Jesus’ Teachings as “Prophecy”
Time and time again when we point out that there are obvious teachings of Jesus that were not Old Testament elaboration but were clearly intended for us today, those who want to contend that MML&J are Old Testament books will counter that this was just “prophecy.” First, this is an outright admission that MML&J do contain doctrine applicable to us today. Second, naming it something else does not make it so. This is just a semantically trick. Even if we agree that some, most, or even all of the doctrines that Jesus spoke as recorded in MML&J that apply to us were prophecy, this would not prove that MML&J are Old Testament books. But the fact is that most of what is being rationalized to be prophecy just is not.
The rationale of those calling the clearly applicable teachings “prophecy” is to negate their authoritative power. For, after all, if MML&J are Old Testament books then they were nailed to the cross with Christ, and they have no binding power. Thus, the proposition that must be proven is:
Prophecy solves the dilemma of spiritual adultery, but prophecy holds no authority over the kingdom.
This proposition can be analyzed as follows.
Jesus did “prophesy” some things regarding life in the New Kingdom.
But, all prophecy stated before Pentecost of Acts 2 has no binding authority over those living in the kingdom.
None of Jesus’ “prophecies” stated before the Pentecost of Acts 2 has any authority over the kingdom today.
In this case, the major premise is true if we define “prophecy” as forth-telling and not just fore-telling. Jesus did say many things regarding the kingdom that was then at hand. However, the minor premise is faulty because it assumes that Jesus’ words including the obligations He issued toward those who would enter the kingdom were nailed to the cross and thus never called upon anyone to act. This position pretends that Jesus’ command to take the bread and “remember His body” (Matthew 26:26f) was a prophecy to one day remember Him after He dies. But then after He dies, the command goes out of force with the OT. It assumes that Christians cannot carry out what Jesus instructed in Matthew 26 and that they can only get their authority to remember His body and blood from scriptures found after Acts 2. Otherwise, all we have here is a purely semantical argument. We have no problem in rationalizing that the commands of Jesus to be followed after the cross were “prophecy” (in some sense of the word) provided that they have the full authority of that given by the Son of God (Matthew 28:18). However, this lands those who want to set all of these commands aside right back where they started.
The prophecy argument was invented to be able to sustain the argument that Jesus could not teach NT doctrine while living under the Old Testament (which we refuted above). It follows a faulty supposition that “prophecy” is the only way Jesus could tell of new laws without forcing the Jews into a situation of spiritual adultery. Thus, it is argued that He taught the Law of Moses and He “prophesied” some new things regarding the coming kingdom. These “prophecies” prevent Jesus from binding two laws at once. This might sound like a plausible way to prevent the two-law conflict of interest, but then the argument is made that none of Jesus’ “prophecies” ever held authority over the NT kingdom. This follows from the contention that MML&J were nailed to the cross and should not be given the weight of Acts 2 through Revelation 22.
The major problem with the entire theory is that Jesus taught most of these things in the present tense, and so they cannot be rightfully called prophecy in the sense that this word is trying to be applied. You cannot have your cake and eat it too – either Jesus was speaking of things that would strictly not be enforced until after the cross or he was not. We allow for the fact that many things that Jesus taught were not to become effective until after the cross (e.g., the Lord’s Supper). This is exactly what our contention is, and the reason that MML&J cannot be OT and cannot have been nailed to the cross. However, there are many things that we just cannot legitimately and honestly state to be prophecy.
Among the things they allow Jesus to “prophesy” is the new birth of John 3:1-5, eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6, taking up our cross and following Jesus in Luke 4:26ff, abiding in Jesus in John 15, and loving each other as Christ loved us in John 13. Read these verses and decide for yourself if they were prophecy or if Jesus expected the hearers there to understand and obey Him at that very moment. So is this two laws at one time. Re-read them and ask yourself: if a person obeyed Jesus right then and there, would he be disobeying the OT law? Were the disciples who obeyed the command “follow me” disobeying the OT law? Were the 12 disciples and the 70 disciples who Jesus sent out disobeying the OT law when they followed the directives of the Son of God?
But these so-called prophecies also let us know what Jesus’ expects of us. We can look at these “prophecies” and know that we need to be born again, abide in Him in order to grow and live, and put Him first, and love our brethren. We can do these things because the Spirit reminded us of what Jesus said by delivering these sayings in the NT books of MML&J. His “prophecies” still state what He wants for us and from us in the church/kingdom He came to establish. MML&J were written to help us know more about the will of Jesus, even if we allow that He stated some of His will in the form of “prophecy.”
So, we return to the original proposition and turn it back to our friends. Did Jesus “prophecy” His will for us to eat His flesh and drink His blood? If He did, we can learn His will for the NT kingdom from these “prophesies.” So, “At what point did Jesus cease to teach the Law of Moses and begin to teach His will?” (Proposition 2). It is admitted that He began to teach His will when He “prophesied.” The only conflict that is solved by this is the idea of a conflict of two laws enforced at the same time. It is still a difficulty for our friends to determine what may be classified as “prophecy,” and this semantic classification does not prevent the statements from being an expression of His will for the kingdom.
We all agree that Jesus “prophesied” some expectations for the kingdom. Jesus did this while the Law of Moses was still in effect. Some of the “prophecies” are stated in present tense language as if it was then “in effect” (i.e., “my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed” - John 6). The statement calls for an intended duty to be carried out by the hearer. The statement carries a directive to eat His flesh and drink His blood and an obligation thereto. So the fact that it is “prophecy” is not obvious. If our friends can handle the “mingling” of two laws by deciding contextually what is New Kingdom-oriented (“prophesied”) and what is Law of Moses, they should not suppose that we have any greater problem than they do in deciding which is which. If they can determine what is “prophecy” (and we think they can), then we can take those “prophecies” and determine a significant part of the will of Christ for the NT age. (We are not saying that the Holy Spirit did not reveal additional truth after Pentecost.) If they cannot determine what is “prophecy,” then they have solved no problems by arguing that Jesus kept from “mingling” two laws together by teaching one and “prophesying” the other.
So, no matter what you want to call Jesus’ teachings, there are some things that belong to the Law of Moses and some things that belong to the New Kingdom. The context will have to determine the difference together with a comparison of all other scripture (Matthew 4:4). Believing that MML&J are OT books (in the case of some who so argue) solves nothing. But our friends who concede that MML&J are NT books that contain no binding obligations and instructions have not solved the “mingling” dilemma either. The assumption is not valid in either case. There is still an admission by all that Jesus taught some things that apply to those in the kingdom today. Some call it “prophecy” while others call it doctrine, but whether called doctrine or prophecy, these sayings of Jesus express His will for His kingdom today.
Our friends solve the dilemma to their satisfaction by saying that Jesus “prophesied” New Kingdom expectations and demands. If that is how they solve it to their satisfaction, then we have no problem with that. But, then they disallow that these “prophecies” have any binding quality even after the cross. This is where it becomes a major error. We can allow that the new things Jesus taught were to be practiced in the kingdom when it came (and in that sense be allowed to be prophetic projection). But, our friends are not content to stop there and allow these “prophecies” to have binding power on the kingdom that they say was being prophesied. We can refer back to MML&J to find these “prophesies” to be expressions of Jesus’ will for the kingdom. We are to “eat His flesh and drink His blood.” We are to “abide in Him.” We can tell people, “you must be born of the water and the Spirit.” These so-called “prophecies” still express the divine will for us today. Following these “prophecies” and acting upon the so-called “facts” (i.e. “no man comes to the Father but by Me” - John 14:6), will not put us in a situation of spiritual adultery. If it bothers our opponents that Jesus spoke these things while the Law of Moses was in effect, and it helps them to solve the dilemma by calling the new things “prophecy,” then we have no problem with them solving it this way. It is not proper to argue over trivial semantics (I Timothy 6:4). However, when they claim that these new things do not express the divine will for us today because they were just prophesying, that causes a serious problem of undermining the authority of Christ.
If Moses could give pre-Sinai commands that would remain just as binding as post-Sinai commands, then the prophet “like unto Moses” (Jesus – see Acts 3:22) could give pre-cross commands that would remain binding. The two-law dilemma is solved by there being absolutely no violation of the Old Testament in what was commanded. If a person is unwilling to accept this, then it would still mean that His “prophecies” do still have the same binding authority as the pre-Sinai “Passover” prophecy had over Israel. Call it what you will, Jesus’ pre-cross commands still have as much authority as Moses’ pre-Sinai commands (i.e. the Passover of Exodus 12). If Israel had authority to keep Moses’ Passover “prophecy” because it was commanded by Moses, then we, likewise, have authority to keep Jesus’ pre-cross commands that apply (those that our friends want to call His “prophecies”). They still express the will of Christ for us, just as Moses’ pre-Sinai Passover “prophecy” expressed to Israel the divine expectation. Calling it “prophecy” does not remove its binding authority, and calling it “spiritual adultery” in the closing stages of their life under Patriarchal Law to follow Moses’ pre-Sinai commands, does not necessarily make it so.
Neither, in the closing stages of Mosaic Law, is it spiritual adultery to follow new commands given in preparation for the New Kingdom. But, if one insists that it does present such a case or condition, then they will have to solve it. Call it prophecy. Call it fact. It still has enduring and binding quality for the kingdom. Likewise, now that the New Testament has come into effect, we agree that it would be spiritual adultery to try to maintain allegiance to and obedience to both testaments at the same time. I hope we can see that Moses’ pre-Sinai commands were not illegal, causing spiritual adultery. And that being so, Jesus did not force a situation of spiritual adultery either. Call it “prophecy,” or call it “transitional,” or something else, but these things have an intended obligation for the kingdom. They still express His will for the kingdom. Just as Israel can read Exodus 12 and understand their obligations to keep the Passover and the reason for it, so today we can read MML&J and get an understanding of the will of the Lord that can come in no other way.
Our friends have argued that our “method” of determining what is applicable to us and what is not, is totally arbitrary and subjective. Yet, they claim it is easy to tell when He was teaching the Law of Moses and when He was “prophesying” of the kingdom. If their “method” is not arbitrary and subjective in determining when something is “prophecy,” then we are not at all inclined to believe the charge that we have a more difficult time than they do. The prophecy argument simply does not solve the dilemma and certainly does not represent any reasonable scriptural exegesis.