For The Promise Is To You And To Your Children, And To All Who Are Afar Off

One of my favorite verse that I used to share with acquaintances is Acts 2:39.

Acts 2:39, NKJV – 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Iglesia Ni Cristo teaching about Acts 2:39 is that the promise is given to 3 groups of people:

  1.  to you – Jews
  2. to your children – Gentiles
  3. all who are afar off – INC members

Let us try to explore these 3 groups of people.

(1) To you – The Jews

If you read the whole Acts chapter 2, In Acts 2:22, there is no doubt Apostle Peter is talking to “Men of Israel” and in Acts 2:29 he repeat that saying “Men and brethren,“. In Acts 2:37, the people asking “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”, then Peter replied in verse 38 and 39 regarding repentance, baptism and the group of people who received the promise. There is no doubt Peter was speaking to the Jews which is the first group of people of God.

Who really are the (2) to your children and (3) all who are afar off?

In this article, I will again test the spirit if the teaching is correctly interpreted. Why am I doubting these teachings? Because I have learned in other verses previously about Jews and Gentiles only so far. These are the verses:

Romans 1:16, NKJV – 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Romans 9:24, NKJV – 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Colossians 3:11, NKJV – 11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Galatians 3:28, NKJV – 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Greek referred to these verses are the Gentiles. So far all the 4 verses above refers to Jews and Gentiles only. So far only Acts 2:39 mentioned about “to all who are afar off”. Let’s read two Ephesians verses

Ephesians 2:13, NKJV – 28 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:17, NKJV – 28 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.

Now please read the whole Ephesians chapter 2 to really understand the whole context. I copied all text here to emphasize some words.

Ephesians 2, NKJV –

By Grace Through Faith

2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Brought Near by His Blood

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Christ Our Peace

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Christ Our Cornerstone

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

emphasis are mine

There are several points to make from Ephesians chapter 2.

  1. Apostle Paul referring to Gentiles (Ep. 2:11)  who are known as “Uncircumcision”  because Jews are required  to be circumcised, before Christ are without covenant (Ep. 2:12) and without promise having no hope and without God. But now (Ep. 2:13) in Christ Jesus you (Gentiles) who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  2. Christ broken down the middle wall of separation (Ep. 2:14) – meaning no more separation between Jews and Gentiles.
  3. Christ created in Himself one new man from the two (Jews and Gentiles – context of chapter 2), thus making peace (Ep. 2:15). Do you know? In INC doctrine, Ephesians. 2:15 is used followed by Col.1:18 , “And He is the head of the body, the church” to explain that Christ created “Head” (Himself) and the body (Church) as one new man. Another favorite verses I used in a mission.  There is now a problem with this doctrine because Ep. 2:15 Christ created one new man from the two referring in the context of Jews and Gentiles  who became one in Jesus(Gal.  3:28), removing the ordinances of the law (Uncircumcision vs. Circumcision).
    The INC doctrine on Ephesians 2:15 now becomes another theory of equivocation.
  4. The Gentiles are referred to again as from “afar off” in Ep. 2:17.

So far, “to all who are afar off” appear to be referring to the Gentiles not to INC members from the Far East.

Now who are the true “(2) to your children”? The bible referenced several verses regarding Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16, Rom 9:24, Col 3:11, Gal 3:28) and nothing else mentioned about the children.

The reference to “to your children” cannot be the Gentiles just what the INC teaches in order to make a room for the third group who are from “afar off”. Those who are “afar off” in previous verses refers to the Gentiles (The Greeks) who are afar from Jerusalem. Greek (as in Acts 16:1 Acts 16:3 ; 18:17 ; Romans 1:14 ), generally denotes any non-Jewish nations so all of us Christians now are Gentiles.  If  (2) to your children – are Gentiles, and (3) to all who are afar off – are INC members, it would appear all Gentiles died as a result of apostasy or natural death, which is the case what INC teaches.

Since Apostle Peter was speaking to the Jews in Acts 2:39, when he referred “to your children” logically he was referring to the children of the Jews. The children of the Jews cannot be Gentiles because the Gentiles are always non-Jews and come from different place and race.

In conclusion of Acts 2:39, there appear to be only two groups of people as follows

  1.  to you (Jews) and to your children (children of the Jews at that time)
  2.  all who are afar off – The Gentiles or all Christians who are non-Jews from the first century up to present.

This will also put Acts 2:39 to the theory of equivocation.

Another Sheep I have

In John 10:16, Christ said

John 10:16, NKJV – 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

If we break the verse:

  1. other sheep i have – refers to Gentiles
  2. not in this fold – refer to Jews
  3. will be one flock and one shepherd – Christ is the good shepherd (John 10:11) of Christian flock

But the INC break this verse differently

  • other sheep i have – refer INC members who are from “afar of country”
  • not in this fold – refer Jews and Gentiles (to make room for third group from afar off country)
  • will be one flock and one shepherd – Christ is the shepherd, Br. FYM as last messenger, and flock is INC.

Why “not in this fold” the fold refers only to the Jews? Because at times of Christ the Gentiles are not yet converted. Only after Christ died and ascended to heaven. The Gentiles were converted to Christianity as a result of preaching of Saul who became Apostle Paul (Acts 13:9) when Christ is already in heaven. Therefore the “fold” during the time Christ spoken in John 10:16, refers only to Jews who believed in Him.

The interpretation of the INC in John 10:16 is skeptical now. This could be another theory of equivocation but I will leave the judgement on your own understanding.

Before I conclude, I like to write Colossians 1:15-18 because in the INC, when Col. 1:18 is read, it is not read in fullness.

Colossians 1:15-18, NKJV – 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

– Cornelius