Peter’s Usage Of Archē In Acts 11:15: A Theological Shibboleth For The Dispensational Uniqueness Of The Church -- By: Brian H. Wagner

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 11:34 (Dec 2007)
Article: Peter’s Usage Of Archē In Acts 11:15: A Theological Shibboleth For The Dispensational Uniqueness Of The Church
Author: Brian H. Wagner


Peter’s Usage Of Archē In Acts 11:15: A Theological Shibboleth For The Dispensational Uniqueness Of The Church

Brian H. Wagner

Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School
Instructor of Church History and Theology, Virginia Baptist College

Shibboleth (a borrowed Hebrew word, now a component of the English vocabulary) is “a word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another.”1 It was borrowed from the Bible story where 42,000 rebellious soldiers from the tribe of Ephraim were identified and executed. The Ephraimites were identified by their mispronunciation of the word shibboleth (Judg 12:6).2 One may wonder if their tribal mispronunciation was a result of decades of cultural compromise with the Canaanites that lived among them.3

Today there is the need to distinguish between all those who profess to be Christian. The clear biblical “pronunciation” of the Gospel must be the shibboleth which makes that distinction (i.e. “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” 1 Cor 15:3–4). Though certainly not a matter for determining physical execution, profession of the Gospel is a matter relating to everlasting life and everlasting death, and must therefore be a determining factor in identifying who should be called “brethren” in the faith.

There is also a need today to distinguish between those who are biblically qualified as pastors in Christ’s church. The Scripture is clear that the holding fast to sound doctrine is one necessary qualification for pastors (i.e. elders, bishops; Tit 1:9). Though sound doctrine is somewhat related to the Gospel, which brought new life to the believer, it is primarily concerned with those clear teachings of Scripture that will promote spiritual health and growth in each child of God. One example of sound doctrine is the biblical teaching that the church is the body of Christ, significantly distinct from God’s covenantal people Israel, in origin through Spirit baptism, and in its identification through water baptism.

Therefore, what one, who claims the role of “pastor,” believes and teaches concerning the church may reveal whether they are truly qualified for the position they publicly hold. A major component of this sound doctrine conc...

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