Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Genesis 001


Genesis opens by going back to “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). The first eleven chapters deal with the history before the time of Abraham. Revelation never is given in a vacuum. Scriptures treat this account as history (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:17; Psalm 8; 104; Matthew 19:4-6; 2 Peter 3:5; Hebrews 4:4). It provides a background and history to Genesis and the whole Bible. Like any history it is built on the principle of selectivity.

No historical narrative is a complete account of all that occurred in a given event or series of events. The author must select those events that most effectively relate not only what happened but also the meaning and significance of what happened.[1]

There is a common world view in Genesis and the ancient Near East. We have other writings and records from the ancient Near East to better help us understand the period and the worldviews that existed. The ancient ideas were at odds with the Biblical account, but there are also areas of agreement. Wenham writes:

...Genesis share a common outline of primeval history with its neighbors.... Both agreed that an invisible supernatural world existed; that a God or gods existed; were personal; could think, speak, and communicate with men; indeed, control human affairs.[2]

However, these are overshadowed by the great differences. The Genesis account is distinct and unique among the ancient Near East. It is an inspired account (2 Timothy 3:16)

Moses made his careful selection on the basis of ancestry leading to the nation Israel, tracing it back to the God of creation and Adam. This is clearly indicated in his arrangement of the whole book around the genealogies.

[1] Sailhamer, John H., (Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor) “Genesis,” THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1990], 2:13.
[2]  Wenham,  Gordon J, WBC: GENESIS 1-15, (Dallas TX, Word, 1991), xlvii

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Studies in Colossians #30


Put on Positive Characteristics (3:12-17).

These 12 verses are connected to what precedes, but go beyond what had been given. This section can be divided into two subdivisions: the new characteristics (3:12-14), and the exhortations based on putting them on (3:15-17). “A new character demands new characteristics!”[1] The characteristics are in line with Colossians 3:1, seeking “the things above.” It must be noted that there is a correspondence between putting off the old and putting on the new. Harris points out that the two are “issuing specific ethical directives…in being positive exhortation after negative injunctions.”[2] It is not enough to put off the old, it must be replaced with the new. Each of these injunctions begin with the conjunction “therefore” (3:5, 12); calling for action on the part of the believers. This is clear in verse 12 for the Greek text reads: “Put on therefore,” which the KJV translates more literally.

The new characteristics (3:12-14).

The section has a clear structure:

12a         The imperative: Put on therefore

12b         The basis: as elect of God, holy and beloved

12c         The list: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

13-14      The means: bearing with…forgiving…loving.

The imperative is to “put on” the new characteristics that produce harmony in the church, the body of Christ. While therefore calls for action based on what went before and alludes to Colossians 3:10; the word as points forward to the basis of doing so. They coordinate the past arguments with the new argument of the apostle. We are to “put on” new characters that are in harmony with our new position in Christ.

The basis of the new argument is based upon our identification: “as the elect of God, holy and beloved” (3:12). Our identification is that of “the elect of God,” and “holy” and “beloved” stand in apposition[3] to being elect of God. This can be diagrammed:

Elect of God



The elect of God is holy and beloved. These further define the status of the elect. The word elect is a compound word in the Greek (eklektos), meaning to pick out, to choose, or select. The object is the persons who have been chosen. Paul tells us as members of the church, the body of Christ, we were convicted by the Holy Spirit and drawn to the Son by God (John 6:44; 16:7-11; Titus 1:1). It speaks of God’s gracious initiative in drawing men to Himself.[4] It speaks of our status or position in Christ.

The words holy and beloved of God describes those who are elect. They, like the word elect, has its roots in the Old Testament. The Jews used them of the nation and of its leaders (i.e. Moses and Solomon). These words come from the self-identification of Israel. Lightfoot observes, “All the three terms…are transferred from the Old Covenant to the New, from Israel after the flesh to the Israel of the Spirit.[5] Paul uses it in reference to the elect of God in the church as well, and applies it to all believers. Thus, these descriptions are inter-dispensation in nature. There is common ground between Israel and the church. Both members of the kingdom of heaven and the church, the body of Christ, have these characteristics. The terms are redemptive, not dispensational. Being elect specifies the believers position, while holy and beloved specifies the character or elements of being elect (Eph. 1:4-5). “These words are nouns used as names that describe what they were in God’s sight.[6] They are so, not because of what they had done or by their merit, by God’s redemptive grace and sovereignty. They are positive in nature.

Because as believers we are elect, holy, and beloved we are to “put on” certain qualities. In contrast to being elect, holy, and beloved, these qualities are our responsibilities to display. The injunction to “put on” enforces this as being conform in practice what has be done to us in Christ. This list focuses on the features that are consistent with our redemption. Paul lists five qualities we are responsible for:

·         “A heart of compassion” (3:12). The Greek text reads the “bowels of compassion,” which the KJV translates more literally. The Greek word means chief intestines, entrails, bowels, and also translated tender mercies (Lk. 1:78) of the heart, affections (2 Cor. 6:12), inward affections (2 Cor. 7:15), even mercy (Phil 2:1). Most of the commentaries point the translation based on the Greek idea that bowels were the set of emotions. It expresses a yearning compassion that is exercised by us toward others based on our position as the elect of God. As such we are beloved, and we are to express it by our compassion.

·          “Kindness” (3:12). The Greek word chrestotes is akin to the word grace, and means kindness, goodness shown, or beneficence. It is the virtue of grace in action. It is a temper of mind.[7] It is translated as “gentleness” in Galatians 5:22, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit. It is often used of God (cf. Psa. 106:1; 107:1; 136:1; Jer. 40:11). The goodness of God is seen in nature (Psa. 64:22); in the events of history (Psa. 145:7); judgment (Psa. 119:39); and in the teaching of God (Psa. 119:65-68). It speaks of His forbearance (Rom. 2:4), and His kindness in salvation (Titus 3:4) to those who are not kind (Rom. 3:12). It indicates that we as believers (the elect) are to treat others as God has treated us.

·         “Humility” (3:12). This is a Greek compound word (tapeinphrosyne) meaning the lowest of mind, and indicates the process of humble thinking (cf. Phil. 2:3). It already has been used in 2:18, 23. It is in contrast to pride and superior thinking. We are to display the mind of Christ (Phil, 2:5).

·         “Gentleness” (3:2). The KJV has it translated “meekness.” The word is used 11 times and has various translations including meekness, gentleness, and kindness. It is not the same word for kindness (chrestotes), rather it is prautes. It is also one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). Meekness is not weakness, as the modern day useage implies. That was not so in the Greek world. Among the Greek world it indicated power claim or to soothe. It expresses having the correct attitude. Scripture speaks of it as a quality of a good wife; of a businessman who answers in a friendly manner; and one who has the blessings of God (Psa. 25:9). It is connected with lowliness and humility (cf. Eph. 4:2). It is displayed in the person of Jesus (Matt. 11:29).[8] It denotes being nonaggressive.[9] It is not being overly impressed with self. Paul implores the Corinthians with gentleness (2 Cor. 10:1). It speaks of acting with consideration and understanding, not in anger, for others and their situation. It is not to be rude or rash. It is a common call by Paul for believers (Eph. 4:2; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 3:2).

·         “Patience” (3:12). The KJV translates it “long-suffering” which is a compound Greek word literally meaning long and passion or anger. It is makrothumia, meaning wrath that is far away.[10] Campbell observes:

Believers are to be a long time in coming to passion and anger; hence they are to be slow in getting passionate or angry. They are to put up with much for a long time –not to lose their cool.[11] 

It is linked with kindness/goodness in Romans 2:4; 2 Cor. 6:6; and Gal. 5:22). Paul thinks of them a companions. It is an expression of patience by the means of self-restraint. Barclays says “It expresses the attitude to people which never loses patience…[or] hope for them.”[12] It carries the idea of endurance (1 Peter 3:15). Its action takes place in the atmosphere of love (Eph. 4:2). This is in contrast to the false teachers (2 Tim. 3:10). We believers are to have unfailing patience (2 Tim. 4:2). It entails patience waiting on the action of God (cf. Heb. 6:12-15).

The means by which we are to “put on” of new clothes is now expressed by Paul. It is clear in verses 13-14. These verses do two things:[13] (1) They modify the main clause of putting on. (2) They form a “then clause,” indicating action or results. They are exercises compelled by the five virtues listed.  Thereby, Paul is now demonstrating how these virtues are to be exercised by the believer in the congregation. There are three distinct and progressive ways:

  • Bearing with one another” (3:13). The Greek word is anechomai meaning to bear; to endure patiently, to tolerate or to suffer with. Campbell says that the translation of bearing is a negative word which is uncharacteristic in a positive list and favors the translation “support.”[14] I disagree. I find no support for that translation. I do not see the word bearing as negative. It is an imperative verb denoting a command. There is a parallel by Paul in Ephesians 4:2. It has the idea, to put up or bear with people or persecution (2 Cor. 4:12; 2 Thess. 1:4). In the face of persecution, we are to bless; endure; and/or encourage. Ephesians 4:2 it modifies the word patience, and it may be the case here, since that is the last virtue mentioned.[15] This is the first step of the assembly toward one another. The present tense indicates that forbearance is a continual action.[16]     

  • Forgiving each other” (3:13). We are to exercise forgiveness of others in the church, the body of Christ. The word forgiveness is an aspect of grace (charizomai).[17] Forgiveness is given to others in spite of their non-merit. They may not deserve it, but part of grace is to forgive. It speaks of the gracious nature of forgiveness. It confirms that there will be times forgiveness is needed, both concerning us and others. Forgiveness is to be extended to “whoever has a complaint against another.” This is to be practiced in the face of a personal assault. At times we will be offered by another in the community of fellowship. In such cases we are to follow the example of Christ— “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” We find a parallel in Ephesians 4:32. O’Brien calls this “conformity” teaching[18] He has a point. The Christian life is that of being conformed to the image of Christ. This is where the impact of the redeeming work of Christ by which the believer conforms to the same actions of Christ. This takes place by complete surrender to the transforming power of Christ in our life (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). His last admonition of gracious forgiving is “so also should you” (3:13). The Greek text does not have the word should; rather reads “so also you do.”

  • Beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (3:14). Every translation, including the KJV, bracket the words “put on” indicating that the words are not in the Greek text, and have been added by the translators to give the logical context and meaning. All translators agree that the words “put on” is the implied verb and therefore added. The reading is literally; “beyond or above all these love.” The Greek word epi (above) “means ‘in addition to’ with the idea implied, that what follows is the chief or best.”[19] The center of attention is love. Love is the most important element of grace for Paul (cf. Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:6, 14,22). It is the garment that is to be added over the other items of dress. Lightfoot says “love is the outer garment which holds the others in their places.[20] Paul commonly points to love as the motivating factor of the Christian life and service (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; 8:7; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:11; Titus 2:2), without which there is no profit (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:14). The reason of love’s importance is found in the phrase: “which is the perfect bond of unity.” The word bond is a compound Greek word meaning to bind together. It is the coherent element of all the virtues. Love is the glue that bonds us together as believers. The bond of perfection can be translated as an attributing genitive modifying the word bond; or it can be an objective genitive.[21] Either way is permissible. If an attributing genitive it is translated “bond of perfection,” as an objective genitive it is the “bond that produces perfection.” It seems to me that the first way is the best, thus love is the perfect bond. It seems to fit the context better. Love is the perfect bond that brings unity or harmony in the congregation of believers. Thus, perfect should be taken as a description of the bond. This perfect bond produces unity in the church, the body of Christ.
    It should be noted that all these virtues and their exercise are centered upon interpersonal relationships within the local body. We are the elect, holy, and the beloved of God by our position in Christ. These virtues and their exercise are for our practice, in order to give evidence of our being conformed to the image of Christ.


[1]  S. Lewis Johnson Jr, “Christian Apparel,” BIBLIOTHECA SACA, January 1964, 29.
[3]  Apposition: where two nouns have the same referent stand in relation to the rest of a sentence or phrase [see Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary].
[5]  Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS, 219
[6]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 240.
[7]   Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 218.
[8]  Barclay, FLESH AND SPIRIT, 107-121.
[9]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 145.
[10]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 141
[11]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 145.
[12]  Barclay, FLESH AND SPIRIT, 91
[14]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON 145.
[16]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 202.
[17] Charizomai means to bestow kindness, grant free favor, to remit, or to forgive.
[18]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 202.
[19]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 244.
[20]  Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 222.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review of What Happen in the Garden

Abner Chou (Editor), WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GARDEN, Grand Rapids MI, Kregel Academic, 2016, 301 pages.

It was with anticipation that I looked to and wanted to read this book. In recent years a renewed effort among evangelicals questions the historical reliability of Adam, the garden, and the fall. The book reasons for the importance of the beginning chapters of the Bible; it is foundational for the whole Bible and the reliance on theology to life itself. This book answers the issues and defends the orthodox view of these three chapters of Genesis. It is a work by the faculty of The Master’s College. In light of the allegations by some evangelicals in the recent debate, a new defense is necessary.

The book is divided into three sections. These sections deal with the historicity, theology, and scientific elements of the revelation of these chapters section by section.

Section 1: Reality of Genesis 2-3. This is divided into four chapters. In this section the foundation of the book is being laid. Chapter 1 deals with Hermeneutic and History in Genesis 3. Abner Chou does a good job of identifying the issues involved. The issues revolve around exegetical issues; issues of history and theology, which he identifies the thesis that history is the ground of theology.  It is the way theology works. He debunks the mythology view.  Chapter 2 and 3 (by Todd Charles Wood and Joseph W. Francis), deals with Adam and the Animals and the Genetics of Adam.  In regard to Adam and the animals the authors make clear Adam was a product of special creation in the image of God, and for the purpose of dominion over the earth. They deal with this in contrast to evolution. They bring out the distinction between humans and the higher forms of life in the animals (i.e. apes). Creation of kinds can be distinguished. We need to recognize the difference between as well as within evolution and creation. They continue to examine evolution and creation with a chapter of Genetics of Adam. In this chapter they argue for the young earth model of creation and history. This chapter is one of the most difficult for understanding of the problem and not reader friendly. However, they do show their intended purpose that evolution is not the only way that changes in the human race could take place. Chapter 4 is on Map of Misreading’s (by Grant Horner). This chapter brings us back to basics, which is understanding the text correctly. This is vital for it is the core of understanding of the Bible, theology, and its practice. He suggests that the text is not the problem; it is in the explanation of the text that misreading occurs. Because of our sin, our tendency is to explain away, de- historicize, and misread Genesis 3.  We must read the text features as a story, told simply and clearly, meaning exactly what it says.

Section 2 deals with Theological Ramification of the Creation and Fall. This section contains only two chapters. First is Genesis 3 and original sin by Paul R. Thorell. He approaches the subject in what I would regard in reverse order—beginning with the historical church view; to Paul’s view of Genesis 3; back to the prophets; and ending with Pentateuchal context. All the areas uphold that Adam’s transgression had universal consequences on his posterity—sin, death, and judgment. The second is on the Seed and Schaeffer by William Varner.  Francis Schaeffer advocated that dualism of history (lower story) and faith (upper story) strongly influenced religious thought. That faith does not need some objective verifiable events in space-time history. He views Schaeffer’s philosophy in the context of Genesis 3. Varner upholds the Messianic promise of Genesis 3:15, and the reality of Adam and Eve as historical. One needs to read this chapter on Genesis 3:15 in regard to the promise.

Section 3 is the largest section of the book. It consists of seven chapters. The section deals with the reality of sin and its effects upon this world and mankind. Each chapter looks at the fall through different lenses. R.W. Mackey deals with three effects on Human enterprise (Chapter 7). Taylor Jones has an excellent chapter of the effects of the curse through the lense of thermodynamics (Chapter 8). This chapter will speak to those that have a  orientation.  For those of legal minds, George Crawford looks at the legal aspects of the fall (Chapter 9). Ernie Baker through the line of psychology (Chapter 10).  Jo Suzuki deals with the subject through the lense of the topic of gender. Alexander Granados of the importance of the Historical Adam in education and our Christian curriculum. John MacArthur concludes this section by upholding the doctrine of original sin.

The book centers around the important and vital issues of Genesis 3 (mainly). In light of developments in theology, history, and the world events. This book is timely and important. It upholds the historical interpretation of this key chapter. In reality, our interpretation of the events of the garden influence our whole theological viewpoint. The details do matter. Therefore, this book is a must in everyone’s library. It is coherent, clear, and compelling. One of the best books I read this year.

I received this book from Kregel Academic in return for a review but was under no obligation to provide a favorable review

Monday, September 19, 2016

Studies in Colossians #29

OUR CHRISTIAN APPAREL (3:5-11) continued

The third imperative: “do not lie.” (3:9-11).

The third imperative ends a section and begins one as well. It is transitional in nature. Do not lie is the clear command. Paul takes this third imperative to end on a positive note. The imperatives are incentives to lay aside the old, and to “put on the new self” (3:20). Both putting off and putting on are aorist participles, indicating completed actions in the past. Gromacki reminds us that we “did not put the new over the old. A believer has only one position before God, although he as two natures: the old sin nature and the new nature centered in the indwelling life of God. The new position guarantees heaven, and submission to the new nature brings spiritual victory (Gal. 5:16).”[1] Paul uses the term new in three senses:

  • Of being new creations in Christ (Gal. 6:15). Positionally the old man is crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). We have a new position in Christ.
  • In reference to the church, the body of Christ as the new man or mankind (Ephesians 2:15-16). It speaks of the joint-body of Jew and Gentile as one in Christ. It is in contrast to the old where Israel had the priority. 
  • As a new nature in contrast with the old, as in this present passage. The believer has two natures, otherwise the injunction to take off the old would be irrelevant (Eph. 4:22; 25; Rom 13:12). Moo calls the old and new “competing schemes of the Christian life.[2] This last point speaks of our sanctification. Between the two (old and new) there is an already—not yet tension. The new man is not simply new in time (neon), but is to be new (kainon) in quality or character.

How do we put off the old and put on the new? It is by the renewal of the mind and having the mind of Christ (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; Phil 2:5). This is indicated by the phrase, “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (3:10). The phrase modifies the new man. The Greek text could be translated “the one which is being renewed.” The structure can be diagramed as:

                Put on the new man

                                                | which is being renewed

                                                                | to true knowledge

                                                | according to the image of the One

It is clear that what is being renewed is the new man. The word renewed modifies the new which indicate continual by daily involvement of believers (cf. 2 Cor. 4:12). The new man is aorist indicating the past which is being renewed,  a present tense. Dunn observes that the aorist speaks of “the conversion-initiation past is qualified by an ongoing present: the new self is in process of being renewed.”[3] It denotes a tension between God’s work and man’s responsibility. It speaks of transformation through the work of Christ. The renewal is often spoken of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Titus 3:5, cf. Eph. 3:16). This process of renewal speaks of the mind as indicated by the reference to knowledge (Rom 12;1-2). The Greek proposition is eis, denoting motion unto an object, to the extent of, or with respect to an object. Harris lists possible understandings here:[4]

(1)    Expressing direction toward

(2)    Equivalent to a locative, in knowledge

(3)    Telic, for full knowledge

(4)    Consecutive, leading to

(5)    Temporal, until it obtains or reaches it goal.

While I think #1 is the best, it matters little because all of these have in common the idea of motion toward a goal. The idea of motion is vital to the understanding of being renewed to knowledge. The word renewed has the force in this context is that of becoming (as in 2 Cor. 4:16). Our new position in Christ is to separate us from the practices of our old way of life. This is the heart of progressive sanctification. It is becoming more like the image that God created us to be (cf. Gen. 1:26-28).[5] It speaks of the transforming power of God into Christ-likeness (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:16; Titus 3:5).

We are becoming more knowledgeable. The word knowledge indicates a personal and experiential knowledge. It is not to know about a person, but knowledge that come from a relationship. The knowledge also suggests the importance of the mind in the Christian life.

This knowledge is of what or whom? It is of Christ. This is reinforced by the phrase: “according to the image of the One who created him” (3:10). It is the taking on of Christ that is important. This is a reference to Christ, the image of God (cf. 1:15, Eph. 4:24). We are being made into His image, both individually (Rom 8:29) and together as a body (Eph 4:7-16). Johnson observes that this gives a summary of the teaching of Paul in this epistle. He writes:

There are three realms, relevant to the Colossians, in which He is all. He is everything in salvation, there is no place for angelic mediation in God’s redemptive work (cf. 1:18-22; 2:18). He is everything in sanctification; hence legality and asceticism are out of place in the Christian life (cf. 2:16-23). He is our life (3:3-4).  Finally, He is everything necessary for human satisfaction, here there is no need for philosophy, or the deeds of the old man (1:26-28; 2:3, 9-10).[6]

The new man is one of a new environment without distinctions: “[a renewal] in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythians, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and all” (3:11). The NASB adds the words that are in brackets; the KJV omits them as they should be. They really do not clarify the text and are unsupported by the Greek text. The Greek Majority text reads: “in which there is no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarians, Scythian, slave, free person, but Christ is all things and in all things” (Author’s translation). As the image of Christ there are no distinctions either religious, social, national, economical, or racial. Notice that these distinctions run in contrasting terms:

Greek (gentile)/Jews



Slave/free person

Eadie points to two connotations of these distinctions:[7]

  • Such distinctions do not avert the putting-on the new man.
  • Having had the old does not alter the possession of the privilege and blessing found in the new man.

These contrast are consistent with Paul’s theology of universal inclusiveness. Some identify the new man with the church, the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-23).[8] Others take is more broadly as simply positional—being in Christ (Gal. 3:27-29).[9] However, the context suggests some kind of corporate unit or unity. This is supported by Paul in his sister epistle—Eph 2:15. He is speaking of a new humanity. O’Brien notes: “The renewal refers not simply to an individual change of character but also to a corporate re-creation of humanity in the Creator’s image.[10]  Therefore, the new man is seen both in ethical and ecclesiastical terms.

The climax of the new man is that “Christ is all, and in all.” (3:11).  There is significance to the double reference to all. There are two distinct ideas of the word all as seen by the word and (kai). It is therefore a mistake to translate this phrase as “Christ is all in all,” as some do.[11] It seems to me that the first “all” speaks of the goal of the new man (relating back to 1:18), and the last all speaks of Christ as “in all” of the new man. The new man is the object of the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ. He is working in us and Christ is all to us. To the believer Christ matters; He indwells all in His body. “The Christ who lives in each of his people is the Christ who binds them together in one.”[12]

To be continued…

[1]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 137.
[3]  Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 221. Also see Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 137.
[5]  Constable, NOTES ON COLOSSIANS, 38.
[6] S. Lewis Johnson Jr, “Christian Apparel,” BIBLOTHECA SACRA, January 1964, 28.
[7]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 237-239
[10]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 191.
[11] William Barclay, THE NEW TESTAMENT: A NEW TRANSLATION [LONDON; Collins, 1969]