Sunday, November 28, 2004

ROMANS 5 STUDY NOTES. "In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text." Martin Luther

4:25 (Delivered, but Raised)

Paul sums up his statements on righteousness by faith by saying that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins. This is the idea of propitiation. He was a substitute sacrifice, bearing death and the penalty of our sin. He was also raised to life for our justification. Jesus’ resurrection was a statement that God accepted his sacrifice for us. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, Paul said if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

5:1-2 (What We Have As Justified Believers)

Now that we are justified, or declared righteous, how does this change our relationship to God?

First, we have peace with God through Christ. Before salvation, we were enemies of God. Colossians 1:21-22 says “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death…” While we are living in sin, we are separated from God and at enmity with him. Isaiah 59:2 your iniquities have separated you from your god; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.

But, once we believe and are justified, that hostility and enmity is removed. God’s justice toward us is satisfied. We are no longer living in opposition to God and he is no longer hostile toward us, so we have peace with God. Isaiah prophesied this is 32:17: The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

So, you do not have to live like God is mad at you. In fact, you are at peace with God and may enjoy his favor forever. This is what the angels said to the shepherds: glory to God on the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. This is not a matter of how you feel, but is an objective statement of your status before God.

Paul cannot resist restating here that we gained access into this grace of God by faith. We now stand permanently in God’s grace. Morris on access: "The idea is that of introduction to the presence-chamber of a monarch. The rendering access is inadequate, as it leaves out of sight the fact that we do not come in our own strength, but need an 'introducer' - Christ."

A corollary of this is that we also have access into God’s presence because Christ removed the barrier between us. Ephesians 3:12 says “in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Second, we not only have peace with God, we have joy in the hope of the glory of God. We know that, having been saved, we are destined for life in the presence and glory of God. We have that to look forward to. Hope here is that encouragement we have from a certain future. It is not as the current definition of wishful thinking, unless you believe that you can lose your salvation. That is why Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

This hope causes us to rejoice. Our future is secure. We need not worry about our destination and we can rejoice in our future. Paul said in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!”

5:3-5 (Rejoice In Sufferings)

Now we take an interesting turn. It is one thing to say we rejoice in the thought of heaven and the glory of God. But Paul now says we also rejoice in our sufferings [NKJV=tribulations]. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These early Christians did suffer. They were thrown out of the synagogue. They were run out of Jerusalem. They we often persecuted by the Romans. The lost families and possessions. They went to jail. They were killed. James was beheaded early in the process. Paul suffered in every way imaginable: he was beaten, arrested, stoned, slandered, imprisoned, and, finally, executed. Yet he rejoiced in suffering.

He rejoiced because of the effect suffering has on character. What does it produce? First, it produces perseverance. Perseverance is a steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose, or steadfastness. (Here it is not used in the theological sense of the doctrine that those who have been chosen by God will continue in a state of grace to the end and will finally be saved.)

That seems a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? You would think suffering would cause people to quit, not persevere. Instead, suffering provides a vehicle for God’s grace and strength to flow into the believer.

Polycarp of Smyna was arrested for being being a Christian. In an angry mob, the Roman proconsul took pity on him since he was an old man. He told Polycarp if would just say "Caesar is Lord" and offer a small pinch of incense to Caesar's statue he would escape torture and death. Polycarp responded, "Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" He was burned alive at the stake.

Paul tells then that perseverance produces character. As we persevere through life’s experiences, God builds into us more and more Christ like character.

Finally, character produces hope.

We are not disappointed because the Father has poured his love out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit with us at all times, indwelling us, to continually express the Father’s love to us. We see all 3 persons of the Trinity working here for our benefit.

James 1:2 conveys this same message. He says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

It is in difficult times that God molds our character and we learn to trust him and draw strength from him. When we do so fully, God is glorified in our tribulations. Philippians 1:20 says “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death.” He had no wish that he would have it easy, but that Christ would be exalted.

1 Peter 1:5-7 says “…for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 2:20-21 says “…if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you…”

1 Peter 4:1-2 says “…he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of this earthy life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

This process we call “sanctification”. After justification, God proceeds with sanctification, making us like Christ.

5:6-8 (Time of Death)

Christ died “at just the right time” (NIV) or “in due time” (NKJV). Christ died at a time appointed by God. We do not know what made it the right time, but it was according to God’s timing. God set the time for Christ’s sacrifice, as he has set the time of his return. Peter in Acts 2:23 said “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge…” Jesus, knowing his arrest was imminent, said “Father, the time has come” in John 17:1.

Paul also describes our condition at this time. First, he says we were still powerless. We had no ability to bring ourselves to salvation. We were lost. We needed God to intervene in our lives. Second, he says we were still sinners. We did not become righteous through works and cause God to notice us and decide to save us. Rather, he reached out to us in grace and love to bring us to salvation.

The Reformers called this teaching of Paul “total depravity of man”. That term is often misunderstood today because of changes in our perception of the meaning of the words. The Reformers meant that the effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of our personality, our thinking, our emotions, and our will. (It does not necessarily mean that we are intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to our entire being.
The unsaved person is powerless to save himself, according to verse 6. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel. See Mark 4:11 and John 6:44.
My pastor in Lubbock used to call this "Total Inability." His favorite saying was that we have a total inability to do anything for ourselves in the spiritual realm. The man without a relationship with God will never come into this relationship without God's making him alive through Christ. Read Ephesians 2:1-5.
This is a demonstration of God’s love. He loved us when we were not lovely. We should also follow his example. Anyone can love the attractive, lovely people. Christians need to love the other kind of people.

5:9-11 (Saved From Wrath)

Paul argues from lesser to greater here. If God has justified us through the blood of Christ, he will save us from God’s wrath. Punishment for sin is not an option for the one who believes. He truly is “saved” from hell and punishment for sin. The believer will here the Kings say “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (See Matthew 25:34.)

5:12-14 (Adam’s Legacy)

Notice that this argument of Paul presupposes the truth of Genesis 2 and 3. Adam and Eve were real people and the events of Genesis were real to Paul. In Genesis 2:17, God told Adam and Eve if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. In Genesis 3:19, God told them their bodies would return to the dust, or ground, meaning their physical bodies would die. In Genesis 3:22-24, God drove Man from the Garden, separating him from fellowship with God and from the source of eternal life.
God interacted with Adam as an individual and as a representative of all humanity. Sin came into the world because Adam sinned. Death came into the world because Adam sinned. Paul said death came to all men because all sinned, meaning all sinned in Adam, or Adam’s sin was imputed to all mankind. In Ezekiel 18:4, God reiterated the principle that the one who sins will die.
You might say, but I thought sin came from breaking the law, but Paul answers that by saying sin was in the world before the law was given, as evidenced by the fact that death existed from Adam to Moses.
This is the concept of “original sin”. After Adam, no man or woman was born innocent. All were born with a sin nature, all were born sinners. David acknowledged this concept in Psalm 51:5. He said “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The actual term “original sin” is not in the Bible. It was used by Augustine. Augustine had a great debate with a man named Pelagius, who believed men and women were born neutral, neither good or bad, but with the capacity to do either. Augustine’s position won the day, but the debate resurfaced many times and rages today. Augustine affected both Luther and Calvin greatly.
We sin because we are sinners, because we have a sin nature. Solomon acknowledged this in his prayer to dedicate the Temple in 1 Kings 8:46. He said “…for there is no one who does not sin…” 1 John 1:8-10 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
The concept of original sin, of total depravity, also affects the idea of free will.
But sin was not taken into account before the law came, according to verse 13.
Adam is a type of Christ. That is what is meant in verse 14 by “Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come”. He was a type, or pattern, in that he represented the rest of mankind, and his actions had consequences for all of mankind.
5:15-19 (Contrasting Adam And Christ)

Verse 14 made a comparison between Adam and Christ, but these verses observe the contrast. Paul speaks of the contrast between the trespass (Adam) and the gift (Christ). The trespass brought death to mankind. Verse 16 says the trespass brought judgment and condemnation.

In contrast, God’s grace and the gift of salvation brought justification. Verse 17 says that those who receive God’s grace and gift of righteousness will reign in life through Christ. John 1:12-13 tells us that those who receive Him, who believe on his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Another contrast is that death came through the disobedience of Adam, but life came from the obedience of Christ.

5:20-21 (Law & Grace)

Now that Paul has explained that justification comes through faith and not observing the law, he answers the question: why was the law given? Paul said the law was “added”. (The NKJV reads “entered”, Calvin reads “intervened”, and Luther reads “entered”). What was it added to? It was added to God’s dealings with man, such as his covenant with Abraham, that through him God would bless all nations through him, and Abraham’s belief, that was credited to him as righteousness.

Years later, God added the law. He did this through Moses, after he redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt. He added the law so that the trespass might increase. That is, God set forth his standards of righteousness so men and women could understand what they are and they cannot attain them.

It also means that the law was added to exacerbate our plight as sinners, because, once we know the law, we want to disobey it. Paul will demonstrate this in himself in chapter 7. But we all have experienced that desire to do something we have been told not to do.

I personally hate signs that tell me what I cannot do. I saw a cartoon once. It showed a man standing on the sidewalk talking to his wife. There was a sign next to him that said “Do not run with scissors”. He told his wife “suddenly I have the strangest urge to run down the street with scissors”. There was also a song that said “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign; blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?” (The Five Man Electrical Band, 1971, written by Les Emmerson). This is the rebellious nature that resides in mankind.

Notice it does not say God added the law so that we could be saved by observing it.

Paul then points out that, although sin increases with the law, grace increases along with it and even surpasses it in the sacrifice of Christ. Sin did not reach a level where God would not let Christ propitiate it.

This point resonated in Paul’s personal life. He saw himself as a great sinner because of his persecution of the church before his conversion. He describes this in 1 Timothy 1:12-17. God’s grace was so great that Paul was not only given salvation, but allowed to become a minister of the gospel. His experience of grace led him to the praise of verse 17.

Finally, we know that, just as sin brought death to mankind, grace brought us eternal life.

REIGN ON SATURDAY. After hosting 14 people on Thanksgiving, Saturday was surreal. By noon, the College Daughter had returned to college (in my car), the Baby had gone to Tall Boy's family Thanksgiving, and the Little Woman had gone shopping. The house was empty and quiet. Only I and the dog remained. I sat down at the computer to work on the Sunday School lesson and the dog went in the other room in apparent disgust. Seeing a cloud of depression rising on the horizon, I jumped into the study of Romans 6 and lost track of time for about 4 hours.

Then my lovely friends, Rock and Sandra, saved me by taking us to the symphony. Even though it was Christmas music, I enjoyed it. (Sometimes Christmas music sets me off, but more on that later.) Best of all, they ended the concert with the Hallelujah Chorus. I jumped to my feet and stood for it. I pumped my fist when they sang the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.

The Lord reigns at the symphony. And he reigns at the empty house.

Friday, November 26, 2004

THE MORNING AFTER. After celebrating a wonderful thanksgiving, we were awakened about 4 a. m. to find that thieves broke in the College Daughter's car. They broke the driver's side window and ripped out the CD player, taking out most of the center of the dashboard with it. Fortunately, they were so focused on the stereo they did not take the camera or cash. I guess the feelings of good will brought on by Thanksgiving ended a midnight. The police say they cannot get finger prints, so we will never know who did it. The daughter had to miss work back at school because her car is in the shop.

It is not at all hard for me to believe in the doctrine of total depravity.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

SCIENTIFIC CHRISTIANITY. Augustine said "Though there are very many nations all over the earth,...there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, consisting of those who live according to man, the other of those who live according to God....To the City of Man belong the enemies of God, inflamed with hatred against the City of God."

Gerd Ludemann, professor of New Testament and Director of the Institute of Christian Studies at Gottingen University (Germany) said he no longer describes himself as a Christian and practices theology as a scientific discipline. (It makes me picture the King of Siam saying "It's scientific! in the King and I)

He denies the resurrection, discounts the Biblical presentation of Jesus, and believes that Jesus was conceived in an episode of rape. It makes you wonder how he could maintain his job teaching New Testament. At least he is honest about his beliefs. Many liberal theologians are not believers in any sense, but will not admit it.

Ludemann said "I don't think Christians know what they mean when they proclaim Jesus as Lord of the world. That is a massive claim. If you took that seriously, you would probably have to be a fundamentalist. If you can't be a fundamentalist, then you should give up Christianity for the sake of honesty."

On this we agree. The claims of Christianity are fantastic. Theological liberals constantly search for a way to call themselves Christians while accomodating the world's skepticism. It cannot be logically done. Augustine was right. You have to choose which city in which you will live. Jesus said no one can serve two masters. You cannot be in the world and in Christ.

Professor Ludemann, I understand the claim of Jesus as Lord of the World. Color me a fundamentalist, then. I believe Jesus is sovereign, and that he is returning to be revealed as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And, I don't think he will care much for scientific theology as for the faith of a little child.

WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY KENNETH? Dan Rather is quittin'. Even a 24 year man can fall when he does something bad enough. Rather's faux pax in running a fraudulent story on the President and his National Guard duty was bad, bad, bad, but sending it to the Kerry campaign proves he is not fit to be a newsman. Maybe Kerry will hire him to prepare to run against Hillary in four more.

Rather is also the guy that walked off the show early one night to protest the fact that his show was delayed by a tennis match. He was, of course, way too important to wait. Even though he dropped to third place in news ratings behind Tom Brokaw and "Canadian" Pete Jennings. Losing to a Canadian is tough. Usually they don't fight. It's a French thing.

(The title of the post, by the way, comes from the words of the man who allegedly accosted Rather some years ago. R.E.M. made a song of it.)

Friday, November 19, 2004


The cross always divides people, for it shows that we cannot save ourselves. Only Christ can save us. Human nature does not want to accept this unless God changes our hearts.

This passage recounts the crucifixion of our Lord, on a cross, with two common criminals. One reviled him, one asked him for salvation.

On the cross, Jesus died to pay the penalty of our sin. Romans 5:6 tells us that “For while were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (us).”

Jesus did not sin and did not deserve to die. The second criminal realized this, as we see in verse 41: “and we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Some people ridiculed Jesus. Others demanded that he demonstrate his power. He would not do anything for these people, for they did not believe in him. He will not perform tricks to get people to believe.

But Christ did respond to the one who came to him in faith. The second criminal said in verse 42 “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” While others made fun of Jesus by calling him “King of the Jews”, this man recognized Jesus as the king of all things.

Jesus is king of all things. One day he will show this to everyone. In Revelation 11:15-16, an angel proclaims “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” When this world is over, we will see Jesus as the king forever.

Jesus rewarded this man’s faith with salvation. He said “today you shall be with me in Paradise (meaning heaven)”.

Most of the people in this passage, the Roman Guards, the local crowds, one of the men being crucified, did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the king of all things. But the one man who did claim Jesus as king of his life received eternal life in heaven from Jesus.

When we say we “believe” in Jesus, it includes believing and accepting his right to be king of our lives. We must follow him and obey him. The Bible tells us in John 3:16 that everyone who does this will have eternal life.

BREAKING THE CAMEL'S BACK. Rumor has it that the United Nations Staff Union will have a no confidence vote in Secretary Kofi Annan. I have long maintained that he is incompetent and corrupt. It is nice to see some affirmation. The straw that evidently broke the camel's back was his pardon of the U. N. 's top oversight official in the Iraq oil for food program, which has been shown to be scandalously corrupt, even by the U. N.'s banana republic standards.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

SHAME ON YOU. On Sunday, we had a guest speaker who was a missionary. It was missions Sunday. He began his talk by reading Habakkuk 1:5. It says “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told.”

He then said that scripture was fulfilled in the current missions activity and went on to describe things going on in missions in Asia.

The problem is, he misapplied the text. One clue should have been the words “in your days”, meaning in the days of Habakkuk and his contemporaries, not now. If that did not clue you in, you could read the next verse, that explains the astonishing thing God was doing: raising up the Babylonians to conquer the Jews.

I know the man was not attempting an exegesis of the scripture, but that is no justification for misapplying it. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” If we mishandle God’s word, we should be ashamed.

Every teacher and preacher has a duty to faithfully present the Word accurately. That means taking the meaning in context, not stretching the meaning to fit your personal agenda, and not omitting anything because it is difficult. Paul tells us that teachers will be judged more harshly than others. All of us who teach should think of that every time we prepare a lesson or sermon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

IF I HAD A HAMMER. I'd hammer in the morning. I'd hammer in the evening. All over this la-and. Sociologist Abraham Maslow said "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

The Democratic Party is considering Howard Dean as their new chairman.

Heh heh.

Friday, November 12, 2004

GUILTY. Scott Peterson has been found guilty of the murder of his wife. Expect an appeal after all the problems with the jury.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

SHANE CASSEM: GOING OVER JORDAN. It is a shock when someone you know dies suddenly and, to you, unexpectantly. I felt that way when Shane Cassem died last week. I realized it was not unexpectant to God. He knew the time and place. He just did not tell me.

Neither is dying a bad thing. Paul said dying is gain. He looked forward to dying and appearing in the presence of Christ. Everyone who knows Shane knows he is there now.

I'm going there to meet my Saviour,
He said He'd meet me when I come
I 'm only going over Jordan,
I'm only going over home.

A strange thing happens when a Believer dies. Tears of loss are shed, sure, but happy memories are shared. Hope is rekindled as we are forced to remember that they have come to the first part of their reward. If they have been sick and suffering, they are relieved and blessed.

If you could see me now
I'm walking streets of gold.
If you could see me now
I'm standing tall and whole.
If you could see me now
You'd know I've seen his face.
If you could see me now
You'd know the pain's erased.

Shane has left pain behind. His joy is complete. That big smile is permanently in place.

So long for now. I'll see you on that other shore, when the Long Goodbye will be the Eternal Hello.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

YOU DON'T HEAR THIS EVERYDAY. A business owner in Red Bank, Tennessee has been arrested on assault charges after accusations that he spanked errant employees. It makes it hard to believe in evolution, does it not. Just like those people who run across the freeway at night and get hit at 70 mph or people who think liberalism will work. There is just no cure for stupid. And I just can't believe in evolution. This guy is proof.
RELIGION OF PEACE UPDATE. "We have gathered here because our child is dead, murdered." So said Theo Van Gogh's mother at the funeral for the Dutch film maker who was killed by a Muslim in retribution for making a film criticizing the way Muslims treat women. Obviously, Mr. Muslim would rather be feared than liked or respected. The problem with retribution is that it often brings about more retribution. The normally peaceful Dutch have been defacing Muslim property, including the nailing of pigs heads to a few doors.

My sympathies to the Van Gogh family. What a tragedy to lose a family member to senseless murder. My encouragement to the Dutch people. Stand firm or learn to speak Arabic. There will never be enough appeasement to buy you peace, as this incident shows. At whatever point you speak out or resist, you will be attacked. So, you might as well draw the line here.

Friday, November 05, 2004

RELIGION OF PEACE UPDATE. If you do not think it has gotten bad in Muslim Europe yet, consider this. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was killed by a Moroccan Muslim after making a movie critical of the way Muslims treat women. Van Gogh was shot twice and stabbed, then the guy slit his throat while he lay helpless in the street. This occurred in the Netherlands.

In Afghanistan, the "Army of Muslims" kidnapped 3 U.N. workers there to help with the election. The kidnappers threaten to kill them if a long list of demands are not met, most of which cannot be met by the U. N. because they involve things under the control of sovereign nations.

In Thailand, Muslims killed a Buddist monk in retaliation for the deaths of Muslim rioters by the government. The Buddist Monk was not involved in the killings.

"When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. " Q 9:5

Wednesday, November 03, 2004



Monday, November 01, 2004

WANNA BET? The electronic betting market has the probability of a Bush win at 55%.
THE SUFFERING CONTINUES. Groan! The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows a deadlock between the presidential candidates.

Actually, it shows the President at 48% and Kerry at 47% (Nader still at 1%). That is actually one tick upward. The last one showed them even at 48%.

The margin of error is 3.1%. That is why they call it even: the lead is within the margin of error. I guess the margin could go toward the President, meaning he is really ahead 51-44.

Is there any good news for those of us hoping and praying for reelection of the President. Yes, there is a little.

Kerry has been harping on the supposedly missing explosives. However, when surveyors asked if the President is to blame for the missing explosives, SURVEY SAID 49 percent of the respondents say no, only 38 percent say yes. (This reminds me of the time when the Democrats kept opposing the war in Iraq while 80% of American’s supported it.)

The survey also found that 24 percent say Osama bin Laden's recent statement that "any state that does not mess with our security, has naturally guaranteed its own security" made them more inclined to vote for Bush, contrasted with twelve percent who said it made them more inclined to vote for Kerry. 62 percent say it made no difference in their vote. 50% expressed the desire to personally bring about Osama’s violent death.

OK, I made that part up.
RECONSTITUTION OF THE SANHEDRIN. Last week an unusual ordination occured in Tiberias, Israel. Rabbis re-established the Sanhedrin. This is the group of Rabbis, 71 in all, that existed during the Tannaitic period, from several decades before Christ until 425 A.D. Rabbi Yeshai Ba'avad said the 71 rabbis were ordained in accordance with Maimonides' writings.

The membership is not intended to be permanent. The goal is one rabbinic body that will meet every month and rule on central issues.

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel said "Whether this will be the actual Sanhedrin that we await, is a question of time - just like the establishment of the State; we rejoiced in it, but we are still awaiting something much more ideal. "