

38 Robertson, p. 574.

Copyright ©2015 by Paul A. Hughes

LOGOS = Christ = “Word of God” (Sometimes)

Take multiple uses of the same word in the English Bible, mix together with a limited understanding of the original language, and confusion will likely ensue.

Sometimes the LOGOS in John chapter 1 is too readily equated with the Word of God (i.e., the Bible).  However, the Bible is not Jesus, nor Jesus the Bible; rather, the Bible expresses God’s message, his will, and his person to us, much as Christ himself did in his Incarnation.

LEGEIN, the infinitive (verb) that is cognate of LOGOS, did not originally mean, “to say,” but in NT Koine Greek is used interchangeably with the several other verbs.  Previously, LOGOS had to do with reason/rationality and meaning, and was applied by Plato and other Greek philosophers to what we would today call an Intelligent Designer behind the universe.  Plato and the Stoics considered this world to be not reality, but a pale reflection of a greater, if you will:  “spiritual” reality.

Alexandrian Jew Philo loved Greek philosophy, principally Plato and the Stoics, and sought to resolve Hebrew revelation with it, and vice versa.  He postulated a divine idea of a perfect man in heaven, which he called the Logos, of which earthly man is an imperfect reflection.  Yet this Logos figure is the expression of God, from his ultimate Reason.  (Relatable to the concept of man as “made in the image of God.”)

It would seem that John in chapter 1 of his Gospel had Philo’s idea in mind when he introduced Christ as the divine Logos, present with God in Creation, who, as “the only begotten Son [of God],” and who “was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” represents the ultimate expression of God’s Reason, such that Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” and moreover, “full of grace and truth.”  Embodying as Christ does the plenitude of the Father’s glory, “of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

Therefore (to come full circle), LOGOS also came to mean the expression of the rationality, even essence, of the person speaking or writing (human or divine), and LEGEIN the act of conveying that reason or essence.  In such way, divine revelation (Scripture), as the expression of God toward man, has been rightly deemed the LOGOS, that is, “the Word of God.”

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

Paul the Apostle, Law, and Sin, Parts 7 & 8

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

The Pauline Concept of Law and Sin

Civil Law

During Paul’s ministry, Roman government represented a stabilizing and equalizing element which afforded Paul, as a Roman citizen, ample opportunities to travel freely, and a certain amount of protection from abuse.  Caesar, as well, he saw as “not a terror to good works, but to the evil” (Rom. 13:3), ready to punish the lawless and unruly.  At the same time, Paul bridled at abuse of his rights, under Jewish as well as Roman law.  One may only speculate that he might have professed, with Peter, the mandate to “obey God rather than men” if it suited his purpose.  Nevertheless, Paul did not perceive the government, apart from the Jewish authorities, as an obstacle to the furtherance of the Gospel and growth of the Church.

Obey civil authorities, with qualifications

  • Paul objects to violation of his rights (but yielded to Exodus 22:28), Acts 23:2-5
  • Paul asserted his citizenship rights, Acts 21:39, 22:25-29, 23:27, 25:1-26:32, 28:17-19
  • Earthly rulers are allowed by God to keep order and punish wrongdoing, Romans 13:1-8
  • Pray for rulers and conduct yourself honorably, 1 Timothy 2:1-3
  • See also 1 Peter 4:15, do not commit crimes and improprieties that incur just punishment
  • Compare:  Acts 4:19-20, 5:29 (Peter), “obey God rather than men”

Cultural Mores & Customs

The Apostle Paul was not in favor of license or Libertinism which in the name of grace flaunted the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered, see Romans 6:1, 1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13.  Rather, he upheld the best conservative moral ideals and traditions of the Jews as well as Gentiles.  His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of Original Creation and Moses’ Law, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly patriarchal societies, especially that of observant Jews of the day.

Matrimony is holy and honorable

  • One is bound in marriage till released by death, Romans 7:1-4
  • Marital bonds, cares, and obligations, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
  • Those who wish or need to marry are free to do so, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40, see also Matthew 19:10-12
  • Marriage ought not be forbidden, 1 Timothy 4:1

Marital faithfulness demonstrates worthiness of honor and responsibility

  • “Espoused to one husband,” 1 Corinthians 11:2
  • “Husband of one wife,” 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6
  • “Wife of one man,” 1 Timothy 5:9

Families are responsible to care for their own elderly and destitute

  • 1 Timothy 5:4-8, 16

Men chosen for leadership should be faithful husbands and fathers

  • 1 Timothy 3:1-13
  • Titus 1:5-9

The deportment of women compared to men

  • It is seemly and comely for women to wear their hair long, and to cover their heads during worship; but unnatural for men to wear long hair, and inappropriate for them to cover their heads in worship, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
  • Women are not allowed to speak publicly in church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
  • Women are not allowed to teach publicly, or oversee a man, 1 Timothy 2:11-12
  • Women are admonished to dress and act modestly, 1 Timothy 2:8-11
  • Only elderly widows of good report deserve church financial support, younger widows should remarry, raise children, and work in the home, 1 Timothy 5:4-15

Incest disreputable even to the Gentiles

  • 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Summary Conclusions

Referring to the diagram, as supported by Scripture passages, one sees that God’s eternal will and plan for man, as created, falls within God’s moral and natural law, represented by the large yellow circle.  Elements of Moses’ Law, and cultural mores and customs, are overlapped by God’s eternal will, to the extent that those spheres ratify, or rather are ratified by, God’s plan.  Noahide Law, originally limited to a symbolic reverence for blood as life, remains valid in principle, though not in letter of the law.  Later additions regarding fornication and idolatry, besides being integral with Moses’ Law, can be said as well to be valid as part of God’s original, revealed will.  (Therefore, those circles partly overlap.)  The Abrahamic Covenant, which featured only one law, that of circumcision, has been transcended by the Law of Faith, which was the effective element all along (circumcision being the seal and testimony of the Covenant, the theological equivalent to Christian water baptism—as is, arguably, the Lord’s Supper).  Moses’ Law, which incorporated in totality the laws given to Noah and Abraham, was “fulfilled” by the work of Christ by several standards, including the fulfillment of Law’s overall prophetic, moral, and salvific purpose.  Therefore, those who by faith have entered “into Christ,” while bound to God’s eternal moral law, are free not only from the letter of Moses’ Law (the temporal rituals, ordinances, observances, and strictures external to God’s eternal law), but from the “Law of Sin and Death” that Moses’ Law actuates (Rom. 7:1‒8:4, 10:4, Gal. 3:19-26, et al.).

Therefore, the elements of Moses’ Law, apart from God’s moral and natural law, are rendered irrelevant and non-binding to the Christian, just as they remain ineffectual to observant Jews, who are unable to “keep the whole law” (Rom. 2:12-29, Gal. 5:3, 6:13, see also James 2:10).  Thus the Christian reverences life, but is not forbidden from eating meat containing blood.  The Christian honors the Creator for the Sabbath, as suggested in Genesis 2, but is not prohibited from work or travel on the Sabbath, a commandment added by Moses’ Law.  The Christian is forbidden no food, “for every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).

Those elements of civil law and culture which do not violate Biblical faith or a pure conscience are acceptable to the Christian.  Governments in general “are not a terror to good works, but to bad ones” (Rom. 13:3), though just rights can be claimed and abuse of rights disputed.  Christians must not participate in ungodly pagan practices, though innocuous differences may be overlooked if not made an issue.

One concludes that the laws for which Christians are responsible are those which make for peace and godliness, and which edify the brethren (Rom. 14:19, 1 Tim. 2:2, et al.), all of which surely fall within the sphere of God’s moral and natural law.  Christians are saved, like Abraham, by the Law of Faith, not by external laws or rituals.  All that is not done in faith being sin, a Christian ought to do nothing which cannot be done in faith, in the sight of God—not in unbelief, by which some imagine that they will escape judgment.  The ultimate criterion for all we do must be the Law of Christ, which is love and gratitude for Christ’s work displayed not in self-actualization or self-motivation, but in serving to edify, profit, and benefit others.

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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The Life of Smith Wigglesworth

Smith Wigglesworth (Fair Use)

Smith Wigglesworth (Fair Use)

The year 1859 was a year of revival.  Revival began that year in Ireland; revival in Wales and in the United States had already begun.  People in these lands were finding renewal in their lives, and a new peace and joy in their hearts.  Thousands were reconciled to God.  That same year, in a shack in Mengton, Yorkshire, England, Smith Wigglesworth was born.  The family was poor:  his father was hard-pressed to feed his wife and four children.  Smith went to work at age six, pulling turnips.  At age seven, he, his father, and his older brother gained employment at the local mill, working twelve long hours each day.

No one in his immediate family was Christian, but Smith seemed to have an instinctive longing for God from an early age.  His grandmother, a Wesleyan Methodist, took him to meetings with her.  One Sunday morning, when he was eight years old, he felt in himself an inexplicable knowledge of spiritual rebirth.

Smith’s revelation of his salvation gave him great joy, as it did to his dying day.  As a teenager, he was always eager to share this joy with other boys—even though, unpolished and perhaps not too tactful, he was often rebuffed.  When he was sixteen, the Salvation Army came to Bradford, where his family had moved.  He was inspired to spend many hours fasting and praying for the salvation of souls.  He began to join the Army in their efforts, though he never became a member.  They often gathered to pray throughout the night.  Each week they would claim in faith fifty or more souls—and they would get them.

When he was twenty, he moved to Liverpool.  He began to minister to street children, gathering them together for meetings, and hundreds were saved.  He spent all his income on food for the poor in hospitals and on the docks, and spent long hours in prayer.  His heart was very tender toward the people, and would often weep before them.

Smith was led back to Bradford, where he ventured upon his own plumbing business.  At a Salvation Army meeting in an old theater, his attention was attracted to a lovely young girl receiving salvation at the altar.  She was Polly Featherstone, seventeen years old, the daughter of a Methodist temperance lecturer.  He felt drawn to her immediately, and they became good friends.  Polly experienced great spiritual growth, and was soon introduce the General Booth himself, who made her an officer in the Army.  She was an exuberant speaker, and had a lovely singing voice.

Smith fell deeply in love with Polly.  When he was twenty-three and she was twenty-two, they were married.  He always was to hold her in the highest respect, and gave much credit to her:  “All that I am today I owe, under God, to my precious wife.”1  A talented speaker, she developed a fine ministry, changing her association to a group called the Blue Ribbon Army.  Smith, content to give himself to prayer and altar work, left the preaching to Polly.

A severe winter storm hit Bradford, causing much damage to plumbing, and Smith became very busy with his work.  His prayer life and meeting attendance dropped off, and his heart grew cold toward the Lord.  He began to be wrapped up in his own prosperity, and even bitter against Polly’s unbending spirituality.  One night she came home exceptionally late from a meeting.  Smith, perturbed, spouted, “I am master of this house, and I am not going to have you coming home at so late an hour as this!”2  When Polly asserted that Christ was her master, he put her out the back door and locked it.  Polly marched around the house and into the front door, which he had neglected to lock.  She entered the house laughing, so much so that soon Smith was laughing, too.  Her graciousness and perseverance soon won him back to the Lord.

Smith had to go to Leeds once a week to pick up supplies for his plumbing business.  He found out that there were divine healing meetings there and began to attend when he could.  Since divine healing was considered fanaticism in those days, he did not tell Polly for a long time, unsure of how she would react.  She found out on her own, and decided to accompany him to a meeting, since she herself had an infirmity.  She was healed, and both the Wigglesworths became enthusiastic proponents of the healing ministry.

Later, Polly confronted her husband on his continued use of medicine.  He had been afflicted with a severe case of hemorrhoids since childhood, and would bleed profusely and suffer much pain without the “salts” he took each day.  He was moved to believe for his healing, and he discontinued his medication.  When the “moment of truth” came, his bowels worked perfectly.  He was never troubled again.

Smith remained zealous for the winning of souls.  He tried each day to win at least one soul to the Lord.  Often he would stand on a street corner, asking the Lord to point out someone he could talk to.  In his business, he would witness to homeowners and servants alike as he worked in their homes.

He continued to attend the meetings in Leeds, and took many sick and needy people with him to be healed.  One day the people who held the meeting asked Smith to take over while they attended a convention.  He knew he would have to speak and minister to the sick, neither of which he had done before, but he could not refuse.  He preached as best he could, and a number of people came forward to the healed.  The first was a man who needed crutches to walk.  Smith laid his hands on him and prayed simply, setting his reliance upon God.  No one was more surprised than he when the man dropped his scratches and began to walk!  From then on, Wigglesworth had an excellent healing ministry.

He was asked by a man to go to his home to pray for his wife, who was dying.  He took a bottle of oil, to anoint her.  Being a beginner, he poured the whole bottle over her at once.  As he prayed he opened his eyes to see a vision of Jesus standing at the foot of the bed, with a smile of compassion on his face.  The woman was healed, and that image of Jesus never left Smith’s mind.

One Sunday, while preaching, Smith was struck down with excruciating abdominal pain.  Some men took him home, and the doctor was summoned.  The doctor told the family that there was no hope, that he was too far gone, suffering from an extreme case of appendicitis.  When he left, an elderly lady and the young man, both strangers, came in.  The young man laid his hands on him and rebuked the devil, and Smith was instantly healed.

The Wigglesworths heard that people were being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues in Sunderland.  Most Christians in those days were insistent, as many are today, that they were filled with the Holy Spirit when they were saved, or during some outstanding spiritual experience.  They believed that they had all that God had to give, and that tongues were of the devil.  Nevertheless, Smith was determined to find out for himself, so he went.

Smith was disappointed by the meetings there.  The people sat quietly, waiting in prayer.  He would speak up and challenge them, for he was not hearing the “tongues” he wanted to hear.  The people would ask him to be quiet, that he was disturbing their meetings.  Smith began to feel very hungry for more of God.  He spent days there, but did not get what he was looking for.  On the morning he had to leave, he asked for hands to be laid on him one more time.  At last he received the Baptism, speaking in tongues and having a vision of the Lord Jesus.

Polly was skeptical.  She also believed of that she had already received the baptism.  But the next time Smith stood up to preach, she was amazed at the new power of his message, and was convinced that it was real.

Smith’s ministry became renowned.  He was in demand to preach, and was always being asked to minister to the sick and dying.  In time, his ministry spread to Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Palestine, Switzerland, and the United States.  Thousands were healed at single meetings.  Demons were cast out, and the dead were raised.  But more importantly, many thousands of people came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus through his ministry.


1.  Stanley Howard Frodsham, p. 17.

2.  Frodsham, p. 22.


Frodsham, Stanley Howard.  Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith.  Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1948.

Wigglesworth, Smith.  Ever Increasing Faith.  Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1938.

Wigglesworth, Smith.  Faith That Prevails.  Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1938.

©2011 Paul A. Hughes.  Originally submitted to Dr. Andrew McDearmid, in partial fulfillment of the course requirements for Missions 112, Southwestern Assemblies of God University, April 10, 1983.

The Old Testament in the New: What Is True Typology?

Moses and the Brazen Serpent by Sebastien Bourbon, Public Domain

Moses and the Brazen Serpent by Sebastien Bourbon (Public Domain)

One of the most important things in the life of a Christian is his knowledge of the teachings of the Bible.  The Bible contains, if one might use only very basic classifications, the revelation of the nature of God, the history of his dealings with men, the revelation of Jesus as Savior and Messiah, the history of the primitive Church and its formation of doctrines, and God’s will and plan concerning the future.  Most everyone well recognizes that the Bible is a highly complex book, and one not always readily understood.

From this mass of ancient writings, the Christian hopes to learn, in short, God’s will for his own life, in the present.  With this in view, one can see the great consequence involved in the interpretation of the Bible.  By whatever means Bible doctrine is derived, it bears upon Christian scholars and teachers to make sure its substance is correct.

Having mentioned that there are various means of deriving Bible doctrine, one must hastily point out that the first and best rendering of Scripture, on the whole, is the literal:  what is said is exactly what is meant.  For example, when God warns Noah of a great flood coming, Noah took it to mean that he had better build a boat, or he would get his feet wet!  There was no further “interpretation” needed!  But there are times when the “literal sense” is not appropriate:  one must make allowances for figurative language, which is used extensively throughout Scripture.  Otherwise, one might get the impression that the earth is flat, because it has four corners (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1); or that there was once a woman named Wisdom, who would go out into the streets to cry (Proverbs 1:20).  Of course, most people will recognize that these examples merely demonstrate a literary mode of expression.  This “figurative sense” is a perfectly legitimate way to interpret Scripture, as long as the author’s meaning is clear.

Finally, there is a “spiritual sense” to Scripture.  The idea is that there is a “second meaning” to some (if not all) Scripture, which was not fully evident to its original audience, or even the author.  These hidden interpretations were placed by God within the framework of Scripture with the express purpose of their discovery ad hoc.  Later interpreters, given special discernment, have been able to uncover and apply these hidden meanings.  Various forms of the “spiritual sense” are typology, symbolism, allegory and, to some extent, predictive prophecy.  This study is concerned with the nature of typology—nevertheless, the definition of these other forms, as well as their differentiation from typology, will be necessary.

The concern with the spiritual sense of Scripture is predicated upon its validity.  For the most part, the “second meaning” is based upon the word of a single interpreter.  But to what extent can one man’s discernment be trusted?  After all, doctrine is often built upon these spiritual interpretations.  One wrong interpretation, taken to an extreme, could cause a great heresy to arise.  Indeed, it has often happened.  Strict controls are needed, as well as a greater understanding of the method, its uses, and its dangers.

Therefore has this study been undertaken, in order to delineate Biblical typology, set it apart from other methods of interpretation, and see if and how it can be used to uncover scriptural truth.

Typology: Defined

The first step is to define the term.  Typology is, literally, the study of “types.”  “Type,” as used here, comes from the Greek tupos, variously defined as “visible impression or mark” (John 20:25), “copy or image,” “image or statue” (Acts 7:43), “pattern” (Romans 6:17), “archetype, pattern, model, design” (Acts 7:44, Hebrews 8:5), “moral example or pattern” (I Timothy 4:12, I Thessalonians 1:7), and “God-given type, symbol, or foreshadowing” (Romans 5:14).1  Obviously, “type” in New Testament usage is a general term, rather than the technical term which is applied here (or elsewhere in theology).  For this reason, one should not always assume that the word “type” in the New Testament carries the narrow, technical sense as used in theology.

In the theological context, a type is a person, thing, or event which corresponds to a later person, saying, or event.  The later occurrence is called the “antitype.”  The nature of this correspondence between type and antitype is one of relationship.2  It is this relationship aspect which separates typology from other forms of spiritual interpretation, as will be demonstrated.  The relationship between type and antitype is basically one of analogy—i.e., a similar (analogous) situation—the only essential difference being that the term “type” assumes that the linkage between the two occurrences was ordained and engineered by God.  This separates typology from, say, a sermon analogy, which might well be inspired but nevertheless is not accorded the authority of Scripture.  Therefore, typology is the study of these corresponding relationships found in Scripture which are judged to be “true types”:  divinely inspired as opposed to simple analogy.

Beginning with the Primitive Church, Christian evangelists and apologists have been concerned with demonstrating the reality of Jesus Christ as the Messiah by showing him as both predicted and pre-figured by the Old Testament.  The New Testament writers often connected the two Testaments in just such a way—continuity is of prime importance.  Although the most concrete manner of such linkage is in noting the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Christ, it was also common to make use of typology.

Some examples are in order here:  In John 3:14-15, Jesus himself used the typological method.  He refers back to Numbers 21:8-9, saying, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, in the same manner must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe in him might have eternal life.”  Notice that Jesus does not identify himself directly with the bronze serpent; nor does he give significance to the material, bronze, nor to any other incidental details of the story.  Rather, he draws a comparison of relationship:  just as the serpent was lifted on a pole, so would be the Messiah—for the purpose that those who “believed” would be delivered.  In the case of the Numbers passage, “believe” meant simply looking upon the serpent; in the case of Christ, “believe” meant trusting in his vicarious sacrifice.  It is the relationship, not the details, which matter.3

Then, in I Corinthians 5:7-8, the Apostle Paul urges,

Purge out the old leaven, that you might be a new lump, just as you are unleavened; for Christ our Passover [lamb] was sacrificed.  Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with wickedness and maliciousness, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Here Paul makes not one, but two typical identifications.  One is the identification of leaven with wickedness.  This is a correspondence of relationship:  just as the leaven must be purged out of Israel at Passover, so must wickedness be purged from the Christian.  Secondly, Paul identifies Jesus with the Passover lamb:  just as a spotless lamb was sacrificed for Israel, so is Jesus Christ offered up for our sakes (cf. Exodus 12:3-12).  Again, Paul did not try to identify all the details of the type with the New Testament counterpart.  For instance, he did not attempt to attach a New Testament significance to the doorposts upon which the lamb’s blood was smeared.4

Of course, Biblical typology is not limited to the Old Testament/New Testament connection.  In fact, there are many instances in which both type and antitype occur within the corpus of the Old Testament.  Robert C. Dentan describes one such occurrence found in Isaiah:

The great, creative event in Israel’s history had been God’s deliverance of his people out of Egypt . . . .  [Isaiah] was sure that the same guy was still working in history and that he would inevitably deliver his people again.  A new and greater Exodus was about to take place, and the prophet uses imagery drawn from the old story to describe (typologically) this new event:  “thus saith Yahweh, who maketh a path in the sea and a path in the mighty waters . . . behold I will do a new thing . . . I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers (paths?) in the desert (Isaiah 43:16-19).5

Similar uses of typology in the Old Testament can be found in Isaiah 9:1, 11:6-9, 51:9-11, 52:11-12, 55:3-4; Jeremiah 16:14-15, 23:5; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Hosea 2:16-17; Amos 9:11.6

As an aid to understanding typology, A. B. Mickelson has formulated a list of three basic characteristics common to true typological relationships:

(1) Some notable point of resemblance or analogy must exist between the type and antitype . . . (2) Even though a person, event, or thing in the Old Testament is typical, it does not mean that the contemporaries of the particular person, event, or thing recognized it as typical . . . (3) The point of correspondence is important for later generations because they can see that God’s earlier action became significant in his later action.7

Typology: Contrasted

The term “typology” has often been used to describe the spiritual sense of Scripture, in general, as well as being confused with other specific forms of “second meaning.”  As a further aid to the understanding of typology, one should also be aware of what typology is not:

Typology Is Not Predictive Prophecy

In a sense, true typology is predictive, in that the typical situation “foreshadows” the anti-typical situation.  But the relationship between the two is one of correspondence rather than fulfillment.

A prediction is essentially an extension of the literal sense.  Although the prophecy might be expressed in metaphorical or symbolical terms, yet the action that is described will be completed, in all its details.  The correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment is one of particulars, not one of relationship.  For instance, Amos prophesies, “[The Lord] shall send a fire upon Judah, and it shall consume the palaces of Jerusalem” (Amos 2:5).  “Fire” is not literal—it is a metaphor for an instrument of destruction; “palaces of Jerusalem” is a metaphor for the glory and strength of the great city, which shall be destroyed in judgment.  Although the words themselves are figurative, the prophecy itself is literal—the glory of the city shall be destroyed.

Typology Is Not Symbolism

A symbol is something—usually a literal object—which stands for something else.  The object itself, by something inherent in its nature, has some meaning.  A common example is that of a rock, which symbolizes strength and solidarity.  Colors (white for purity), substances (blood for life), actions (“eating” a scroll),8 and ordinances (baptism)9 can also serve as symbols.

It is a common mistake to label things as types which are actually symbols.  In his famous reference Bible, C. I. Scofield succumbs to this error in calling the furnishings of the Tabernacle types.  If they indeed have any second meaning at all, it is as symbols.  According to Scofield, the golden lampstand typifies Christ “our light”; fine linen as righteousness; the color purple suggesting royalty; Silver typifying redemption, because it was used for money, and the list goes on.10  Whether or not these things are true, the fact remains that, in the truest sense, these are symbols rather than types.  If one seeks typology in the Tabernacle, one must look to the ritual associated with it:  for example, the high priest enters alone into the Holy of Holies in order to sacrifice for the sins of all men.  This high priestly office, according to the writer of Hebrews, typifies the intercessory mission of Christ (cf. Hebrews 5:1-3, 7:23-8:5).

Typology Is Not Allegory

The most persistent problem associated with typology is its confusion with allegory.  While typology is usually seen as a viable form of exegesis, allegory is looked upon as suspect.  This is because it has so often been misused.

Allegory is the assignment of new identifications to the details of the story, thus deriving a second meaning.  In practice, the allegorical approach ignores both context and the literal sense, and finds a meaning apart from what the original writer meant.  This is highly dangerous, unless one assumes that the allegorical interpreter can be accorded a level of inspiration and discernment equal to the Biblical writers themselves.  A few examples are quite sufficient to illustrate the danger involved:  As Mickelson relates,

The story of Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem is allegorized in a sermon included among the spuria of Chrysostom.  Lampe summarizes it as follows: “the fact that only the children of two years old and under were murdered while those of three presumably escaped is meant to teach us that those who hold the Trinitarian faith will be saved whereas Binitarians and Unitarians will undoubtedly perish.”11

Another sterling example is found in the rabbinic writings, and related by Alfred Edersheim:

The promise, that Japhet shall dwell in the tents of Shem [Gen. 9:27], is paraphrased in the Targum Pseudo-Jon. as meaning, that his descendents should become proselytes, and dwell in the schools of Shem . . . .12

The third example is a true classic:  The Parables of Christ have particularly fallen prey to allegorical exegesis.  This interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) comes from no less than Augustine.  The details of the story are given new identifications in arbitrary fashion, ignoring the literal sense and the original intent—the man who is robbed is Adam, the thieves the devil and his angels, Jericho the moon (“signifying Adam’ s mortality”), the Samaritan Christ, the inn the church, and the innkeeper Paul, to name a few.13

This is not to say that the allegorical method is entirely reprobate—rather, it can be a very useful tool to teach scriptural truth, if indeed the “truth” taught is based in Scripture.  However, due to its arbitrary and subjective nature, the use of this method as an instrument to obtain a spiritual second meaning from Scripture is highly questioned by modern scholars.

But, one might ask, did not the New Testament authors use the allegorical method in order to find Christ in the Old Testament, and a continuity throughout Scripture?  It is this writer’s conception that there is no true (or pure) allegorical interpretation exhibited in the New Testament.14  Let us meet the issue head-on and go right to an examination of Galatians 4:21-31.  This passage is usually referred to as the classic New Testament example of allegorical interpretation.  This is largely because Paul calls it an allegory (v. 24).  However, there is no reason to assume that Paul used “allegory” in the same narrow, technical sense used in theology today.  According to Leonhard Goppelt, “when this interpretation is described as being taken allegorically . . . it simply means that this is an instance in which the interpretation goes beyond the literal meaning.”15

In his opening rhetorical question (v. 21), Paul makes it clear that he is comparing the old covenant, the Law, to the new covenant, Grace.  The comparison between the two offspring of Abraham is one of relationship (i.e., typological):  Just as Ishmael (by Hagar) was the fleshly effort to obtain the Promise, the Law was the fleshly effort to obtain salvation; likewise Isaac (by Sarah), the fulfillment of the Promise by spiritual means, corresponds to grace, which provides salvation spiritually.  Therefore, those who are born of grace (Sarah) are free, like Isaac; while those born of the Law (Hagar) remain as slaves.  Hagar, corresponding relationally to the Law, is equated to Mount Sinai, where the Law was given, and again to Jerusalem, where the Law is kept (v. 25).  In contrast, those who are of grace are of the spiritual Jerusalem (v. 26).  Furthermore, the Law is to be “cast out,” as Hagar was cast out (v. 30).  The entire identification is one of correspondence of relationship.  While traces of allegory might be seen here, it is evident that the passage, on the whole, is interpreted typologically.


Typology has been shown to be, when defined in his narrowest sense, an entirely separate and distinctive form of exegesis.  Its distinction from allegory, in particular, has tended to prove its legitimacy as an exegetical method.  Most importantly, a clear-cut concept of the typological method provides a clue as to how the New Testament exegetes thought (recognizing correspondence of relationship).  This knowledge should be quite useful when examining other Old Testament/New Testament linkages, when one tends to wonder, “How did he make that connection?”  Such an understanding should clear up many mysteries.

One unanswered question remains unanswerable:  what is the ironclad rule for determining a true, God-given type (as opposed to a mere analogy)?  For the most part, one can be safe in his exegesis by limiting typological identifications to those delineated in Scripture itself.  Still, the possibility still remains that (for instance) some of Paul’s identifications were mere sermon analogies.  For that matter, were the Exodus identifications in Isaiah a product of his own thought process, or truly typical relationships?  These are questions which may never be answered until maranatha.

However, there is very strong evidence that at least some of the identifications are genuine.  The idea of Christ as deliverance, prefigured in the bronze serpent, is hard to argue with.  Likewise, the very design of the Tabernacle with its rituals well demonstrates the existence of a “second meaning.”  At any rate, those of us with faith in Christ can hardly doubt that Jesus was, indeed, the underlying theme of all Scripture.


  1. Walter Bauer, ed., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. and adapted William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, rev. an augmented F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 829-30.
  2. See A. B. Mickelson, Interpreting the Bible (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), pp. 237-40.
  3. Cf. Mickelson, p. 237.
  4. Cf. Robert C. Dentan, “Typology—Its Use and Abuse,” Anglican Theological Review 34 (1952): 214; Mickelson, p. 238.
  5. Dentan, p. 213.
  6. David L. Baker, “Typology and the Christian Use of the Old Testament,” Scottish Journal of Theology 29 (1976): 139.
  7. Mickelson, p. 246.
  8. Mickelson, p. 276.
  9. Mickelson, p. 277.
  10. C. I. Scofield, ed., The New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 101-104.
  11. G. W. H. Lampe, “The Reasonableness of Typology,” (n.p., n.d.), pp. 31-32, cited in Mickelson, pp. 238-39.
  12. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, [1981]), part 2, p. 711.
  13. Gordon D. Fee and David Tracy, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1982), p. 124.
  14. Cf. Leonhard Goppelt, Typos: the Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New, trans. Donald H. Madvig (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982), pp. 139-40; Mickelson, p. 261.
  15. Goppelt, p. 140.

© 2011 Paul A. Hughes.  Originally submitted to Dr. Stanley M. Horton, in partial fulfillment of the requirements in BOT/THE 533, “Old Testament Theology,” The Assemblies Of God Theological Seminary, May 28, 1985.

From Autographs to King James Version:

Original King James Version Dedicatory Page

Original King James Version Dedicatory Page

A Short History of Bible Translation

Few American Christians today realize the great gift from God we have in the English Bible.  To do so, we must know some of its history.

Prehistoric Records

From earliest times, men of God have foreseen the value of writing down God’s dealings with men.  P. J. Wiseman (1888-1948), who conferred with many of the great archaeologists of his day, theorized that the earliest Scriptures, from the Creation to Abraham, were first written on clay tablets in cuneiform(the writing of Abraham’s native land).  See “Who Wrote Genesis?  A Third Theory” by the author.

Fictionalized pagan versions of Creation and the Flood, with some similarities to the Bible, have been dug up in ancient Mesopotamia (Babylon or Chaldea).  In fact, many thousands of clay tablets have been found which are yet to be translated.

Scripture from Abraham to Moses

The Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) evidently kept family records, including stories and genealogies (family trees).  Joseph, who became Pharoah’s right-hand man, probably wrote down his own story, and preserved it along with the others for his people during their captivity in Egypt.

One tradition holds that Moses wrote Genesis, along with his other books.  This theory assumes that Genesis was dictated to him by God on Mount Sinai.  However, Genesis is the only one of the traditional Books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) that does not identify Moses as its author.

The prevailing theory among liberals, usually referred to as JEDP, claims that the Books of Moses originated as religious myths which were strung together in patchwork fashion after Israel’s return from Babylon.  However, it is likely that Israel knew their history throughout their long sojourn in Egypt, which helped preserve them as the distinct People of God.

Nevertheless, it is highly possible that it was Moses who finally compiled Genesis into a single book.

The Old Testament in Greek

Over the next millennium (1400-400 B.C.), inspired Scripture was written down by:

  • Prophets (Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).
  • Rulers (David, Solomon, Nehemiah).
  • Scribes or historians (Kings, Chronicles, Judges, Ruth, Esther, Ezra).

Many scholars think that the Old Testament, as we know it, was finally assembled by the great scribe Ezra.

Ancient scribes soon recognized the value of providing the Hebrew Scriptures to others in a language they could understand.  For most of the world, the common language of trade and foreign correspondence was Greek, much as English is today.

There were at least four ancient translations of the Old Testament into Greek, but only one still exists today:  the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”).  According to legend, in about 250 B.C., Ptolemy II of Egypt wished to add a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures to his great library at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Ptolemy commissioned either 70 or 72 Jewish scribes, six from each tribe of Israel, to make the translation.  To this day, references to this Greek version are abbreviated by the Roman number LXX (“seventy”).

Since many Old Testament quotations in the New Testament agree perfectly with the Septuagint, many experts think that the apostles, especially Paul, often used the Septuagint in preaching and writing to Greek audiences.

The New Testament Books

The New Testament was written by:

  1. Disciples of Jesus (Matthew, John, Peter).
  2. Some of their students and companions (Mark, Luke).
  3. But most of all by Paul.

The earliest books were probably Paul’s letters (epistles) which he wrote to keep in touch with various churches, beginning about A.D. 46-50.  However, some scholars believe that a collection of Jesus’ sayings, called “Q” (short for German quelle, “source”) might have been written earlier and used in writing the gospels.  The author of Hebrews is uncertain.  The last book to be written was probably the Revelation of John.

The amazing thing about the “Q” theory is that it might have originated from somebody who sat listening to Jesus’ teaching, then wrote down the deep teachings he heard.

The Bible Books Preserved

Early on, the churches recognized the value of the writings of those they recognized as apostles (literally “those sent on a mission”).  They preserved their writings and even sent copies to other churches.  Over the centuries to follow, both Jewish and Christian scribes labored hard to faithfully copy their respective Scriptures.  This was done in ink, on either papyrus(made from Egyptian rushes) or parchment (leather).

None of the originals (“autographs”) of the Bible books still exist today.  We do have some very old copies, however.  Some New Testament fragments go back as far as A.D. 200, and many more exist from the third or fourth century.  And when an almost complete copy of Isaiah was discovered near the Dead Sea from around 200 B.C., only a few letters were found to differ from much later copies.

Translating the Bible

By the fourth century after Christ, the Roman Empire had become a Greek Christian empire based in Constantinople (now Istanbul).  But most of the people from Rome west spoke Latin, not Greek.

Jerome (lived about A.D. 347-420) set himself the task of translating the Bible into Latin.  He translated the gospels, but was persecuted for “changing” Scripture. He found it wise to move to Bethlehem, where he taught himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament.

Jerome’s work, together with that of other translators, became known as the Vulgate, the official Catholic version.  The Vulgate can be useful in translating the Bible today, by re-translating it into Greek or Hebrew, since it predates most of the Bible manuscripts still in existence.

Efforts to get the Bible into the vernacular (the language of the people) have continued since Jerome.  The Roman Church long considered Bible translation dangerous, since heresies could evolve.  In the wake of the recent events in Waco, this fear is not unfounded.  But without Scripture, the common people walked in ignorance, superstition, and subservience to Church authorities.

The Bible in English

One of the earliest English versions was that of John Wycliffe (1328-1384).  The Roman Church vowed to burn him at the stake, but was cheated when he died of natural causes.  Many years later, the Church dug up his bones and burned them.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) fueled his Reformation with his German New Testament, published in 1522.  Then he spent twelve years translating the Old Testament from available Hebrew texts, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate.  The whole Bible was published in 1534.

In 1525, with Luther’s help, William Tyndale was able to produce his English New Testament.  Tyndale’s notes often attacked Church authorities. He was burned at the stake in England in 1536.

Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) was a former friar turned Protestant who produced the Coverdale Bible (1535), possibly with the permission of Henry VIII.  He later edited the Great Bible (1539) and helped with Thomas Cranmer’s Bible (1540).  But Coverdale was still persecuted for heresy.  Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake by Queen Mary.  See “Politics and Religious Liberty in 17th-Century England” by the author.

The Geneva Bible was published in 1560 by followers of John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland.  This Bible, printed in English, contained extensive notes expounding Calvinistic doctrine, frowned upon by many other groups.  It was also the first Bible to be printed with chapter and verse divisions.

The Geneva Bible became known as the “Breeches Bible,” because it referred to the High Priest’s “apron” as “breeches.”  Likewise, a 1551 edition of the Bible came to be called the “Bug Bible” because of its translation of Psalm 91:5, “Thou shalt not be afraid of any buggies by night . . .” .

In 1568, French scholars produced the Douay Bible for Catholics, a translation of the Vulgate into English.  In the same year, bishops of the Church of England produced an official translation for use in their churches.  The “Bishops’ Bible” remained a popular Bible version even after the King James Version appeared in 1611.

The King James Version

The Bishops’ Bible and other translations came to be criticized, especially by the Puritans, for not being true to the better Greek and Hebrew manuscripts available.  A new translation was proposed. It was to be a non-sectarian, mainstream version, containing no controversial notes like the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles.

With the permission of King James I, from 52 to 54 scholars were gathered from the English universities.  One tradition, yet unproven, holds that one of these men was none other than William Shakespeare.  These scholars were divided into several teams, each of which was assigned part of the Bible.  The Bishops’ Bible was used as the basis for the new version.  Changes were only to be made when warranted by the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available.

After three years’ labor, what these men produced was of course the King James Version.  Few Protestants today realize that the original King James Version included the Apocrypha, the so-called “Catholic” books.  The Apocrypha includes such books as 1 & 2 Maccabees, 1 & 2 Esdras (also called 3 & 4 Ezra), Judith, Bel and the Dragon (a fanciful tale about Daniel), Tobit, Susanna, and Ecclesiasticus.  All of these books were written later than the Old Testament books.  The Puritans objected to the Apocrypha on the grounds that they had never been included in the Hebrew canon.  The first edition of the King James Bible which did not include the Apocrypha was printed in 1620, and became the standard.

Though many Christians today complain they cannot understand the Elizabethan English, the King James Version is still recognized as an extremely balanced and literal translation, its beauty of expression unsurpassed.

©1994 Paul A. Hughes.  Originally published in
The Polk County Enterprise
, March 13, 1994, p. 3B.

A Pentecostal Education

A Short History of Higher Education
in the Assemblies of God

Originally written as a term paper for Dr. Edith Blumhofer, History and Polity of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, circa 1985.

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, ca 1985

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, ca. 1985

One of the original reasons for founding the Assemblies of God was in order to form its own distinctive educational institutions, along with funding foreign missions and establishing doctrinal standards.1 However, the nature and purpose of these educational institutions has been the subject of some debate.

The development of Bible institutes seemed a natural for the young Assemblies of God, an extension of the old short-term Bible schools upon which the Pentecostal Movement was founded.  The institutes were private, incurring little state interference or control.  But how much further should educational efforts in the Assemblies extend?  Should training for secular careers be provided for those not called to preach?  Should schools seek affiliation with accrediting agencies or any other groups?  Should the Assemblies provide seminary-level instruction?  These and other hard questions have faced the Assemblies of God throughout its history, and might continue to affect its course in the future.

Early Pentecostal Education

The Pentecostal Revival began, for all essential purposes, at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901.  An outgrowth of the Holiness Movement, the Pentecostal Movement spread throughout much of the country within a few years.  Vehicles such as the Azusa Street Mission, John Alexander Dowie’s Zion City in Illinios, and various Pentecostal publications were instrumental in this spread.  The new Pentecostal message fostered two important developments:  first, the separation — reluctantly for most — of Pentecostals from established denominations.  This, in turn, brought about the second development, the necessity of founding schools of their own, which were distinctively Pentecostal.

The early Bible schools were generally informal and short-term, usually lasting four to six weeks.2 When the course was done, the itinerant Bible teacher moved on.  There were, however, some of longer duration, such as the Rochester Bible Training School (also known as Elim, actually begun before the Pentecostal outbreak), which operated from 1895 to 1924.3 Some of the teachers of these small schools — T. K. Leonard, J. Roswell Flower, E. N. Bell, and P. C. Nelson, to name a few — were later to become leaders in the Assemblies of God.4

The emphasis of the early Pentecostal schools was on the training of ministers of all types:  pastors, evangelists, missionaries, lay preachers, etc.  The curriculum was pragmatic, and the main textbook was the Bible.

The Assemblies of God, formed in 1914, soon moved toward establishing more permanent schools in order to advance its cause.  A number of Bible institutes were well established before World War II.  Central Bible Institute, founded in 1922, remained the only General Council-operated school for many years.  Other regional schools were operated by their respective districts, which the General Council has closely supervised over the years in order to ensure that pure Pentecostal doctrine was preached, and modernism and heresy discouraged.  In 1925, CBI was chosen to serve as a model for all endorsed schools.5

The Bible institutes offered three-year programs.  Students were instructed in Bible, preaching, missions, and related areas.  They received first-hand ministry experience by evangelizing, performing Christian service, and conducting actual worship services.  Practical education was what these plain, stalwart first-generation Pentecostals wanted.  According to Joseph R. Flower, son of J. Roswell Flower, “The feeling [was that] the coming of the Lord was too near to become involved in advanced education.”6

However, as early as the 1920s, a need for education beyond the institute level began to be realized.  This was an era in which many professions, notably public school teaching, were stiffening their requirements.7 Many Pentecostal young people had no wish to train for ministry, and were being drawn to secular or non-Pentecostal colleges.  At the same time, ministers who sought advanced training beyond the institute level had no Pentecostal seminary to attend.  But the expansion of Assemblies of God education involved the approval of the constituency.   As G. Raymond Carlson remarked,

Large numbers of AG people entertained a fear that emphasis on education could have a deteriorating effect on the spiritual life of the movement.  Their thinking could be capsuled in four words — revival, organization, education, stagnation.8

Establishment of Senior Colleges

The first accredited senior college programs in the Assemblies of God came about as more a necessity than a choice.  The concern was two-fold:  the loss of impressionable young people to the philosophies of the world, and the threat that the Movement might suffer loss and even die with its first generation.

As early as the 1929 General Council, a committee chaired by P. C. Nelson recommended the foundation of “an institution of college grade, where the most complete and thorough education can be obtained under Pentecostal auspices.”9 In time, several district schools expanded their programs to four years.  Southwestern Bible Institute began providing a general education program at the junior college level in 1944.10

Still, a need was seen for a true liberal arts program.  A liberal arts institution is designed to prepare young persons for a wide variety of careers, as well as graduate studies, by providing the broadest education possible.  Betty Chase has pointed out that a liberal education is considered preferable for those who intend to go to seminary after college.11

A liberal arts college began to be seriously discussed by 1945.12 At the 1947 General Council, the Education Committee reported that “many are being influenced by the insidiousness of modern education and others by the persistent repudiation of our particular doctrine, and they are lost to our ranks.”  Furthermore, the report reads,

It is the feeling of your committee that these young people are too valuable for us to let slip through our fingers and that we are handicapping our progress by the loss of these potential lay-leaders in our churches.13

Even the proponents of higher education were reluctant to set aside the necessary finances.  The main thrust of the Movement had always been evangelism, and evangelism brings to mind missions and literature — not liberal education.  Foreign missions and the publishing enterprise received the lion’s share of contributions and general funds.  No funds were set aside for general education,14 and the fear of over-extension was very real.

Nevertheless, the following resolution was put before the 1953 General Council:

WHEREAS, There is a great army of full gospel believing youth in our ranks
AND WHEREAS, They are entitled to and are pursuing courses of higher education in college outside our Christian confession,

AND WHEREAS, Many of them are being lost to our cause forever because of the philosophies, etc., with which they become indoctrinated . . .

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That this General Council in session authorize the setting up of a SENIOR COLLEGE PROGRAM . . . .15

The resolution passed.  A former military hospital in Springfield, Missouri, was secured as a campus for one dollar, and Evangel College opened its doors in 1955.

Founding a Pentecostal Seminary

Higher education has often met with limited enthusiasm from large segments of the Assemblies of God constituency.  This has been especially so in regard to starting a seminary, with fears of creeping formalism and modernism replacing the simple faith in the power of God upon which the Pentecostal Movement was established.  This fear was not entirely unfounded.  Darwinism, the influence of the Tubingen School of liberal Bible scholarship, Albert Schweitzer’s work on the “historical Jesus,” the Documentary Hypothesis (“JEDP”), Source Criticism, and the “demythologizing” of the Gospels by Rudolf Bultmann were just a few of the influences which had been destructive to Biblical authority and faith in other denominations.

Yet, one must wonder to what extent the founding fathers of the Movement dreamed of establishing a truly Pentecostal seminary.  Many of them were highly educated men who went on to be staunch supporters of education in the Assemblies of God.  E. N. Bell had attended Stetson University, Baptist Seminary in Louisville, and the University of Chicago Divinity School.  P. C. Nelson, a native of Denmark, attended Rochester Theological Seminary.  It was said that he could speak most European languages, and he translated Eric Lund’s great book on hermeneutics from the Spanish.16 Myer Pearlman was taught in Hebrew schools in his native England, and was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, French, and Italian.17 Such men had observed both the dangers and the advantages of education, and in many cases considered it worth the risk.

Beginning in 1945, the bylaws of the Assemblies of God began to contain this statement:

As progress and growth demand, the Educational (sic.) Department may provide a Full Theological Seminary Course in addition to the Bible Institute course, and provide post-graduate work for the graduates who seek special training for the ministry in the United States and foreign lands.18

Wishing to exert more control over the situation, the 1955 General Council voted to amend this statement, taking the decision out of the hands of the Education Department and making it subject to a vote of the general assembly.19 Nevertheless, Education Committee reports continued to be fully as alarming as had been those calling for the establishment of a liberal arts college.  According to the 1957 General Council minutes,

The report also called attention to a survey which indicated that one hundred and thirteen (113) students are presently enrolled in seminaries of non-Pentecostal denominations, furthering their education.  Other studies indicated that many Assemblies of God high school and college students are planning to attend seminaries for training in graduate theology, and this knowledge points up a problem in our ranks which may become acute in the not too distant future.20

The need for chaplains for the military was especially pressing.  It has been well within the purposes of the Assemblies of God to provide chaplains for the military.  But as a rule, the armed services have required that every chaplain possess a minimum of graduate seminary training.  Although concessions were made for the Assemblies during World War II, it is only reasonable to expect all chaplains to work toward fulfilling this minimal requirement.21

Various preliminary studies were conducted, notably in 1956 and 1958.  The 1958 study called attention to the growing demand for seminary studies, the need for Pentecostal chaplains and Bible college teachers, the fact that many Assemblies of God students were attending non-Pentecostal seminaries, and that some seminaries were ceasing to admit Pentecostals.22 A further study was commissioned in 1961 to examine the feasibility of a seminary, with complete plans to be presented by 1967.23

Eventually, the establishment of a seminary was approved.  In 1971, facilities for the school were included in the plans for the new International Distribution Center addition to the Assemblies of God headquarters building in Springfield, Missouri.  Officially described as “a graduate school of theology and missions, providing advanced training beyond the baccalaureate level for ministers, missionaries, evangelists, and other Christian workers for effectual service at home and abroad,”24 the Assemblies of God Graduate School (now the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) opened its doors in the Fall of 1973.

Support of Assemblies of God Schools

Once the establishment of educational institutions was approved, a commitment to support those institutions became necessary.  Such commitment was not lacking among Assemblies of God leaders.  When the military requested leasing the Central Bible Institute campus for convalescent hospital facilities in 1943, the General Presbytery declined.  They believed that “the interests of our country as well as of our constituency can be more largely served by continuing the Institution in its present status as a training center for ministers and missionaries, thus contributing to the up-building and maintenance of national morale.”25

However, this commitment was by no means universal.  A 1957 committee proposed that five percent of undesignated missions contributions go to support the Bible schools.  The resolution failed to pass.25 A 1959 report was quite insistent:

Your committee feels that it is high time our movement is awakened to realize it MUST SUPPORT our schools as a necessary part of our great over-all work.  We should realize that 90% of our entire foreign missionary staff received their training in our own Pentecostal schools and they have gone forth to establish 61 Bible schools . . . .   Our future missionary staff, to say nothing of our great home-field depends upon our movement underwriting our educational program.27

The committee went on to recommend that each church give a sum proportionate to two dollars per member, and each district contribute 5 to 15 percent of its income to education, plus helping provide scholarships and endowments.28


The Assemblies of God educational system, along with hopes for its future, can best be summarized in the words of longtime General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman:

Education in itself will not convert the world.  We must have the right kind of educators and the right kind of education.  Evangelism is not enhanced with ignorance.  We need to present to God our best.  The greatest safeguard that we can have is to shore up our training programs and support our schools, so that we can erect the kind of guidelines we expect our educational programs to have.  I believe we have a responsible and responsive educational program, and I want to see it kept that way.29


  1. J. Roswell Flower, quoted in Irwin Winehouse, The Assemblies of God, A Popular Survey (NY: Vantage Press, 1959), p. 171.
  2. Kenneth O. Gangel, Christian Education:  Its History and Philosophy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), p. 140.  One of Luther’s well-known sermons was entitled, “The Duty of Sending Children to School.”
  3. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), pp. 83-169.  Cf. Gerhard Hasel, Old Testament Theology, 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), pp. 23-31.
  4. Archer, pp. 302-384.
  5. Robert M. Grant and David Tracy, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, 2d ed. (Phila.: Fortress Press, 1973), pp. 110-118.  Cf. Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1971), pp. 137-234.
  6. William W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971), pp. 34-40.
  7. Don P. Gray, “A Critical Analysis of the Academic Evolutionary Development within the Assemblies of God Higher Education Movement, 1914-1974” (D.Ed. Thesis, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1976), p. 22.
  8. Gray, p. 21.
  9. Gray, pp. 20-22, 26.
  10. Charlotte Luckey, “History and Development of Assemblies of God Education,” Assemblies of God Educator 10 (Nov.-Dec. 1965):4-5.  Cr. Donald F. Johns, “A Philosophy of Religious Education for the Assemblies of God” (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1962), p. 19.
  11. Joseph R. Flower, personal letter to Carolyn D. Baker, Springfield, Missouri, Nov. 15, 1983, appended to Carolyn D. Baker, “The Stunted Growth of the Assemblies of God Formal Education Between 1914 and 1973 with Reasons and Suggestions for Future Leaders and Educators” (term paper, Assemblies of God Graduate School, 1983).
  12. Minutes of the General Council, September 4-9, 1947, Grand Rapids, MI (in the Assemblies of God Archives, Springfield, MO), pp. 16-18.
  13. G. Raymond Carlson, personal letter to Carolyn Baker, Oct. 12, 1983, cited in Baker, pp. 4-5.
  14. Menzies, p. 362.
  15. Menzies, pp. 359, 366.  Winehouse, p. 174.
  16. Minutes of the General Council, September 20-26, 1929, no place (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 83.
  17. Menzies, p. 359.
  18. Betty Chase, “The Pentecostal Paradox” Assemblies of God Educator 3 (Sept.-Oct. 1958):4.
  19. Minutes of the General Council, September 13-18, 1945, Springfield, MO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 17.
  20. Minutes of the General Council, 1947, p. 17.
  21. Hardy Steinberg, personal letter to Carolyn Baker, Oct. 13, 1983, Springfield, MO, appended to Baker, “Stunted Growth.”
  22. Minutes of the General Council, August 26-September 2, 1953, Milwaukee, WI (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 30.
  23. Minutes of the General Council, 1945, p. 25.
  24. Minutes of the General Council, September 1-6, 1955, Oklahoma City, OK (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 43.
  25. An excellent example of anti-higher education voting is found in the 1947 Minutes, p. 22, concerning the establishment of a liberal arts college.  The vote was 326 for, 641 against.
  26. Minutes of the General Council, August 28-September 3, 1957, Cleveland, OH (in the Assemblies of God Archives), pp. 50-51.
  27. Minutes of the General Council, August 29-September 1, 1959, San Antonio, TX (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 84.
  28. Minutes of the General Council, August 25-30, 1965, Des Moines, IA (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 68.
  29. Minutes of the General Council, August 14-19, 1975, Denver, CO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 147.
  30. Minutes of the General Council, September 2-7, 1943, Springfield, MO (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 7.
  31. Minutes of the General Council, 1957, p. 51.
  32. Minutes of the General Council, 1959, p. 83.
  33. Ibid., pp. 83-84.
  34. Minutes of the General Council, August 11-16, 1983, Anaheim, CA (in the Assemblies of God Archives), p. 57.

© 1996 Paul A. Hughes


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