Daily Archives: February 16, 2014

Can you forgive someone who isn’t sorry for what they did?

WINTERY KNIGHT

Kevin Lewis, a professor of Theology and Law at the conservative Biola University, was asked this question:

Recently, I was reading Dr. Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (IVP press 2008). When commenting on Matthew 6:12-13, he writes,

“It is a common human assumption that the violator of the rights of others must ask for forgiveness before the wronged party can be expected to accept the apology and grant forgiveness…But Jesus here asks the person wronged to forgive the one responsible for the wrongdoing when when there is no confession of guilt… There is a voice from the cross that echoes across history to all saying ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’ Neither Pilate nor the high priest nor the centurion offered any apology to Jesus, yet he prayed for divine forgiveness…(p.125)”

And here’s his response in full, copied with permission from his Facebook note

View original post 1,356 more words

Topical Bible Questions: What Is Servant Leadership?

 

Servant leadership is best defined by Jesus Himself: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28). In the Christian realm, all leadership should be servant leadership.

A common misconception among those who want to exercise a leadership role over others is that it comes with glory, power, and positions of honor. In fact, such a mistaken belief was the occasion for Jesus’ words in the above passage. James and John had just asked Jesus to place them at His side when He assumed His throne in the kingdom to come. As a result, the other disciples became indignant at the arrogance of their request (Mark 10:41). And as an object lesson, Jesus modeled the true servant style of leadership. He, the Lord incarnate, bent down and washed their feet, teaching them the true measure of leading by first serving others (John 13:12–17).

The word “servant” in Matthew 20:27 means “slave.” Not every servant was a slave, but every slave was a servant. It is sad commentary in the church today that we have many celebrities, but very few servants. There are many who want to “exercise authority” (Matthew 20:25), but few who want to take the towel and basin and wash feet. Paul reminds us that our attitude is to be like Christ’s in that we consider others better than ourselves and do nothing out of vanity or selfishness. Rather we look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3–4). In this sense, then, every Christian is a servant.

Primarily the focal point of servant leadership within the church is: “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). This means with Christ being the head of the church, the entire church body is served in the act of providing leadership. It’s not just the church leaders who become acutely aware of their place at the foot of the cross, but all those within the body of Christ. We all mutually submit ourselves to Jesus just as He was in submission to the Father. From a biblical perspective servant leadership is not only being free of abuse of power and coercion, but is first and foremost based on mutual respect and love for one another.

A servant leader seeks to invest himself into the lives of his people so that as a whole, the church community is challenged to grow to be more like Christ. This is demonstrated in their willingness to give of themselves to meet the needs, but not necessarily the wants of their people. Like a good parent, the true servant leader knows the difference between the spiritual needs of his spiritual children and their selfish wants and desires.

The bottom line to the application of servant leadership is that we don’t emulate the examples of the world: our example is Jesus, who came as a servant. Therefore, our mission is to serve one another, to give of ourselves. Christ came to give His life. We are to give of our lives not only in service to Him, but to our fellow man, including those in the church and outside it (Mark 12:31).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Summary / Survey: Book of 1 Chronicles

 

Author: The Book of 1 Chronicles does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by Ezra.

Date of Writing: The Book of 1 Chronicles was likely written between 450 and 425 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. 1 & 2 Chronicles focus more on the priestly aspect of the time period. The Book of 1 Chronicles was written after the exile to help those returning to Israel understand how to worship God. The history focused on the Southern Kingdom, the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. These tribes tended to be more faithful to God.

Key Verses: 1 Chronicles 11:1–2, “All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.” ’ ”

1 Chronicles 21:13, “David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.’ ”

1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

Brief Summary: The first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles are dedicated to lists and genealogies. Further lists and genealogies are scattered throughout the rest of 1 Chronicles. In between, the Book of 1 Chronicles records David’s ascension to the throne and his actions thereafter. The book concludes with David’s son Solomon becoming King of Israel. Briefly outlined, the Book of 1 Chronicles is as follows: Chapters 1:1–9:23—Selective Genealogies; Chapters 9:24–12:40—David’s ascent; Chapters 13:1–20:8—David’s reign.

Foreshadowings: In David’s song of thanksgiving to God in 1 Chronicles 16:33, he refers to the time when God will come “to judge the earth.” This foreshadows Matthew 25, in which Jesus describes the time when He will come to judge the earth. Through the parables of the ten virgins and the talents, He warns that those who are found without the blood of Christ covering their sins will be cast into “outer darkness.” He encourages His people to be ready because when He comes, He will separate the sheep from the goats in judgment.

Part of the Davidic Covenant which God reiterates in chapter 17 refers to the future Messiah who would be a descendant of David. Verses 13–14 describe the Son who will be established in God’s house and whose throne will be established forever. This can only refer to Jesus Christ.

Practical Application: Genealogies such as the ones in 1 Chronicles may seem dry to us, but they remind us that God knows each of His children personally, even down to the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). We can take comfort in the fact that who we are and what we do is written forever in God’s mind. If we belong to Christ, our names are written forever in the Lamb’s book of Life (Revelation 13:8).

God is faithful to His people and keeps His promises. In the Book of 1 Chronicles, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise to David when he is made king over all Israel (1 Chronicles 11:1–3). We can be sure that His promises to us will be fulfilled as well. He has promised blessings to those who follow Him, who come to Christ in repentance, and who obey His Word.

Obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings judgment. The Book of 1 Chronicles, as well as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, is a chronicle of the pattern of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration of the nation of Israel. In the same way, God is patient with us and forgives our sin when we come to Him in true repentance (1 John 1:9). We can take comfort in the fact that He hears our prayer of sorrow, forgives our sin, restores us to fellowship with Him, and sets us on the path to joy.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Theology: GOD DECREED

What are the Decree’s? When asked this question one person suggested they were an Indian tribe. This is true however we need to give some serious thought to another group of decrees. The decrees of God.

 

We should up front know that the term only appears in our New Testament one time and it is used in relation to a decree or order from Caesar. (Luke 2:1)

 

BASIS FOR THE DOCTRINE

 

1. 1 Peter 1:20 mentions in relation to Christ

 

“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (see Revelation 13:8 also)

 

The Trinity arranged some things that were going to occur as they contemplated creation and all of its ramifications. Christ’s crucifixion and other items were set in eternity past.

 

2. Revelation 17:8 states there were names in the book of life before the foundation of the world. That is a whole study in itself. Are the names of the redeemed there before the foundation of the world, or is it the names of all mankind? Are names added, or are they taken away?

 

3. Matthew 13:35 states that there are things kept secret from the foundation of the world.

 

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

 

Christ revealed some of these things when He spoke of the kingdom in mystery form. There may be things that are yet to be revealed.

 

4. The kingdom has been set from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:34. It was set and it will come to pass at the scheduled time and circumstance. The prophets were not coming up with new information for the future. They were just revealing what the Lord had shown them, revealing what was set before creation.

 

5. There was a choosing before the foundation of the world according to Ephesians 1:4. The different items that we have already mentioned are part of the decrees of God.

6. Hebrews 1:10 mentions that the Lord set the foundations of the world. The above items will indicate a basis for the doctrine of a decree of God

that involves several parts.

 

The first question is this, “Is there one decree or numerous decrees?”

 

DEFINITION

 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism mentions that “The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory He hath forordained whatsoever comes to pass.” (Hodge, Charles; Gross, Edward N. Ed.; “Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988, p 535)

 

THE ONE DECREE POSITION

 

The decree/decrees are the overall purpose and plan of God by which He has determined all that He desires to come to pass.

 

This discussion does not concern any of His attributes — it is all outside of Himself. God’s decree has as its primary purpose the glory of God. Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14 “. . .praise of his glory. . . .” Thus, the decree is doxological, and not soteriological or dispensational.

 

Scripture is plain on the fact that God is sovereign and is free to do whatever He pleases, as well as whatever He wills. He set all in motion for His own good purpose.

 

God decreed in two manners: Directive Will: He decreed to certain ends: The death of Christ, our salvation, and future judgments. Permissive Will: He also decreed to allow certain things: Adam’s sin, unbeliever’s crimes, and falling asleep while reading boring theology books.

 

 

Dr. Houghton of Denver Baptist Bible College suggested that the decree was “His eternal purpose (plan) according to the counsel of His own will, whereby, for His own glory, He has foreordained whatso-ever comes to pass.”

 

The one decree position declares that God’s plan is in effect and all is based upon that fact. All things, His promises, His prophecy, and His dealings with man.

 

Bancroft seems to hold to one overall plan in his “Elemental Theology” where he entitles it “The Counsel Of God,” using the terminology of Ephesians 1:11. (He has a lengthy discussion on this topic on p 106ff.)

 

THE ONE DECREE —

BUT SEVERAL DIVISIONS WITHIN IT POSITION

 

Chafer in his “Major Bible Themes” states, “The decree of God includes those events which God does Himself and also includes all that God accomplishes through natural law, over which He is completely sovereign. More difficult to comprehend is the fact that His sovereign decree also extends to all the acts of men, which are included in His eternal plan.” (Taken from the book, Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord. First edition copyright 1926, 1953 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Revised edition copyright 1974 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 43)

 

While he speaks of “The decree” singular he also holds to, “subdivisions such as His decree to create, His decree to preserve the world, His decree of providence, or His wise guidance of the universe.” (Taken from the book, Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer and John F. Walvoord. First edition copyright 1926, 1953 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Revised edition copyright 1974 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 44)

 

The interesting part is that in Walvoord’s revision of the seven volume set, this section is entitled “Divine Decrees” — plural.

 

Pardington quotes Strong, “By the decrees of God we mean that eternal plan by which God has rendered certain all the events of the universe, past, present, and future.” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, 93)

 

He lists two areas of decrees: First decrees: Nature, creation and preservation, and Second decrees: providence and redemption.

 

THE PLURAL DECREE POSITION

 

Theissen has a very detailed discussion on page 147ff. He holds to the directive/permissive decree thought of the previous author.

 

We see by one of his comments, he is also a one purpose — plural decree man. “The decrees are sometimes represented as one decree.” (he quotes parts of Romans 8:28 and Ephesians 1:11) “In each case it is one purpose. Though to us the decrees appear to be many purposes, to the divine mind they are in reality but one great all — inclusive purpose.” (Thiessen, Henry C.; “Lectures In Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, pp148-149)

 

There is little difference between these positions, other than the definition of terms. All view God as having one overall purpose or decree, which contains all the subheadings that are normally discussed.

 

FACTS ABOUT THE DECREES

 

1. God has a plan — singular. Ephesians 1:11. This might be likened to a large diamond. One stone.

 

2. God has many aspects to that plan or purpose. It is not just one big blob out there. It has many facets for our examination and learning. In relation to the diamond illustration, the plan or purpose is the stone, while the facets and sides make up the individual, distinct parts of the stone.

 

Pardington lists eight such facets.

 

a. The stability of the universe, Psalm 119:89-91;

 

b. The outward circumstances of nations, Acts 17:26;

 

c. The length of human life, Job. 14:5;

 

 

d. The mode of our death, John 21:19;

 

e. The free acts of men both good and evil, Isaiah 44:28; Ephesians 2:10; Genesis 50:20; 1 Kings 12:15; Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28;

Romans 9:17; 1 Peter 2:8; Revelation 17:17;

 

f. The salvation of believers, 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:3,10,11;

 

g. The establishment of Christ’s Kingdom, Psalm 2:7,8; 1 Corinthians 15:23;

 

h. The work of Christ and His people establishing it, Philippians 2:12,13; Revelation 5:7.

 

3. Other authors discuss a different set of decrees and how they relate to one another.

 

They normally list seven decrees and discuss the order in which they came about. Many theology books only discuss the first four, due to the fact that most agree on the final three.

 

There are groupings of people that hold to different orders of occurrence. I would like to list two listings of information from two different authors before we get into the groupings.

 

The decrees that are listed are those to elect, to create, to allow the fall, and to provide salvation.

 

WALVOORD*

 

SUPRA

 

INFRA

 

SUB

ARMINIAN

 

Elect   Create Fall Salvation

Apply Salv.

Create Fall   Salvation Elect

Apply Salv.

Create Fall   Elect

Salvation

 

Apply Salv.

Similar   To Infra Except Elect Is Based On

Foreknowledge

 

*Walvoord, John F. editor; Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology; Wheaton: Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988, p 104-106

 

 

THEISSEN*

 

SUPRA-   LAPSARIAN

 

INFRA-   LAPSARIAN

 

SUB-   LAPSARIAN

 

1.

 

ELECTION SAVE SOME

REPROBATE

THE   REST

CREATE

 

CREATE

 

2.

 

CREATE

 

PERMIT   THE FALL

 

PERMIT   THE FALL

 

3.

 

PERMIT   THE FALL

 

PROVIDE SALVATION FOR THE ELECT

PROV. SALVATION FOR ALL

4.

 

PROVIDE   SALVATION

 

ELECTION

 

ELECTION

 

*Theissen, p 343

 

The Supra-lapsarianism listing is usually identified with Hyper-Calvinism. Supra-lapsarian is from two terms “supra” meaning “before or above” and “lapsus” meaning “fall.” These people hold that God elected some to salvation and the rest of mankind to hell. He then decreed the creation, to allow the fall and the provision of salvation.

 

Infra-lapsarian is from “infra” meaning “below” or “subsequent” and “lapsa” meaning “fall.” They see God decreeing to create, then allow the fall, provide salvation for the elect, and finally to elect.

 

The Sub-lapsarian holds the same as the infra, with the one exception that salvation was provided for all of mankind, not just the elect.

 

I might just mention one teaching that you might run across in your study. Amyraldian is the teaching from Moise Amyraut (1596-1664). He is listed as a semi-Calvinist.

 

Buswell believes that Calvin was probably an Infra from what he sees in his work. Calvin does not discuss the issue specifically but does have information relating to it.

 

 

A possible answer to some of this is the idea of having one decree. It would eliminate this discussion. God just decreed one decree all at once, and involved in that decree were all the facets and parts.

 

If you like a sequence then the Sub position would, I believe, be the majority view among fundamentalists. That is not based on research, but observation. It seems to be most consistent with the idea of Christ dieing for the world. Walvoord, however (p 162) mentions that the infra is the desirable over the sub. He mentions this as the “moderate Calvinist” view.

 

The decree, or plan in God’s mind was immediate and complete — without sequence. The decree, however in its different parts must occur in time as a sequence. Pardington mentions a similar thought. “To our view the decrees are many, because they are worked out successively in time; but in their nature and from the divine standpoint they are one. What a plan is to an architect, that, so to speak, the decrees are to God.” (Pardington, p 94,95)

 

Augustine (Confess., XII. 15:as quoted in Shedd, William G.T.; “Dogmatic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984, p 395) “God willeth not one thing now, and another anon; but once, and at once, and always, he willeth all things that he willeth; not again and again, nor now this, now that; nor willeth afterwards, what before he willed not, nor willeth not, what before he willed; because such a will is mutable; and no mutable thing is eternal.”

 

If the decree is the overall plan of God then there are a number of terms that can be studied in the Scripture along this line: decrees, counsel, ordination, good pleasure, predestinate, and election.

 

PROBLEMS

 

1. This thought of decrees seems very much like fatalism in its presentation; however it is strongly held within this view that man has and uses his free will — thus, dispelling any hint of fatalism.

 

2. This also seems to some, to show that God is responsible for evil. This is not true, in that He allowed evil to develop, however He had nothing to do with developing it Himself.

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE

 

We need to know a little about the plan of God that we so often talk about. The plan of God was set before the foundation of the world and as part of God’s activities we should find it of interest and importance.

 

APPLICATION

 

1. He is sovereign and nothing is a surprise to Him, nor is anything going to happen outside of His plan. In short you can’t jump out of His plan for your life and ruin everything. We may stray from that plan, but if we are attempting to walk with Him there is no way that we can ruin His plan for us, indeed, His plan for us includes those DUMB side trips that we so often seem to take.

 

2. His plan will come to pass. The Devil will not stop what God wants to do. We will not stop what God wants to do. He will bring all things to pass as planned before the foundation of the world.

 

3. He has a specific plan for your life. No matter what happens — even if you run into roadblocks — He is controlling, even the road blocks.

 

4. Knowing that God has a plan for each of us, and knowing what He has done for us, it is then logical that we should do all we can for Him. In His devotional, Spurgeon mentions this thought and puts it into proper place with God’s sovereign rule. “O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Savior lives and pleads, for while He intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon Him.” (Spurgeon, Charles H.; “Morning And Evening”; Mclean, VA: Macdonald Pulishing Co., p 223)[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

Specific Guilt of the Jews (Romans 2:17–29)

Romans 2:17–29

Overview

Paul turns now to the question of the advantage of the Jews in terms of their possession of the law and the distinctive mark of circumcision. This advantage (cf. 3:1) is seen as offset by their boastfulness and fruitlessness.

Commentary

17–24 Here Paul again engages in dialogue with a representative Jew, making effective use of a superb, razor-sharp irony. He begins by building up this person, citing his various distinctives and appearing to appreciate them (vv. 17–20), only to swing abruptly into a frontal assault by exposing the inconsistency between his claims and his conduct (vv. 21–24). The Jews were characterized by their reliance on the law, given by God through Moses. The law came to Israel as the result of a relationship with God enjoyed by no other people. In Paul’s time, some of the leaders of Judaism were making such extravagant statements about the law as to put it virtually in the place of God. Many Jews were obsessed with the law to the extent that salvation was wrongly thought to be dependent on obedience to the law. Concern to obey the law could easily become central and obscure the grace of God’s covenantal love. This tendency became even more developed after the fall of Jerusalem, when the law constituted the rallying point for a nation that had lost its holy city and its temple.

Paul concedes that the use of the law will bring knowledge of God’s will and recognition of its superior teaching. Paul refers to it as “the embodiment of knowledge and truth” (v. 20). But this is not all, for the Jews think that this advantage makes them superior to the Gentiles. This is what Paul speaks to. We can paraphrase here, “You come to the Gentiles and propose yourself as a guide for their blindness, when, as a matter of fact, as I have already shown, they have a light and a law as well as you. You come to the Gentiles as though they were dumb and childish, giving you the whip hand (as a trainer), which you thoroughly relish. To you they are mere infants, knowing next to nothing.” By employing terms actually used by the Jews for the Gentiles, one after the other—not once suggesting that the Gentiles have anything to their credit but invariably magnifying the Jews—Paul is now in a position to expose Jewish pride and boasting as totally unfounded.

21–24 Abruptly the shadowboxing with Paul’s opponent turns aggressive and the blows become lethal as the Jew is confronted by the disparity between what he or she would teach others as the will of God and his or her own manner of life. The thrust loses nothing of its forthrightness by being posed in a series of questions, for the effect is to turn the complacent opponent back on himself or herself to search his or her own soul.

The indictment is summarized by the general charge of breaking the very law the Jew boasts of (v. 23). There is a tragic irony in the fact that the Jew who boasts in God’s law ends up dishonoring God and breaking the law. The reference to robbing temples (v. 22) is obscure but may have in view the expropriation of monies or goods from pagan shrines. The failure of the Jews is so notorious that even non-Israelites notice the discrepancy. At this point, Paul introduces a quotation (Isa 52:5; cf. Eze 36:22) about the Jews causing the name of God to be blasphemed among the Gentiles. God had been obliged to chasten his disobedient people by permitting them to go into captivity, where their captors made sport of their God, who apparently was unable to prevent their deportation (cf. Eze 36:20–21). Then, as in Paul’s day, the fault lay not with God but with his people, who had refused to obey his law.

25–27 If the law was the major distinctive of the Jews, a close second was circumcision. As with the law, so with circumcision: the nation was guilty of placing unwarranted confidence in the rite. Jewish tradition pictures Abraham as sitting at the gate of Gehenna to ensure that no circumcised person be allowed to enter perdition (Gen. Rab. 48). The view that only those who were circumcised shared in the world to come was commonly held. Circumcision was to Jewry what baptism is to those who maintain baptismal regeneration. In dividing men into two classes, circumcised and uncircumcised, the Jews were in effect indicating those who were saved and those who were not.

But Paul’s contention is that circumcision and observance of the law cannot be separated. If one has the symbol of Judaism and lacks the substance, of what value is the symbol? Symbols are of value only when there is a reality to which they correspond. Circumcision profits, but only if the law is observed (v. 25). The latter is precisely the issue. Lack of obedience to the law nullifies the significance of circumcision. If Gentiles should manifest success in observing the law, the lack of circumcision is surely not so important as to discount their spiritual attainment (cf. the line of thought in 2:14). In fact, says Paul, one can go a step further (v. 27) and say that the circumcised may find himself on a lower plane than the despised Gentiles, because if the latter obey the law that the Jews take for granted instead of taking it seriously, then the Gentiles will in effect “condemn” the Jews. This does not involve the bringing of any charge but is a specialized use of the word krinō (“judge,” GK 3212) to indicate the effect created by some who surpass others despite an inferior status or limited advantage (cf. Mt 12:41). Such Gentiles appear in a more favorable light than the Jews.

The meaning of dia grammatos kai peritomēs (lit., “through having the letter of the law and circumcision,” v. 27) is difficult. Calvin’s attempt, 56, to handle the matter by combining the two to make them mean a literal circumcision in contrast to what is spiritual is hardly satisfactory. When Paul wants to make explicit the fact of literal circumcision, he uses the qualifying phrase “in the flesh” (v. 28; NIV, “physical”). The basic problem, however, centers in the force of the preposition dia, which when it occurs with the genitive, as here, is normally rendered “through.” But is “through” to be taken as instrumental or in the less common sense of indicating attendant circumstance? An example of the latter usage is in Romans 4:11, where Abraham is spoken of as the father of all who believe “through” uncircumcision, i.e., “while” not being circumcised. Clearly this refers not to instrumentality but to the status of these people at the time they believe. Thus the common interpretation is the NIV’s “even though you have the written code and circumcision.” The factor that makes one hesitate is Paul’s shift from nomos (law, GK 3795) to gramma (letter, GK 1207). One can detect in Paul’s use of the latter term in v. 29 and in 2 Corinthians 3:6 a somewhat pejorative connotation—what is written, laid down as law, but lacking any accompanying enablement. If taken in this sense here, something of the force of instrumentality may be detected.

When we are told in v. 27 that the Jew dia grammatos kai peritomēs is a transgressor of the law, the dia cannot just be translated “in spite of,” as though to denote an accompanying circumstance; it must also be given an instrumental significance. It is precisely through what is written and through circumcision that the Jew is a transgressor. He is to see that his true position involves possession of the gramma and the peritomē (GK 4364), but with no genuine fulfillment of the law, since neither what is written nor circumcision leads him to action (cf. TDNT, 1:765).

In the immediate context (v. 23) Paul also uses dia with the instrumental sense in raising the question of the Jew’s dishonoring of God “by breaking the law.” The transgression of the law is common to both statements.

28–29 That this portion is intended as a conclusion to the discussion of the law and circumcision is evident, for both are mentioned, though the law is referred to only in terms of “letter” (NIV, “written code”) as in v. 27. There was plenty of background for Paul’s appeal for circumcision of the heart (e.g., Dt 30:6; Jer 4:4; 9:25–26). A real Jew, says Paul, is one who has circumcision of the heart, accomplished “by the Spirit, not by the written code” (cf. 2 Co 3:6). How striking this is! The law is part of the Scripture that the Spirit has inspired, yet there is no hint here that the true Jew is one in whom the Spirit has made the teaching of the law dynamic. By the avoidance of any such suggestion, Paul prepares the way for his treatment of the law in ch. 7. He goes on to note that Jews transformed by the Spirit would really be living up to the name they bear, for “Jew” (Ioudaios) comes from Judah, which means “praise.” They would be praiseworthy in the eyes of God, fulfilling what the law requires but cannot produce (cf. 8:3–4).

Paul writes, of course, as a Christian Jew, as one who has suffered much for his faith from his countrymen. But these closing verses of ch. 2 show that for all the bluntness of his references to the Jews he is not motivated by a desire to belittle his nation on account of the treatment he has received. He rather seeks their highest good (cf. 9:1–3; 10:1). From Paul’s argument it follows that the criteria which mark out one who is truly a Jew can equally be satisfied by (physically) uncircumcised Gentiles. It is not an exaggeration to say that Gentile Christians have become “honorary” Jews, having been brought into the family of God’s people by virtue of their faith in Christ (cf. 4:16–17).

It is worth stressing that Paul is speaking salvation-historically in this chapter. None of these verses should ever be used against the Jews or Judaism in an anti-Semitic fashion. Stuhlmacher, 50, notes, “As spoken by the Jew, Paul, over against Jews, their original purpose is not to declare the election of Israel simply null and void, but to direct the Jews to the reality of the coming God.”

In 3:1–8 a new factor is introduced: Israel’s failure to respond to God in terms of trust and obedience, justifying the visitation of his wrath on them.

Notes

17 The view that a number of Jews were obsessed with the law to the extent that they regarded their salvation as dependent on observance of the law is a point forcefully denied by the “new perspective” (see Introduction, pp. 29–30).

22 “Do you rob temples [ἱεροσυλεῖς, hierosyleis]?” is not fully clear. A cognate of the same word occurs in Acts 19:37, “robbers of temples” (ἱεροσύλους hierosylous), where it covers sacrilege in the general sense of desecrating sacred things. Here a precise, strong contrast is intended. The Jews who have been taught to abhor idols are charged with laying hands on them for the sake of profit. This may sound inconceivable, but if the robbery was directed at the offerings brought to the idol, this was tantamount to robbing the idol and thereby desecrating the temple. Ancient temples were repositories of treasure and were therefore a source of temptation to the avaricious (cf. Josephus, Ant. 4:207).

24 See Edgar Krentz, “The Name of God in Disrepute: Romans 2:17–29,” Currents in Theology and Mission 17 (1990): 429–39.

25–27 On these verses, see Joel Marcus, “The Circumcision and the Uncircumcision in Rome,” NTS 35 (1989): 67–81.[1]

 


[1] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 58–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)

Today I was sent this link. It brought back a lot of memories of some very serious battles from about 5 to 6 years ago between many of us at CRN and those who proclaimed allegiance to “The Emergent Village.” The fight got ugly at times, but from it it became more and more apparent that the Emergent or Emergence movement was just another form of the “Liberal Christianity” that Charles Spurgeon faced during the Great Downgrade Controversy in his time and what J. Gresham Machen stood against…

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‘Israel is not an Occupier’

Congressman Trent Franks condemns US administration’s ‘adversarial’ stance towards Israel, says White House has become Iran’s ‘lobbyist’.

The United States has become ‘almost adversarial’ towards Israel under the Obama administration, according to Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ).

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The Significance of The Coming Rare Series of Four Red Moons

RARE PHENOMENON TO SHAKE PLANET EARTH

Is the end of the world as we know it and the return of Jesus Christ really knocking on our door?

A rare cycle of solar and lunar eclipses that will begin this year at the time of God’s holy days cited in the Bible is about to wake up millions to the possibility that end-time prophecies could be fulfilled imminently.

“All these signs, coming together at one time, are potentially the culminating signals that God is closing this chapter of human history,” declares pastor Mark Biltz, author of the brand-new book and DVD, “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs.”

“This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible. God has always wanted to warn His people, and the rest of the world, before He intervenes. What better way to communicate to us than through the universal language of heavenly signs that speak to every tribe, tongue, and nation?”

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Divine Sign for Israel? Hagee Explains Blood Moons

By Erick Stakelbeck —

SAN ANTONIO — The Book of Genesis says God uses the sun, moon, and stars for signs and seasons. Examples can be found throughout the Bible.

Think of how a star led the wise men to Jesus or how the sun stood still as Joshua led Israel to victory over its enemies.

According to Pastor John Hagee, God is getting ready to speak this way once again.

“There’s a sense in the world that things are changing and God is trying to communicate with us in a supernatural way,” Hagee told CBN News.

“I believe that in these next two years, we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world,” he predicted.

Four Blood Moons

In his latest book, Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, Hagee lays out what he calls celestial signals. He describes how a series of blood moons in 2014 and 2015 will have great significance for Israel.

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