What About Judging Angels, Godfathers and Ezekiel’s Temple?

This week’s Question & Answer segment addresses concerns regarding the “judging of angels,” the practice of appointing a “Godfather,” and the matter of the Messiah and the “temple” pictured in the book of Ezekiel.
By Wayne Jackson | Christian Courier

No narration available

Judging Angels

“What did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, in suggesting that Christians will ‘judge the world’ and also ‘angels’?”

The sense likely is the same as that conveyed in Hebrews 11:7, wherein Noah is said to have "condemned [katakrino, “pronounce a sentence on”] the world." That is, by his obedient example he stood in bold contrast to the disobedient world, hence, effectually condemned those people.

Perhaps similarly, in his Corinthian epistle, Paul is suggesting that those who remain faithful to Christ, by their precedent will condemn evil angels (who did not maintain their integrity – Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), as well as the ungodly world. His ultimate point is this: if the church is to be employed by God in “judging” on such a grand scale, surely wise Christian people ought to be able to judge between brethren who are in conflict, rather than permitting such dissensions to proceed to litigation, and thus mar the church’s influence in society.

The Godfather

“What is the origin of the term ‘Godfather,’ and the use of this custom in the religious community, especially in the Catholic Church?”

The practice of appointing a “Godfather” is believed to have developed (perhaps in the mid-2nd century) from a combination of Roman law procedure (by which a contract was witnessed by a third party), and the gradually evolving, non-apostolic custom of infant baptism. Thus, someone (usually a close family friend) would witness the sprinkling of an infant; in that connection they would bind themselves contractually to care for the child should anything happen to the parents before the youngster was able to be independent.

Tradition has it that the office of “Godfather” was initiated by a Roman bishop, Hyginus, in about A.D. 154, but the “full operation” of the procedure dates from the 4th or 5th century (McClintock & Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, Religious Literature, Vol. IX, p. 962).

Ezekiel’s “Temple”

“Ezekiel 37:26-28 seems to imply that the Messiah would rebuild the temple for the third time. Since Christ did not rebuild the temple, how does one reconcile the Ezekiel passage with Christ being identified as the Messiah?”

The “sanctuary” or “tabernacle” to which the prophet alluded is not a literal temple; rather, the declaration foretells the establishment of the Christ’s church, which is characterized by inspired New Testament writers as a “temple” or “house of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5).

The preceding verses (21ff) have to do with the uniting of the people of God in the new regime, the Christian age (cf. John 10:16; Ephesians 2:16). While these passages allude to the call of the Gentiles, the same unity principle applies to once-divided Israel as well.

Notice also that “David” is said to be their king. This cannot refer to the literal “David,” for David was still to be sleeping with the “fathers” when the Messiah’s kingdom was established (2 Samuel 7:12).

In chapter 42, Ezekiel again discusses the building of a "temple. Its “outer court” measured 500 “reeds” on each side (42:15ff). Each “reed” was 6 Babylonian cubits (a minimum of 21 inches each). This would indicate that the temple court was about 1 mile in each direction — which would be larger than the entire city of Jerusalem (see McClintock & Strong, Cyclopedia, Vol. X, p. 258). This nullifies a literal interpretation.

Additionally, Ezekiel’s prophetic temple was to be located in the center of a sacred parcel that measures 25,000 “reeds” on each side. According to the figures provided in 45:5 (1 reed = 6 cubits), this would make the holy area almost 50 miles in each direction. There is not enough room in Palestine to accommodate such a large region, with Jerusalem at its center.

Quite obviously, then, the narrative, as portrayed in this section of the prophet’s document, is very symbolic. Millennialists who force this language into a literal temple do so at the sacrifice of sound interpretative methodology.