Pentateuchal Criticism and Genesis

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Glenn Schaefer at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on Genesis.

 

B. T. Arnold wrote an article for Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch entitled, “Pentateuchal Criticism, History Of.” The article goes through in moderate detail the development of this criticism from the eighteenth century forward, highlighting the major contributors in each century and showing where critical and literary analyses came into effect. At the end of the article Arnold gave his own conclusion to the matter, which in fact served as the strongest point for the paper. However, due to the lengthy development of some of the key players throughout the centuries, his article lost some weight by taking away significant importance to the more influential people for pentateuchal criticism. Overall, this article serves its function to inform readers of no Old Testament critical background specifically how pentateuchal criticism started and how it exists today, and it particularly shows the importance of this criticism for Christians today.

Arnold opens up his article with a quick summation of the history of pentateuchal criticism. In this summary he notes that the tradition of Mosaic authorship for the whole Pentateuch in early Jewish and Christian sources went uncontested (2003, 622). Arnold notes several important Jewish literatures, the New Testament, and also Josephus as ones who support Mosaic authorship (2003, 622). However, as time went on, certain problems arose regarding Mosaic authorship. Several different ideas of authorship for the Pentateuch sprout out from here. At the start of the eighteenth century, “scholars sought to construct literary theories of pentateuchal authorship that would account for the internal features of the text” (Arnold 2003, 622). Arnold outlines where he will be taking his readers from this point: first, the eighteenth century; second, the nineteenth century; third, early and mid-twentieth century; fourth, late twentieth century; and fifth, his own conclusion.

In the eighteenth century, Arnold mentions, a reevaluation of traditional understandings of how the Bible was written, especially how the composition of the Pentateuch was done (2003, 622). At this point Arnold brings in Jean Astruc. Astruc is responsible for the “beginnings of a source-critical approach to the Pentateuch” (Arnold 2003, 622). Astruc was the one to establish “the divine names Elohim and Yahweh as the basic criterion for identifying and distinguishing the sources used by Moses in the compilation of Genesis” (Arnold 2003, 622-3). Arnold turns to Johann G. Eichhorn next. He attributed “E” to the Elohim source and “J” to the Yahweh source as established by Astruc 2003, 623). In the nineteenth century, the fragmentary theory came into play. Wilhelm M. L. de Wette suggested “that a group of J fragments and E fragments were behind the present Pentateuch” (Arnold 2003, 623). Next came Heinrich Ewald who opposed the fragmentary hypothesis by supporting the “supplementary” hypothesis that holds that a single E document was supplemented by parts of the book of Deuteronomy and J (2003, 623).

Wilhelm Vatke followed Ewald. He developed an understanding of “Israel’s religious history” (Arnold 2003, 624). Hermann W. Hupfeld and Eduard Riehm suggest that there are very intricate sources inter-woven throughout each other behind the Pentateuch (2003, 624). Karl H. Graf and Abraham Kuenen were addressed by Arnold next. These men introduced the idea that some of the sources were exilic and they attempted certain arrangements of the order of the use of the sources. Arnold comes to Julius Wellhausen next, the one who was able to “combine the prevalent source theory of Graf and Kuenen with skillful historical criticism in a way that appeared to explain the unity question” (2003, 625). Convincingly enough, Wellhausen “united the results of source criticism with the nineteenth century’s understanding of the historical and religious institutions in ancient Israel” (Arnold 2003, 626).

In the early and mid-twentieth century William F. Albright led the way for archaeology and scientific evidence to aid in understanding authorship of the Pentateuch. Albright “did not reject the Wellhausian documentary approach” (Arnold 2003, 627), but rather he “used archaeological parallels to argue for the plausibility of the ancestral traditions of Genesis and the general trustworthiness of other events of pentateuchal history” (2003, 627). Arnold brings in Hermann Gunkel at this point. Gunkel brought in form criticism that has at times “been viewed as an alternative to source criticism with its speculation about documents and their redaction history” (2003, 627). Albrecht Alt and Martin Noth enter the scene now, and they bring “form-critical techniques to the text in an attempt to discern the nature of OT law, the social organization and religious beliefs of the early Israelite tribes and biblical history in general” (Arnold 2003, 627-28). Following these two men, Arnold brings in Gerhard von Rad. Von Rad utilized form-critical and redaction-critical approaches in tracing creeds that he believed existed in the text (Arnold 2003, 628).

Arnold turns to the late twentieth century after his treatment of von Rad. Here he reviews the works and contributions of Thomas L. Thompson and John Van Seters, and Rolf Rendtorff. Thompson “refuted the archaeological evidence for a patriarchal age in Israel’s history (Arnold 2003, 628). Similarly, Van Seters “denied the second-millennium setting for the Abraham narratives” (2003, 628). Rendtorff “argued that the Pentateuch was composed of large strands of material that have been joined end to end” during the time of Solomon (Arnold 2003, 629). He eventually suggested the existence of not only a J and E source but also P and D documents as well (2003, 629). From here, Arnold quickly reviews canonical and literary criticism. These two criticisms are broad in methodology and are developed by North American Old Testament scholars (Arnold 2003, 629). Canonical criticism, developed by James A. Sanders and Brevard S. Childs, seeks “to find evidence of a consistent ‘canonical hermeneutic’ running through the tradition history of Scripture” (2003, 629) and a focus on “canonical context” (2003, 629). Literary criticism is “less concerned with investigating the historical evolution of the text and more interested in the literary artistry of the text as it now stands” (2003, 629).

Arnold concludes by saying that the numerous critical methodologies are necessary for serious biblical studies and productive in the hands of scholars who respect the unique nature of the Bible” (2003, 630). Certainly, all of these methodologies have something to offer in the study of the Scriptures, therefore “A Christian approach to the biblical text will be a holistic view, which means it will never appropriate only that portion which can be squeezed into a predetermined naturalistic system” (Arnold 2003, 630).

The strongest point of Arnold’s article is his conclusion. He states the necessity for a holistic view because “every hypothesis growing from the critical methodologies is inherently speculative, and indeed must be so. For this reason hypotheses are always in flux and conclusions tentative” (2003, 630). This is an important point because no one particular hypothesis can really stand on its own, and Arnold did well in presenting this truth and guiding his readers to a holistic view for the purpose of good critical study.

The weakest point of Arnold’s article was the lengthy treatment of some of the players in each of the significant centuries. Some of the critics were not as important as others and should have had less treatment so that the importance of the other ones would not be detracted from. A quicker treatment of Astruc, Eichhorn Wette, Ewald, Vatke, Graf and Kuenen, Albright, Alt and Noth, and Thompson and Van Seters would strengthen the article because it would yield more importance to Wellhausen, Gunkel, von Rad, and Rendtorff. Otherwise, this article was very well written and it is seemingly not lacking in any other area.

In sum Arnold’s article identifies the development of pentateuchal criticism throughout history and shows its significance for Christians today through his conclusion on the matter. Despite its only weakness, the lengthy treatment of several less important yet still notable scholars throughout history, the article served its purpose well. Arnold informed his audience who would not have any sort of Old Testament criticism background of this particular criticism and showed why it needs to be used as a whole today.

Bibliography

Arnold, B. T. 2003. “Pentateuchal Criticism, History Of.” Dictionary of the Old Testament:

Pentateuch. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, eds. Downers Grove:

InterVarsity Press, pp. 622-31.

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Creation in Genesis

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Glenn Schaefer at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on Genesis.

 

J. H. Walton wrote the article for “Creation” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 2003; pp. 155-168). In his article Walton has four segments. In his segment on the “Sources” that the author of the book of Genesis had access to, he basically states that there are two main cultural sources—creation accounts from Egypt and Mesopotamia. In the segment on “Individual Features,” Walton shows similarities among the different accounts from Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel. Some examples are the similarities of light/darkness, water, creation by spoken word and rest. In sum of the third segment, Walton uses the “Conceptual Worldview of the Cosmos” to show the people of the Ancient Near East (ANE) were not as concerned with cosmology (how the universe is structured) as it is with cosmogony (how the universe began). In the fourth segment, “Literary Features,” Walton states that the author of Genesis borrowed from other resources in the ANE, yet God still inspires the book. How well is this information presented, however? What was his goal?

Walton’s goal was to give some good literary and cultural background of the ANE so that the text of Genesis might be better understood. In fact, the most prolific section of writing is the introduction of the article. Walton explicitly states the purpose of his article: to engage the text of the Bible in light of the cultural background of the Israelites in the ANE with respect to the literary features of that era (2003, 156). This goal is accomplished, although not in the most beneficial way for all who read it. At the least, Walton did accomplish grounding the text in light of the literary and cultural backgrounds of the Israelites. However, he did not show relevancy to the study of the creation account found in Genesis or conclude his arguments.

The weakest point of Walton’s article is the fact that he does not conclude his segments except in one case. For example, he does not bring any conclusions to the individual features of the creation accounts. He devoted five pages or so to such features but does not give any conclusions as to how they directly apply to the book of Genesis and the people of Israel. Any correlations were implied as though understood by all who read it. The absence of conclusions leaves the readers asking what they are to do with the information, thus leaving them lost. This is by far the weakest feature of the article.

The strongest point in this article is when Walton gives a conclusion to one of his segments. His third segment entitled, “Conceptual Worldview of the Cosmos,” comes to a conclusion, thus relating all the previous material presented in that segment to the understanding of the cultural context of the Israelites. Walton surmises that the worldviews of the ANE have several similar elements as the Israelite worldview and they rest in issues of cosmogony rather than in deity. Walton sums it all up by saying that the people of the ANE knew they were created to serve God (or a god or gods), even though they did not know exactly hot to go about doing it. For the first time in the article there is a sense of relevance and pertinence to the study of the creation account in Genesis. Therefore, this conclusion serves as the highlight or climax of the article.

I appreciated the second segment of Walton’s article, “Individual Features.” In this segment, Walton goes through fifteen different features involved in different ANE creation accounts. This shows that the Genesis creation account is part of the ANE and shares particular elements with other ANE creation accounts. Understanding the different ANE versions of the origin of the world in comparison to the Genesis version helps illuminate the supremacy of God over the gods of the other ANE cultures. I also appreciated the fourth segment because it gave some attention to the fact that the author of the book of Genesis “made use of material from the ANE […] Inspiration can operate through editors, redactors and tridents as effectively as it operates through authors” (Walton 2003, 167). Even God reached Israel through the popular thought of that time.

Overall, this article was too informative. I would not recommend this article to just anyone, because the text was far from exuberant and the information bombarding. I would recommend this article to those who have an open and focused mind that is capable of drawing conclusions on its own. Otherwise, this article might prove to do more harm than anything by confusing and discouraging the reader by leaving them with the misconception that the book of Genesis is not original and thus not authentically inspired by God.

Bibliography

Dalton, J.H. 2003. “Creation.” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. T. Desmond

Alexander and David W. Baker, eds. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, pp. 155-68.

Covenant in Genesis

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Glenn Schaefer at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on Genesis.

P. R. Williamson wrote a very informative article for the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 2003; pp. 139-155) entitled, “Covenant.” In this article Williamson attempts to show how the major theological motif of covenant exists in the Pentateuch as a whole, particularly with attention to the divine-human covenant between God and man. Williamson defines covenant as “a solemn commitment guaranteeing promises or obligations undertaken by one or both covenanting parties” (139). He does very well in showing the development of covenant in the Pentateuch by looking through the universal, ancestral, and national covenants, but at times he fails to keep his readers’ attention by getting lost in the details.

Covenant from a universal aspect is first seen in Genesis 6:18. Here we find the text anticipating a solemn oath that God made to Noah, the representative of all creation, in the aftereffects of the flood (139). Williamson points out that “God’s initial speech to Noah (Gen 6:13-21) lacks even the most basic covenantal element,” meaning a promissory oath (139), for at this point it merely anticipates a coming covenant, which is found in Genesis 9. Here God makes a divine oath and sets up a rainbow to remind himself of his covenant to the entire world (141). Therefore, the first covenant is universal because it extends a promise or obligation to all the people and living creatures of the world for all ages to come. Furthermore, Williamson addresses the question if there was a universal covenant in creation, but he rebuts such arguments stating that the corroborative support for such a claim is tenuous (141), they are hypothetical, and they are unconvincing (142). From here Williamson swaps lenses from universal to ancestral.

As part of focusing on the ancestral covenant aspect in the Pentateuch, Williamson highlights what he labels the “Programmatic Agenda.” The Programmatic Agenda reveals the relationships between God and Abraham, and Abraham and others (145). The first covenant Williamson addresses (Genesis 15) is unilateral and there is no sign of the covenant; it is described in similarity with a royal grant because there are no human obligations to fulfill, for the covenant completely rests in God’s hands (146). This covenant affects Abraham’s posterity and territory (147). The second covenant Williamson treats (Genesis 17) is both Abraham and God’s responsibility where circumcision functions as the sign of the covenant (147). This covenant has international significance (147). In dealing with the idea of ancestry, Williamson highlights that the promise of Abraham’s seed was foundational to the covenant “given that without descendants there would be no one to inherit the land, nor would there be anyone through whom blessing could be mediated to other people(s)” (148). Thus concludes Williamson’s treatment of ancestral covenants. Williamson switches lenses for a last time to look through a narrower lens: national covenants.

Williamson reviews the covenant God makes with the nation of Abraham, the Israelites, in light of the programmatic agenda mentioned in the ancestral covenants. He looks at several covenants between God and various roles of Israel (the people, the Levitical priesthood, the Tabernacle, etc.). Williamson argues that these covenants serve to facilitate the maintenance between God and Abraham’s descendants (152). Yet, a covenant was anticipated that would guarantee that a divine-human relationship between God and Abraham’s descendents, his “seed,” would be maintained forever by facilitating the necessary ethical obligations (153). And while looking into Deuteronomy, the second giving of the law, Williamson notes “Israel’s special status as the people of God is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end, namely, the fulfillment of God’s universal purpose” (154). That purpose is for all the families of the world to be blessed through Abraham’s “seed,” which is fulfilled in Christ Jesus (155).

Williamson did well in breaking down the covenant motif in the Pentateuch into three different parts going from broad (universal, the whole world) to very narrow (national, a specific people). This break down shows the development of covenant in the Pentateuch, which is absolutely essential in understanding its concept. It is important to know how covenants worked and how they were introduced into the Pentateuch in order to fully understand their purpose in the text, and that is what Williamson has accomplished. However, Williamson did go over the top at times, particularly in his treatment of Hebrew verbs in his section on ancestral covenants. This information proved distracting and seemed to divert the readers’ interest away from the article. Although he did get caught up in some technicalities of the Hebrew language, he did in fact present a good article covering the topic of covenant, thus giving valuable information for studying the text herein.

Moo and James

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Lynn Wallmark at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on the General Epistles.

 

Douglas J. Moo’s commentary on the book of James (James, The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series, edited by Leon Morris, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985) serves the Church as a fundamental aid to understanding this portion of Scripture. As a practical book, James is packed full with all sorts of universally relevant material for Christians, and Moo helps to unpack it all in his commentary. The book of James is a book on Christian maturity and is quite practical, and as such I will focus on four of the practical portions from the book regarding partiality (2:1-7), the misuse of wealth (5:1-6), oaths (5:12), and prayer (5:13-16).

THE FOUR FOCI

THE FIRST FOCI: PARTIALITY (2:1-7)

James focuses on partiality in chapter two. In this chapter he refers to the way believers were giving special treatment to the rich people and humiliating the poor, both actions being based on their appearances and economic statuses. James identifies that special treatment was being given to those bearing gold rings and fine clothes while the poor person is identified as the one wearing dirty clothes (v. 2). Furthermore, the one wearing such fine apparal was given a seat, while the one wearing dirty, raggedy clothes was told to “sit at my feet” or else to stand (v. 3). The believers were making a judgment against the people according to their appearance. As such, they showed partiality. James uses a series of questions, which the answer to all of them is in fact, “Yes,” in order to make a point that partiality should not be shown to the poor or the rich, especially the rich, because the rich are the ones who oppress, sue, and blaspheme (vv. 6-7). The point is clear: partiality should not be shown on the basis of appearance or of economic status. Moo unpacks this in his treatment of 2:1-7 very nicely.

Moo addresses James’ use of the Greek word for “partiality,” meaning, “receiving the face” (87). This word denotes judging a person and treating them according to their external conditions (87). Additionally, Moo does well to bring up the context of Leviticus 19:18 with 19:15: “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great” (88, 90). Moo shows that the Old Testament background provides necessary context for understanding what it means to show partiality. In sum, Moo’s statement that the believers had appointed themselves as judges and were judging according to standards that were opposed to God accentuates the seriousness of partiality in the book of James because it makes them to be unlike God, thus defying their purpose as believers (90).

THE SECOND FOCUS: THE MISUSE OF WEALTH (5:1-6)

James warns regarding wealth, specifically the misuse of wealth in 5:1-6. Moo helps break this passage down and shows the development of the passage in its individual parts. Moo shows that James makes four indictments against those who are wealthy and misuse their wealth. First, James accuses them of accumulating worthless, worldly goods (vv. 2-3). Second, James accuses them of swindling their workers’ pay (v. 4). Third, he accuses them of having a self-indulgent and apathetic attitude (v. 5). Last, he accuses them of killing the righteous man (v. 6). Moo helps clarify these four indictments in his commentary.

Moo shows that the rich accumulated goods that have no heavenly value because they were perishable (161). It is clear that the rich have set their ambitions on the accumulation of earthly wealth without desire for amassing heavenly treasure that lasts, thus clearly identifying where their heart lies (161). Additionally, their hoard was never used to aid the poor (162). James’ indictment of the rich is clearly understood in the light of Moo’s words: the evidence of the misuse of wealth will stand against them as a witness (162).

Moo shows that the rich swindled the pay from those who worked for them (163). His argument rests in the fact that two of the earliest, best manuscripts have the Greek word for “defraud” as opposed to the other word used in some of the less reliable manuscripts, “withdrew” (163). Those who worked for the rich were to receive what was due to them.

Moo shows that the rich lived self-indulgent and apathetic lives (164). The rich have an “uncaring self-indulgence” to luxury: they want to accomodate a life that rests on a bed of roses and live care-free for those of less fortune (165). Indeed, Moo’s words are powerful regarding this sin: “They are like cattle being fattened for the kill” (166).

Moo shows that the rich are the one’s who killed the righteous man (166). Moo notes that this fourth indictment may be the result of the other three, for it is the “failure of the rich to share their possessions and to pay the wages of their workers” (166). Moo notes Ecclesiasticus 34:22 and its relation to the fourth indictment, for it seems to be on the mind of the author: “to take away a neighbour’s living is to murder him; to deprive an employ of his wages is to shed blood” (166). Certainly, those refusing to share their wealth, being uncaring to the poor, and withhold wages kill the poor, righteous person.

Moo tactfully addresses the difficulties of the misuse of wealth and this passage in James. In doing so, Moo reveals the seriousness of the sin of disusing wealth: accumulating riches while forsaking the poor in their need; embezling money; living self-indulgent lifestyles; and being apathetic towards the poor.

THE THIRD FOCI: OATHS (5:12)

James addresses the use of oaths and swearing in this verse. Many times have many people referred to many passages dealing with swearing to label cussing as a sin. Jesus said, “Do not swear.” Likewise, James said, “Do not swear.” Such passages as these refer to swearing in the sense of oaths, not cuss words. This is different than what I have heard, been taught, and have actually referred to in the past. When I was young, in elementary school, I thought this passage meant I cannot say certain four-letter words. However, Moo points out that this is not the topic of Jesus’ words, nor of James’ (173). Swearing does not refer to dirty cuss words, but language that appeals to the name of God or other things guarantee the truth of spoken words (173). It is not that oaths were not permitted according to the Law, because they were, but the Law required that all oaths be fulfilled. Moo notes, however, that neither James or Jesus probited all oaths, for whether Jesus or James were intending to address the type of oaths which responsible authorities ask us to take is questionable, because they both seem to have in mind voluntary oaths, ones that are intended to avoid absolute truths, and for these caution is required (174). This passage, then, is prohibiting making oaths in order to make words good as truth, and it is not against using four-letter cuss words. Moo’s treatment of oaths is invaluable, and all those who want to argue against cussing and use James in support of their argument ought to read this treatment to see for themselves that James is not concerned with that. To hold James as an authority against cussing is Scripture-twisting, and Moo’s commentary serves as an aid to keep believers from making such an error.

THE FOURTH FOCI: PRAYER (5:13-16)

It seems that prayer is the theme of the tail-end of the book of James. This is not to say that it is less important than the other topics and issues that precede it in the book, but it seems to be the appropriate place for letters of that day to address this particular issue (175). Prayer is seen here in conjunction with healing. Those who are suffering should pray (v. 13). Those are are sick should be prayed over (v. 14). Prayer is powerful, for when offered in faith it can save the sick (v. 15). Believers ought to pray for one another for healing, and the righteous person’s prayers are powerful and effective (v. 16). Moo gives some valuable information in his commentary regarding prayer in this passage in his commentary. First he addresses two facets of prayer for healing— suffering and illness—and second, the power of prayer.

Prayer for suffering is prayer dealing with all kinds of trials and afflictions (175). This prayer is not to request relief from the tribulations, but for the necessary strength to persevere through it in faith (175). Moo makes a very wonderful observation regarding those who are cheerful and singing songs of praise. Moo notes that the word for praise is the same word used for “psalm,” signifying that psalms or songs of praise are to be regarded as a form of prayer (176). This gives a whole new meaning to singing hymns, praise and worship songs, or songs from the heart, because such songs are musical prayers.

Prayer for illness is prayer offered up by elders, or leaders, over the sick person with the illness (176). Those who are the spiritually mature with the responsibility for the spiritual well-being should gather together to pray for those who are sick (176). But their prayers are more than justs words, but they are strong, persistent petitions in faith to the Lord made on the ill person’s behalf (181). Existing in this prayer of faith is the understanding that God is sovereign in the situation, and that it is only by His will that anyone might be made well (182). Not only is this prayer to be offered up on the behalf of elders, but also by each other (182).

Prayer is powerful. This is why believers ought to pray, because it has the power to heal, and this power rests in the believer, not just a super Christian (187). The believer is the righteous man, for it is he or she that is completely committed to God and sincerely seeks to do His will from the bottom of the heart (187). Moo makes a good observation regarding the source of power in prayer by noting that the participle, “effective,” could be translated passively, thus rendering “prayer is very powerful when it is energized (by God or the Spirit)” (187). Therefore, the power and effectiveness of prayer rests in the will of God (187). But if the participle is to be translated as middle, it simply refers to the effect of prayer: “prayer is very powerful in its working, or in its effect” (187).

CONCLUSION

THE SATISFACTION

Moo’s commentary was very informative, shedding light on difficult passages and bringing whole new meaning to familiar ones. He addressed some passages that cause much debate, for example, healing and anointing in James 5, and helped the reader come to a better understanding of how the biblical audience, the original audience, might have understood the letter and the particular issue. His commentary was particularly useful to understand partiality, the disuse of wealth, oaths, and prayer in James, giving good, fundamental bases for exegesis. However, at times, there was one weakness to the commentary.

THE DISSATISFACTION

Further support should have been given, although still kept at a minimum, regarding Scripture outside the scope of James. In his treatment on James and Paul regarding works and faith, for example, Moo neglects to mention relevant passages that support for Paul’s view that works are a necessary reality for the believer. Instead, he shows that the contexts and situation for writing are different for the two authors regarding particular texts. Moo should have also demonstrated Paul’s calling for works from the believers to show further that they do not contradict, for Paul is not negating works and James upholding it—they both afirm works ought to be abundantly existant in the life of the believer. We already know this to be true in James, and Galatians, Romans 6, Ephesians 2:8-10, and the Pastoral letters demonstrate it in Paul. James says we ought to demonstrate our faith by our works, and Paul says we were created by God to do them. It is important to understand their respective contexts, yes, but it is also important to know the entire spectrum, which in this case is the fact that Paul also calls for the necessary abundant existance of good works in believers, and I am surprised that Moo did not pick up on this and make mention of it in his treatment of works in Paul and James (101-2).

THE FOCI IN REVIEW

Moo’s commentary is outstanding. The content’s quality of exegesis outweighs my dissatisfaction by far. The illumination of such texts in James, such as 2:1-7, 5:1-6, 5:12, and 5:13-16 are quite valuable. It is important to know what it means to show partiality, the problems and consequences of misusing wealth, what oaths are all about and why they are no readily permitted, and the importance of prayer for believers.

I chose these four foci because they were areas of James that were less familiar to me, and I wanted to strengthen my understandings in those area with the aid of Moo’s commentary. Partiality was particularly beneficial because it demonstrates the practical call against segregation and discrimination, which are modern forms of partiality. Moo helped show that indirectly by demonstrating the Greek for “partiality” as stated above. The misuse of wealth was particularly beneficial because although I am poor, financially speaking, though rich in Spirit, I wonder what will happen some day if I write a book and happen to become well-off financially. The commentary shows me that it is ok to have money, but it is not acceptable to pursue money and forsake caring for the poor. Those with money have a greater responsibility to take care of the poor and needy, and failure to do so is a sin, for God cares for the poor and wants those He has granted to be stewards of His money to aid the poor. Oaths and swearing were quite interesting as I have always been raised that oaths and swearing is equal to cuss words, but the commentary says otherwise, and upon review I agree. Oaths and swearing do not necessarily deal with cuss words, rather it deals with vows. Vows are binding, and James is urging alongside of Jesus not to make oaths so that sin might not result from the lack of fulfillment of the vow. Moo helped to shed new light on this familiar issue, thus enabling me to come to a new and fresh understanding. Moo’s treatment of prayer was very powerful. This is only fitting since James says that “prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (5:16). Prayer is essential for believers. They are to pray when stressed and when they are happy. They are to fervently request for healing in prayer on behalf of others. Prayer is both individual and corporate in concept as James has it.

Moo helps provide essential understanding in his commentary for understanding these concepts in the book of James. This book proves to be a great resource for anyone who wants to study James at a deeper level, and it is particularly invaluable, although not exclusively, for understanding partiality, wealth, swearing, and prayer in James.

Guthrie and Hebrews

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Lynn Wallmark at Simpson University during my senior year in a class on the General Epistles.

 

Donald Guthrie wrote a commentary on the book of Hebrews (Hebrews, The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series, edited by Leon Morris, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983) that serves to help give some rudimentary explanations of the biblical text without giving any relation or direct application for today’s generation. Although the material covered in his book was very good, I found myself frustrated with the lack of Guthrie’s ability to make the commentary pertinent for today. Despite this vexation, Guthrie does give some foundational material, such as, but not limited to, the difficulties of the authorship of the book of Hebrews, the date and provenance of the book, the superiority of Christ in several areas of Jewish religion, the many examples of faith, and the effects of Christ’s eternal sacrifice. I am going to focus on, however, Guthrie’s exploration of four sections of Hebrews that are universally pertinent to every Christian: drifting (2:1, 3); confidence in Christ (3:14); partaking and falling away (6:4-6); and deliberate sin (10:26). By looking at these four foci we may be able to draw up our own applications for today.

THE FOUR FOCI

THE FIRST FOCUS: DRIFTING (2:1, 3)

Guthrie identifies Hebrews 2:1, 3 as an exhortation against drifting (80). The author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to pay close attention to what they have heard, in order that they might not drift away. Guthrie ties in “Lest we drift away” with the mental picture of driftwood in a river (81). He understands that the author is not referring to an active, deliberate and purposeful refusal to adhere to the words they have heard, but of a passive and helpless sliding away (81). In comparison the Greek word for “drift away,” παραρρέω, means “to be washed away, drift away,” with a mental imagery of flowing water (BDAG). Guthrie mentions not what would wash them away, nor does he give the cause. His description is good, but seemingly incomplete, for a reader should understand what is trying to wash them away and carry them off, because one must know who or what they are fighting in order to be victorious. But Guthrie does not stop here, for he goes on to talk about neglecting salvation, which is tied into drifting away.

Guthrie pays attention to the author’s purpose in verse three. The author of Hebrews is noting the existing danger of neglect with his readers, and it is possible that the readers were in jeopardy of diverging from the Christian gospel entirely (81). Guthrie notes the use of a rhetorical question (How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?), a question that implies that there is no such escape from neglecting salvation (81). Guthrie identifies that in the New Testament when the idea of escape is linked with salvation it invariably denotes deliverance from the power or grip of the devil (81). And so, Guthrie does in fact implicitly identify the force against his readers. To drift away, then, is not one’s own doing but the devil’s who is actively trying to sweep us away to the point that we neglect our salvation and turn our backs to it—a complete overturning—causing us to be placed under the bondage of the devil from which there is no escape. It is not addressed here by Guthrie as to whether or not the author is saying that salvation can be lost, if this is a hypothetical situation, or if this is referring to non-Christians who were on the cusp of believing but were kept from actually entering into the grip of grace. This leaves Guthrie’s readers somewhat dissatisfied with an incomplete treatment of drifting and neglect in Hebrews 2:1, 3. But what of his treatment? What can we learn from it?

Every Christian in every culture throughout time ought to be aware that salvation is valuable, so valuable that it ought to be fought for. Christians have a constant battle to hold on to their faith against the devil. It is not enough to merely possess faith. One must actively hold on to it so as to never let it go. This is done by heeding the words of the Lord and paying attention to what He tells us through His servants and especially through His Word, which demands a mental perseverance and a conscious effort to grasp and cling to faith. In doing so Christians will bear confidence in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

THE SECOND FOCUS: CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST (3:14)

Guthrie notes the author’s contrast to the hardening of the heart to the position of those who are established in Christ, that is those who actively cling to their faith (107). He notes that those who “share in Christ” are those who have a firm and steady foundation (107). Guthrie identifies “partakers with Christ,” as the best suited translation for the context and links it to sharing in the participation of the heavenly kingdom (107). The problem here is that we do not know the manner by which we share in the participation of the heavenly kingdom, but this is due to the fact that the author of Hebrews is not so much concerned with the manner of sharing as he is the terms (107). Here we find a conditional statement that expresses these terms.

The author of Hebrews uses a third-class conditional statement that might be true in the future or could be generally true at all times. But which is it? It is unfortunate that Guthrie makes no mention of the conditional statement and its value in this way or of the possible implications that it has for us today much less for the original audience. Guthrie notes that as ones who share in the participation of the heavenly kingdom, Christians are assumed to take special concern to continue in fellowship with Christ (108). However, this treatment of the third class condition is not satisfactory because it does not identify whether or not this statement is generally true at all times for the Christian or if it is probably true for the future, assuming that the condition is fulfilled. Guthrie is not concerned with this issue, rather he is focused on the author’s idea of confidence in Christ.

Guthrie notes that confidence is here relating to a legally guaranteed security, thus identifying the need for the believer to hold securely to his or her “share” in Christ (108). This ties into the third class conditional meaning, for it assumes that the sharing of the participation of the heavenly kingdom will be true in the future if the Christian presently securely fastens himself to his fellowship with Christ (108). So, although Guthrie does not bluntly state how the conditional statement is to be understood, it can be inferred through his treatment of confidence in Christ. Furthermore, the confidence that Guthrie refers to is understood as an active and productive faith that yields assurance to the believer that his or her “share” cannot be taken away (108). And what shall we make of this?

Every Christian in every generation ought to know that they are expected to demonstrate a living faith that identifies them as securely fashioned in Christ. Such a demonstration of faith also guarantees their position in Christ because they have actively clung to their faith, and therefore they can have confidence that they will in fact share in the participation of the heavenly kingdom. Present demonstration of faith yields present security in partaking of the heavenly future. It is imperative for Christians to hold onto their faith and allow themselves to be swept away from it or to purposefully fall away from it.

THE THIRD FOCUS: PARTAKING AND FALLING AWAY (6:4-6)

The author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to take action and be responsible in keeping their faith and to hold onto their faith in confidence unto the end. But here in 6:4-6 he addresses falling away from faith, only this time it is not passive but active. Guthrie painstakingly treats this passage with care, trying to present the material in depth though still concise. He explores four verbs individually: φωτίζω; γεύομαι; γίνομαι with μέτοχος; and γεύομαι with καλός. His treatment should be taken as a whole to best understand the impossibility of restoring someone to repentance if they fall away.

The first treatment deals with being enlightened. Guthrie notes that this is characteristic in the New Testament, relating to God’s message to man (141). Therefore, this is referring to someone who has been enlightened to God’s Word—His gospel. The Greek word for such enlightenment that is used here means “to make known in reference to the inner life or transcendent matters and thus enlighten,” bearing the idea of shedding light on or giving light to, with the imagery of the heavenly light that is granted to the enlightened one (BDAG). Guthrie takes this enlightenment to be some sort of an initial revelation of Jesus Christ, which he believes is strengthened in his treatment of the other three verbs. But within this treatment it should have been noted by Guthrie that this is an inward and spiritual enlightenment and is not merely head knowledge.

The second treatment deals with tasting. Guthrie notes that tasting the heavenly gift is the experience of the knowledge of the truth (141). The Greek word for tasting here means, “to experience something cognitively or emotionally, come to know something,” bearing the idea of obtaining the heavenly gift (BDAG). This word is fairly treated by Guthrie who notes that the heavenly gift is experienced and known (141). Although not said directly by Guthrie this treatment understands that the heavenly gift has been obtained. But the question arises, “What is the heavenly gift referring to?”

Guthrie identifies the heavenly gift with the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, he also notes that in the present context, the origin of this gift is uncertain, and we cannot be sure that it is referring to the Holy Spirit. At the least Guthrie does state that the gift is not one of human origin but of heaven. Guthrie satisfactorily treated this verb and its use, especially in combination with the question that comes forth from the text regarding the heavenly gift.

The third treatment deals with partaking or becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit. Guthrie suggests that this links to the gift the Spirit, which is the heavenly gift. This has the idea of sharing the Holy Spirit. Thus, as Guthrie notes, it distinguishes the person who only has head knowledge of Christianity from the person who has a share in Christ (142). At this point there is no question that the person who has fallen away is in fact referring to one who was a Christian, for this person would have been one who was at one point partners with the Holy Spirit (cf. BDAG for trans. of μέτοχος as “partners”), which is only possible if they had shared in the participation of the heavenly kingdom, thus being given the Holy Spirit, the gift of God.

The fourth treatment deals with tasting goodness. As the third verb tied in with the first, so also does the fourth tie in with the second. Tasting is now linking with goodness. What goodness? The goodness of the Word of God, which is the knowledge of the truth. Guthrie particularly notes that the person is not tasting God’s Word, rather its goodness (142). Guthrie states that it is possible to come to the Word of God with a sincere heart, yet without appreciation (143). Furthermore, Guthrie says that only those who are well immersed in experiencing Christianity could taste of the goodness of the Word of God (143). The cusp of Guthrie’s treatment of the kind of tasting is most satisfactory. He identifies the tasting is of an experience that will not reach its climax until the parousia (143). Therefore, those who forsake their faith will not see the fruition of their tasting experience when the Lord comes again.

In the text we now come to the idea that one who has completely fallen away from their enlightenment and tasting, which is to fall away from the Christian standard or path of faith, cannot come back to repentance (143). In doing so they are taking part in crucifying the Son of God once again (143). Guthrie relates this act as an attitude of unrelenting hostility towards Christ (144). The attitude of apostasy, then, does not allow for repentance as it hardens the heart from becoming repentant.

At this point Guthrie reviews four possible understandings of this controversial passage. First, he identifies Calvin’s understanding was that the tasting mentioned was only a partial experience that had no affect on the person, yet the enlightenment mentioned by the author is a complete one at that, so this understanding is not satisfactory (144). The second understanding is that the unpardonable sin of grieving the Holy Spirit is at hand (145). Third, Guthrie identifies that this passage has been understood to be hypothetical because there is no indication that any of the author’s readers had committed the aforementioned apostasy, but that this situation was a real possibility for his readers (145). Last, Guthrie makes note of another understanding regarding this Scripture as referring to the impossibility of restoring the apostates back to a condition of repentance (145). However, it is noted that there is uncertainty as to whether or not this is dealing with the initial act of repentance and if it could be performed a second time (145). Guthrie notes that in this case it is realized that there is a point of no return and restoration becomes impossible (145). And so, Guthrie deals with this troublesome passage very well, despite the ambiguity of the author’s intentions for the text. But what can we do with such a difficult portion of Scripture?

All Christians world wide at any time ought to know the severity of turning their back on their faith. To do so would be to hold Christ in contempt, crucifying him all over again and also being completely responsible for it. Christians are responsible for keeping their faith. They are to fight to keep it so as not to be swept away, but they are also to actively pursue not giving up their faith on their own accord. They are to actively demonstrate their faith and share in the participation of the heavenly kingdom lest they fall away. Firmly hold on to your faith; do not let it slip from your fingers and do not throw it away, rather protect it and invest in it. It does not matter what the intention was of the author, Christians regardless bear the responsibility of pursuing faith wholeheartedly. Indeed, those who intentionally give up their pursuit also deliberately sin, and this is not the calling of the Christian, the one who is securely fashioned in Christ.

THE FOURTH FOCUS: DELIBERATE SIN (10:26)

Guthrie addresses the severe warning in Hebrews 10:26, which deals with responsible or deliberate sin. Guthrie identifies deliberate sin as the sort of sin that people enter into with their eyes wide open (217). He also notes that the Levitical sacrifice does not allow for atonement of such deliberate sin (217). Again, the knowledge of the truth is mentioned, and it clearly identifies the fact that the truth is definitely known among all Christians (217). It is the entirety of the Christian revelation (217). Thus, it denotes sin that is done after a comprehension of the truth had been acquired, which is essentially a rejection of that truth (217). Such rejection goes against Christ’s eternal sacrifice for sins (217). However, this is the extent of Guthrie’s treatment regarding this verse. It leaves the reader hanging and in question of the scope of deliberate sin. Would not all sin done after receiving the truth be deliberate? Does that not mean that there would therefore be no atonement for sin after receiving the revelation of Jesus Christ? Guthrie’s treatment is very unsatisfactory. It does not help in identifying what it means to deliberately sin. Deliberate sin is understood to be sin done without compulsion (BDAG). This denotes that deliberate sin is a kind that is done consciously against one’s own conscience. It is the living without constraint, which is the same as living with a license to sin without restriction. Those who think they have a license to sin and use such license without restraint, these are the ones who deliberately sin. Guthrie left this treatment unfinished and should have given some clarification for understanding what the author had in mind when he was talking about sinning willfully. And what are we to do with this understanding of deliberate sin?

All Christians throughout all time should know that the grace given them does not give them a license to sin. They are to live lives of restraint, trying to tame themselves from wild living and rid themselves from sin, thus becoming holy—separated unto God. Christians bear the responsibility, then, to fervently hold onto their faith—not allowing themselves to be carried off and away from their faith or throwing in the towel and giving up their faith willfully—and to respect the eternal sacrifice that Christ made by living holy lives, lives of restraint and not of sinful license.

CONCLUSION

Guthrie’s treatment of Hebrews provides some invaluable information. However, it did not make any effort to apply to us today or universally—throughout all space and time—for that matter. The material within his commentary is satisfactory in the sense that it helps to explain the text and to shed light on things that might be missed in the English language. Most satisfactory was his treatment on the controversial passage in chapter six, since he not only presented helpful material but also did good word studies and wrestled with different popular conclusions regarding the text. Still, it was unsatisfactory in the sense that Guthrie did not explain some of the Greek conditional nuances that help to further explain the text, like the aforementioned third-class condition in chapter three. It was also unsatisfactory because it did not relate or directly apply the Scripture or commentary to us today. As I was reading it I could not help myself but ask, “Now what? What am I supposed to do with this?”

Yet, despite my irritation, I found the material helpful, and in many respects the four foci as well. I chose these foci because they are absolutely essential to all believers to grasp and understand. I found it amazing that Guthrie would not relate these foundational understandings to his readers. So, I decided to take it upon myself to review them as best as I could so that others might be able to make the connection from the Scripture into their own lives. It is absolutely important that Christians be aware of the possibilities of drifting, falling away, or deliberately sinning, as well as their effects, so that they might be encouraged to persevere and place their confidence in Christ and partake in the participation of the heavenly kingdom. These are four important issues to me that I thought were not treated as well as they should have, which is in fact why I chose to focus on them in this paper. Now that I have, I believe that myself and those who read it can better apply the material within Guthrie’s commentary to our lives and current settings today.

Green and 2 Peter, Jude

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Lynn Wallmark at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on the General Epistles.

The Bible is clear about some things and unclear about others. The reason for this is the fact that the authors of the Bible had purposes for writing. They were seeking to clear up certain issues and trusted that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the other issues would be dealt with. However, the areas that the Bible does address ought to receive some special attention. The second epistle of Peter and the epistle of Jude are no exception. These epistles contain some very harsh words and exhortations, and although they do not cover every aspect of life, what they do should be noted. The second epistle of Peter and the epistle of Jude contain some very practical information regarding the spiritual life of believers, and therefore I am going to focus on four of the many important topics addressed in these letters dealing with virtues (2 Peter 1:5-7), false teachers (2 Peter 2:20-22), the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:8-10), and keeping the faith (Jude 20-22). Michael Green’s book in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries series covering these epistles (2 Peter & Jude, edited by Leon Morris, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) proves to be a helpful resource to unpacking these four important topics.

THE FOUR FOCI

THE FIRST FOCUS: VIRTUES (2 PETER 1:5-7)

Second Peter gives us a good list of virtues to add on to faith. Peter exhorts his readers to add on goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (NIV). Peter is saying that it is not enough to simply know the Lord or have faith; being a Christian entails much more than just believing. This echoes the epistle of James (cf. Js. 2:18-19, 26). We ought to take an extra careful look, then, at to what precisely Peter is calling us to add to our faith.

Green does well to mention that Peter is urging believers to go to painstaking efforts to bring these virtues alongside faith, which are demonstrative of a healthy Christian life (75). He mentions that “add” in the English translation is a mental picture relating to the Athenian drama festivals, thus conveying the idea of generosity and expensive co-operation (76). Peter’s point, then, is that Christians must actively engage in a sort of co-operation with God to produce a Christian life that is worthy of their calling in Him (76). These virtues, it should be noted, are added onto faith for this very purpose.

Faith is the commencement into the love of God (76). It is the foundation upon which all other virtues build. The first virtue Peter lists to be added to faith is goodness. Peter uses a rare word here, meaning “excellence,” denoting proper fulfillment of anything (76). Green understands this to mean that humans or Christians are to reflect Christ in their lives (77). Thus, it is important to have faith and to also demonstrate Christ’s character in one’s life. Yet, Christianity is not simply about faith and goodness; Peter calls Christians to add on knowledge as well.

Christianity entails a certain academic virtue to add knowledge to good deeds. Christianity is intellectual and it ought not shrink back in the face of academic adversity: “The cure for false knowledge is not less knowledge, but more” (77). But in addition to knowledge, so also self-control should be added to faith and goodness. This word in the Greek means to control one’s passions and not to be mastered by them (77-78). Peter tells us that alongside of knowledge comes not freedom from self-control but freedom to self-control (78). But alongside of self-control also comes perseverance.

Perseverance, Green mentions, is the mind frame that is unmoved by difficulties or miseries, and is able to stand against the pressing desires of the world and the flesh (78). Perseverance is what enables Christians to not give up against temptation or persecution. Perseverance has this capability because it is what helps Christians deal with sorrows and to endure hardships (78). Peter says that along with perseverance, however, godliness must also be added. Green notes that the Greek word for “godliness” should be translated “reverence” instead (79). He understands that Peter is trying to convey an idea of proper behavior towards both God and men (79). Green writes, “Peter is at pains to emphasize that true knowledge of God manifests itself in reverence towards him and respect towards men” (79). Still, brotherly kindness must come with godliness.

Brotherly kindness is essential for the believer as it is a distinguishing mark of Christ’s true disciples (79). Representing those who have partaken in the divine nature, brotherly kindness demonstrates believers’ new birth (79). Green notes that this is done by bearing one another’s burdens and by guarding the unity of the Holy Spirit (79). Indeed, it takes much work to fulfill the law of Christ and to put a stop to gossip, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness (79). But along with brotherly kindness must also come love. Love is the capstone to the virtues built on faith. We have a list of virtues given by Peter that is built on a foundation of faith, and a roof of love holds it together. The word for “love” denotes the attitude that God has shown towards us, and the attitude that He demands of us towards others as well as towards himself (80). Green defines this kind of love in a magnificent way: “This agapê might be defined as a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person’s good” (80). We are called by Peter to put on this kind of love, and thus hold together all the other virtues built on faith.

And so we have it. Peter exhorts his readers (or listeners) to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to faith in an effort to actively engage in a faith that is demonstrative of a person who has been called according to God’s purpose.

THE SECOND FOCUS: FALSE TEACHERS (2 PETER 2:20-22)

Second Peter gives us some good information regarding false teachers. We know that the false teachers mentioned were once orthodox Christians (129; cf. v. 21). These false teachers were orthodox believers who had been polluted by the world (129). Green writes that “the world” is the society separated from God (129). These false teachers once escaped this isolated society but then became entangled in it once again and were overcome by its pollutions (129). Green notes that they became full of head knowledge and without practice; they did not follow the virtues Peter called them to add to faith, mainly goodness, knowledge and self-control in particular (130). The knowledge that they did possess was destructive.

The false teachers called darkness, “light,” and bondage, “liberty” (130). They were guilty, Green writes, of the unforgiveable sin—not because God would not forgive them, but because they persisted to refuse to accept God’s forgiveness to them (130). They had apparently tasted the faith, but then they turned away from the path of righteousness (131). Green says that the first stage to this apostasy was the false teachers’ rejection of law (131). He writes, “Rejection of God’s law is the first step to the rejection of God, for God is a moral being” (131). Clearly when one gives up ethics then doctrine will also fall; both are crucial in the life of the believer (132). The false teachers gave up both, and it is no wonder that they apostasized. Peter uses two proverbs to convey the peril of their apostasy.

The first proverb Peter quotes is, “A dog returns to its vomit.” The second proverb Peter quotes is, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” The former is biblical (Proverbs 26:11) while the latter is not (132). Green writes that the punishment for the false teachers is that they are “given over to the lot they have chosen” (132). God supports ones active and deliberate choice, whether it be for heaven or for hell, and therefore everyone will end up in the place of his or her choice (132). The dog that rids itself of its inward corruption by vomiting it up ends up sniffing it once again, and the pig which has rid itself of its outward corruption through washing cannot resist wallowing in the mud once again (132).

False teachers are guilty of knowing the way of the Lord but then rejecting it and pursuing a path of destruction instead. They are dogs and pigs that cannot resist their own filth. These animals are unclean to Jews, and to the Christian they represent those who are lost and out of touch with God (133). As believers we ought to be wary of people who claim to be Christians but seem to wallow in licentious, perverted, selfish and indulgent desires. Why should anyone want to follow them back to their vomit or mud?

THE THIRD FOCUS: THE DAY OF THE LORD (2 PETER 3:8-10)

Second Peter has some good information regarding the end times. For starters, Peter writes that time is not the same to the Lord as it is to man (146). Quoting Psalm 90:4, Peter writes, “a day is like a thousand years,” thus asserting God’s sovereignty over time (146). Green writes that God views the linear timeline with a perspective that we do not have (146). Thus, time is relative, and when concerning the return of Jesus Christ, we must bear this in mind (146). Green notes that the comparison being made is between God’s timing and the impatience of human speculations regarding the Lord’s return (146). Many people have become impatient; yet, God will come at the right time, and not when we should predict.

The Lord will come at the necessary time. That time is not delayed because God is slow to sending His Son, but because of his patience for repentant sinners to come into the fold (148). Indeed, God is patient in relation to judgment, for he does not want any man, woman or child to perish, but rather, he wants them all to live (148). This delay, then, gives God’s children ample opportunity to preach the gospel so that those who hear it might believe and be saved (149).

Peter echoes the words of Jesus in verse 10 regarding the Day of the Lord: it will come like a thief (149; cf. Mt. 24:43-44; Lk. 12:39-40). The coming of the Lord will be sudden and unexpected, and it will be a disastrous event to all those being unprepared in the same way that a burglary is at night (149). And so, despite the delay aforementioned, the Lord will indeed come (149). As Christians we are expected to leave the timing up to the Lord, yet still watch for His return (149). Green notes that Peter makes three points regarding the Day of the Lord here in verse 10.

Peter writes, “the heavens will disappear with a roar” (150). The Greek word for “roar” has the idea of an arrow swishing through the air, the rumble of thunder, crackling flames of fire, the crack of a whip, rushing white water rapids, or the hissing of a serpent (150). One author suggests, Green notes, that all of these are possibly to be understood in this one word as Peter’s intent (150). However, Peter is quite fond of “fire” (cf. v. 7) and thus it is more likely that he understands this word to mean “the crackling of flames” (150-51).

Peter writes next, “the elements will be destroyed by fire” (151). The word for “elements” mean the physical elements understood by the Greeks to compose all things—earth, air, fire and water (151). Green does well to note that it could also mean the heavenly bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars (151). Either way, the world as we know it will be coming to a close through the destruction of fire.

Finally, Peter writes, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed” (NRSV). Peter is anticipating that all the things of the earth will be disclosed—they will either disappear, be burned up, or be laid bare (151). To sum it up Green quotes Bo Reicke’s remarkable words: “The solar system and the great galaxies, even space-time relationships, will be abolished . . . All elements which make up the physical world will be dissolved by heat and utterly melt away. It is a picture which in an astonishing degree corresponds to what might actually happen according to modern theories of the physical universe” (151-52).

The important factor here, Green mentions, is not the actual fulfillment of these apocalyptical ideas but of the moral implications of the second coming of the Lord (152). The Day of the Lord will certainly come, and it will come like a thief; in the mean time, we have a calling to live lives that reflect Christ’s work in us and to patiently wait for his coming. When talking of the Day of the Lord, this moral implication ought not to be separated from the events that will ensue from the Day of the Lord.

THE FOURTH FOCUS: KEEPING THE FAITH (JUDE 20-21)

Jude contains some particularly good information on managing one’s faith. Jude exhorts his readers (or listeners) in vv. 20-21 on how to keep the faith; it’s a lesson on maintaining growth in faith. The passage contains one indicative verb (the key verb)—“keep yourselves in the love of God” (NRSV)—and three participles, which I take to be modal, thus indicating how one is to keep him or her in God’s love. Green indicates that these exhortations (the indicative and three participle verbs) help Jude’s readers to withstand the false teachers (he holds to the traditional view regarding Jude and false teachers). Before we look into the participles, perhaps we should know what it means to keep ourselves in the love of God and how it might relate to the alleged false teachers.

Green argues that in contrast to the false teachers, his readers should do everything in their power to remain in God’s love (200). He argues for them to cultivate their love relationship with God, which the false teachers did not do (200). Green sums up the false teachers’ position in this: “It was by flagrant disobedience that the false teachers had fallen out of love with him, and thus, inevitably, with men as well” (200). Therefore, to keep one in the love of God means to actively place one’s self in God’s love. And how exactly are Christians to carry out this exhortation? I am glad you asked; let me tell you!

Jude gives three modal participles (as I see it), which identify the mode by which we are to keep ourselves in the love of God. First, Christians are to build themselves up in the revelation that was handed down to them by the apostles—the most holy faith (199). This faith is “most holy” because it is distinct both in its content and in its result: “It is unique in the message it teaches and in the moral transformation it produces” (200).

Second, believers are to continually pray in the Holy Spirit. Green sees this exhortation as a weapon against false teaching (200). He suggests that the false teachers had given up prayer altogether, as have many in today’s day and age (200). The exhortation is in the present tense, thus indicating that it is a continual act or deed. It does not happen once, but it happens all the time.

Third, Christians are expected to wait for the mercy of the Lord unto eternal life. Green notes that they must fuel the fire of Christian hope (200). While they are doing this, however, they must not give too great attention to future hope, lest they become useless in this present world, nor must they not neglect it, lest they become “a mere religious adjunct to the social services” (200-01). Christians are to live and rejoice in this world (having a world-affirming attitude) while still recognizing that it will all come to an end when the Lord returns (having a world-denying attitude) (201). Green gives considerable attention to the idea of mercy here in verse 21, and we should briefly unpack it.

Christians are called to focus on God’s mercy on them on a daily basis (201). It is by this mercy that we are not destroyed and that we have been given eternal life (201). Yet, as Green rightly notes, this mercy that we are to focus on is that which Christ made possible for us by enduring the cross (201). This mercy yields eternal life, which Green says Jude uses it in reference to the unrealized part of the life of the new age which already began in the believers, which is the resurrection life of the parousia (201). Jude is calling believers, then, to keep themselves in the love of God, by building themselves up in the most unique faith, by continually praying in the Spirit of God, and by awaiting God’s eschatological mercy that will be realized in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, which leads to eternal life. Faith management is, or to keep the faith, means to build yourself up in the faith, to pray in the faith, and to wait in faith.

CONCLUSION

Michael Green’s commentary on 2 Peter and Jude was quite helpful. It worked through some very difficult material in both epistles. It was able to cogently and succinctly deliver some needed explanation of some texts of the epistles, and furthermore to shed new light in some familiar passages. I was particularly satisfied with the treatments on 2 Peter 1:5-7; 2:20-22; and 3:8-10. This is why I focused on these passages. I was somewhat pleased with Green’s treatment of Jude 20-21, but I think something must be said regarding his material.

Green mentions that four participles are given that equip Jude’s readers to live Christian lives in a context of false teaching (200). However, upon research I found that there are only three participles and one indicative verb. I wonder if Green was wrong or if he was using an older edition of the Greek New Testament. I doubt that a book of this quality would have a misinformed author, although it is possible, though not probably, and so I expect that the more likely of the two is that he had an older version. Therefore, a new edition of this commentary is in need, at least in part for Jude.

Michael’s Green proved helpful for looking at the practical information regarding virtues, false teachers, the Day of the Lord, and keeping the faith. Peter gives a fundamental list of virtues for all Christians to exhibit. Peter gives some very good information regarding false teachers and what to be weary of concerning them. Peter also gives good information regarding the outcome of this world in the Day of the Lord and the heart of the believer. Finally, Jude gives good information regarding managing one’s faith in the love of God. Green’s commentary helped to unpack all that is entailed in these four concepts and proved to be a helpful aid despite its need for an updated edition. With Green’s beneficial exegesis one can faithfully determine how to live by coming to an understanding of virtues, false teachers, the Day of the Lord, and keeping the faith in 2 Peter and Jude.

Grudem and 1 Peter

About: this paper was submitted to Dr. Lynn Wallmark at Simpson University during my senior year in a class on the General Epistles.

 

Some Christians among certain circles get very heated when debating particular issues. Whether it be about the divine election of the saints, the roles of women in the Church, or spiritual gifts and their applicability for today, Christians seemingly disagree all across the boards, and then make it known that this is so, even to the point that it causes schisms amongst the Bride of Christ. When it comes to First Peter, there is no exception. The first epistle of Peter contains some hot portions of Scripture with which much heated debate in some Christian circles comes forth, and so I am therefore going to focus on four of the more controversial areas of the book that address election (1:1, 2), slavery (2:18), roles in marriage (3:1-7), and retaliation (3:9). Wayne Grudem’s Tyndale New Testament commentary series on First Peter proves to be a helpful and useful aid to unpacking these four sizzling passages (1 Peter, edited by Leon Morris, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988).

THE FOUR FOCI

THE FIRST FOCUS: ELECTION (1:1, 2)

Much ink has been spilt on the issue of election. Many difficult questions have risen out from this issue. “Does God elect some to heaven and damn others to hell?” “How do you know if you are one of God’s elect?” “Did God not give his creation the will to choose?” These are all difficult questions, and all lead to very heated debates. First Peter contains some election language that is pertinent to this issue, and Grudem does a good job—a fantastic one, really—at demonstrating this topic in the first few verses of the epistle.

Grudem notes that Peter is writing to the chosen aliens dispersed throughout the world (48). He shows the uniqueness of Peter’s qualifying of “chosen” with “sojourners” (48). He notes very well that “chosen,” here, as in the rest of the New Testament, refers to the group of persons who are chosen by God out from a group of others who are not, and these ones are chosen for the purpose of inclusion into God’s people, and they are recipients of great blessing and privilege (48). Grudem does well by showing how the biblical audience would have heard the word “chosen” with the backdrop of Israel as the chosen people in their minds. It is true that the people of Israel were God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. Grudem concludes that Peter would have thought of the people he was writing to be of privileged status before God, at the very least as the chosen people of God whom he protected, preserved, and blessed throughout the Old Testament (48). In lieu of all of this, these aliens are the elect people whom the King of the cosmos has chosen to be his own, true people, who may benefit from his protection, and to dwell in his kingdom in heaven (49).

This issue of elect, or chosen, comes out in a communal or pluralistic sense here in the first few verses of First Peter. Many have argued election on an individualistic basis. However, the text of First Peter regarding the chosen ones is not only in the plural, thus indicating a communal sense and not an individual one, but it also draws upon communal parallelism. Now, by communal parallelism I mean a parallel between two communities—Israel and the Church. Israel was the chosen people of God in the Old Testament, while the Church is the chosen people of God in the New. Those who are Christians are the chosen sojourners because they belong to the Church, the chosen people of God in the New Testament. God would have elected an Israelite because he was part of the chosen people of God. Likewise, God elects a Christian because he is part of the chosen people of God. Election is based, at the least here in First Peter, in a communal sense, and is not to be looked at through an individualistic lens. Grudem does well to point this out in his conclusion that Peter understands that these chosen aliens are the ones who enjoy the position of being elected by God for protection, preservation, and blessing as compared to the chosen nation of Israel (48). Although many people get heated up while debating the election of the saints and the damning of all else, most of the time, at least in my experience, this is derived out of an individualistic understanding of election, and those who take this understanding would do well to look at Grudem’s treatment of 1 Pt. 1:1-2, for understanding election in a communal sense gives it a whole new meaning.

THE SECOND FOCUS: SLAVERY (2:18)

Slavery has been another hot topic in some Christian circles. In the past it has been debated if it is acceptable for Christians to own slaves or not. It has also been debated as to how a Christian, if he owns slaves, should treat them. Peter does not address masters, however, but slaves in their position as witnesses in 2:18. In this case Peter calls Christian slaves to humble obedience through submission to their masters even if they are evil. Grudem does quite well in unpacking the value of this verse.

The Greek word for servants, Grudem notes, is not doulos but oiketês, which is synonymous with the former though it bears a nuance of service within a household (123). This term is not to be associated with the terrible slavery period of the 19th century in the United States of America, as slavery in the Greco-Roman world was not nearly as bad as it was then in the more recent history (123). Despite the fact that slaves did own land and money, comprised the majority of the Roman Empire (working slaves plus freed slaves), and were very much indistinguishable from free citizens most of the time, slaves were still of a lower class in society, and thus, as Grudem notes, a word that is stronger than servant but less than slave is necessary, and perhaps it is fair to settle on an employee who is enslaved to his job (124).

These employees are to submit to their bosses with respect. What does it mean to submit? To respect? Grudem answers these questions in two well-written paragraphs. First, Grudem undertakes what it means to submit. He states that submission is a continuous mental attitude of acceptance of the legal, economic authorities over them, also encompassing a willing obedience to the commands from their masters (125). Second, Grudem tackles respect in 2:18. The Greek word, phobos, generally denotes fear. In this instance Peter is probably using the word in the sense of a healthy concern of the masters’ displeasure, and Grudem affirms that as such, respect is appropriate, thus warning against the careless disregard of, or scorning those in authority (125). But slaves are called to respectfully submit to the worst of masters—those that are crooked and perverse—with only one exception, when they command them to sin (126). Grudem sums it all up in a beautiful sentence: “Though the persons exercising authority in a fallen world are necessarily sinful, such lines of authority have been established by God and must be respected” (126).

Respectful obedience—submission—to masters, employers, or managers is imperative to the Christian slave, employee, or team member. The heated debate varies regarding these issues of slaves and masters, masters’ treatment of their slaves, and slaves’ obedience to their masters. Some difficult questions arise to which the answers are at times uncertain. “How must I treat my master?” “Is it okay for me to own slaves?” “How must I treat my slaves?” “Should I obey my master if he orders me to do something that I am unsure if it is legal?” At any rate, First Peter sets the standard at pleasing the master, no matter how crooked or how good he is, that is of course unless he asks you to do something that is contrary to what the Lord commands, and Grudem’s summary sentence succinctly brings this out.

THE THIRD FOCUS: ROLES IN MARRIAGE (3:1-7)

One of the more heated debates amongst many Christian circles is the issue of women in the Church and their role in relationships. Many have denied women a prominent leadership role in the Church because of their opinion that they are not to have a position over men. Others have not allowed their wives (to which the wives willingly subjected themselves) any hearsay in their relationship because they are not the “head.” First Peter gives some idea about the roles of both men and women in relationships, and although many debate how far to take this passage, it has a lot to offer, and even more so alongside of Grudem’s commentary.

Peter first addresses the role of wives in marriage. Grudem notes the relationship to submission in tandem with the role of wife. He writes, “it must be remembered that submission to authority is often consistent with equality in importance, dignity, and honour” (137). The command for women to subject themselves to their husbands ought not to ever be taken to imply the inferiority of either the person or the spirit, or to be of lesser importance (137). Indeed, Peter affirms that she is an equal to her husband since she is a co-heir of grace (cf. v. 7; 137). Furthermore, this submission relates to the husband’s authority or leadership and his, as Grudem puts it, “final responsibility” that affects the whole family (137). In her role as a wife the woman is called by Peter to be gentle. Grudem notes that gentle means here not insistent on one’s own rights, or it could also mean not pushy, not selfishly assertive, or not demanding one’s own way (140). The opposite of this attitude is summed up in this saying, “It’s my way or the highway.” This “my way; highway” attitude has no place in the woman’s role. As Grudem notes the gentle and quiet spirit that does not insist on one’s own rights or way is precious in God’s sight (140). It is furthermore demonstrated in the fact that Peter refers to Sarah who submitted to Abraham’s leadership. Grudem sums up her example in this: “it is her submission to her husband and her trust in God that Peter commends” (142). It is a combination of submission to the husband and trust in God to work in the circumstances that is desirable in the role of the wife.

Peter also addresses the role of the husband in verse seven. Grudem does a very good job in expounding the role of the husband in the marriage as seen in this passage of Scripture. Peter calls husbands to live considerately with their wives. Grudem mentions that this means that men are to live with considerate use of their authority over their wives (142). But there is more to it than that. The phrase that Peter wrote is literally, living together according to knowledge (142). Even more, the phrase, according to knowledge, refers more to the mode of how to live with their wives, and thus should be translated in an understanding way (143). Therefore, the husband ought to live with his wife in an understanding way, that is, by including all knowledge that might be beneficial to the marriage relationship, which includes knowledge of God’s purposes and principles for marriage, knowledge of the wife’s desires, goals, and frustrations, knowledge of her strengths and weaknesses in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms, and anything else that might do the relationship some good (143). Additionally, in the same way that God loves to bestow honor to those who are weaker or poorer in the world’s eyes, so also must the husband bestow honor to his wife through kind and affirming words, both in private or in public, and also by giving high priority in choices regarding the use of one’s time and money (143).

The idea of the weaker sex receives a good treatment by Grudem. He notes that there are at least three possibilities as to what exactly the weaker sex means. First, it could be that the husband is not to take advantage of the wife’s weaknesses, i.e., the woman is physically weaker than the husband, generally speaking (144). Second, it could be that women are merely weaker in authority in the marriage, thus Peter directs husbands to use their authority to give honor to their wives (144). The last option that Grudem gives for understanding the phrase, the weaker sex, is the possibility of simply the woman’s greater emotional sensitivity (144). At any rate, Grudem rightfully emphasizes that the husband is to be positive and affirming of his wife, both living in an understanding way with her and also by bestowing honor on her through his leadership (144).

Grudem makes a most noteworthy point at the end of his treatment of this passage in First Peter. He states, “To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight” (146). It is true that marriage can be an act of worship unto the Lord. The wife worships the Lord by submitting to her husband in a gentle and quiet spirit, and the husband by leading his wife in all honor and respect through knowledge. This is not usually understood. Marriage as worship? Yes! Women are not, however, even though it has been debated, slaves of their husbands. Furthermore, they are co-heirs or joint owners of the grace of life in Jesus Christ. As far as authority goes the husband demonstrates a loving, knowledgeable, honorable, caring leadership of his wife—not a dictatorship—despite what many have heatedly debated. Grudem’s treatment is absolutely marvelous and highlights the beauty of God’s inspired roles for women and men in relationships.

THE FOURTH FOCUS: RETALIATION (3:9)

Many have argued for total passivity. No retaliation is allowed, either verbal or physical, when harmed in any way. Some have taken it even further to mean that retaliation in the form of physical or self-defense is not permitted for the Christian, and I have personally heard some people refer to the first epistle of Peter in 3:9 to support their claims. Grudem does quite well in his commentary regarding this passage, and it proves to be a helpful aid in understanding Peter’s view of retaliation.

Grudem makes mention of the calling of the Christian to repay blessing for insult (cf. 3:9; 146). This is in relation to believers who are suffering, and they are not to return evil for evil, nor are they to repay insult for insult (146-7). This is a prohibition against personal verbal revenge (147). The Christian is to return a blessing instead of an insult for harm done because he has been called to receive God’s blessing (147).

The argument stands, then, at least from First Peter’s perspective, that retaliation is not allowed, either physically or verbally, but it says nothing of self-defense or protecting oneself from physical harm. Peter prohibits personal revenge in verbal form (147). Christians are to be a blessing by repaying blessing for insult, and thus God will bless them. They are to trust that God’s authorities will repay them for what they have done (147). Grudem mentions that alongside of Peter’s prohibition of personal revenge comes the endorsement of forceful retribution instituted by the government as seen in Romans 12:14, 17-21 and 13:1-5 (147). God has placed the government in authority so that such crimes will be punished, and it is not our place to institute such retribution.

When it all comes down to it retaliation is an issue of the heart. Grudem understands this when he begins the section that covers verse nine here with this: “Continuing with more actions which issue from a heart that is trusting in God to care for one’s needs” (146, italics mine). In verse eight Peter addresses some issues of the heart: to have unity of spirit; to be sympathetic; to have a love of the brethren; to have a tender heart; and to have a humble mind. Returning a blessing in the face of insult, suffering, and adversity speaks volumes about the person’s heart, for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (cf. Matt. 12:34). It is to this form of retaliation that the Christian is called according to Peter. Grudem does a fantastic job of bringing this out, thus showing that retaliation in this instance is in relation to suffering.

CONCLUSION

First Peter provides some invaluable information regarding election, slavery, the roles of wives and husbands, and revenge. Grudem’s commentary is a great resource to help understand these issues within the first of Peter’s epistle. No matter how hot the debate may be, no matter how controversial, the text still demands to be understood in its own context, and Grudem proved himself to be faithful to the text, wading through these issues in their own settings and without bringing his own presuppositions to the table. Grudem did well by bringing up translational issues, by bringing forth absolutely essential Greek terms, and by bringing a fresh perspective to some of the more controversial passages in terms of debate in First Peter. I am thoroughly pleased with his commentary and have only but one objection—syntax. I would have liked to see more syntactical analysis than what was provided in his text, but this is merely a minor issue. Besides, to go beyond what he did would probably take his commentary above and beyond the scope of the series, and so with that in mind, the commentary stands solid as is, despite my desire for more.

The foci I have chosen have inspired some sizzling and controversial debates. Election has been understood to be of a communal sense, as Grudem showed through a wonderful parallelism between Israel and the Church, and should be understood from the perspective of First Peter in this sense. Slavery is understood to be less severe as many believe, at least in the Greco-Roman context, and Grudem shows the importance of slaves to submit to their masters with respect in an act to please the Lord. Roles in marriage, Grudem points out, are a beautifully God-created institution for marriage, where both the wife and the husband are equals in the grace of God, though they carry out different roles. And finally, retaliation is in First Peter prohibited in terms of personal revenge, and as Grudem puts it, it is left for the government to take care of. Grudem’s commentary, therefore, proves to be a great resource for all who want to study First Peter above and beyond the prima facie level, and it is highly invaluable, though not exclusively, for wading through some of its more controversial sections covering retaliation, roles in marriage, slavery, and election.

Pergamum

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Davidson at Simpson University during my senior year for a class on Eschatological Books.

Revelation, the Apocalypse of John, was without doubt written to an actual group of churches during his time. It was a letter written to literal churches with literal people in literal cities. Yet much of the book is written in a symbolic literary form. Upon learning about the churches that were written to, however, one can learn about the real first century cities and draw fundamental, timeless theological principles from the book despite the heavy symbolism. Although John wrote to seven churches, at this moment the church in Pergamum will be solely focused on. Looking at Pergamum’s cultural-historical (religious, political and economic backgrounds) and literary contexts will help illuminate the passage, and thus allow for direct application in today’s generation. Before we look at its more prominent religious and political backgrounds, addressing its history, culture, and economics will be necessary in grasping the city’s development in the Roman Empire.

Pergamum is the third city mentioned in the text. Historically speaking, it was a city of Mysia, a region of northeast Asia Minor (Ford 1975, 399). It was a famous and prosperous city with a population of about 120,000 to 200,000 people (Keener 2000, 122). Pergamum became a distinguished city following the death of Alexander the Great in 133 BC (Ladd 1972, 45). Culturally speaking, it was the first city of the Asia province to support the imperial cult openly (Ladd, 1972, 45). It emerged in the second century BC “as one of the great artistic and intellectual centers of the Greek world” (Potter 1992, 5: 229). Economically speaking, Pergamum had a school of medicine due to the health cult that was influential there (Ford 1975, 399). However, Pergamum was not quite so important as a commercial city as it was politically (Ladd 1972, 45). This helps the comprehension of why “Ephesus replaced her as the leading city in the region” (Potter 1992, 5: 230).

Pergamum was an actual city that had its purpose in history. The city was famous not because of its splendid culture and prosperous economy but because of its religious and political ties. Its culture affirmed emperor worship and as such the city took on a major political and religious role more so than it did economical.

Pergamum was a prominent city politically. It was a “natural fortress standing on a sharply protruding hill which dominated the plains below” (Ford 1975, 398). Therefore, the city was such that all the leadership duties of the region were directed upon the one who ruled Pergamum (Ford 1975, 398). To be sure, Pergamum was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia (Ford 1975, 399). This shows its dominant impression of “permanence, strength, sure authority and great size” (Ford 1975, 398) politically. Furthermore, Pergamum was a distinguished religious center as well. It contained pagan connections with Demeter, Dionysius, Athena, and Orpheus (Keener 2000, 123). Even more prominent was the famous healing cult of Asclepius (Keener 2000, 123). Still more prominent, Pergamum contained the cult of the emperor, which “the old temple of Augustus stood on the lofty rock citadel, conspicuous to anyone who approached the city” (Keener 2000, 123).

Pergamum had religious prominence as the capital of the Asian Province of the Roman Empire. To have a Christian population amidst this religious and political center would prove difficult especially when the cultural norm went against the Christian standard that there is only one Lord, one God, and one Father above. This is why the Lord Jesus says, “I know where you are living, where the throne of Satan is” (Revelation 2:13). Whether “the throne of Satan” refers to the health cult of Asclepius or the other Greek deities, or the more probable solution that it is the center for emperor worship, it is understandable to say that the city of Pergamum was so lost in cultic religion that it was evident Satan had much distinction in the city and its region. Because of this, when the Christians were forced aside from the Jews to take part in the dominant emperor worship, the Church was persecuted. The Church in Pergamum “staunchly withstood external pressures to compromise from pagan governmental and religious authorities but had permitted an apparently subtle form of compromise to develop internally” (Beale 1999, 248). Yet the Lord Jesus, the one who has the sharp double-edged sword (2:12), is not pleased with such compromise. Culturally and politically speaking, the “Romans saw the sword as the symbol of the highest authority” (Ford 1975, 398). The Lord is emphatically claiming the highest authority possible here before he addresses his Church in Pergamum. Following this claim comes his commendation of the Church and then his condemnation. The Lord Jesus commends the Church at Pergamum for holding to the faith in the Lord even amidst such persecution, but he also reprimands them for allowing compromise. Being full of a variety of dominant religious practices, Pergamum would have been likely to have perversions of the Gospel as well. It would have been an ideal place for false teachers to flourish and thus lead some astray from the Truth. It is likely that some false teachers perverted the minds of some in the Church and convinced them to take and eat meat sacrificed to idols and also to commit sexual immorality (Revelation 2:14), in which both practices were involved in cultic religions. This is evident because of their teaching’s frame of mind: “believers could have closer relationships with pagan culture, institutions, and religion” (Beale 1999, 248).

With a basic understanding of the cultural-historical context of Revelation 2:12-17, that is the religious, political, and economical background of Pergamum, the literary context of the passage can now be explored. Noting mainly the commendations and condemnations of the Church in Pergamum from the Lord, the literary context of the passage breaks down as follows: “Christ commends the Church in Pergamum for its persevering witness in the midst of persecution, condemns it for its permissive spirit of idolatrous compromise, and exhorts it to inherit end-time fellowship and identification with Christ” (Beale 1999, 245). The Lord first commends the Church for its perseverance among persecution for not submitting and adhering to idolatrous worship of the emperor. Even amidst a city known for its pagan religious practices that were required of the state lest one would commit high treason (Beale 1999, 246), the Church was able to withstand the persecution set before them; the Lord commends them for so doing, especially because Antipas, the faithful witness (Revelation 2:13), was killed there. Second, the Lord condemns the church for its few members who compromised and gave in to idolatrous practice and worship. However, the Lord does not stop there. He encourages and calls the Church in Pergamum to remain in him, to be victorious by repenting of their wrongs and standing fast for him in the face of opposition and persecution. Pergamum, a place where Satan was influential, was still a place that the Church could endure for Christ. The Lord who bears the highest authority is pleased when his Church stands firm for him, but he is not pleased when it compromises the Truth for a lie. Such compromise requires repentance else the wrath of God be put into effect. Sword language is used again, perhaps to say that Christ will go to war against those who do not repent on his own authority, the highest authority around, or perhaps it could be because of the Balaam reference in which Balaam was threatened and killed by the sword because of his actions, and so the Lord is continuing to do so with similar prophets and false teachers who’s actions cause His people to be led astray (Beale 1999, 250-1). But Christ desires his Church to be victorious so that it may partake in the eternal presence of the glorious Lord (Beale 1999, 253).

Pergamum, a most important political and religious city, has been addressed in Revelation chapter two according to its cultural-historical and literary contexts. As a result, the exploration of its timeless and fundamental theological principles is now possible with direct application to follow shortly after.

Revelation 2:12-17 reveals three fundamental and timeless theological principles. First, the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who holds the highest authority not only over the Church but also over the whole world. No one else, no other thing, no other god, no ruler or governing authority has nearly as much power and authority as the Lord Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), his authority does not change and it is constantly supreme over all else in creation. Second, the Lord Jesus Christ expects his Church to stand up against opposition and persecution and be victorious over it. Those who receive the Gospel are not to turn from it in the face of uncomfortable peer-pressure or government-issued persecution. Christ commands that his people be victorious over it; those who are victorious will be awarded eternal life with him and the Father. Last, Christ demands a life of no compromise in his people. The Lord has made it clear that there is no room for idolatrous acts or fornication in the Church, whether or not it is spiritual or physical, and such actions are to be dealt with. When they are not, the Lord will step in and deal with it himself, a most frightening thing for it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Hebrews 10:31). These three theological principles are fundamental in the lives of all those who believe and they are timeless truths that resound throughout all generations from the first century forward.

There was a church that recently underwent a split. It became divided over several issues, however one primarily influenced the split: the pastor. The pastor who had originally started the church has recently retired. Since then, all those who have tried to fill in his position have not been, shall we say, “good enough” in comparison to the retired founder. The church members had without a doubt placed their faith, trust and focus on the pastor rather than on God. Their spiritual lives became dependent on this pastor so much so that when new pastors came with new ideas and new philosophies of how to run the church the people went mad saying, “That’s not how Pastor used to do it so it is not the way we are going to do it now.” Ultimately, this stubborn thinking tore the church apart and caused far more harm than good. The problem in this church is that the members forgot who had the authority and power of the church, that is Jesus Christ. The members of this church forgot that Christ is supreme and not their pastor, and the Church belongs to Christ and not its Christ-appointed shepherds. This church teaches all other churches and the Church as a whole an important lesson: one’s faith, trust, obedience, allegiance and loyalty belong in Christ under his authority alone and no one else’s, not even one’s pastor. When we set pastor’s up on a pedestal at the same level and authority of Jesus Christ we have taken what belongs completely to Him and given it to someone else who not only is undeserving of it but is also incapable of handling it. It results in a disservice to ourselves, to the pastor, to the local church, to the global Church, and finally to Christ. Always remember to place all trust, hope, faith, obedience, power and authority in Jesus Christ, the supreme ruler of all creation.

There was a different church that underwent persecution. Persecution can take form in many different avenues such as death or public humiliation. In the case of this church, it was persecuted by way of lawsuits. The church is a decently large church. At the time of the lawsuits the church was trying to get its permit to build on a large piece of land. However, the residents from around the local area of the church did not want this large church to build a huge sanctuary. The church was meeting at a public high school on Sundays, but because of the vast amount of people who attended, the local CHP department had to direct traffic to help the cars move in and out of the parking lot. The local residents were aware of the large amount of traffic that the church brought in and they did not want that more near their homes. Furthermore, the residents did not want people to come to their houses on Sunday mornings asking them for money and to join the church. As a result, the people of the city sued the church in an effort to not allow them the permits required to build on the land that they had bought. The church fought back only to be sued a second time. In the end the church won both lawsuits, but it was not because of well-founded arguments or well-paid lawyers. The church won because it stood fast for Christ, giving witness to the glory of the Gospel and the work that it had done in the people of the church resulting in the impact that those people had on the city. The church did not back down in the face of persecution, rather it showed itself victorious by standing firm in its witness for Christ. In so doing it won the lawsuits and gained its permits to build the church it so desperately needed to help accommodate all the people already attending and all those looking to attend. Always remember to stand firm for Christ in the witness of the Gospel, for it has the power to save and to provide strength for overcoming persecution no matter what it may look like, whether it be peer-pressure, humiliation, death, or lawsuits.

There was another church that underwent compromise. The head pastor of this fairly large church came out and admitted before the congregation that he had been involved in an adulterous act with another woman. The pastor had compromised his beliefs, his faith, and his religion for sexual immorality. The pastor forgot that Christ expects a life of no compromise. One must serve Christ completely; this means that the life of the Christian cannot have any part in fornication or adultery, specifically speaking. However, the church also compromised. When the pastor left, about one third of the congregation left as well, not with the pastor, but to various places. The church was guilty of idolatry—they idolized their pastor. They compromised their belief in Christ by placing their faith in their pastor, a place where their faith did not belong. The pastor was guilty of allowing his heart to be unfaithful to Christ and the church was guilty of allowing their trust to be placed in a place not suitable for their faith. Always remember to place all trust, faith, and belief in Christ, which is the only place that these belong, and always remember to remain faithful to Christ under all circumstances.

As seen in these three churches, today’s generation still struggles with the same nettlesome situations as the Church in Pergamum did in the first century. Today’s church still struggles with persecution in various forms, in keeping the faith and placing Christ at the highest authority possible, which is his rightful place, and to remain faithful to the Lord regardless of the circumstances. In other words, the spirit of the Church is still that of the first century, and it is important to take the heart of the message of the text, that is the fundamental and timeless theological principles, and apply it to our lives today if we are to address the issues we have in this generation that are the same issues the Church at Pergamum had long ago. Therefore, the believer should affirm four things in his or her life: Christ’s authority; perseverance; and victory.

Christians should strongly assert and proclaim that Christ is in authority not only over their lives but also of the whole world. It is to Christ that Christians therefore submit. And should Christ demand something of them that goes against what the world demands, it is to Christ that the Christians will give in. Do not give in to the world. Practically speaking, do not even put your faith in a person, pastor, friend or family member; your faith belongs to Christ for he is the one who is your Master. When you find yourself leaving a church because the pastor screwed up, you must ask yourself where your allegiance lies. Is it in the highest authority, Jesus Christ? Or is it in the pastor who is subject to the highest authority? Always bear in mind where your loyalty is. If it is not completely in Christ, then you need to change something. Keep Christ first in your life and make him your number one authority in your life because that is where he rightfully should be.

Christians should boldly embody perseverance in the face of opposition, if the face of enemies and adversaries, or in the face of persecution in its many forms. Christ calls his servants; he demands their total allegiance. If you are a Christian, you may not fall back or retreat. Christ demands that you stand your ground as his representative and reign victorious. This means that when someone pokes fun at you at school you turn the other cheek and let go of your pride for the sake of Christ. This means that when someone totally mocks you for your faith on a public forum at a website that you do not respond in the harshness of words, but you refrain from even a hint of disdain and speak out only with love. You are to persevere and not shrink back when persecution comes your way. Stand tall for Christ.

Christians should proclaim victory in their lives. This is not bragging, rather it is claiming what the Lord has promised for those who end up victorious shall partake in the eternal life with the Son and the Father. It is the understanding of God’s work in one’s life. It is the realization that you are a new creation. It is the confirmation that you are a child of God and will be with your Father for all eternity in a place that he has prepared for you in heaven. This means you may not believe in a lie that you cannot persevere and that you are worthless. To proclaim victory is to believe in the Truth. To believe in the Truth is to accept Jesus Christ. No, you are a child of God and you are a servant of the highest authority in the universe—you can persevere because the Lord who values you so much that he died for you will help you do it. You are victorious—live like it. Abstain from the world’s desires and take on only what Christ desires. Quit partying. Quit getting drunk. Quit sleeping around. The party life for many Christians is a spiritual fornication and idolatrous act that detracts their faith. You do not have that luxury because you are called to be victorious. Devote yourself completely to Him. Be faithful to your Master.

The text of Revelation 2:12-17 sounds out boldly for all generations, but it can only be heard clearly in light of the cultural-historical and literary contexts. Because the understanding of these contexts made possible the understanding of the timeless and fundamental theological principles within the texts, we can now relate to the ancient city of Pergamum and therefore use the Scripture and apply it to our lives today. Remember: Christ ought to be the number one authority in your life; stand firm for Christ no matter what; and do not compromise for anything—be victorious!

Bibliography

Beale, G. K. 1999. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New

International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company.

Ford, J. Massyngberde. 1975. Revelation. The Anchor Bible. Garden City: Doubleday &

Company, Inc.

Keener, Craig S. 2000. Revelation. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids:

Zondervan.

Ladd, George Eldon. 1972. A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids: William

B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Potter, D. S. 1992. “Pergamum.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. v. 5. David Noel

Freedman, ed. New York: Doubleday.

James 2: Faith and Works

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Jack Painter at Simpson University during my junior year in a class on Greek Readings.

 

What is it about the book of James that arouses controversy? For example, is faith all that is needed for salvation or are works necessary too? At the surface level it seems that James believes it is only works that justify and faith is not a part of justification. However, a critical and exegetical look into James 2:20-26 (probably the most problematic portion of James to this particular controversy) will identify what James believes and understands regarding faith and works, that faith and works are co-workers in justification. It is also important, as we debate about biblical texts, that we gain a small understanding of the biblical context that the portion of Scripture being studied was written in.

When studying a passage in the Bible, it is important to recognize who wrote the passage, why he wrote it, whom he wrote it to, and how the biblical audience would have understood the text. In the case of the book of James, it is generally accepted by most scholars that James the Just, the brother of Jesus is the author of this book (Johnson 1995, 93). James was writing to the 12 tribes being dispersed. This is a figurative way of saying that he is writing to the people who live according to the spiritual kingdom and not according to the earthly kingdom; hence those who live according to the spiritual are dispersed from the earthly (Johnson 1995, 171). James is writing his epistle to tell this Diaspora how to live in light of being a Christian. In other words, as Ray Johnson put it in his sermon introducing this book, James is a manual on how to become a mature Christian. In this manual, James contains three important themes: perfection, in which e!rgon, sofi&a, pi&stij, and no&moj are developed as part of perfection (Martin 1988, lxxix-lxxxii); wisdom (Martin 1988, lxxxii-iv); and the religious practices and beliefs of the poor (Martin 1988, lxxxiv-vi). James 2:20-26 should be read in light of the perfection theme, specifically on e!rgon and pi&stij.

James also has notable background to his epistle. Specifically, for 2:20-26, James refers to two examples: the great patristic father, the righteous Abraham (v. 21); and a prostitute, the sinner Rahab (v. 25). With the first example, “James unequivocally claims the heritage of Judaism that comes from Abraham” (Johnson 1995, 242). James does so by referring to the Akedah that was, for Abraham, “not a replacement of faith by deeds but was itself a deed worked by faith” (Johnson 1995, 247). For James, Abraham’s faith in God in Genesis 12 and 15 is made complete in his obedience by offering his son (Johnson 1995, 248). James’ treatment of Rahab is noteworthy, for she was a female, and she was quite different from Abraham (Johnson 1995, 245). Douglas J. Moo says it well in his commentary on the book of James. Moo writes, “If it might be objected that Abraham’s works were no more than what might be expected from one who had so rightly experienced God’s grace, the same is certainly not true of Rahab” (1986, 116). Interestingly enough, Rahab was a prostitute. Moo raises this question in light of Rahab’s profession: “Why has James chosen Rahab as an example of justification by works?” (1986, 116). Moo, in answer to his own question, suggests that James has been influenced by 1 Clement 10 and 12, which praise both Abraham and Rahab for their ‘faith and hospitality’ (1986, 116). Abraham demonstrated his hospitality to the three men in Genesis 18 (Moo 1986, 116), and Rahab hers to the messengers in Joshua 2. Therefore, this is why James brings forth Abraham and Rahab: “the ‘works’ they did are precisely those which people with a sham faith do not have (vv. 15-16)” (Moo 1986, 116-17). Or perhaps James mentions both Abraham and Rahab because they were both recognized as converts who worked out their faith in the one true God (Moo 1986, 117). The point to be seen here, however, is that “Abraham, the widely heralded hero and ‘father’ of Israel, is juxtaposed with the pagan woman of loose reputation. But both the patriarch and the prostitute are declared righteous on the basis of works that issued from their faith” (Moo 1986, 117). James 2:20-26 should be read with this background information in mind regarding these two champions of faith, as seen in Hebrews 11, because they are James’ essential proof of his argument. Having in mind the cultural context of the book of James, we can now turn to the literary context of James 2:20-26.

James addresses the treatment of the poor in 2:1-7. In this passage, he makes it clear that favoritism of the rich over the poor is unacceptable for those who declare faith in God, especially since it is the rich who oppress them (vv. 6, 7)! James also addresses the Law in the lives of the believers in 2:8-11. First, James states the law of love: love your neighbor as yourself (v. 8). Second, he addresses the fact that favoritism is a sin (v. 9) and those who show favoritism are condemned by the Law just as much as those who commit adultery and murder (v. 11), because if one breaks one part of the Law, that person is guilty of breaking the whole Law (v. 10). James 2:12-13, though brief it is packed with theology, states that we are to live (in all that we say and do) as if we are about to be judged by the law of freedom (v. 12), for God, the Judge, is merciless to all those who do not show mercy (v. 13). This sums up 2:1-11 and introduces what he is about to write in vv. 14-26.

James gets even more practical with respect to the poor: the poor are not only those lacking money, but those who are in need, period. James 2:14-17 shows how James viewed how we ought to carry out the law of love towards the poor. James asks a practical question, “What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (v. 14). For example, what good is it if a person comes to another being naked and lacking or needing necessary, daily food, and someone says to him, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be fed,’ yet he does not give him the necessities of the body?” (vv. 15, 16). In this example that James gives, he shows that faith without works is dead according to itself (v. 17). James 2:18-19 involve diatribe, where tij is talking to an imaginary opponent. In v. 18, tij says to his opponent that he needs to be able to show his faith by his works (v. 18) because it is not enough to just believe, for even the demons believe yet they shudder (v. 19). This portion of James, 2:1-19, give forth the context leading up to vv. 20-26, but we should also take note of 3:1-12 to see how vv. 20-26 function in James as a whole.

James addresses the issue of the tongue in 3:1-12. Out of faith come our works, as James has argued in chapter two, and in chapter three, James argues that part of those works is bridling the tongue. This is because believers should not have both blessings and curses coming out from their mouths (vv. 9-10). One work that James addresses needs to be done is to take care that we not praise God but curse each other. James understands that the tongue, although it is small it is indeed very powerful, and the work regarding the tongue coming out of faith is to take care to bridal it. Therefore, the literary context of James 2:20-26 is set between the sin of favoritism and the sins of the tongue. Part of our works that must be evident to demonstrate the faith that we claim to have is to not show favoritism, show mercy, help those in need, and to watch our tongues. Keeping in mind this literary context along with the cultural context, we can now turn to the text. Before we look at the passage exegetically, we will need to examine the text critically in order to ensure that we are reading from what would most likely be James’ own words.



A TEXTUAL-CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF JAMES 2:20-26

There are several textual variants in this passage, some of which are noteworthy and some are not. However, for the sake of consistency, all variants of the most recent edition of Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece, the 27th edition, the most recent edition available, will be looked at and worked through, although not ever variant will be given equal space or time.

In v. 20, we have a rather significant variant that is not exactly easy to come to grips with. Of all the variants in this passage, this is the one most disputed over. In the last clause of the sentence, a)rgh& (B C* 323. 945. 1739) is substituted out, and there are possibly two different options available to sub in: kenh& (P74 ff) or nekra& ( A C2 P Y 33 M). The substitution, nekra&, seems to be a harmonization of the surrounding context. Perhaps a scribe at some point attempted to make this reading fit with the rest of chapter two. The other substitution, kenh&, seems to be a harmonization of the sentence with which it lies. Perhaps a different scribe decided that he would polish the sentence by making it uniform since James refers to his opponent as a!nqrwpe kene&. However, the reading as found in the 27th ed. seems to be the best reading because it appears to be the more difficult reading in the role of a pun, e!rgwn a)rgh& [a) + e!rgh&] (Metzger 1994, 610), thus suiting this passage quite nicely.

The next variant is a substitution in v. 22 where a scribe changed sunh&rgei (* A 33. 630) to sune&rgei (c B C P Y 1739 M). In this case, it seems that a scribe, changing the verb from the imperfect (“was working together”), has attempted to fit this verb with the present tense (“is working together”) because of the preceding verb in the sentence, ble&peij, which is in the present tense. However, the former reading is in fact the more difficult reading and is not as smooth as the latter, therefore it is most likely the intended reading.

Verse 22 has another variant: the addition of au)tou~ (614. 630. 1505. 1852 al vgmss), thus yielding the reading, “and faith was perfected from his works.” However, this reading seems to be a harmonization with the surrounding context, and because the weight that it carries in manuscript support is minimal, it is not likely the correct reading. The true reading is most likely to be without this addition.

There is an omission of de_ in v. 23 (P20 L Y 614. 623. 630. 1241. 1505 al). The text, as seen in the 27th ed., reads with de_ ( A B C P 049. 33. 1739 M vgmss). The omission seems to be a haplography. Because the omission seems to be a scribal decision and since the omission does not bear weighted manuscript support, the latter reading is most likely the correct reading.

The word, dou~loj, is substituted for fi&loj in the latter part of v. 23. This substitution is not supported well, having a rather lightweight foundation in manuscript witnesses (429. 614. 630. 1505. 1852. al syh). It is hard to make light of this substitution as well. Was a scribe trying to rid the text of the noun, fi&loj, and use a term that better fits James and his vocabulary as well as his theology? Or was the scribe trying to rid the text of fi&loj in order to use dou~loj, a term the scribe personally thought was better for the overall context and flow of the Scripture? Perhaps we might not ever know; however, due to the light support for the reading containing dou~loj, the overall manuscript support goes to the reading of fi&loj, and is therefore the better reading of the two variants.

An addition to v. 24, toi&nun, on the basis of M and Pelagius, tries to find its way into the text. However, the weightiest manuscripts carrying their heavyweight championship belts over their shoulders support the text without the addition of toi&nun (P54.vid A B C P Y 33. 81. 614. 630. 945. 1505. 1739 pc latt sy co). It can almost be certain that the addition is a simple explanatory supplement and is not the likely reading. Furthermore, because of the heavyweight titles that the text of the 27th ed. holds and due to the fact that it is the more difficult reading, the text simply knocks out its opponent, thus revealing it to be the most likely reading.

Verse 25 begins with a variant reading right from the start. The text reads o(moi&wj de_, but apparently a few scribes along the way did not agree with this reading and at one instance changed it to a simple ou{twj (C), and at another time they decided the text should read, simply, o(moi&wj (623 al ff vgcl.ww). With the exception of C 623 al ff vgcl.ww, the rest of the manuscript witnesses align with the text, o(moi&wj de_. With the weight of most of the manuscript support and with the more difficult reading, the text is most likely to be the intended reading.

Verse 25 has a second and rather important variant. Here, a)gge&louj is substituted out and either katasko&pouj (C Kmg L 945. 1241. 1739. 2298. 2464 al) or a)gge&louj tou~ I)srah&l (61 pc) can be substituted in. One variant reads “spies” while the other reads “messengers of Israel.” Either variant is an attempt to clarify without a shadow of a doubt who it was that Rahab helped in Joshua 2, that the a)gge&louj were not “angels” but were “spies” (Metzger 1994, 610). The text, a)gge&louj, holds the rest of the manuscript witnesses, therefore holding its own weight, and it also accounts for the other variants. It is for this reason that the best reading is most likely to be the shorter, a)gge&louj.

A substitution opens up the reading of v. 26. On behalf of ff and Origen, ga&r is taken out and de_ is inserted for ga&r. This seems to be an instance when a scribe attempted to harmonize the passage. Another variant simply omits ga&r altogether (B 1243 pc syp), an apparent instance of haplography. However, the text as seen in the 27th ed., ga&r, has the majority of the best manuscripts and also renders the more difficult reading while accounting for the other variants. Therefore, on this basis it seems that the text is the best reading of these variants.

In v. 26, particularly in the analogy, tou~ is added on the basis of 33. 69. 945. 1241. 1739. 2298 al. This variant yields, “the body without the spirit is dead.” The text, without the addition, simply reads, “the body without spirit is dead.” It seems, therefore, that a scribe inserted the article in order to make the noun definite rather than indefinite. On the basis that this seems to be an explanatory supplement, this variant is already not looking like the best reading available, and with the support of the text as is by all the rest of the major manuscripts ad witnesses, the addition of the article simply does not measure up to its opposition and is not the best reading.

In the same way that the article was inserted in the first part of the analogy in v. 26, so it is also inserted into the second part of the analogy in the same verse. The addition, tw_n (A C P 1739 M), reads like this: “faith without the works is dead.” The text as seen in the 27th ed., supported by the strength of P20.74vid B Y 81. 614. 630. 1505 al, reads without the article: “faith without works is dead.” Again, the insertion of the article appears to be an explanatory supplement. The strength alone in the manuscript witnesses is enough to defeat the addition, but because the addition itself is simply a scribe’s attempt at harmonizing or smoothing the passage, it is not likely to be the intended reading.

After having looked at the text critically and understanding the certain issues regarding some of the variants while keeping in check the Nestle-Aland text, we can now move on to the grammatical and syntactical analysis of the text.

GRAMMATICAL-SYNTACTICAL ANALYSIS OF JAMES 2:20-26

Verse 20

Qe&leij de_ gnw~nai, w} a!nqrwpe kene&; But do you desire to know, oh empty man. The word, de_, shows that James is now contrasting what he has just said in vv. 18 and 19. In this sense, James is about to contrast the thought of his opponent as seen in v. 18. The first few words, qe&leij de_ gnw~nai, in what appears to be James’ topic sentence for this section mark that James is still in diatribe form (Johnson 1995, 241). Actually, the diatribe form was employed as early as v. 18, and James continues to utilize this rhetorical feature in vv. 20-23. The vocative words, w} a!nqrwpe kene&, an apostrophe according to Luke-Timothy Johnson serving as a tool of the diatribe (1995, 241), describe the imaginary opponent which James is arguing with. The use of w} raises a question if emotion is involved in these words. On the one hand, J.H. Moulton and Nigel Turner say that no emotion is involved here (1963, 33). On the other, Blass and Debrunner say that some emotion is involved here, as seen in the context of the verse (1961, 81). And as Rienecker notes, the use of a!nqrwpoj here is used in a derogatory sense (1980, 730). Thus, James seems to be getting somewhat emotional in this portion, being quite harsh against his opponent. The opponent is described with the word in the vocative, kene&, literally meaning “empty, deficient. The word is used of a man who cannot be depended upon, whose deeds do not correspond to his words; hence, of boasters and imposters” (Rienecker 1980, 730-31). James is, therefore, addressing his opponent who is an imposter of the faith.

o{ti h( pi&stij xwri_j tw~n e@rgwn a)rgh& e)stin; that faith without works is barren? The conjunction, o{ti, introduces a particular subject, in this case it clarifies the content of gnw~nai, which is that faith without works is barren. The word, xwri_j, should be translated as “apart from/without” according to Johnson (1995, 242). Robertson also notes that the word xwri_j takes a genitive noun; this is why tw~n e!rgwn is in the genitive case, for it is hard to identify its syntactical function in the sentence apart from this reason (1934, 273). A)rgh&, here, means “inactive, barren, unprofitable, unproductive of salvation” (Rienecker 1980, 731). Additionally, Johnson argues this word should be translated as “to be without profit, idle, giving no yield,” because a)rgh& literally means “without deed” (a + e)rga&; 1995, 242). Alexander Ross notes that this word indicates the person who is “producing nothing of any importance” (1954, 53). James is addressing the fact that the faith that has no works is useless, in other words it is of no importance or it is unprofitable and gives no yield of salvation’s work.

Verse 20, therefore, reveals that the man whom James is in diatribe with is a Christian imposter because he does not perform deeds that correspond to his words (“I have faith”). James also introduces his main point, that faith without works is unprofitable and useless.

Verse 21

A)braa_m o( path_r h(mw~n ou)k e)c e!rgwn e)dikaiw&qh a)nene&gkaj I)saa_k to_n ui(o_n au)tou~ e)pi_ to_ qusiasth&rion; Was not our father, Abraham, justified from works after raising up his son Isaac onto the altar? Here, James argues with great force, using the great father of Jewish heritage, the father of all Jews, the father of the chosen people of God as an example. The form of the sentence is indeed a question. Note that the use of ou)k reveals that the answer to the question is inherently, “yes.” The word for “justified” should be translated, as argued by Johnson, as “shown to be righteous” (1995, 242). Rienecker says that this word means “to declare righteous, to pronounce to be in the right, to justify” (1980, 731). However, this word is in the passive form, showing that Abraham did not declare himself to be righteous, but was declared righteous by another party. The genitive, e)c e!rgwn, should be translated “on the basis of deeds” (Johnson 1995, 242). In other words, Abraham’s deeds “make his righteousness manifest” (Johnson 1995, 242). And e)c e!rgwn is a genitive of source, meaning that Abraham was justified, shown or declared to be righteous out of or from the source of his works. The participle, a)nene&gkaj, is an aorist temporal and should be translated as “after raising/offering.” Abraham was justified out of the source of his works after offering up his son, Isaac.

In this short verse, we find that James uses an effective rhetorical question expecting a “yes” answer while using the founding father as a prime example of his thesis, that because Abraham’s faith was not without works his faith was not useless. His justification was the result of his faith only after he committed the work.

Verse 22

ble&peij o#ti h( pi&stij sunh&rgei toi~j e!rgoij au)tou kai_ e)k tw~n e!rgwn h( pi&stij e)teleiw&qh; You are seeing that faith was working together with his works and faith was completed from works. The main verb, ble&peij, is second person singular; therefore, James is still in diatribe. In other words, James is still addressing his opponent. The conjunction, o#ti, serves as a content conjunction, thus showing or clarifying the content of ble&peij. Therefore, everything following o#ti serves as the content of which the opponent in the diatribe sees. This verse is built upon two clauses where faith (pi&stij) is the subject of both. This indicates that faith is the central theme of the verse. Here, faith was working together with Abraham’s works and faith was completed from the works. Johnson says “that it is faith that is the subject of both clauses…faith makes possible (co-works) the deeds, and the deeds bring the faith to its mature expression” (1995, 243). This is how pi&stij and e!rga work together: sunh&rgei. Rienecker suggests we should translate this verb as “to cooperate, to work together” (1980, 731). In the light of Johnson’s previous statement, faith and works were co-workers in Abraham’s situation. They both played a role in Abraham’s life. The words, toi~j e!rgoij, follow sunh&rgei and act as a dative of person or thing that is helped (BDAG 2000, 969). In this case, toi~j e!rgoij is the direct object and helper of h( pi&stij. Robertson labels toi~j e!rgoij as a dative of association, thus yielding “faith was working together in association with his works” (1934, 529). It is probably best to understand in terms of Robertson rather than BDAG, however BDAG does provide a helpful understanding of how James views faith and works together. Furthermore, e)k tw~n e!rgwn is a genitive of source: “faith was completed out of works (the source).” Rienecker says that e)teleiw&qh, coming from teleio&w which literally means, “to bring to completion, to bring to maturity, to perfect, to consummate. As the tree is perfected by its fruits, so faith by its works. Words do not animate faith; but faith produces works, and works perfect faith. Faith itself ‘is perfected,’ i.e., is shown to be true, by works” (1980, 731).

In verse 22, James continues his diatribe and makes a focus on faith being a co-worker of deeds, and deeds are the source which faith is completed, shown to be true or perfected in.

Verse 23

kai_ e)plhrw&qh h( grafh_ h( le&gousa: e)pi&steusen de_ A)braa_m tw~| qew|~, kai_ e)logi&sqh au)tw|~ ei)j dikaiosu&nhn kai_ fi&loj qeou~ e)klh&qh; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. The conjunction, kai_, is a connective conjunction, linking additional information to what James has already been discussing. The additional information he gives here is a direct quote from the LXX. James has been talking about faith being without works is useless, faith and works are co-workers, and faith is shown to be true faith out of its works. In addition, James states that the Scripture declaring Abraham to be righteous in Genesis 15:6 was fulfilled by the deed that Abraham performed by offering his son Isaac. Now James is adding to his previous statements that Abraham’s works proved his faith. The conjunction kai_ is used again to connect e)pi&steusen with e)logi&sqh, thus showing Abraham’s belief to be equal with his credit. But James uses the same conjunction in order to show that e)pi&steusen and e)logi&sqh are connected with e)klh&qh. James uses the word fi&loj to describe Abraham’s position with God. Johnson notes “Abraham stands for James as the supreme example of what it means to have ‘friendship with God’ rather than ‘friendship with the world'” (1995, 244). James is using Abraham to show his position with God out of his faith and his works.

Verse 23 functions as hard, concrete proof for James that faith and works are co-workers. He utilizes Genesis 15:6 to show that Abraham’s faith was made evident in his work. So now, James has developed his thesis that faith without works is useless to be that faith works with deeds, deeds perfect faith and deeds show or reveal faith.

Verse 24

o(ra~te o#ti e)c e!rgwn dikaiou~tai a!nqrwpoj kai_ ou)k e)k pi&stewj mo&non; you see that a man is justified out of works and not from faith only. Here we have a change in style. James is no longer talking to his opponent in diatribe form. James is now addressing the public because the verb, o(ra~te, is second person plural, and therefore he can no longer be talking to one particular person. The conjunction, o#ti, serves to mark the content of what the public sees. The rest of the sentence following o#ti is the content which the public which James is addressing sees. Rienecker says that the words, e)c e!rgwn, here show that the argument which James is fighting is not faith vs. works but it is faith minus works vs. works minus faith, for “Though neither ignored nor belittled, faith is regarded as complementing works, with which it must be combined” (1980, 731). Douglas J. Moo argues that dikai&ow is “the ultimate verdict of God over our lives” (1985, 115). James is lying out before the public whom he is writing to that justification—God’s ultimate verdict of our lives—is out of works and not from faith only. The word, mo&non, shows that faith is an integral part of salvation (Martin 1988, 96). It also shows that faith is not entirely rejected; however its absolute power for salvation is (Dibelius 1964, 166). In other words, James does not exclude faith in the process of justification. Again, e)c e!rgwn is a genitive of source, as in the previous verses, and it shows that justification has its source in works. But James adds the clause, kai_ ou)k e)k pi&stewj mo&non, showing that justification is sourced not only in works but also in faith. The words e)k pi&stewj are form a genitive of source as well, thus supporting the point that faith is not the only source for justification, nor are works the only source for justification. For James, works and faith are the source of justification.

James shifts his focus from his imaginary opponent to the Diaspora in v. 24. In this verse, he presents to the readers that a man is justified out of two sources, faith and works, and not one apart from the other nor one over the other.

Verse 25

o(moi&wj de_ kai_ R(aa_b h( po&rnh ou)k e)c e!rgwn e)dikaiw&qh u(podecame&nh tou_j a)gge&louj kai_ e(te&ra| o(dw~| e)kbalou~sa; And likewise also, was not the prostitute, Rahab, justified out of works after receiving the messengers and sent them out by another way? The connecting words, o(moi&wj de_ kai, are argued by Ralph Martin to be translated as, “To give another instance” (1988, 96). Martin further explains his view of these words: “This carries with it the force of a second example of equal weight to the first” (1988, 96). In other words, “It was if James feels his argument is still incomplete (Martin 1988, 96). The conjunction, de_, connects Abraham and Rahab as equal proofs for James, thus giving further weight to Martin’s view. The other conjunction, kai_, is an emphatic connective conjunction that gives emphasis to Rahab’s example being equal to that of Abraham’s. In other words, Rahab is “seen as parallel to Abraham” (Dibelius 1964, 166). James asks a rhetorical question here that expects a positive answer in the same way v. 21 does. Therefore, the answer to his question is, “Yes, Rahab was justified out of her works.” As in Abraham’s case in v. 21, e)c e!rgwn are a genitive of source, showing that Rahab’s justification was sourced in her works. According to this verse, there were two parts to her works: she received the messengers and she sent them out by another way. The aorist participle, u(podecame&nh, “denotes that she welcomed and entertained them as her guests” (Hiebert 1992, 177). The aorist participle, e)kbalou~sa, “indicates energetic action but not violence. She acted with urgency and personal concern for their safety” (Hiebert 1992, 178). Rienecker extends the idea of e)kbalou~sa denotes “The word is not used here in a bad sense, but it simply emphasizes the difficulties of escape” (1980, 731). James’ use of these two aorist temporal participles to specify the works that served as the source for God’s ultimate verdict (Moo 1985, 116).

Here, in v. 25, James is setting out to prove the same thing he already proved by way of Rahab instead of Abraham, that “there is no justification without works” (Dibelius 1976, 166). James uses Rahab, the exact opposite of Abraham in terms of lifestyle, to prove that they were both justified in the same way, by faith and works together.

Verse 26

w#sper ga_r to_ sw~ma xwri_j pneu&matoj nekro&n e)stin, ou#twj kai_ h( pi&stij xwri_j e!rgwn nekra& e)stin; For just as the body without spirit is dead, thus also faith without works is dead. The conjunction, ga_r, connects vv. 20-25 with v. 26; it is an explanatory conjunction indicating that an explanation of vv. 20-25 is about to be given. James’ thesis is faith without works is useless. In other words, James understands that faith and works are co-workers that work together in justification, that works perfect faith, and that works reveal one’s faith. In light of this, James explains vv. 20-25 in these words: “just as the body without spirit is dead, thus also faith without works is dead.” The conjunction, w#sper, inidicates that a comparison is about to be made. The other conjunction, ou#twj, is also a comparative conjunction, but this one specifically ties the body with faith and spirit with works. The word translated “spirit” is pneu&matoj, but it is thought to be rendered in rather different ways by a few different people. Rienecker suggests that pneu&matoj “refers to the ‘vital principle by which the body is animated.’ A dead faith is like a corpse and therefore cannot save” (1980, 731). Martin, however, understands pneu&matoj to mean “breath” for “As breath enables a body to live, likewise works produce a living faith” (1988, 97-8). Johnson also suggests that it should be rendered as “life-principle, that which animates the body” (1995, 245). However, it is probably best to view pneu&matoj as “animation of the body” because it directly relates to works that animate one’s faith. The point is not that works give life, but they illustrate that life is present, and “The obvious assumption is that whatever is living also acts” (Johnson 1995, 245). In other words, if one has faith, their works reveal that faith to be alive; without works, the faith is revealed to be lifeless and dead.

Verse 26 is an analogy of comparison that supports vv. 20-25. James writes this analogy: body is to spirit as faith is to works (body : spirit :: faith : works). The point of resemblance here is that A is dead without B, so just as the body is dead without spirit, so also faith is dead without works. This analogy is not an ‘either/or’ analogy; rather, it is a ‘both/and’ analogy (Hiebert 1992, 178). Here in v. 26, “James is concerned not that works be ‘added’ to faith, but that one possesses the right kind of faith, ‘faith that works'” (Moo 1985, 178).

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After looking at the text, it is evident that James does not say that works make a person righteous, nor does he say that faith make a person righteous. Rather, he says that faith and works make a person righteous. Faith, for James, is the heart of the believer, and works are the evidence of that heart. How does this act out in our lives, then?

As believers, we must act out our faith. Just as Christ did good deeds while on earth, so must we do good deeds here on earth. As James said in 2:19, it is just not enough to believe in God, works must also be evident. This goes against all those who say that they believe and they do not need to do anything else. James is retorting this line of thinking: “I believe in God and that’s good enough for me. I am going to live however I want because I am saved thanks to my belief.” For them, they think they believe that there is a God, but that is all they have. On the one hand, they believe God. On the other, they live a life that does not reflect their belief: they live for their booze and are drunk 24/7; they live to gossip and spread rumors of co-workers; they live to be negative, never having anything positive to say; they live for their possessions, trying to find worth in their cars, money, houses and other things. This person probably says they are a Christian, but also says they are not religious. While they say they believe in God, they will not go to church. This just is not what true faith does. True faith yields good works. Real faith produces fruit of good works. If anyone says that he or she has faith but does not have the good works coming forth out of that faith, can that faith save them (2:14)? As believers, we should be demonstrating out faith through our actions.

There once was a minister’s wife, a very godly and religious Christian woman. She noticed over the course of many years that her husband, the minister, did not have any sort of daily devotion or time of prayer with the Lord. She thought that to be odd; surely a man of the Lord should have something of the sort, right? She asked her husband, “Why don’t you have any devotions or prayer with the Lord?” The minister retorted, “I do the work of the Lord, so I don’t have to.” For the minister, having the title, “minister,” was enough. For him, all he had to do was believe. From this mentality, the minister began to live however he pleased and in time, he was living a double-life. The minister began to have an affair, justifying it to himself that he was saved because of his belief, and so, God would forgive him. Over time, the affair consumed him—all the lies and deceit, dishonor and disrespect—and he attempted to murder his wife. This minister says he has faith, but his actions just simply do not align with his faith. Good works are the result of real faith; this man’s faith must be counterfeit because his works were far from anything being remotely good.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to respond to our faith and reveal it through our actions. We cannot rely on a title or a belief as the minister did. We need to act out our faith and by our deeds the world may know the faith that we have. If anyone is a Christian, he or she must not neglect fellowship with other believers. If anyone is a Christian, he or she must put off drunkenness, idolatry, licentiousness, or anything that goes against the Lord’s call to righteousness. To say, “All I need is faith,” is far from the truth. Allow good deeds to perfect faith, allow good deeds to reveal faith, and allow good deeds to co-work with faith. We can take it a step further: no more “Sunday Christian” attitude. As a believer, one must also demonstrate faith every day of the week, not just on Sunday. It is high time that Christians live out their faith to the world. And how might this be done? By loving the world in the same way that we love ourselves: helping the needy, providing for the poor, not being selfish, always being positive and uplifting to everyone, being hospitable, and the list goes on. Remember, the one who says, “I don’t have to do any of that, I believe God and that’s all it takes,” his faith is bunk, but the one who says, “I will do that without asking why,” his faith is real. Therefore, be real: have faith and act it out. If we are going to have a good testimony to the world, we need to act out our faith and how ourselves to be full of life. If we do not do so, the body of Christ will look lifeless like a corpse. Who would want to become a part of a rotting corpse? No one. We must have faith and do good works, thus showing Christ’s body to be full of life and attract the world to Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Bauer, Walter. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature

(BDAG). 3rd ed. Rev. and ed. by Frederick William Danker. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 

Blass, F. and Debrunner, A. 1961. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.

Rev. and trans. by Robert W. Funk. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

 

Dibelius, Martin. 1976. A Commentary on the Epistle of James. Rev. by Heinrich Greeven. Trans. by Michael A.

Williams. Ed. by Helmut Koester. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

 

Hiebert, D. Edmond. 1992. James. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute.

 

Johnson, Luke Timothy. 1995. The Letter of James: The Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday.

 

Martin, Ralph P. 1988. James: Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word Books.

 

Moo, Douglas J. 1985. James: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company.

 

Moulton, James Hope, and Nigel Turner. 1963. Grammar of New Testament Greek: Syntax. Vol. 3. Edinburgh: T.

& T. Clark.

 

Nestle-Aland. 1993. Novum Testamentum Graece. 27th ed. Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

 

Robertson, A. T. 1934. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Nashville:

Broadman Press.

 

Ross, Alexander. 1954. The Epistles of James and John: The New International Commentary of the New

Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Philippians 2

About: this paper was delivered to Dr. Jack Painter at Simpson University during my junior year for a class in Greek Readings.

 

When writing to the Philippians, Paul spilled a fair amount of ink to exhort them to conduct their lives in a way that was pleasing to God. In Philippians 2:1-4 we see clearly what Paul desires of them in their conduct within their relationships with each other. In fact, Philippians 2:1-4 serve as the thesis for the entire chapter, while the remaining verses (5-11) are the working out of the thesis as displayed in Jesus Christ. From the beginning of the letter, Paul seeks to have the Philippians unified, and in chapter 2 we see that Paul exhorts unification by means of humility. It is the call to unification through humility that Paul stresses in vv. 1-4, and it is in vv. 5-11 that he exemplifies Jesus Christ as the epitome of humility being unified with the Father. Certainly, Paul’s point is that by being conformed into the likeness of Christ—the prime example of humility—His followers will also take on humility in their lives.

In verse one of chapter two we have the conjunction ou°n, functioning as an inferential conjunction. It serves to indicate a conclusion or summarization to what has already been said. Paul thus concludes, “Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any solace afforded by love, if there is fellowship of the Spirit, if there is affection and sympathy, make my joy complete” (vv. 1, 2). Paul exhorts the Philippians using the imperative, plhrw/sate/, meaning, “(You) make complete.” Following after the phrase, “make my joy complete” comes a subordinate conjunction for the subjunctive, iJ/na, indicating purpose (“with the goal that”). This conjunction shows the goal or purpose of plhrw/sate/: “make my joy complete with the goal that you might think the same thing” (v. 2) and thus be unified.

How are they to be unified? Paul tells them in verse two with a participial phrase of means, ej/conteß th/n aujth/n ajga/phn, “by having the same love,” an adjective, su/myucoi, “united in spirit,” and another participial phrase of means, fronouvnteß to ej/n, “by thinking one thing.” Paul, probably in hope of leaving no room for miscommunication, tells the Philippians how not to think by using a subordinating conjunction, mhde»n, linking fronhvte with both ejriqei/an and kenodoxi/an: “and not that you might think according to selfish ambition and not that you might think according to empty conceit” (v. 3). Paul uses the contrastive conjunction, ajlla», thus contrasting thinking selfishly/conceitedly with considering others better than oneself and still using yet another participial phrase of means, hJgou/menoi uJpere/contaß eJautwvn: “and not…and not…but in contrast to, that you might think in humility by considering one another as being better than each other” (v. 3). Paul again narrows this idea down even more by using another subordinating contrastive conjunction, mh», linking hJgou/menoi with skotouvnteß and contrasts the two, saying “that you might think in humility by considering one another as being better than each other, not by looking out for one’s own interests” (vv. 3, 4), and then following with an emphatic conjunction, ajlla» kai», linking eJautwvn with eJte/rwn, using two more participial phrases of means saying, “not by looking out for one’s own interests but indeed by looking out for one’s neighbor’s interests” (v. 4). The prevalent theme found in verses 1-4, is that Paul is exhorting the Philippians to be unified by telling them to live lives of humility towards one another.

It is in the latter portion of chapter 2 that we find a most important text understood to be an early Christian hymn (vv. 6-11). Peter T. O’Brien wrote that this “early Christian hymn about Christ Jesus is the most important section of the letter to the Philippians and provides a marvelous description of Christ’s self-humbling in his incarnation and death, together with his subsequent exaltation by God to the place of highest honour” (251). In verse 5, leading up to the hymn, Paul uses another imperative verb, froneivte, thus again exhorting the Philippians to “think this in you.” But what exactly are they to think? Verses 5-11 present Jesus as “the ultimate model for Christian behaviour and action, the supreme example of the humble, self-sacrificing, self-giving service that Paul has just been urging the Philippians to practice in their relations one toward another (vv. 1-4)” (O’Brien 1991: 205). Therefore, they are to think with the humility that Jesus had. Here Paul uses the relative pronoun, oJ/, thus connecting touvto with a relative clause: “think this in you which also was in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). The difficulty in translating verse 5 comes because this verse is elliptical (O’Brien 1991: 205). The question is what verb is to be supplied for this clause? It seems clear and evident enough that the aorist tense of the Greek verb, “to be” can be supplied here: touvto froneivte ejn uJmivn o§ kai» hjvn ejn Cristwˆv Ijhsouv, meaning “think this in you which also was in Christ Jesus.” This raises a question: what did Jesus have in himself? The relative pronoun, o§ß, connects Jesus with the next clause and begins to describe his humility: “who did not consider equality with god something to be grasped” (v. 6). The participle, uJpa/rcwn, is concessive and should be translated as follows: “although being in the form of God” (v. 6). Note that ejn morfhvˆ is a dative of sphere, yielding the idea that Christ was in the sphere of God’s divinity and majesty, where this clause “does not refer simply to external appearance but pictures the preexistent Christ as clothed in the garments of divine majesty and splendour” (O’Brien 1991: 211).

Paul then uses another contrastive conjunction, ajlla», linking hJgh/sato with ejke/nwsen and contrasts them in verse 7 saying, “who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, rather, he emptied himself.” The Greek word keno/w is understood to mean in context that “he emptied himself of his privileges” Bauer 2000: 539), thus relating quite nicely with the idea that Christ was in the sphere of God’s divinity and majesty which he was privileged to, yet gave them up. The participle labw/n is used as a participle of means, and answers the question how Christ emptied himself: “he emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave” (v. 7). According to C. F. D. Moule, the word douvloß “was best understood against the background of slavery in contemporary society: ‘slavery meant…the extreme in respect of deprivation of rights” (O’Brien 1991: 222), thus understanding that Christ deprived himself of his rights. Furthermore, “slavery would deny a person the right to anything—even to his own life and person’. The statement that Jesus ‘took the form of a slave’ thus means that he ‘so completely stripped himself of the rights and securities as to be comparable to a slave’. This assertion ‘constitutes a poignant description of his absolute and extreme selfemptying—even of basic human rights—and fits the context well’” (O’Brien 1991: 222). Here a participle of purpose, geno/menoß, is used to show the purpose of emptying himself of his privileges, thus translated as “he emptied himself…for the purpose of becoming like men” (v. 7). Although geno/menoß is often understood to be a participle of means, thus being translated “by becoming like men,” this does not seem to get the full point across of Christ’s emptying of himself as well as the purpose participle which tells the point of such emptying. It seems best, therefore, to translate this participle as purpose rather than means. After saying that Christ emptied himself for the purpose of becoming like men, a connective conjunction is used to connect ajnqrw/pwn with aj/nqrwpoß, thus being translated “becoming like men and becoming like a man;” when joined with a participle of means, euJreqei/ß, it then becomes “becoming like men and becoming like a man by receiving an outward appearance” (v. 7).

Again, geno/menoß is used, this time in verse 8, just as it was before as a participle of means and is translated as, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (v. 8). This participial phrase is followed by an ascensive conjunction, de», which functions to show the point of focus and is translated “even,” thereby translating the phrase as “even death produced by a cross” or “even death of a cross,” for the phrase qana/tou staurouv is a genitive of production showing that when understood this way it “brings out the force of the author’s thought a little better” and “de» makes the statement emphatic (‘even’), which fits well with a genitive of production” (Wallace 1996: 105).

In verses 9-11, we see the result of Christ’s humbling and emptying of himself; these verses “indicate that Jesus’ actions of 2:6-8 received divine vindication and approval” (O’Brien 1991: 253). Verse 9 begins with a inferential conjunction, dio»» kai», indicating a conclusion to Christ’s humility and emptying of himself to follow: “Therefore indeed, God highly exalted him.” A Greek connective conjunction, kai», functions here to connect uJperu/ywsen with ejcari/sato, thus being translated “God highly exalted and gave him a name above all names” (v. 9). Now a subordinate purpose conjunction follows these finite verbs; here iJ/na is used to show the goal of exalting Jesus and giving him a name above all names: “with the goal that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and every place under the earth” (v. 10). The connecting conjunction, kai», is used here in verse ten to link ka/myhˆ and ejxomologh/shtai, and thus it is translated “and with the goal that every tongue shall confess.” What will every tongue confess? The Greek epexegetical conjunction, oj/ti, answers this question by introducing a change that completes the idea of a head noun, which in this case completes what will be confessed: “every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (v. 11). Notice that the emphasis in the latter part of verse 11 “falls upon the word ‘Lord’: ku/rioß is given special force by being placed first in its phrase” (O’Brien 1991: 246). And for what will this be confessed? A preposition indicating purpose functions to answer this question, and that is exactly what we have here in verse 11; eijß is used to show the purpose of confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord: “for the purpose of the glory of God the Father.”

For the sake of simplicity, Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to become unified through the humbling of themselves and be conformed to the form of Christ who is the epitome of humility. Paul’s “primary concern,” here, “is to appeal to the conduct of Christ and to reinforce instruction in Christian living. The hymn presents Christ as the ultimate model for Christian behaviour and action” (O’Brien 1991: 252). Paul exhorted the Philippians to be united in their minds, in their way of thinking, in love, and in spirit through humility; and Christ, the epitome of humility, humbled himself giving up his own divine privileges and died on a cross, but God “enthroned [Jesus] as Lord of the universe, and the day will come when all will acknowledge this” (O’Brien 1991: 240). Such acknowledgement will happen whether or not they seek to praise his name, for when the last day comes and every tongue begins to worship Christ, such worship will be “universal, that is, rendered by ‘every knee’” (O’Brien 1991: 239). According to Hooker, Paul tells of a certain “‘interchange’: Christ becomes what we are—thus enabling us to become what he is” (O’Brien 1991: 239). Christ humbled himself so as to meet us where we are here on earth so that he could die for us and allow us to be conformed in his likeness—in his humility. And why did Christ do all this? He did it for the glory of God the Father, that the Father may be glorified through his actions of humbleness and that He may be glorified through our actions of humbleness as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Bauer, Walter. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian

Literature. 3rd ed. Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker. Chicago: University of

Chicago.

 

O’Brien, Peter T. 1991. The Epistle to the Philippians. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing

Company.

 

Wallace, Dan B. 1995. Greek Syntax Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.