Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Romans 9 Discussion
07/20/2007 - James WhiteAs I noted yesterday, we have had an unusually positive and excited response to yesterday's DL, so I am posting only the portion of the program in which I worked through Romans 9 itself. The mp3 file runs just over 45 minutes. Here is the discussion. Feel free to share it with others if you wish.
Galatians Commentary Continued
07/11/2007 - James Whiteexcept there are those who are troubling you Nowhere will Paul directly address the false teachers who are troubling the Galatians. He addresses only the believers, and refers to these others in the third person. In fact, it seems clear that Paul desired no friendly contact or ecumenical discussions with the teachers in Galatia. He was not going to come over and have a little chat about the issues that separated them. It is highly doubtful that he would have sat down to dinner with them. He could have no fellowship with them, for they were not his brethren (see below). Paul asserts that these teachers are troubling the Galatian believers. The Greek term tarasso means to shake violently back and forth, hence, to trouble. While the Christians themselves most probably did not sense this shaking, their very foundations were being torn apart without their knowledge. It is rare that Christians can be moved from the faith when they know what is coming and what is happening to them. There are many instances where believers have withstood incredible persecution without denying their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, if they can be fooled, tricked, into abandoning the faith, they can be defeated.
and are wishing to change the Gospel of Christ Paul teaches that these troublemakers have a personal desire to change or to pervert the Gospel of Christ. He does not allow any suggestion that they are truly seeking to do the will of God and have simply strayed from the truth. Rather, they specifically (and maliciously) desire to change the Gospel of Christ. These are not brethren who are misguided; in fact, in 2:4 he will call those with whom he had had an earlier contact pseudoadelphoi, false brethren. They are not believers, they are not Christians. Instead, they have as the desire of their hearts to change the Gospel of Christ. What does this mean? The term translated change is metastrepsai. The term most probably means not only to change one thing to something else but to change something into its opposite. If this is so, then Paul is alleging that the teaching of those who were troubling the believers is not simply something that is far enough out of line with the truth to be disqualified, but that it is opposite the truth. It is not a slight imperfection, but a radical change, a complete twisting of the reality. That the gospel of the Judaizers in Galatia is opposite the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is brought out clearly in 2:21.
the Gospel of Christ is a phrase that appears frequently in Paul's letters. It is used in Romans 15:19, 1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 2:12, 9:13, Philippians 1:27, and 1 Thessalonians 3:2. Some of the other descriptions of the Gospel given by Paul include, the Gospel of God (Romans 1:1, 15:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:8,9), the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), the Gospel of His Son (Romans 1:9), the Gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4), the Gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13), the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8), the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11) and frequently simply my Gospel (2 Timothy 2:8). Christ is the subject of the Gospel--His work is the substance. The Gospel does not exist separately from Christ, nor Christ from the Gospel. The term itself simply means good news, but for Paul and all the Christian writers of the New Testament, the term came to have a concrete, technical meaning, referring to the finished and completed action of salvation in the person of Jesus Christ. As Paul summed it up in 1 Corinthians 15, the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That this work of God in Christ is absolutely free, absolutely disconnected from any concept of merit on the part of man, will be demonstrated later in this letter.
But even if we or an angel from heaven Here Paul introduces one of two sentences that make up verses 8 and 9. This sentence is a 3rd class conditional sentence, giving a highly improbable (yet possible) situation. Paul is basically saying, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, were to do this...". It is a hypothetical situation.
were to preach to you [a gospel] The verbal term euaggelizo, which literally means to preach/proclaim good news, normally demands that the noun gospel be supplied, as it has been here.
other than that which we preached to you The translation of the Greek preposition para is somewhat of a compromise. The word itself can admit of two different meanings when used with an accusative (as it is here): first, "beyond" or "more than" in the sense of preaching a gospel that goes beyond or contains more than the message they have already received; or, it can mean "against" as in "contrary to." This would result in this message being "other than" in the sense of being contrary to the Gospel. J.B. Lightfoot commented,
The context is the best guide to the meaning of the preposition. St. Paul is here asserting the oneness, the integrity of his Gospel. It will not brook any rival. It will not suffer any foreign admixture. The idea of contrariety therefore is alien to the general bearing of the passage, though independently of the context the preposition might well have this meaning (pg. 77).Actually, both meanings can be seen in the term, and both fit here--we need not make a dogmatic decision between the nuances of para. The reason is evident: Paul has already asserted that there is no gospel other than the one, true message of Christ. All others are not really gospels at all. He has asserted that the Galatian teachers are wishing to change the Gospel of Christ. And how did they do this? The rest of the letter will demonstrate that they have added the works of man to the free grace of God. Therefore, they have not only gone beyond the truth (and hence into error), but the resultant message is contrary to the truth as well. Both possible meanings of para can be seen to fit with Paul's intention. ...
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A Commonly Repeated Exegetical Error
07/10/2007 - James WhiteOne of the more prominent denizens of the theological blogosphere is a man named Perry Robinson. Today he posted the following comment on the Parchment and Pen blog (referred to above). Since I have seen him argue this point before, I felt it would be useful to use it as an example of another common error in reading John 6 outside of its ancient context in the gospel itself.
As for John 6, I disagree with your interpretation since all are raised, even the wicked and so as in Adam all died, in Christ all are resurrected. (1 Cor 15:19ff) Christ loses nothing that the Father gives him but raises IT up, meaning humanity, whole and entire. Jn 6 contains no mention of election or predestination and neither does Jn 5 with Jesus’ teaching there about the Resurrection.Robinson is clearly confusing general resurrection with being raised to eternal life. In John the contrast is found between those who die in their sins, and those who are raised by Jesus to eternal life on the last day. But more to the point, Robinson has completely missed the context, and as a result, turns the text on its head. Jesus is explaining the unbelief of the Jews, those who would not come to Him (v. 36), and he does so in the context of the contrast between those given to Him by the Father. Robinson misses the key contextual element. He rightly notes the neuter "it" (v. 39) which takes all of the elect as a single group, and Jesus promises not to lose any of the elect, but to raise the entirety up on the last day to eternal life. But he misses the glorious consistency of the text that shows us that the unbelievers are contrasted with a single group, those given by the Father to the Son (37), raised up by the Son (39, 40, 44), drawn by the Father to the Son (44), enabled to come to the Son by the Father (65), those who see, believe, and look upon the Son (40), who are taught and learn from the Father (45). These are all the same group, the elect of God.
From Eighteen Years Ago: Galatians Commentary #1
07/08/2007 - James WhiteMany moons ago, before the advent of the worldwide web, etc., believe it or not, folks still wrote stuff. It just didn't get as large an audience, which, in most instances, is probably a good thing. Anyway, back when I was skinny and had hair, I wrote a commentary on Galatians. It was for an extended Bible study I was leading at the time. I happened across the notebook containing that material, and found that reading the commentary on 1:6-10 reminded me that even I am tempted to think that "things are just getting worse and worse." Yet, unless I was exaggerating back then, the issues really have not changed. In one sense it is good that I remain very concerned when I encounter those who are willing to say that God has, in essence, "mumbled" in revealing the gospel so that it can be seen as a very vague, very multi-form thing that really allows for no real definition. But this is nothing new. I was talking about it back in the late 80s, and if the Lord gives me another twenty years, I'll be at it then, too, as long as the Lord gives me breath.
II. Paul's Amazement at the Galatians (1:6-9)
6. I am amazed that you are so quickly being moved from the One who called you by the grace of Christ unto another gospel, 7. which is really not another, except there are those who are troubling you and are wishing to change the Gospel of Christ. 8. But; even if we, or an angel from heaven, were to preach to you [a gospel] other than that which we preached to you, let him be anathema. 9. As we said before I say now again, if anyone is preaching [a gospel] other than that which you received, let him be anathema.
In all of Paul's other epistles, he follows his salutation with words of commendation, and assurances of his continuing prayer for the Christians in the church in that cities or in those cities to which the letter is addressed. Even when writing to Corinth, in the midst of great difficulties and immorality in the church, he does this. Only in Galatians is there no positive word, no commendation. The issue is too important for anything to get in the way of immediate correction, immediate warning.
He begins by saying that he is amazed at the Galatians. The term speaks of absolute wonderment and shock. He is dumbfounded by their actions. What causes his amazement? you are so quickly being moved from the One who called you... This is what troubles the Apostle. The term translated so quickly can either refer to quickness in the sense of a short period of time (which would have bearing upon just when the epistle was written, for this would seemingly indicate a short period of time between the initial evangelization of these churches, and their subsequent moving away from the truth of the Gospel) or it can refer instead to the ease with which they were being convinced of another teaching. In either case, Paul is amazed at their instability, their fickleness.
The Galatian believers, in their acceptance of this other gospel, are being moved from the One who called them. The term is often translated as a middle reflexive, which would yield the translation, "you are moving yourselves...." However, despite the good evidence for this amongst scholars, others point out that the blame for this defection is primarily placed upon the false teachers by Paul, for it is they who are actively troubling the Christians in Galatia. Hence, we feel that a more consistent rendering would be to take the verb as a passive, as we have in our translation.
Any movement away from the true Gospel, according to Paul, is a movement away from God Himself, who called each believer by the grace of Christ. Here is defection of the gravest sort, resulting in terrible guilt both for those who would encourage such treason as well as those who would abandon their faith. Paul does not indicate that these Galatians have gone to a point of no return, and, if they heeded the warnings of this letter, they certainly could have turned back from their course of destruction. However, the truth remains that one cannot substitute another gospel and claim to be moving closer to God. God's truth and the Gospel cannot be separated from one another.
The concept of God being the absolute of the entire universe that underlies Paul's thinking here is sadly foreign to modern man. God is true. Since the eternal, personal God of the Bible exists, then truth exists as well. Truth is absolute--it is defined by God's being. Man is not the measure of truth. If God reveals something to be true, then it is true, irrespective of whether man accepts it as true or not. Here, the Gospel of God is true. If a man does not accept this Gospel, or opts for another gospel, then he is, by so doing, moving away from God. His beliefs, then, are false. The fact that so many who today claim to be Christians and yet deny that the Gospel can even be defined with sufficient clarity to allow one to say this is true teaching and this is false teaching shows how deeply the humanistic/naturalistic world-view has invaded the church. ...
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