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God’s Election and Reprobation in 2 Thessalonians 2:9–14

“The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned. But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 2:9–14)

I want to make a few brief comments on this passage.

1. This passage on God decreeing the elect to salvation comes on the contextual heels of God decreeing the reprobate to eternal perdition. It is in the context of the lawless one’s parousia and Jesus Christ’s parousia:

“and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival. The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess 2:8–9).

As we move closer to the Lord’s return, Paul exhorts believers that the threat of apostasy is real; the warnings are a means by which God perseveres his elect people from the temptation to apostatize (see the many forms in 2 Thess 2 of exhorting to stay faithful).

God is both active in election (“God chose you”) and hardening in reprobation (“God sends on them”).

2. Ephesians is not the only instance where Paul grounds election in love (Eph 1:4). There are other instances such as this passage: “brothers and sisters loved [ἠγαπημένοι] by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation.” We know we are loved by God because (ὅτι) of his act of electing us for (εἰς) salvation. The obverse is that those who are not elected are not “loved [ἠγαπημένοι] by the Lord.” They are rather “those who are perishing” (2 Thess 2:10).

3. “God chose [εἵλατο] you [ὑμᾶς] . . . .” God is the actor performing the choosing, where the “you” is the direct object. Arminians may object by claiming that because the verb εἵλατο (“chose”) is in the middle voice, that leaves room for some activity of so-called “prevenient grace” activated by the creature’s will. Those who typically say this never actually explain how that works. In short, it is a linguistic blunder, or more accurately, it reveals no familiarity with the Koine Greek language. It is used to throw something against the wall and hope that it sticks with the linguistic benighted.

The middle voice rather is subject focused and such verbs “shift attention from the situation itself to the role of the subject” (Decker, Reading Koine Greek, 227), and “[its] specific features is the affectedness of the subject of the verb in, or by, the event denoted by the verb” (Bakker, “Voice, Aspect and Aktionsart,” 24), and “middle voice, in which the subject performs the action but with a self-interest nuance” (Decker, Reading Koine Greek, 227; cf. 235–36; see also Mathewson and Emig, Intermediate Greek Grammar, 148).

4. As if the fact that it is God decreeing and thus performing the choosing for salvation did not make Paul’s point, he emphasizes that this gracious act was done “from the beginning.” This excludes our participation in the sovereign decree of salvation since it was ordained before we were born.

5. “through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” Another feature of salvation that excludes any claim by us to have some efficacious boasting is that salvation is brought about by the work of the sanctifying work of the Spirit (ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος). Paul attributes the work of the Spirit in our salvation numerous times (see esp. Rom 8). The work of the Spirit brings about faith in the truth (πίστει ἀληθείας). Arminians who claim that the mention of “faith” must be the determining factor of their salvation has read Paul’s words literally backwards making faith the mechanism by which brings about the Spirit’s work and determines God’s decree before time! It is rather an absurd reading that is indicative of the Arminian tradition. Paul is praising God for what he does for us, something we could not do for ourselves.

6. And this is emphasized by Paul’s very next statement: “He called [ἐκάλεσεν] you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:14). Paul uses another electing term, a favorite of his, called (ἐκάλεσεν) (see also the “golden chain of redemption,” Rom 8:28–30). The object of God’s decreeing action, once again, is you (ὑμᾶς).

In summary, Paul teaches that this electing love of God is the basis for his exhortations to have hope, comfort, and faith in trials and temptations to apostatize from the faith. In fact, this sovereign attribute of God’s faithfulness is effective to protect us from even the most evil one in the universe: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:3).

 

A Steve Hays Face-Plant, Closer Look at Texts like 1 John 3:1, A Tad of Steven Anderson, Four Phone Calls

Looked at a few topics to start out, including a short hit piece from Steve Hays that missed the mark by a mile.  Then we did a little more TC reasoning looking at another claim from the TT’s that doing modern textual criticism is unbiblical, and then moved on to a few more quotes from Steven Anderson in response to my book.  Then we started taking calls and covered such topics as theodicy, particular redemption, and can the Pope receive new revelations.

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

Beyond Mega Length Edition of the DL: Textual Critical Topics, Islamic Topics, Response to Theodore Zachariades

Went two hours and eleven minutes today (sorry!), but had a lot to cover. Too many topics to list, but basically a lot on the new Tyndale House Greek New Testament, textual critical topics, Muslim apologetics issues, the Qur’an, and then responses to Dr. Theodore Zachariades on the topic of the decree of God and the will of man, i.e., the topic of compatibilism.  Only program this week as I am headed for St. Charles for my annual pilgrimage!

Here is the YouTube link:
Live Video Stream
The Dividing Line is on YouTube video. Our YouTube channel also provides videos of most of the debates that Dr. White has done over the years. Take some time and browse it to see if there is something there of interest to you. If you are looking for the next upcoming show be sure to subscribe to the blog as we post show announcements the morning of the show.

Shameless Papist Pretensions Followed by Foundational Issues with Mike Licona

A tale of two programs today: I was going to briefly address a Roman Catholic on Twitter and that “briefly” became fifty minutes.  But then I switched over to a review of an interview with Dr. Mike Licona for a total of about 1:40 for the program today.

Here is the YouTube link:

A Wide Ranging Mega-Sized Edition of the Dividing Line

Started off with a discussion of President Obama’s recent actions promoting ungodliness in the land, then discussed the recent WHO guidelines demonstrating that homosexuality is unnatural and devastating to human flourishing.  Discussed briefly the upcoming preaching by Ergun Caner at First Baptist Woodstock, and gave some guidelines to anyone who will be attending.  Then we moved on to talk about Walid Shoebat’s strange (seeming) conversion to Roman Catholicism, and an article in which he ranted and raved about Evangelicals in typical Romanist fashion.  In the last hour we turned to Bob Enyart’s recent attempts to do damage control after our debate in Denver, and hence got to discuss Christology and a number of fields in apologetics.  A full two hours!

Here is the YouTube link: