Hell Really Exists

Hell Really Exists

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in heaven, earth and the underworld all prostrating themselves and confessing, 'The Lord is Jesus Christ.' Very likely the newly initiated Christian thus bowed and confessed. This confession would appropriately signify the change of dominion the baptised person had undergone, from the world ruled by demonic powers, the 'elements of the world', to the realm in which 'the living God' and his Son the Christ reign. From this new Lord the initiate receives certain gifts: the Spirit and adoption as God's child - to which an early response was Abba! Father!' (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15). Eventually baptism was followed by anointing with oil - widely attested from the late second century on - and possibly there is a hint of such a practice, and its association with the gift of the Spirit, much earlier, in 2 Cor 1:21 (cf. 1 John 2:20). By the mid-second century, according to Justin, the newly baptised were led immediately to the eucharist (1 Apol. 65-6; cf. Plin. Ep. 10.96; Did. 7-9).

The Lord's supper

Ritualised meals were a ubiquitous part of social and religious life in antiquity. Yet, just as baptism became an initiatory ceremony that was novel in comparison with other ritual baths, 'the dominical banquet' or 'Lord's supper' (kyriakon deipnon) developed unique symbolism and practices. The meal was the focus of regular gatherings of the initiated converts in the households of their local patrons. The book of Acts speaks of'the breaking of bread' as one of the constitutive practices of the baptised followers of Jesus (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7; 27:35; cf. Luke 24:28-35). Their neighbours would not have been surprised, for voluntary associations of all kinds gathered on solemn occasions for banquets that were always more or less ritualised. The symposion ('drinking together') of upper-class men was so much a part of classical Greek social life that it produced a special form of literature, still very much alive in early Christian times.34 Even the shape of the Passover Seder as we know it from rabbinic sources and in practice still today replicates the general pattern of the sym-posium.35 Any Gentile reading Luke's description of Jesus' last Passover meal with his disciples (Luke 22:14-38) would have seen a typical symposium of a teacher with his male students - though the reported topics of their discussion around the table are unusual, to say the least. The clubs that were so much a part of urban life in the Greek and Roman world met on regular occasions to eat and drink, and the inscriptions they erected frequently contain detailed rules for the provision of wine and food and behaviour at

34 See Murray, 'Symposium' and 'Symposium literature'.

35 As exemplified by Josephus, BJ 6.423 and Philo Spec. 2.148.

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