Friday, June 12, 2009


This is the final half of my interview with Dr. G.K. Beale, author of "The Temple and the Church's Mission."

In this interview we discuss the Tribulation, End Times Suffering, Deception and Persecution, and Pastoral Support.

Those who know me already know I disagree with Dr.Beale on the issue of pastoral support and clergy, but our dialog here is interesting regardless of where you land on these issues.


Keith: What are the practical impacts of the teaching in your book? If I understand now that the Church is the promised, end times Temple, how does that practically work out in my life and my faith?

Dr. Beale: What it means is that where we’re standing now in God’s redemptive, historical program is that we’re part of the end time Temple, and it’s a literal Temple. The literal, again according to Hebrews, is not always the physical. In this case the physical has always pointed towards God’s presence with His people. So Christ is the Tabernacle-ing Temple in John 1 and his resurrection continues that Temple and so the point of the Temple, and the point of my book, is to show that this Temple is to be expanded. The way that occurs in the New Testament is through believers being made in the image of God. What do you do with images? The same that happened with Adam in Genesis. He’s made in the image of God and you put him in the Temple, which is the Garden of Eden. So, when we become believers we become part of the Temple of God but we’re images in the Temple to reflect Him. If that is the case, then as we go out into the World, whether through the testimony of Word or Life, we’re to spread the presence of God. As people come to faith through our life or word, or both, basically what’s happening is that this is the Temple expanding. God’s presence expands outward from us, through us, to others.

That also happens through suffering. In Revelation chapter eleven if you wanted to consult my commentary, it says you’re to measure the temple and the altar and the one’s worshiping in it but not to measure the outer court but cast it outside. What in the world is going on there? Well, the long and the short of it is that Temple is God’s presence, the Believers are in that Temple, the measuring has to do with their salvific condition, and they’ll never be removed from God’s presence, but the outer court is the physical side of the Temple. That is where the priests of Israel sacrificed so it becomes very clear in verse one when it says to measure the altar, that’s a specific of chapter 6 and verse 9, where it says beneath the altar I saw the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.

So, one of the ways believers spread the presence of God, yes it’s through their testimony, yes, it’s through the word of God, but one of the main ways that God’s presence is manifested to the world is when the world pressures us to compromise our faith and our testimony - when we’re unwilling to compromise – we remain loyal to God and it brings suffering we are sacrificing ourselves on God’s altar. Unbelievers, at those times, will see that, and that is often what gets their attention and leads them to faith in Christ.

I think that we become the priests, we’re the temple of God’s presence, we’re the sacrifice and that’s because we follow the Lamb wherever He goes. According to Revelation chapter 14, He’s the temple, He’s the Priest, and He’s the Sacrifice. Of course, our sacrifice is not like His in terms of being vicarious and substitutionary, but ours is a witness and it pleases God to manifest His presence through suffering. As Paul says, in 2 Cornthians and elsewhere, “My power is manifested in your weakness” and I think that can be applied to the Temple.

So, I think that these are very practical things. Whether it’s a peer group that’s pressuring you to conform or whether it’s a boss who’s asking you to be unethical, or if it’s a Government to stop believing in Jesus, when we refuse to compromise and we’re faithful priests in the Temple, then the presence of God spreads and the Temple expands.

Isaiah 57 says the Temple is a place of prayer, and we are a people of prayer. We ought to be a people much more in prayer. We’re priests who teach, although we know that the epistles that there elders and deacons who have the gift of teaching, but to everyone there is an expectation that we should know the scriptures and should be able to pass along that knowledge, even if they don’t have the gift of teaching.

So, generally, priests are mediators between God and the unbelieving world. Those are some reflections. Adam and Eve would have increased God’s presence among them by remembering God’s word and obeying it and they didn’t do that.

Keith: One thing I find fascinating in doing this kind of study, especially as you’ve just outlined it, is the idea of Temple, Priest and Sacrifice. We start with Jesus who equates His body with the Temple, He was, Himself the sacrifice, the Lamb of God, and we know from Hebrews that He performed the function of the High Priest. Then we see where every believer is now, in Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, a member of the priesthood of the believer, and the living, daily sacrifice.

Certainly, for myself, once I went through the Scriptures and understood these things completely, it revolutionized my personal faith. It seems to be something the Apostles and the early Christians fully understood. I think, especially, being Jews they understood how these concepts of Priest and Temple and Sacrifice were fulfilled in Christ, and then they continue on to explain how we are now also the Temple of God, and the living sacrifice, and the priests of God.

I guess what fascinates me is that these concepts are taught separately in the Church today but not connected in this way, at least not with any actual expectation that we are going to, as followers of Jesus, fully embrace our identity as Temple, Priest and Sacrifice.

If I look at Church today, in practice, I think these ideas almost appear to be radical and controversial. If I were to stand up today in a pulpit and preach and teach these things on Sunday morning I suspect that the majority of people would say, “Wow, I never understood this before.”

How do react to that? How did we end up with a faith where these ideas are so foreign?

Dr. Beale: Some thoughts that come to my mind are that, there is very little emphasis on expository preaching in churches today. When one faithfully preaches through the Old and the New Testaments one will come across the ideas.

In the New Testament, for example, if one has eyes to see and ears to hear, the idea of inaugurated eschatology is all over the place, including of course, the Temple. What you said about the Temple is no less true than other things. If you said that we’re experiencing the Great Tribulation now many people would begin to throw tomatoes at you. But 1 John 2:18 says, “Children this is the last hour. You’ve heard it said that anti-Christ is coming. I tell you, many anti-Christ’s have already come and from this we know that it’s the last hour.”

We’re at the last hour! Why? Because the spirit of the end times anti-Christ was there at the beginning of the Church. This come from Daniel, chapters 8 through 12, and part of what the anti-Christ, the end times opponent, was doing towards the end of Daniel chapter eleven was to deceive the Church. That’s exactly what’s going on today. The anti-Christ, though not physically present, is sending his emissaries to deceive so the end has begun. The final tribulation isn’t universal yet but it has begun, it is occurring in selected areas, has done so since the time of the beginning of the Church and at the end of time it will be universal so it certainly will increase.

Most people wouldn’t say we’re in the latter days today, although they may admit we’re on the verge of it. I think a lot of this has to do with a larger notion of eschatology and what it really is. Is it only about the future? Many in the conservative church would say so. Others look at it as something that has already begun and will continue into the future.

The conservative scholars, people who teach in seminaries and colleges, are more aware of this but this has not filtered out much in the congregations or among pastors.

Keith: Why do you think that is? Is it because once a seminary graduate becomes a teaching pastor he sort feels gun shy about teaching something that may be seen as unconventional?

Dr. Beale: While there are a number of conservative scholars who are aware of these things I don’t think it’s paramount in their teaching, even in seminary. So, I don’t think it’s something on the top of their students minds when they go out into the ministry.

For myself, in about a year I’ll finish a book that’s called “Transformation of the Old Testament and the New” which is a Biblical theology of the New Testament arguing that the way to understand it is that the latter days have begun and the march towards New Creation, specifically, has begun, and the major notions of justification or reconciliation or doctrine of the Spirit, are to be understood as facets of these things.

For example, Paul will talk about how he’s been crucified with Christ and how it is not he that lives but Christ who lives in him. The notion of living, when most people read that, they assume that he’s only talking about the Christian life. And yeah, that’s true, but it’s resurrection life. It’s the life of eschatological resurrection and that makes a big difference. The reason it does is because Paul starts giving commands that the Christian should start living differently from the world. Why? Because they are able to.

Keith: Right.

Dr. Beale: Put philosophically, for the Christian, essence precedes existence. Who you are determines what you do.

Keith: Amen.

Dr. Beale: Where many unbelievers would say, “No existence precedes essence; what you do in life determines who you are.” Which sounds kind of moral, sounds kind of good, but it’s not the Biblical view.

Keith: Absolutely. I think it’s easy to get confused by the “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” question. When you get into the discussion of doing good works and serving others this always comes up. My wife Wendy and I do a little work with the poor here in the community, and with our church family. We often hear people question whether we’re trying to earn our salvation or wonder out loud if we’re unsure of our salvation and we’re trying earn God’s favor, or what have you. But, what I find fascinating is that if we go to Ephesians where Paul tells us that we’re saved by grace he continues on to add, “to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So, I always use the phrase “Swimming will never make you a fish, but if you’re a fish you will swim” to explain this apparent dichotomy.

Dr. Beale: Beautiful. I like that.

Keith: We don’t do good works to be saved, but if we’ve become new creatures in Christ, by Grace, then we will do the things that new, transformed creatures do and that, Biblically, involves doing good works.

Dr. Beale: If you don’t swim then you might ask, “Am I really a fish?”

Keith: Yeah, exactly. This is what fish do, so why are you not acting like one?

Dr. Beale: Or at the very least, maybe you are a fish but you haven’t started swimming just yet. Eventually, if you are new creation it will show itself.

Keith: I don’t want to get you into too much trouble here but I know my next question is a little controversial so I’m just going to ask it and you can respond as you wish, ok? I mean, I’m not trying to lay landmines for you so whatever feel comfortable discussing is ok with me.

Dr. Beale: Well, I’ll be quite frank that the teaching on the Temple that I’ve laid out doesn’t have to affect a particular model of the Church. Having said that, I do think that there’s a model for the Church laid out in the pastoral epistles in terms of eldership, deacons, and the sacraments in Corinthians and elsewhere the marks of a church are spelled out to include church discipline.

I also believe that first and second Timothy say that the teaching and preaching of the Word, and of course believers gathering together, are to be expected. I do think that leadership structures have been laid out from the pastoral epistles, for myself. I think there are to be elders and deacons. In terms of tithing I don’t think that the Temple notion determines that issue but other considerations apply. I wouldn’t say that the “tenth”, which is what “Tithe” means in Hebrew, has to be given. It can be, and it could be a good rule, but that aside we know that there should be giving and it should be from the heart. That’s the bottom line.

In terms of a building, again, you can have a house church or you can have a building or whatever the Lord leads one to do. The same with the building fund and a paid clergy. Paul says Elders (1 Timothy 5) are worthy of double honor and that meant money because they worked so hard at teaching and preaching that they needed to be supported. So, I do think that there’s a basis for this in 1 Corinthians 9 where he says, “do not muzzle the ox while he’s threshing”.

So, those may just be my reflections. I don’t see them as flowing out of the Temple notion, though I’m always open. I certainly don’t have the last word on the Temple, or any of these things. So, those would be my reflections on those questions.

Keith: I really do appreciate your perspective Dr. Beale. This is something that I am studying as well and trying to understand as well from scripture as well.

Dr. Beale: I think that’s an important consideration as well. What is it that scripture lays out? Then, what kind of liberty do we have that is extra-biblical but not anti-biblical? Theological seminaries are not biblical in the sense that we’re commanded to have them. But I don’t see them to be unbiblical. Having said that, I really see that what seminaries do, ideally, ought to be in the context of the local church or group of churches united together – which is what some are, they’re denominational seminaries.

Keith: One of the things that I really personally struggle with is the idea of taking a salary as a pastor. When we felt called initially to plant a church where 100% of the offering could be given to the poor in the community, I made a conscious decision to redefine what “being in the ministry” meant. Today, even though I’m working a regular, tent-making job, I still do just as much ministry as I did before, when I was a paid on-staff pastor. It’s just that I don’t receive a salary or an income from loving and serving my brothers and sisters in the Body. I provide for my family by working as a writer in a marketing department during the week, and that is also my ministry. It’s my mission field.

The scriptures I looked at were some of the same ones you’ve already mentioned but also where Paul argues pretty strongly that “those who preach the Gospel should make their living from the Gospel.” He affirms that. He totally does mean that and he actually says that Jesus has commanded this, but then he follows it with saying that he would personally rather work with his hands and not be a burden to the local church. He admits that he has in the past received compensation for his service but feels that he was robbing God, or the church, by doing so. So, he paints a picture that there is liberty for both.

Dr. Beale: I would say that what he does say in 1 Timothy 5 there probably is the norm however. Not only should there be elders, but those who particularly work hard at preaching and teaching should be compensated, I believe. Of course there could be someone who is wealthy and doesn’t need the money, or someone like yourself who has opted not to take a salary, so there are those exceptions. I do think that those would be exceptions because there are some who put so much into the teaching and the work of pastoring that that’s all they do.

Keith: I mean, sincerely, to ask your opinion on this because I’m curious to know, and I'm sure you have studied this much more than I have scratched the surface on, but do you believe it was the norm during the first century church, under the Apostles that elders were supported financially? I’ve tended to think of support as being what was provided to travelling missionaries who were going to plant churches and preach the Gospel to the surrounding villages, maybe there were taking their wives along as Paul mentions. I’ve always thought of “support” as being a place to stay, or food and water for the journey to the next village or maybe a small offering to help them get to where they were going next, but not so much we’re going to take care of you for the rest of your life. More like, when you come to our town you can stay with me, eat at my table, you can sleep here, not so much like, “Here’s your monthly check.”

Dr. Beale: Well, for myself I would see it as both. I don’t think Acts is really speaking to this issue the way that Paul does. In terms of Elders in 1 Timothy 5, but it’s clear in that passage when it says they are “worthy of double honor” it’s not just respect but it’s actually financial support. Yeah, what you’re saying is definitely included but I wouldn’t say that that’s all there is.

Keith: The other thing I was going to ask you is something I will admit I’m biased about since I lead a house church. But, for most of my spiritual life, even as a pastor on staff at a traditional church, the ideas of the priesthood of the believer were largely unknown to me. We’d say, “you’re the Temple of the Holy Spirit” but I still go to that building over there and that’s really my Church. Instead of thinking of it more as something I embody and that we together are the Body of Christ. So, sometimes, in my experience anyway, these are ideas that I didn’t seriously consider until I stepped away from a traditional model. After that I began to really see these things differently and began to experience these things in a more tangible way. While I was involved in a traditional church, however, “Temple” was the building we were meeting in, the “Priesthood” was about the pastor we elected and so on. And I’m not trying to say that these things are wrong, but sometimes these physical elements end up distracting us from the reality.

Dr. Beale: Well, I suppose they could. If one viewed the Church as the Temple, that is the physical church, and if one viewed the Pastor as the only Priest then that would be a wrong view. I think that all believers are Priests, but then of course we know that this is fleshed out further that there were some with different gifts. Some were evangelists, some had different gifts. I think if you had a physical structure with really good teaching then, hopefully people really wouldn’t have the wrong idea.

Keith: Can I change the subject a bit and go back to something you alluded to earlier? You were talking about how we, as the new Temple, help the Temple and the Presence of God to spread is through suffering. You suggested that this was one of the ways that we help to spread the Temple presence of God in the Earth today. I agree with you on that but I wanted to ask you to elaborate more about the fact that the Spirit of Anti-Christ is already at work and that, in effect, we are in the End Times now.

So, what I was wondering is, as we see the Church both being persecuted and, at the same time, growing stronger under that persecution, in places like Korea and China and Africa and the Middle East, in fact, pretty much anywhere you see persecution really. It’s as if our suffering for the Gospel, as we encounter that Spirit of Anti-Christ, which again creates the suffering, it’s as if the Tribulation has never really left the Church. It maybe something that we, in America, don’t realize because we are not suffering for our faith and I tend to think that when we say “The Church” as Americans we really mean, “The American Church.”

Dr.Beale: You have to remember that if you read Daniel 7 through 12 for example that suffering and persecution is only one facet of the Tribulation. The second major facet is deception.

Keith: Wow.

Dr. Beale: (Laughs) Most of Paul’s letters were written because of deception with the Church.

Keith: True. We wouldn’t really have most of the New Testament if it weren’t for Paul’s letters to correct deception and immorality in the Body at that time.

Dr. Beale: So deception, combined with overt suffering and persecution is a very powerful example of how the Tribulation started in the First Century and continues today.

I mean, you do have sectors of the Church where there is deception, and others where there is suffering, but at the very end it will be universal deception and suffering.

Keith: Well, we’ve been going almost an hour here now so if you need to go I understand.

Dr. Beale: Yes, actually we’re installing a new pastor today and I didn’t realize that it was today. I was hoping to be able to make the very end of that.

Keith: Certainly. I understand. I really do appreciate your time and sitting and talking with me about these issues.

Dr. Beale: Well, I enjoyed taking about them. That’s what I do! (Laughs) It’s what you do too.

Keith: Yes sir. Thank you so much, Mr. Beale.

Dr. Beale: You wanted to talk about this issue on Shadows and Types?

Keith: I would love to if you have the time.

Dr. Beale: I’ll give you some quick reflections on that. A lot of allegory has happened, a lot of misuse of types has occurred and I would just say that there are four or five ways to put controls on that so it’s not unbridled.

One is in the Gospels wherever you find the fulfillment formula and it’s attached to an event in the Old Testament then you’ve got a classic type. Like in Matthew chapter 2 where it says, “Out of Egypt I have called my son” and it reflects back on Hosea chapter 11 and that’s just a reflection back on the event of the Exodus. That’s a very difficult passage but I think the notion of typology is that earlier events from the Old Testament prefigure and foreshadow events in the new. So they’re not prophecy by words but prophecy by events and patterns.

When you find a fulfillment formula, or language like that such as, “It was necessary for this to happen so that the scriptures might be fulfilled” or “the promises came” as in 2 Corinthians chapter 1. When you find that kind of language, as in 2 Corinthians 7, chapter one, “therefore having these promises…” those are all indications of that prophecy has been fulfilled. And when just events are quoted and not overt prophecies that’s typology as in the case of “Out of Egypt have I called my son”.

So, sometimes you can discern from the Old Testament that those events were seen as prefiguring events, even from the author’s vantage point.

Secondly, another way to discern types is repeated patterns like when you’ve got Adam in the Garden disobeying and then you have the same imagery of Adam applied to Noah. Then you have some of the same imagery applied to Israel. What you have there is a recapitulated pattern and when you find those patterns and then see them again in the New Testament those may be candidates for typologies.

Thirdly, in Old Testament narratives like the Book of Judges, when you have the narration of speedy rises and falls of leaders like the Judges, or in Isaiah chapter 22 where you have the same. This is where God’s commission is not fulfilled and cries out for fulfillment. When these are not fulfilled there’s a lack and yet alongside this there’s various points in the history of Israel where we’re told that one is to come, as in Isaiah chapter 9, who is going to fulfill these things. So, when you put those together – the speedy rises and falls of leaders, and the very lack of fulfillment suggests that this needs to be filled in and there’s going to be one to fulfill these things eventually. You have these characters who negatively point forward –these prophets and priests and kings.

A fourth criterion would be, when you have a clear reference to a type like the first Adam is a type of the last (Romans 5:14). When you go back in the Old Testament and see characters who are patterned after Adam, very clearly, those probably also are good candidates for types of Christ’s. Even negatively. I mean, Adam himself was a negative type.

For example, Noah is patterned after Adam and I would say that he is also a negative type of Christ. On the other hand, 1 Peter chapter 3 presents the days of Noah as a type of the days of the coming of the Son of Man and the Apostasy.

So, those are just some reflections on typology if you’re interested. I would encourage you, if you don’t have this book…and it’s not going to put that much money in my pocket, but there’s a book I’ve edited that’s called, “The Right Doctrine From the Wrong Texts”.

Keith: Wow. Great title.

Dr.Beale: It’s a debate on different views of how the Old Testament used in the New Testament. In the last few chapters I have definitions of typology and examples of it. It’s published by Baker Book house.

If want to really delve in, Don Carson and I edited a book “A Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament” that was a 10 year project that just came out in 2007.

At any rate, if you’re really interested you could delve further.

It’s been a pleasure to chat.

Keith: It’s been a blessing for me as well.

Dr.Beale: Thanks and may God bless you in your ministry.

Keith: God bless you as well.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this interview. It was very interesting.

I am not sure why you disagree with Dr Beale on clergy support as he seemed to think that your method of tent making was not the norm but certainly fine if you chose to do it that way. Scripture certainly supports both methods (paid and unpaid).

Keith Giles said...

Anonymous (if that IS your real name...)- I think that what I disagree with Dr. Beale (and others) about on this issue is who is being supported and what that support looks like.

The majority position is that the CEO, week-to-week preacher/pastor should be supported with a salary based on the New Testament Scriptures we have discussed here.

However, my position (and that of numerous other Biblical historians and New Testament Scholars) is that the support that Paul is talking about is not for the one who teaches in the Body week to week. Instead, Paul is describing a support system for those who, like him, travelled from place to place preaching the Gospel and planting churches.

There's another issue here (which Dr. Beale and I did not discuss directly) about whether the term "Elder" spoken of in 1 Timothy refers to, and corresponds to, our modern day "Pastor".

I believe it does not. In fact, I believe the New Testament knows nothing of our modern day Pastors. In the New Testament church there was a shared, organic life in the Body where several elders and pastors and teachers taught and encouraged the Body. They were not paid money to do this and there's no evidence to suggest this.

The crux of the dialog/debate rests on the understanding of the "double honor" passage. I believe it's about honor. Dr. Beale and others who hold to this Pastoral Support position believe it's about money.

A good resource on this subject is Justo Gonzalez' "Faith and Wealth" and Randy Alcorn's "Money, Possessions and Eternity" as well as the Ray Mayhew article "Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Christianity" which I will gladly send to you free in PDF form if you email me at