Some Equivalent Terms Examined
The Holy Spirit elected to use one of the most precise languages known to man, the Koine Greek, to articulate Godís will in writing to man and involved in this grammar was the employment and presentation of words. Hence, Paul wrote:
"13: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Cor. 2).
Each word used by the Holy Spirit conveys a meaning and combined with other linked words, syntax, sets forth ideas and teaching designed to both inform and enable man to conform to Godís will. Some of these words are very picturesque. On occasion, the Holy Spirit used words with the same or equivalent meaning to present truths. These words while possessing equivalent meaning in either core essence or functionality, often also set forth a related, but distinct idea or action. Without becoming tediously complicated, please allow me to share with you some examples of such teaching and enjoy with you some of the attendant and often challenging truths.
Faith and obedience. Much of the denominational world totally separate in meaning and functionality the words "faith" and "obedience." While these words are certainly separate and distinct, they are equivalent in practical use. The denominational community thus believes primarily due to their teaching of salvation by faith only, in a faith that excludes obedience. Consider the New American Standard translation regarding John 3: 36, noticing the negation of "believes in."
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Jesus used two different words, "believeth" (pisteuon, notice the present tense) and for the opposite of believeth, "does not obey" (apeithon). Without exception, when the Greek apeithon is used, it is always in a circumstance encountering Godís disapproval and the absence of Godís blessings (cp. Rom. 2: 8; I Pet. 4: 17). However, appreciate in Jesusí use of "believeth" and "does not obey," "believeth" is one thing and "does not obey" is the opposite; hence, pisteuon and apeithon are used in apposition. Since this is the case, allow me to suggest that "belief" and "obedience" are tantamount or the same. Understanding this equivalent use of belief and obedience helps one understand such texts as James 2: 19 through twenty-six. Man demonstrates his faith by his obedience and without implicit obedience, there is the absence of saving faith!
Church and kingdom. Premillennialism teaches that there is a significant difference in the "church" and "kingdom," even to the point of total detachment and isolation. They speak in terms of, "We are presently in the Ďchurch age,í the ĎKingdom ageí will come next." Such use of these words and presentation of their concepts is totally missing in the scriptures. While I concur that "church" (Greek, ekklesia) and "Kingdom" (basileia) are two different words, there is an equivalency and interchange in use. Consider Jesusí statement to Peter:
"18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19: And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16).
Jesus built his church (Acts 2). Peter exercised the "keys of the kingdom" or means of entrance when he preached the gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 2: 14f.). The word "church" has the action and result of calling out and the called out and "Kingdom," the territory over which (whom) God reigns and rules. Hence, the called out (saved) and those submitting to Jesus. These are one and the same; hence, equivalent.
Water baptism and turning to God. Just about the entire denominational world denies the essentiality of water baptism in the matter of manís salvation. However, they mostly agree that man must turn to God. The area in which they lack knowledge is water baptism and turning to God are tantamount. Consider Peterís Spirit led teaching in Acts 2: 38 and Acts 3: 19, admitted by denominationalists as being parallel verses:
"38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2) and, "19: Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3, see addendum).
Please observe and appreciate that in Acts 2: 38 Peter said, "and be baptized" and in addressing people in the same circumstances in Acts 3: 19, Peter said: "and turn again." Hence, to be "baptized" and "turn again" are biblically equivalent or tantamount. When one considers Paulís teaching in Romans chapter six, one can clearly see how that it is in water baptism that one turns to God, the old man of sin being put off and the new man being put on in the act of scriptural baptism. Baptism, then, is not simply and only symbolism, suggesting a state that has already been completed at the point of belief only. Baptism is the process in which one turns to God. Moreover, one is lost anterior to turning to God.
The gift of the Holy Spirit and the Abrahamic promise. There is much misunderstanding about the "gift of the Holy Spirit" as mentioned and promised in such verses as Acts 2: 38. Indeed, those who "repent" and are "baptized" are promised the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2: 38). Some think that the "gift of the Spirit" is supernatural, allowing them to do miracles such as the apostles did, even raising the dead. However, when the Bible student, ever conscious and aware of word and phrase usage, compares Acts 2: 38 and Galatians 3: 8, 9, 13, 14, 22, and 26 through verse 29, he becomes aware that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" and the Abrahamic promise of Gentile salvation in Christ are tantamount. Again, by comparing Acts 2: 38 and Acts 3: 19, one sees how the "gift of the Holy Spirit" and the "times of refreshing" are equivalent. "Times of refreshing" being a very picturesque way of presenting salvation, the promise made to Abraham in the long ago pertaining to the salvation of Gentiles.
Finally, consider love and keeping commandments as being tantamount concepts and ideas. Without love, there is absolutely no hope of salvation (I Cor. 13: 1f.). However, many attempt to detach love and keeping Godís commandments, even to the point of saying, "One can love and be saved without keeping any of Godís commandments!" Consider the following verses regarding love and keeping Godís commandments:
"15: If ye love me, keep my commandmentsÖ. 21: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to himÖ.23: Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" and, "3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5).
One can go through a form of keeping Godís commandments, but not out of love, I agree. Hence, "love" and "keeping commandments" are not precisely identical. However, since if one truly loves, one will keep Godís commandments; "love" and "keeping commandments" are equivalent in practical application.
There are also other areas of equivalency observed in the scriptures. For instance, "withdrawal" and "delivering unto Satan" are seen as tantamount in practicality (2 Thes. 3: 6; I Cor. 5: 2, 7, 5). Such equivalencies can help us to understand biblical concepts and teaching better. There are matters that God himself has "joined together" and woe to any man who seeks to detach (cp. Matt. 19: 6).
Addendum: The King James has, "and be converted" instead of, "turn again" (ASV). The Greek ephistrepsate is active and carries with it the action of turning. Hence, "turn" or "turn again."