Can Imperative Statements (Commands) Be Binding Upon Men Today?

Yes.

Since it is the case that no New Testament writers specifically addressed individual members of today by name, how then do we know which, if any, imperative statements are binding upon us today? Are all, some, or no imperative statements binding upon us today?

It is from studying the specific commandment, the immediate context (what surrounds that specific commandment), and the remote context (the overall context of the Bible), and using the principles of logic that we can derive whether a given imperative statement applies to us today or not.

The following are some commandments/imperatives that are not binding on us today:

1.  Genesis 2:16,17 - This commandment was given specifically to Adam and Eve. From this specific statement, the immediate context, and the remote context, we are able to determine that this commandment is not binding upon us today because cherubim (angels, Genesis 3:24) in the past guarded the east gate to the garden of God so that no one could enter (thus unable to obey this command anymore). Furthermore, the garden of Eden may have been destroyed by the global flood (mentioned in Genesis 6-9) which would make the command impossible to obey.


2.  Genesis 6:14-16 - This commandment was given specifically to Noah. From this specific statement, the immediate context, and the remote context, we are able to determine that this commandment is not binding upon us today because God promises that He would not bring a global flood to destroy the earth again (Genesis 9:8-17).


3.  Genesis 22:1-2 - This commandment was given specifically to Abraham. From this specific statement, the immediate context, and the remote context, we are able to determine that this commandment is not binding upon us today because this was given to Abraham as a test to show whether he truly trusted in God's promise (of what God stated earlier in Genesis 12:1-3).
Therefore, from studying the specific commandment, the immediate context (what surrounds that specific commandment), and the remote context (the overall context of the Bible), and using the principles of logic we are able to determine whether a given imperative statement applies to us today or not.

The following are some examples of commandments/imperatives that are still binding on us today:

1.  Acts 22:16 - "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized (imperative mood), and wash away (imperative mood) your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." The immediate context refers to the Jew, Saul of Tarsus, being commanded by evangelist Ananias to be immersed and wash away his sins, so that Saul can be saved/become a child of God/Christian. The remote context (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 10:47-48; etc) indicates that all sinners are commanded to be water immersed in order to become a saint of God.

2.  Revelation 2:10 - "Do not fear (imperative mood) any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed (literally, "Behold" or "pay attention," imperative mood), the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be (imperative mood) faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." The immediate context refers to the Smyrna church of Christ. They were commanded by John the apostle to not be afraid, to pay attention (to what John was saying/commanding) and to be faithful unto death (even to the point of death). The remote context (Acts 16:15; 1 Corinthians 4:2; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:2; etc.) indicates that all Christians are commanded to not be afraid (Matthew 10:26, 28), to pay attention to God's word (Hebrews 2:1) and to be faithful unto death in order to receive the reward of everlasting life.



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Joey FerrellHermeneutics