“(28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
— Rom 8:28—30.
You can find Tim Warner’s article here.
He immediately begins with a caricature of Calvinism. He asserts:
According to Calvinists, from “predestination” to “glorification,” everything related to our salvation is determined and performed by God. Nothing man does can in any way affect his eternal destiny.
I ask: how does an individual become justified? It is by faith. Who “performs” the faith? The individual or God? Answer: faith is expressed by the will of the individual, which is enabled by our gracious God. And can someone who does not love God be glorified? No.
The verb [οἶδα, oida in v. 28], rendered “we know” in the NKJV and “we have observed” in our translation, is a perfect active indicative form of the verb meaning “to observe and therefore perceive [he cites Thayer’s Lexicon].
He inaccurately cites Thayer’s lexicon. This is not the definition that Thayer provides. What is omitted in Warner’s discussion of this term is Thayer’s important note: “The tenses coming from eido; and retained by usage form two families, of which one signifies to see, the other to know.” Thayer continues to show that when the term is in the aorist tense it means “to see, observe, perceive.” But when it is in the perfect tense, which it is in this case, it means “to know, understand.” Warner acknowledges that the term is in the perfect tense. So why does he blunder and choose the aorist meaning of this term?
The reason why Warner translates it himself as “we have observed” rather than “we know” is because it supports his thesis that all of the events in the golden chain, including glorification, are a past event. In other words, for him, the salvific acts in the golden chain do not represent timeless truths, but rather what has happened to individuals in the past. To put it in his own words, which he states later: “Paul was describing what has always occurred in the past based on his observation. Therefore, even the ‘glorification’ must be something that has been observed previously.”
The perfect tense indicates past completed action with continuous results. Literally, “we have observed” (and therefore we know). The knowledge claimed is based solely on past observation. This is a requirement of this term.
He continues to predicate his thesis on his flawed lexical assertion that oida, “we know,” means “we observe as a past action.” As demonstrated above, he misread Thayer’s lexicon.
In addition, Warner is not familiar with current Greek linguistics or he would be qualifying this absolute statement about verb tense. Traditional Greek has taught that this is what the perfect tense means, but recent scholarship has qualified this substantially, or jettisoned it all together. The perfect tense-form can be found in various temporal contexts, not just past time. Moreover, οἶδα, oida in verse 28 would be a “Perfect with a Present Force.” In fact, oida is the most common verb for this Greek category given its stative lexical meaning. In other words, the present temporal reference of this word is due to the stative lexeme and context, not the tense-form.
Greek verbal aspect theory emphasizes the distinction of form and function; semantics and pragmatics; spatial quality and temporal reference; aspect (i.e., author’s subjective portrayal of the action) and Aktionsart (i.e., objective “kind of action”).
Traditionally, grammarians confused the latter elements with the former. For example, it was (and still is among many New Testament interpreters) thought that the verb tense grammaticalized (or encoded) time. But verbal aspect has argued often persuasively that temporal reference is not an inherent (semantic) value of the verb-tense (the future “tense” is an exception, but even then there are qualifications). It is the context that provides us clues to the temporal reference. Further, the perfect tense-form serves to highlight the action of the verb (contrasted with the aorist tense-form, which is the least significant tense-form and only serves to move the storyline or argument along without depicting how the action exactly unfolds).
Continuing, Warner writes:
Remember, Paul was encouraging them in persecution to place their hope in the future resurrection and inheritance, and that God was at work in them even in their present situation. So, it is natural that he would offer some demonstration from history to support the observation of this fact.
Warner is setting up the reader for his thesis, which again he thinks that Paul is only describing what has happened in the past; i.e., the golden chain is not providing timeless truths of God’s acts of salvation.
Verses 29-30 do not offer a theological argument, or insight into God’s secret purposes. Rather, they offer historical demonstration of what Paul and his readers had indeed observed, that God works for the good of those who love Him.
Again, he utilizes the erroneous “observed” definition. And one truly has to wonder how Warner can miss the explicit revealing of God’s purpose! Paul uses the infinitive of purpose: εἰς τὸ εἶναι (eis to einai)…”so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” That is, we are predestined to be conformed to Christ so that Christ may be preeminent over a new humanity.
We will continue in part two…