Monday, April 9, 2018

Reflections on Romans #7

The Theme of Romans

Romans 1:16-17

It is almost universally accepted that the theme of Romans is the Gospel of Righteousness. Romans 1:16 notes a shift of focus. The word “for” is a conjunction of reason and is found 3 times in these verses (1:16-17). Moo points that the theme is present in four subordinate clauses, each building on the other.[1] The theme is directly connected to “the gospel”, thus not altogether separate from Paul’s longing to preach the gospel at Rome. Paul now explains about the gospel, which is the theme of Romans. Newell says in these verses “we have the text of the whole Epistle of Romans.”[2]

It seems to me that Paul in stating the theme of this epistle does so in one major truth (The Gospel) describe in three key elements (Power, Faith, and Righteousness).

The word gospel is found 12 times in Romans. Paul opens the epistle declaring that he was set apart unto the gospel. Now he declares “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (1:16). The word “for” at the beginning of the phrase is understood by most as a causal or explanatory of what precedes.[3] However, Longenecker suggests it is a “transitional conjunction to indicate the continuation of Paul’s writing.”[4] While there is a logical connection to what went before, it is also transitional in nature to what follows.

The first item that Paul declares the gospel is that he is not “ashamed” of it. This is a negative aspect of his positive view of the gospel. He was not ashamed of the gospel. Paul is using a figure of speech known as litotes, which is a negative of a contrary condition or assertation.[5] It is an understatement. Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, he is saying rather was proud of it and gloried in it (Rom. 5:2, 11; cf. 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14). The gospel was dear to the heart of Paul It should be ours as well. We are not to be ashamed of it, rather gloried in it. It should be our motive in all that we do. We should not under to downgrade the value of the gospel.

Standing behind this declaration is the worldly environment. Cranfield observes:

Paul knows full well the inevitability of the temptation to be ashamed of the gospel in view of the continuing hostility of the world to God, on the one hand, and, on the other, the nature of the gospel itself, its unimpressiveness over against the impressiveness of the world, the fact that God…has intervened in history for the salvation of men not in obvious might and majesty but in a veiled way which was bound to look to the world like abject weakness and foolishness.[6]

The Gospel has three vital elements:

· “For it is the power of God for salvation” (1:16 cf. 1 Cor. 1:18). The word “for” denotes why Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. Elsewhere he equates the gospel of God with the “word of the cross” that is “the power of God to us being saved” (1 Cor. 1:18). Romans 1:16 and 1Cor. 1:18) bringing out the same three points: gospel, power, and salvation.

It is the gospel that is the power of God. It speaks of the divine saving power of God. Power is the inherent capability to effect transformation. The gospel is clearly defined in 1 Cor. 15:3-4 as (1) Christ died for our sins, (2) He was buried, (3) He was raised the third day—all according to the Scriptures. Newell says the gospel “is the great wire along which runs God’s mighty current of saving power.”[7]  The second word “for” is not the same as the first English word “for” (gar), but is the word eis, meaning unto, with a view to. Thus, the power of God is directed toward salvation and makes it effectual. It is God’s power that saves everyone who believes. Salvation is the greet need and hope of man. Lloyd-Jones declares “Salvation is the deliverance of man from the consequences of the Fall and of sin, and our definition of salvation must never be less than that. It must include all that, in all its fulness”[8] Salvation effects the past in the forgiveness of sin; present in that it brings us into a new spiritual condition before God; future in that it delivers us from end time judgment.  Salvation equals restoration of the sinner to share in God’s glory. Constable observes: 

"Salvation" restores people to what they cannot experience because of sin. Salvation is an umbrella term; it covers all aspects of deliverance. The terms justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification describe different aspects of salvation.[9]

· Paul indicates the means of this salvation as being one of faith (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). Faith is described as “to everyone who believes: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”. This phrase of faith is used four other times in Romans (3:22; 4:11; 10:4, 11). This clearly indicates the universality of the gospel and effective only by faith. Paul has already declared that his purpose and commission to bring faith to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:5). It speaks of the scope of the gospel. The only limitation is faith (or believing one). The gospel is accepted though faith by Jew and Gentile alike. There is now no difference between Israel and the Gentiles (Rom. 12-13 cf. Rom. 11:30-32). Salvation is available to all by faith in Christ. Salvation is available regardless of nationality.

· The third element of the gospel is righteousness. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall liveby faith” (Rom. 1:17). Stam points out that righteousness is the basic theme in which all else revolves around Romans.[10] The gospel is revealing the righteousness of God. The postpositive (gar, for) functions as an eplanatory conjunction.[11]  The antecedent is clearly the gospel. From in the gospel, righteousness is revealed. Righteousness is most prominent in this epistle and Paul. The word or a form of it is used at lease 42 times in this epistles. It is clearly a major motif in Romans.

The phrase modifies the righteousness: “from faith to faith.” This, phrase is somewhat an engigma. It is a difficult statement. A number of interpretations are given to this phrase.[12] Most views are unsatisfactory. One of the oldest is that it speaks of faith of the law to the faith of grace or OT faith to NT faith.[13] However, it cannot be so, since the gentiles were never under the law or part of the Old Testament. Their faith could not progress from faith in the law. Many scholars today hold to Calvin’s daily progress view. Interpretation is dificult. A satisfactory view must involve: (1) a faith connected to righteousness. The context demands such a connection. Paul associates the righteousness of God with the response of faith (1:16; 3:21-22; 10:3).[14] (2) A faith that is effectural. (3) A faith that is progressive. 

It seems to me that the Greek text reads: from faith to faith. The word ek is a subjective genitive function as the subject of the verbal idea and denotes the basis or source of faith.[15] Eis is a preposition with the accusative, meaning to, as far as, or to the extent of. To me, the NIV translation, “by faith from first to last” is a distortion of the text. The first reference to the first word faith speaks of the source, which is the faith of Christ or divine faithfulness. It leads to human faith. This is a common ideal in Paul (cf. Romans 3:22; Gal. 2:16; 3:22; Phil. 3:9). Both the faith of Christ and the believer’s faith is found together. Stam notes the gospel by Paul declares “His faith (subjective) to our faith (objective).”[16] Thus, the statement in Romans 1:17 is consistent with Paul’s message. The idea of human faith is involved and supported by the Old Testament quote: “The righteous man shall live by faith” (1:17). 

The theme of Romans is clearly the gospel, which is the power of God for the salvation of all people, by the means of faith. It involves the righteousness of God which the gospel reveals and is accepted by faith. The book reveals how righteousness works in salvation and the life of the believer, from our need to our acceptance to the practical outcome in our lives. This theme is continually repeated in Romans. 

[1]  Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1996], 63.
[2]  William R. Newell, ROMANS: VERSE BY VERSE, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1938], 18.
[3]  For example, see Moo, ROMANS,64.
[4] Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 2016] 158. He says the usage is found 60 times by Paul.
[5] MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY, says it is an “understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary (as in "not a bad singer" or "not unhappy")
[6]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 1975], 1:86-87.
[7] Newell, ROMANS, 21.
[8] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, ROMANS: THE GOSPEL OF GOD, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1985], 273.
[9]  Thomas Constable, NOTES ON ROMANS, [], 21.
[10]  C.R. Stam, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, (Chicago IL, Berean Bible Society, 1981), 36. 
[11] Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 167,
[12] See Leon Morris, PNTC: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1988], 70-72. Richard Longenecker, ROMANS, 177-180.
[13] Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 5:13 / Origen, col. 861.
[14]  Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: ROMANS, 73.
[15]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 178.
[16]  C.R. Stam, ROMANS, 40-41.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Last words of the cross (6)


John 19:30

Jesus knew everything had been accomplished. After taking they vinegar to his mouth, he cried the sigh of victory— “It is finished.” His mission was complete (cf. John 4:34; 17:4). His mission can be characterized in three ways:

  1. It was a great mission. The creator became our savior! The Hebrew equivalent of this expression, and which concludes Psalm 22 is the same as we have in Genesis 2:3. its nature and issues than the work of Creation. It made known the manifold wisdom of God’s Grace in a way which no creative acts could do.
  2. It was a trying mission. But now that the last drop has passed His lips; now that the justice of God is satisfied, He gives vent to the relief felt in these words.
  3. It was a definite mission. He came to give Himself to the justice of God for the sin of the world. He came as the lamb to take away sin (John 1:29; 1 John 3:5). His aim also was to reveal God (John 1:18). He came to fulfill the promises and fulfil them (Rom. 15:8-9). To live in perfect obedience to God (Hebrews 10:7). That was His ai

The word “finish” is used five times, normally translated “a accomplished.” Notice the importance of the word in regard to Jesus:

John 4:34 He came to finish the work.

John 5:36 He had been given work to do.

John 17:4 He finished the work.

John 19:30 He finished in victory.

Every believer has a mission or work to finished. In doing so we are to be found faithful like Paul (2 Tim. 4:7).

Last words of the cross (5)

John 19:28

Cry of Humanity

Crucifixion was a horrible way to die. It was painful unbelief. Hanging in the heat of the day made one weak. It was a continual struggle to pull up with his arms and legs to avoid asphyxiation. One would experience severe muscle spasms, and ended up with heart failure, fever, brain damage suffocation and shock. In support of Scripture and the end was nearing, Jesus aware of the Word concerning His crucifixion, Jesus saying “I thirst” for the purpose of fulfilling the Scripture. This is an allusion to Psa. 69:21. It is the cry of humanity.

This cry marks:

Christ as man. He was flesh and blood, not a phantom.

He identified with sinful humanity, yet without sin.

His pain was real. He physically suffered great pain. “I thirst” expresses the torture of His body. 

It teaches us:

            To bear suffering with patience and submission.

            The unselfishness of Divine love.

            The cost of redemption.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Last words of the cross (4)

Matthew 27:46


It was the 9th hour and darkness covered the land. Spurgeon comments, “Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish.[1] At this point came the cry of His soul: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It declares the feeling of rejection. There are three reasons the Son was rejected:

            It was the moment our sin became His. It is not the result of any corporeal pain being endured. He bore at that moment the wrath of God on account of our sins. God rejecting God—who can understand this? It was the ingredient of His atoning sufferings. He was taking on our sin that was may be righteous before God (2 Cor. 5:21).

            God did not interfere on Christ’s behalf to terminate those sufferings and rescue Him from the hands of His enemies. His plan and will had to be carried out. The payment had to be paid. It was the manifestation of God’s regard for the honor of His law and will.

            The Son was left destitute of the sense of His Father’s care and protection. God’s comfort may be withdrawn, but not His presence! The will of men was free to carry out Satan’s desires. It was allowed of God, but not His doing.

How should this endear the Redeemer of the world to us, who was willing to suffer such things for our sakes. In this cry we see the completeness of Christ’s obedience. He paid it all!  

[1] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, CHRIST’S WORDS FROM THE CROSS, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1965], 51

Friday, March 30, 2018

Seven Sayings of the Cross (3)

Saying of Affection
John 19:25-27

At the Cross stood three women — “his mother, and his mother’s sister [the wife of] Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.”[1] The disciple John was with them. When He sees them from the cross to His mother he says “Women, behold they son!” To the disciple He loved, “Behold they mother!” While these words may seem odd to our ears today, but they reflect certain truths:
In time of deepest sorrow and suffering our Savior put others first. There is a saying that no man dies in vain who blesses others from his death bed. Suffers cannot do away with love. No legacy, however precious, is equal to the Legacy of Love.
They are words of care and concern for His mother. An end of a relationship may be coming, but not responsibility. He made sure His mother would be taken care of. This is in keeping with the command to honor one’s parents [Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16].
The death of a loved one brings anguish of soul to those who remain. Now came of the prophecy— “a sword shall pierce thy soul also.” [Luke 2:35]. From this point on Jesus will no longer be her son, but her Savior.

The overlook person is John. The text centers upon Mary and Jesus, yet John is there he has a important part. In John we see the character of grace.
He receives teachable grace. The gracious teacher is not finished I teaching grace, love, and responsibility. He attentively stood observing, hearing, and accepting Christ’s instruction.
He acts in obedience of grace. John took Mary under his own root. A gracious act.

The text reminds to be an example to:
Honor our parents. Love them, care for them, and live up to our responsibility to them.
Be men His tender compassion. As believers we are to love each other. He confirmed the law of love.
Jesus is the provider of His people. His uses other believers to provide to His own. God uses His people by means of His gracious will.
This is a sacred charge to be remembered and acted upon.

[1] Some believe there were four women, see Leon Morris, NICNT: JOHN, [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1971], 810-811.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Seven Sayings of the Cross (2)

Luke 23:42-43


Jesus was crucified between two known lawbreakers. These men are set in contrast. One looks at Jesus and sees nothing special. He rejects Jesus and blaspheme, insulting the person, making fun of him, three times saying to save himself. The impenitent malefactor was not open to whom Jesus was and what he offered. Impenitent sinners stay unconverted upon the pretext that of their own morality and passion which closes the to the influence of the truth of Christ. His depravity grows worst and worst.

The other has an open heart and a guilty conscience. He knew where he stood. He first criticizes the other malefactor: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou are in the same condemnation?” [v. 40]. They are receiving their just reward.  

The two are alike in respect of sinfulness, their knowledge of Christ, and in their condemnation. The one was closed to conversion, the other was open to it. He was open because of the realization of his own guilt and his perception of the innocence of Jesus. It awakens him to the ability of Jesus to save him. He prays to remember me in the kingdom. His request was characterized by being short and simple, humble, earnest, and sufficient.

The promise of salvation. This malefactor displayed his faith in Jesus. He knew that Jesus has a kingdom, responded to request and grant blessing. Jesus always response to faith no manner the form it is displayed. It is characterized by His grace; not to works of any kind. He had nothing to offer to Jesus except his sin. That is true of you and me. Jesus declared this man would be with Jesus in paradise [v. 43]. Jesus is always faithful in his saving of sinners. When we look into the answer itself, we are amazed at its fullness, richness, and appropriateness of salvation through faith by grace alone.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Seven Sayings of the Cross (1)

Luke 23:34


The undisputable fact of history is that Jesus died upon the Cross. On the cross, the ageless and eternal God came in the form and likeness of a man and suffered. While suffering from unbearable pain, Jesus was able to gather strength enough to make seven statements while being overcome physically. Often these are called the last Word’s of Jesus; that is not true be after his death and resurrection he said many things to his disciple teaching them about the Messianic kingdom. His first utterance upon the cross is both a decoration and a request: “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.” 

Marcus Loane describes the scene for us:

Hardly had the nails been driven though hands and feet; hardly has the cross been planed upright on that bleak hill. His wounds were still red and bleeding; His pains were still raw and throbbing. Men had just done their worst; there hands were dyed with blood.[1]  

Now comes this first saying, it is a saying of forgiveness. Note the following characteristics of this intercession:

It was Intercession of His GRACE! Jesus does not speak a word of condemnation on His opponents. They did not deserve it. This gracious act was voluntary. He prayed it out of His own character to bring the world forgiveness by His grace. 

He offers His grace in forgiveness for the following reasons:

· He did so because they needed a pardon. Pardon is needed and out of His grace, he offers it.

· It is an offer of peace. The war between the sinner and God comes through unpardoned sin. We are justified by faith resulting in peace through the blood of the cross (cf. Col. 1:19-20).

· He did so for our prospect. The prospect of grace is hope. Our prospect without grace is hopelessness. We have been forgiven by grace through faith.

Forgiveness is a fact of pardon, resulting in peace, and the prospect of hope.

[1] Marcus L. Loane, THE PLACE CALLED CALVARY, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1956], 35.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Prayer for Believers


Ephesians 1:17-18

Paul’s thanksgiving prayer flows over into supplication. He makes his request known for the believers in this prayer. The prayer centers on enlightenment. It may seem strange that this is the heart of Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesus. However, the context seems to be centered upon the items of grace. This is brought out strongly by the opening phrase: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory (Eph. 1:17). The word “That” indicates purpose (cf. 2:7), while also indicating content. The word refers the words “may give[1].” What is given is the source of God. He is the giver, we are the receivers. What Paul wants us to receive are:

Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The first thing we are met with is what are the words a spirit referring to? Bible students are divided here on whether this refers to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit. Able men are on both sides of the issue. Some think it is the spirit or attitude we are to have (cf. 1 Cor. 4:21).[2]  Others say it is a reference to the Holy Spirit.[3] Wallace has a point when He says the word wisdom and revelation are to be seen as attributed genitives. They are qualitative words, thus the word spirit as qualitative is most natural. He suggests the grammatical and exegetical context favors the translation of “spiritual” wisdom and revelation.[4] This does two things: First, it does away with the idea that Paul is praying to give the readers the Holy Spirit. Second, it still upholds that the view that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the human spirit that is the spoken of here. The Holy Spirit is to grant unto these believers a spiritual wisdom and revelation or disclosure. It fits well into the context of enlightenment which is the object of Paul’s prayer.

Knowledge of Him. This wisdom and revelation are to be “in the knowledge of Him.” The word knowledge has the meaning of the full and accurate knowledge. It speaks of the sphere in which wisdom and revelation are to work. The verse clearly is speaking of the perceiving of knowledge of Him (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-16).

Enlighten “The eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18). There is a debate on how to render this text syntactically. Hoehner boils the controversy down to two major alternatives.[5] One is to take it to part of the request, as does our translation (NASB, NIV, NEB). The second major alternative makes it an ancillary thought to the request, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (KJV, NKJV), as a stated fact that has already occurred. While many commentaries opt for the second alternative, but Lincoln admits “the syntax is not clear.”[6] What is clear is the subject is enlightenment. Paul is praying not for the emotion by using the word heart, but the enlightenment of the intellect (or mind). The heart must be taken as the center of personality and the thought process which is to be enlightened. The word means to give light, illuminate. Revelation is the method of operation of the Spirit; enlightenment is the fruit of His work. Enlightenment is a perfect participle, indicating a completed act which carries continuing results. This means once of the moment of insight comes, it continues. It is not just insight and enlightenment of facts, but that of insight in knowing Christ personally and intimately as one is enlightened and grows in the knowledge of Him. Thus, this enlightenment is that of sanctification, not salvation. Salvation is only the start of this sanctification or enlightenment.  This comes not simply through the facts of the Word but by the Holy Spirit’s insight and disclosure in conjunction with the knowledge of Christ in His Word.

Our understanding is to include:

Hope. “So that you will know what the hope of His calling is…” (1:18b). The aim[7] or purpose of the Spirit’s work is to enlighten in the knowledge of the hope of His calling. The word for knowledge means to perceive; to come to know; to comprehend or apprehend; to recognize. The emphasis of knowledge is on hope. The hope is the key concept in this phrase. The word for hope has the meaning a confident or sure expectation. It has the sense of assurance. “Hope rests on faith in the act of salvation (Romans 8:24-25) and is sustained by the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27)” notes Bultmann.[8] Hope here is objective, not subjective. It built upon expectation; trust in God, and patient waiting for hope’s consummation. Paul shows in Ephesians that they as Gentiles were once without hope (2:12), but no longer so. Our hope is tied up with His calling, which now includes Gentiles. The call of God can be defined as “the actualization in history of his electing purpose and involves God’s initiative in bringing a person into a relationship with Himself.[9] The Gentiles experience the actualization of being able to come into relationship with God, apart from Israel, due to the call of the Apostle Paul and the revelation of the Mystery (Eph. 3:1-10) to him at an appointed time in history. The hope of the Gentiles is tied with the call of God to them and their response to the Gospel of Grace. Paul again ties hope and calling in Ephesians 4:4. Hope here should not be limited to one aspect or detail but entails hope in its entirety. This hope is laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5) and is present with us now for “Christ in you,” defined as “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Thus, we wait until the appearing of our Savior when He “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). The effectual call of God through the Gospel of Grace provides confident, assuring hope. This confidence comes from the enlightening of our understanding by the Holy Spirit.

RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE “What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (1:18c).
The second concept Paul wants us to be enlightened about is our wealth. The Greek word here is
ploutos and is singular, not plural, thus wealth would be a better translation. Here the wealth is said to be “the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” This may be taken in two ways. There are strong valid cases for each view. Both views are possible, and it is hard to be dogmatic one way or the other.

  • First, it could mean the inheritance of which God is the author of our inheritance.[10]  In this case, it refers to the inheritance which God is preparing in the saints. It is looked upon as the object or substance of our hope.[11] The Greek word[12] is always indicative of the inheritance intended for believers. There is no question that the Greek word has the main idea of possession. The crux of the case is found in the phrase “in the saints.” They hold that the preposition in, can be taken as “in the case of,” in the person of the saints.[13] Lenski views this as the solution, saying, “Ev is quite often used with persons and refers to what is mentioned as pertaining to them: “in their case.”[14] This certainly fits well with 1 Corinthians 2:19.
  • Second is the view that the saints are God’s inheritance. In this case, inheritance is God’s, not that of believers. This view holds that the possessive pronoun “His” designates that the inheritance belongs to God. The inheritance of God is located in the sphere of the saints.[15]  It denotes our value to God. We are “His inheritance.” This seems to me to be the most natural way to take the text. God’s people are often seen as God’s inheritance (Deut. 9:26; Psalms 33:12; 61:5). Thus, the glory of which Paul speaks is the glory of us being God’s own possession, in which He will glorify Himself. It is not because of any glory or merit we possess. We have nothing. The glory comes from His work in and through us. “Believers are valuable to God because he purchased them in order to inherit them” observes Hoehner.[16] Some hold that the church the body of Christ is unique as God’s inheritance; however, the reading of Scripture does not seem to uphold this idea. Old Testament dispels this. The revelation of God’s inheritance is not a unique one given only to Paul and the Church, the body of Christ. Both Israel and the Church are God’s inheritance. It must be pointed out and granted that our inheritance is not the same. Israel’s inheritance centers upon the earth and the Messianic Kingdom, the Church’s centers upon the heavenly and the rapture (Phil 3:20, Col. 1:5), however, both are said to be God’s inheritance in Scripture (Eph. 1:18 cf. Deut. 9:26). No doubt that His inheritance is the glory brought to Him by and through His people. Both the Church’s (Eph. 5:27) and Israel’s (Isa. 62:3 cf. John 7:22-26) purpose is to glorify God. However, make no mistake; the immediate context concerns the Church, the Body of Christ.

Lloyd-Jones reminds us that in this prayer three principles can be induced:
1) We in this life shall always need the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit.

2) Spiritual knowledge is progressive.

3) We should always pray for the enlightening of our understanding.[17]

[1]  Dwh means to give, supply, or bestow
[2]  See Thomas Constable, NOTES ON EPHESIANS 17; R.C.H. Lenski, EPHESIANS, 393; Ernest Campbell, EPHESIANS,  47; Charles Baker, UNDERSTANDING THE BODY OF CHRIST, 14.
[3]  See Harold Hoehner, EPHESIANS, 257-258; Ernest Best, EPHESIANS, 38-39; Andrew Lincoln, EPHESIANS 57.
[4]  Daniel B Wallace, GREEK GRAMMAR: BEYOND THE BASCIS, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1996), 90-91.
[5]  Harold Hoehner, 261-262 for details and arguments.
[6]  Andrew Lincoln, EPHESIANS 47.
[7]  John Eadie, EPHESIANS, 89. He points out that the verse opens with an infinitive of aim.
[8]  Bultmann, R., “Elpis,” TDOTNT, 231.
[9]  Andrew Lincoln, EPHESIANS, 59.
[10]  A view held by such men as Hodge, Lenski, Best, Eadie, Wood, and Lloyd-Jones.
[11]  Lenski, 396.
[12]  KlmrovomiaV
[13]  A.T. Robertson, GRAMAR, 585.
[14]  R.C.H. Lenski, EPHESIANS 397.
[15] Ernest Campbell, EPHESIANS, 50. This view is held also by Sadler, Wuest, Lincoln, Baker, and Hoehner.
[16]  Harold Hoehner, EPHESIANS, 267.
[17]  Martyn Lloyd-Jones, PURPOSE, 366-368.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Studies in Daniel [1]

Daniel Apocalyptic?
Daniel means “God is judge.” Archer observes: “The basic theme of this work is the overruling sovereignty of the one true God, who condemns and destroys the rebellious world power and faithfully delivers His covenant people according to their steadfast faith in Him.”[1] Walvoord says Daniel is “the key to prophetic revelation.”[2] It is classified by scholars as apocalyptic literature. This type of literature is common in later Judaism. However, this type of literature is difficult to define.[3] It centers around eschatology. What does the genre apocalyptic contain? What are its features?  There are five characteristics of apocalyptic literature.[4] 

  • It is revelatory. The revelation came not by the Word of God or a prophet, but entirely though dreams, visions, and heavenly journeys. Discovered or revealed are hidden secrets, the solution to the evil, and the coming of the kingdom through these visions.
  • It is imaginative or visionary. While prophets spoke of their own experiences, the apocalyptic writers did not. In this genre, visionary experiences are looked upon as imaginative literary devices, not genuine experiences.
  • It is pseudonymous. While some prophets did write anonymously, none are seen as pseudonymous. They used their real names. In Jewish apocalyptic literature, they attributed their works to already established prophets—Adam, Moses, Isaiah, Baruch, Solomon, and Ezra.
  • It is symbolic. Apocalyptic writers built off the symbolism of the Old Testament prophets and goes beyond them to greatly elaborated apocalypses. Symbolism does play a major role in this genre. “Symbolism became pervasive, extreme, and even grotesque” in the apocalyptic writings.[5] This further expands the imaginative element of apocalyptic literature.
  • It is pseudo-predictive. The prophet stood in the present and proclaimed future historical and eschatological events as revealed by God. Apocalyptic literature is always eschatological, and foretells future events that arise, not out of the present situation, but breaks into the present.[6] The prophecy was ex eventu, after the fact.

While this genre is dualistic—good versus evil—God wins in the end. Two other features must be pointed out.

First, Jewish apocalyptic writings are pessimistic concerning the present time. It has a sense of despair, that nothing but evil reigned in the present. It lost all sense of God’s activity in the present or in history. The sense of hope is lost. They became unconcerned about the connection of the present history with eschatology.

Second, it was ethically passive. There was no sense of sinfulness, nor need of repentance. To “the apocalyptists the present age is evil and without meaning” observes Mounce.[7] They saw Israel as righteous before God and were interested in consoling and sustaining the remnant, rather than judging the nominally religious.

Differences abound between Biblical and Jewish apocalyptic literature including:

  • Lack of pseudonym.  Daniel was written by a living author who identified himself and was known by his audience.
  • Lack of pessimism. Daniel is optimistic. Why? Swanson answers: In Daniel, the critical point in history is coming. This point is historical. God’s people conquer Satan and the problem of evil ‘by the blood of the Lamb (cf. Rev. 12:11). Victory is provided in history and is worked out by the obedient suffering of God’s people Hope rules the day in Daniel. God is working in history, He is active, and gives hope to the present by means of the gospel. God is not waiting to interject His kingdom into history but is activity working His plan for history, of which the earthly kingdom is the climax.
  • The strong presence of ethical demands. While the apocalyptic genre centers upon comfort, it does not give a sense of ethical living in the present. Revelation however greatly differs and places strong ethical demands on God’s people. Repentance is a key note of chapters 2-3 (2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19). People are called to evangelize others that they may drink of the water of life (22:17).

Based on these differences I would not call it full apocalyptic literature. It is limited apocalyptic literature at best.[8] We need to keep in mind that Daniel “is in many ways an enigma.”[9] However, there is no question that he deals with prophetic truths, both near and far. It is true that apocalyptic literature “is the child of prophecy, yet diverse from prophecy.”[10] Daniel does have early signs of apocalyptic literature, but not the development of that type of literature. Those who propagate the apocalyptic view “often oppose to supernatural revelation in symbolic form, tends to deprecate apocalyptic books in the Bible and equate them with the sometimes incoherent and extreme symbolism of the pseudepigrapha, there is really no justification for this” comments Walvoord.[11] He goes on to warn: “The fact that a book is apocalyptic does not necessarily mean that its revelation is obscure or uncertain, and conservative scholars has recognized the legitimacy of apocalyptic revelation as genuine means of divine communication… apocalyptic books can yield solid results to the 0atient exegete.[12]

[1] Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A SURVEY OF OLD TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1964], 365,
[2]  John F. Walvoord, DANIEL: THE KEY TO PROPHETIC REVELATION, [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1971]
[3] Richard A. Taylor, INTERPRETING APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel, 2016], 27. C. Hassell Bullock, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS [Chicago IL, Moody Press, 1986], 292.
[4]  Erik W. Swanson, THE GENRE OF REVELATION, (www. Theological Studies. Org), 7-10.
[5]  Ibid, 10.
[6]  Robert H Mounce, NICNT: REVELATION, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1977], 3. 
[7]  Ibid, 7.
[8]  C. Hassell Bullock calls apocalyptic literature of the prophets and being in its “elementary” stages. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC BOOKS, 236.
[9]  Ernest C. Lucas, AOTC: DANIEL, [Downers Grove IL, InterVarsity Press, 2002], 18.
[10]  Ibid, 311.
[11]  John Walvood, DANIEL, 14.
[12]  Ibid, 14.