Paedo-Communion and 1 Corinthians 11:28

To my mind, almost the entirety of the issue hinges on the meaning of the word “dokimazo” in 1 Corinthians 11:28. This article (ht David McCrory) argues for paedo-communion on the basis of its understanding of the context and historical situation of the Corinthians when Paul wrote the letter. The specific section is about two-thirds of the way down the article under the title “Some specific objections; a. children cannot prove themselves.” I would suggest that the article does not do the word “dokmazo” justice at all. BDAG has this definition for the word, “to make a critical examination of something to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine,” listing this passage under that definition. What is one to make a critical examination of? The answer is “heauton” (oneself). Quite simply, it is eisegesis to claim that zero subjective aspects are attached to this examination.

BOQ It is possible for a covenant child, when tested (cf. I Cor. 10:13), to demonstrate by his words and behavior that he is living a godly life which seeks the approval of God. Such faithfulness can be observed even in a young child by both parents, elders, and other members of the church. EOQ But even this would require that the child no longer be an infant. Don’t get my position wrong. I think that children of age 6 are capable in some instances of such examination. I think other children of age 15 are incapable of it. This is where the session of the church is so important. But the article does not do justice to the definition of “dokimazo” in BDAG. The best article I have ever read on the passage dealing with paedo-communion is by George Knight. It is available in the Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons volume, available here.

Colossians 2:11-12

Here is the passage in the ESV: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

In Greek: ἐν καὶ περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 12συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτισμῷ, ἐν καὶ συνηγέρθητε διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν:

The question for us is this: how connected are circumcision and baptism in this passage? The answer must be “very connected.” For example: the circumcision made without hands is epexegeted by verse 12’s “having been buried with him in baptism.” The circumcision of Christ at the end of verse 11 is also epexegeted by “baptism of Christ.” We know in other portions of Scripture that Jesus viewed His death as a baptism (Mark 10:38, where the present tense forbids us to understand His baptism there as the baptism that He experienced in the Jordan river). We also know that His death can be described as a cutting off (“circumcision”) for the sake of His people. Furthermore, we know that the New Covenant is in fundamental continuity with the Abrahamic Covenant (Galatians 3:7-9). So, in Colossians, Gentiles who have been baptized into Christ have already received the real circumcision. Now, some might attempt to argue that circumcision only has a pointing capacity (to Christ), and that therefore it ends with Christ’s finished work. However, here it is the Gentile (!) who is said to receive the circumcision, that is, that to which circumcision points. The significance, then, of circumcision is ongoing. The significance is that, in Christ’s circumcision, we receive that circumcision by being part of Christ’s body. How do we receive that circumcision? By being buried with Jesus in baptism. So, we receive that to which circumcision points by being baptized. Therefore, there is fundamental continuity between circumcision and baptism. Therefore, if anyone wishes to object to infant baptism, then those same objections have to be levelled against infant circumcision. This is part of John Calvin’s argument for infant baptism, by the way.

The Shema

Deuteronomy 6:4 reads like this in the ESV: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Both occurrences of “Lord” here are “Yahweh.” This translation, however, is not the only one possible. The reason for this is that the inter-relationships between the words is not explicit (McConville, pg. 140). Here it is in Hebrew:

 שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃

Now, the four interpretations that McConville lists are as follows: “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone;” “The Lord our God, the Lord is one;” The Lord is our God, the Lord is one;” and “The Lord our God is one Lord.” The first emphasizes the polemical edge against other religions. The second emphasizes the oneness of the Lord. The third emphasizes the possessiveness of one Lord on the part of Israel, and the fourth is very little different from the third. At any rate, one can say with certainty that oneness and Lordship go together, and that this one Lord is “our” Lord.

The question arises: does this formulation preclude the Trinity? The answer must be “no.” Moses, in this chapter, is very careful to contrast the polytheistic religions of the nations in Canaan with the monotheism of Israel. This is clear in verses 14-15. However, that there might be a plurality within the one God is not ruled out. Moses’ focus is polemics, not so much on saying everything about the number of God that could be said. After all, Deuteronomy occurs in the same section of the canonas Genesis 1, which plainly indicates that within God there is plurality.