Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From CT

This is from Christianity Today's website. While the Haggard situation is not funny, this misquote is:

"This story incorrectly stated that James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, believes people who don't practice what they preach should undergo an exorcism. His quote, in a TV interview about reaction to the firing of evangelical leader Ted Haggard for 'sexual immorality,' was: 'Everybody gets exercised (worked up about it) when something like this happens, and for good reason.'"
—A correction to a November 23 Rocky Mountain News article on Dobson and Haggard, which had the subhead "Dobson: Haggard not a hypocrite, just in need of exorcism."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Live and Learn

It's amazing the "loopholes" students can find. I decided to be gracious to my Gospel of John class and allow them to turn their papers in before the end of the day, since I would be in my office until late that night. As I started the class (after I announced this), a student asked me a question about the paper. I answered it and got about 1 line out of my lecture, when I looked back at him.

He had his laptop open and a stack of books next to it that looked like John commentaries. I said: are you actually working on the paper right now?!" He said yes. Unbelievable! I couldn't believe it, I laughed so hard my stomach hurt for an hour. He was actually going to try to finish the paper during class. That took nerve!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wright's Simply Christian:Part 1

I’ve been reading N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian over Thanksgiving Break and have found some interesting tidbits I thought I’d share over the next few posts.

Saying “It’s true for you” sounds fine and tolerant. But it only works because it’s twisting the word “true” to mean, not “a true revelation of the way things are in the real world,” but “something that is genuinely happening inside you.” In fact, saying “It’s true for you” in this sense is more or less equivalent to saying “It’s not true for you,” because the “it” in question—the spiritual sense or awareness or experience—is conveying, very powerfully, a message (that there is a loving God) which the challenger is reducing to something else (that you are having strong feelings which you misinterpret in that sense). [Pages 26-27]

He gives a great argument (I think) against an oft-used argument.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Billy and Inclusivism

Billy Graham appeared on Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” on May 31st, 1997, and here is the transcript:

Schuller: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity?

Graham: Well, Christianity and being a true believer–you know, I think there’s the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name.

And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.

Schuller: What, what I hear you saying that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?

Graham: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

Schuller: I’m so thrilled to hear you say this. There's a wideness in God's mercy.

Graham: There is. There definitely is.

Dr. John MacArthur, in one of his mailings, said this about Graham and Schuller’s conversation:

This has certainly leaped from Aristotle to the Catholic Church into evangelical Protestantism. Now we have a kind of Protestant viewpoint that says Muslims and Hindus and whoever are going to be in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom, in Heaven, with salvation whether they ever get a Bible or whether they ever hear the Gospel or whether they ever know about Jesus Christ. The Billy Graham organization affirmed that this position is the same as the one articulated in an article in Decision magazine which Billy wrote in 1960, so this is not something new.

Very interesting …

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


MacArthur on evangelism:
"If I had an hour to talk to someone about Christ, I’d spend 55 minutes talking about their sin and their condemnation, and I’d spend the last five minutes talking about the solution."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Net or Gross

Interesting article today on BP News ... any thoughts?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard is loved by many evangelicals, especially those who are embracing the Emerging/Emergent Church. Here's a quote from his own website. This is a hypothetic discussion with a girl. Right at the end of the (hypothetical) discussion, she says:

"But I still struggle with how I should view those who have other beliefs. I'm not sure I am ready to condemn them as wrong. I know some very good Buddhists. What is their destiny?"

Dallas Willard ... on his own website ... responds:

"I would take her to Romans 2:6-10: 'God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.'

What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say 'he can't save them.' I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: 'There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.'"

Interesting ... any comments on this man who was interviewd by Christianity Today and the interviewer said:

"He teeters on the edge of openness theology, saying God can choose not to know the future if he wants to, but he doesn't go as far as many openness adherents, whose views he believes 'slip into process theology.'"

Thoughts, please ....

Red-Letter Christians

Red-Letter Christians? It would be convenient for some to throw out much of what Paul had say, wouldn't it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Patterson, Calvinism, & Revelation

A post on said this about Paige Patterson:

"Very knowledgeable. Very smart. Well-read. If he has a weakness, it may be that his Calvinism definitely comes through too often. This concerns me, b/c calvinists often don't make very good missionaries or evangelists."

Then, on, this was a comment about his forth-forth-forthcoming commentary on Revelation (in the NAC series):

"This volume reminds me of Chrysostom's commentary on Romans. Patterson, like all great exegetes, does not tell us what to believe; he simply gives the student the information he needs to make up his own mind about this book. Regarding the great mysteries of the Revelation, Patterson does not pretend to have the answers, he does not give us what he thinks, he just gives us what he thinks we need. A true wordsmith; the words leap off the page. You will likely never read a negitive review on this commentary, Patterson has seen to that. My only regret is that it is currently unavailable; I seem to have misplaced my copy."

Then there was this one:
"Revelation--a word that strikes terror into the hearts of its hearers. Great minds like Calvin and Luther have skated past the aisle of the apocalypse, passed up a second helping of Great Dragon in a Lake of Fire, and cancelled flights on Air Revelation. But not Patterson. In this timeless wonder of a book Patterson sees this plate of mystery and says, "Yummy." Patterson's revelation is so concise with a kind of scholarly brevity that one wonders, "how did he do it?!" One reads with stupefied wonder, the words "I just can't believe he actually wrote it" going through one's mind. The excellence of the Summa Nihilo cannot be put into words. As Alison Krauss so astutely remarked, "You say it best when you say nothing at all." Throughout his exposition of the depths and mystery of the Revelation, Patterson has ingeniously found a way to retain these mysteries from cover to cover. Still, the profound scholarship herein causes the reader to often ask, "What is he saying?" just before realizing, the true genius is in what he is not saying. His utter humility in acknowledging the vast mystery of the book of the revelation causes the pages to virtually turn themselves. It is almost as if you are through with the book before you even start reading it. The only fitting words with which I may conclude are those of the author himself: "

And finally:
"It is not what you see in this commentary that is so remarkable. It is what you cannot see.
As shrouded as the meanings of the Book of Revelation, so is Patterson's illumination of the text to the prospective reader. The reality of his words must ever give way to the invisible pictures conjured in the mind as one meditates upon the depths of the Book of Revelation and upon the years, even decades Patterson has invested in the commentary's production.
As any commentary is forever a work in progress, this commentary is no exception. Only in the imagination of the consumer and Bible student does this work take full flight. Some would say that what we now see is as nothing at all by comparison. I would differ.
What we now see is what we now have. And what we have may be all that there is.
When that is said of a commentary, what more could be said?
Five stars."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Worship Songs

Christianity Today online has an interesting article about an atheist visiting churches after he sold his soul on ebay. One particular line jumped out at me:

"He was also impressed with the live music, something absent from the atheist conventions he attends. The quality of the words, however, was another story: 'I have no idea who writes the lyrics to this stuff, but it sounds like what a four-year-old could write: "God is good. God is strong." And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.'"

Ouch!!! Let me give a defense of these songs ... well, um ... okay, I can't. He's right. So many of the worship songs used today are written by those with a convenient and superficial theology. Why? Why is it that this criticism, which has been ongoing for years, has persisted?

Well, when 'contemporary' music began to be used in the churches, most churches and schools that were capable of training people how to plumb the depths of the Scriptures were anti-contemporary music. So, who could these people go to? Where could they learn the Scriptures?

That created a problem: those who were writing good (or at least decent) music with so-so lyrics were not going to be exposed to great Bible teaching because they were shunned from those camps. Today, most (not all) of these people are in Charismatic circles (Matt Redman, Paul Oakley, etc). Typically (and yes, I'm stereotyping), they aren't known for their great Bible teaching (though Calvary Chapel has some very good Bible teachers). So, the song writers of today are drinking from a very shallow well ... and I think that is at least partially why so much of the contemporary music is shallow.

Don't get me wrong, I think some of it is GREAT. Some of it isn't shallow, but fairly deep. However, most of it isn't, and this atheist's comments were right on the mark.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Darrell Bock and the gospel

Darrell Bock comments on sin and hell and ends up highlighting a real important distinction in how the gospel is presented today. I think what he touches upon here is one of the reasons we have so many "Christians" that never experience the abundant life ... they are just trying to avoid hell.

"The point is how often do we present that gospel as if the goal is to avoid something rather than to enter into something God desires for us. (I am speaking of emphasis here) When we ask, "if you died today would you know for sure you will be in heaven," it sounds like the core of the gospel is avoiding hell. But to me the key to the gospel is God moving to fix a broken relationship and giving his son to bring us to himself, something that starts before we die and lasts forever. Yes, we do avoid hell, but far more important is the restoration and reconciliation that is the gospel. It is not what we avoid that is key, but what we enter into and get to participate in that is central. Now that is really good news. He rescues us from sin but does not leave us there. So the bottom line is not avoiding a fate, but entering into a new state of unbroken relationship with God. This aspect of the gospel message often needs more highlighting or can get obscured if avoiding a fate is emphasized."

Marvelous! Bock nails this important issue; the gospel really is good news, not just the avoidance of bad news!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another Video

This one is a little longer ... and a little more cheesy!

I can't get this one embedded, but here's the link:

Monday, October 02, 2006


From The Church You Know ...

Friday, September 22, 2006


While the TNIV has received many insults hurled at it and those responsible for it, comments have mostly been over some the gender-inclusive (or gender-accurate, etc.) translation and not other changes.

The NIV has a glaring translation problem that has annoyed me for years now: the mistranslation of the Greek word for "sign" in John's Gospel. The NIV consistently translates this word "miraculous sign". However, it has been demonstrated (if you think that is too strong of a word, then how about "seriously cast doubt upon") that the word does not refer to the miraculous in John's Gospel. Praiseworthy is the TNIV for correcting this error and simply translating "sign" as "sign" and understanding John's use.

Now, regarding the gender-inclusive stuff ....

just kidding :)


Christianity Today just posted an article about a conversation Preston Jones (history professor at John Brown University) had with Bad Religion's (the punk band) Greg Gaffin, who apparently has a Ph.D. from Cornell. Gaffin is an atheist. Here is a quote:

"In those months of dialogue I also saw the devastation wrought by the passion for pseudo-scientific theories on natural history among some Christians. Many of my students believe that six-day creationism is an essential Christian belief—that if the first chapters of Genesis can't be taken literally, then the whole Bible is a fraud. What tragic nonsense!
Before Greg and I corresponded, I didn't care. "You wanna believe the earth was created six thousand years ago? Whatever." But Greg helped me see that this kind of gaping ignorance promotes the perception that theologically conservative Christians are the enemies of learning."

Christianity Today included this at the end of the article: "This article, as with all "Speaking Out" pieces, does not necessarily represent the views of Christianity Today." That's all and well, but this history teacher just got duped by an informed evolutionist. While there surely are many Christian's who use pseudo-scientific arguments against evolution, this man must not be very well read on some of the most recent Christian arguments against evolution.

What did I learn from this? Well, if a history teacher debates the issue of evolution with someone who has a Ph.D. in it, they will probably lose ... and be convinced. I wonder why CT would publish this? As an advertisement for this man's book, maybe?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Prosperity Gospel

Is it okay for a Christian to be rich? Well, Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world ..." now, if it wasn't okay to be rich, what would follow; something like "sell all and give to the poor," but Paul doesn't say that ... "not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share." Nothing about them being evil or in sin because they are rich.

However, the Prosperity Gospel goes from "it is okay to be rich" to "God has planned for all Christians to be rich". A logical jump of mammoth proportions!! Christianity Today online just reported about a recent Time magazine article and they included this about Rick Warren, a non-Prosperity Gospel preacher:

"This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", [Rick] Warren snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"

CT online says:
"It's smart for Time to make Warren the piece's chief critic of the Prosperity Gospel. (One of his favorite lines, "I don't think it is a sin to be rich. I think it is a sin to die rich," doesn't appear.)"

Go Rick Warren. That was the exact theological, technical word that I was thinking of regarding the Prosperity Gospel: baloney!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jill Briscoe and CT online

Jill Briscoe answered a question about women in ministry at She is the executive editor of “Just Between Us,” a magazine for ministry wives and women in leadership. She also serves as Minister-at-Large at Elmbrook Church in Milwaukee.

Her presentation in this article was very superficial and her knowledge of this subject that obviously is close to her heart is somewhat disturbing. Her argumentation is weak, as the comments below are intended to show.

She said: “So, after becoming a Christian, imagine my dismay when I first joined a church where women weren't allowed to do any of the things in which I knew they excelled!”
Response: I’m sure there are churches like this, but it seems to me that the majority of churches that I’ve been a part of would say that women can’t teach MEN, not that they can’t teach. The Bible never says they can’t teach … just not over men.

She said: “It wasn't that those who challenged me thought I shouldn't be exercising my gifts—it was that they believed "God thought" I shouldn't! This went against the very root of my identity and calling.”
Response: So she must believe that God has called her to teach men … the very thing the Bible speaks against in 1 Timothy 2:12. So, what should we trust more: someone’s subjective experience in their relationship on God’s life OR what the Bible clearly (yes, 1 Tim 2:12 is clear) declares? The answer may seem obvious to some, but obviously not all. This is similar (though the example I’m about to give is a much worse situation) to when a man says that God told him to divorce his wife and marry his secretary … after all, God wants him to be happy, right?

She said: “They believe Paul felt that because Eve was deceived, women are gullible and therefore mustn't teach men.”
Response: Somewhat of a straw man. Actually, Paul gives two reasons for why women shouldn’t teach men. The first one she ignored because it is a nearly impossible argument to defeat … because Adam was created first. Thus, it is bound up in creation (not culture). Instead, she focused on the second argument that is: a) controversial, and b) not held by all who are complementarians. So, somewhat of a straw man: she mentioned what some would consider the weaker argument used by complementarians (those that say women should not teach nor have authority over men in the church) and she ignored the stronger, more often used, argument.

She said: “Others think Paul was addressing specific circumstances in Ephesus …”
Response: She can now make this argument since she ignored the argument from creation. So, she points to culture as the reason for Paul’s argument, ignoring the very reason he gave for the command of 1 Tim 2:12 (“for Adam was created first”).

She said: “Years ago, when I discovered I had gifts half the Christian church didn't think I should have …”
Response: For the record, I don’t deny (along with many, if not most, who hold my position) that women can be gifted in teaching. They can also be gifted in pastoring (if you believe in such a gift). That is NOT the issue. The issue is the USE of the gift. She very well may have the gift of teaching (I don’t deny this), however, if she is teaching men she is MIS-using that gift according to God’s clearly revealed Word.

She said: “I don't want to get to heaven and hear him say, ‘Half-done, thou half-faithful servant.’”
Response: Well, at least she didn’t try to manipulate emotions J

She said: “I don't believe women should bury their gifts or let anyone else bury them.”Response: We are in agreement. Don’t bury your gifts women; men, don’t force them to … however, use them appropriately. Just as with most gifts, there are appropriate and inappropriate uses for our spiritual gifts.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Duvall and Hays

Daniel Wallace has posted some comments on his blog regarding inerrancy. Andreas Kostenberger has responded with some of his thoughts. Alan Bandy has also added some comments into the discussion. In preparing for a class this morning, I ran across another view from J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays in the 2nd edition of Grasping God's Word, an introductory hermeneutics book (published by Zondervan). They raise the issue this way: "which comes first, faith in Christ or belief in the inspiration of the Bible?" This is under the title (on page 410) "The Chicken or the Egg?" They conclude: "In actuality, it seems to us that the two go together and are inseparable. We believe in the divine inspiration and trustworthiness of the Bible because we know Jesus Christ, and we know Jesus Christ through the testimony of the Bible."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Inerrancy Discussion Continues

Andreas Kostenberger has an interesting post on inerrancy ... and he cites Wallace's post. This was a really good read, I thought.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Realized Eschatology in John's Gospel: Part 4

Reflecting back on the Gospel then, the disciples did not receive eternal life at 2:11, nor did the “many” in 2:23, nor the Samaritan’s in 4:39–42, nor the Jews in 7:31; 8:30, 31; 10:42; 11:45; 12:11, 42. No one was able to receive eternal life until after the Holy Spirit was given (see 6:63; 7:38–39; 16:7). Referring to the disciples, Culpepper says “that their faith (will) be incomplete until after the completion of Jesus’ work at his death” (Culpepper, Anatomy, 91). This is why I have attempted to discern how John portrayed the belief of those presented in the narratives in my Th.M. thesis, rather than whether or not they received eternal life. Taking salvation-historical considerations into account, the non-receiving of eternal life is not a reflection of how a person’s or group’s belief is portrayed. Terms such as “adequate” and “inadequate” are not completely appropriate, then, in this dialogue. Rather, I have tried to use terms such as “positive,” “negative,” “neutral,” “inchoate,” “spurious,” “deficient,” and others like it which are more suited for this discussion.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Daniel Wallace Challenged on Inerrancy

Daniel Wallace, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, was challenged on a blog on his views on inerrancy. He responded in this very forthright article from

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Forthcoming Commentaries

I found a great site that details forthcoming commentaries in many of the major series being published today. See here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Realized Eschatology in John's Gospel: Part 3

Because the Holy Spirit had to have been given before eternal life can be bestowed upon anyone, we can glean from this an understanding about how Jesus talked about soteriological realities during his earthly ministry. Though he may have talked about the results of believing in terms that were vivid and current, his words were really for a future reality. This applies to our discussion of eternal life and believing.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry no one received eternal life and no one received the Holy Spirit (in the current dispensation/administration way). As C. K. Barrett said, eternal life “in John resembles ‘kingdom of God’ in the Synoptic Gospels. That which is properly a future blessing becomes a present fact in virtue of the realization of the future in Christ” (Barrett, John, 215). The results of believing are for a different age. Just as no one in the Old Testament received eternal life or the permanent indwelling (sealing) of the Holy Spirit, no one before the exaltation received either as well. Abraham was reckoned as righteous before God, and therefore those in John’s Gospel whose belief is deemed as a complete response to what Jesus was calling for may be thought of in those terms. However, it would be inappropriate to attempt to analyze individuals or groups in John’s Gospel in terms of whether or not they have received eternal life. This is the wrong question. The correct question is to attempt to understand how John is portraying the belief described in each narrative. From this, we can then develop Johannine definition(s) of believing. Therefore, with Raymond Brown, “the full gift of life does not come during the ministry of Jesus but only afterward through the resurrection” (Brown, John, 1:lxviii).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Carson's Quotables

D. A. Carson is known for some extremely quotable comments in is writings ... places where he waxes eloquent out of nowhere.

Here is one from his John commentary, commenting on John 6:45:

"When he compels belief, it is not by the savage constraint of a rapist, but by the wonderful wooing of a lover."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Realized Eschatology and John 7

Let’s start a John 7:38-39: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus uses the present participle of pisteuō. In the context, He appears to be referring to the current moment in which he makes the statement … that is, during his earthly ministry. The result of those who believe, in 7:38–39, as John clarifies for us (7:39), is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus seems to be saying that anyone who believes him at that moment will become the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (“From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water”). While much discussion on this verse has centered on the OT reference, that isn’t as important for us here. Some of the suggestions are Isa 44:3; 55:1; 58:11; Prov 4:23; Ezek 47:1; Joel 3:18; and Zech 13:1. I prefer Zech 14:15-19.

Regardless, John says that the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had yet to be glorified. When Jesus was glorified, the Spirit was given, and then those who believed would become a fulfillment of this. However, during Jesus’ earthly ministry this was impossible. Jesus said himself in John 16:7 that it was not until he left that the Holy Spirit would come. And as Raymond Brown concluded: “it is apparent the gift of the Spirit is Jesus’ way of granting eternal life” (Brown, John, 2:741). So how could eternal life be granted prior to the Holy Spirit being given?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Baptists and Calvinists ... getting along?

May all participants in the upcoming White/Ascol vs. Caner bros. debate continue with the charitable attitude displayed in the last few days. I do look forward to October 16th.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Realized Eschatology and the Fourth Gospel

Thinking about Leon Morris and my "first love" of Johannine studies, I thought I'd turn my attention to the Fourth Gospel.

The Fourth Gospel contains verses that appear to say that eternal life was presently available to those Jesus was preaching to during his earthly ministry. For example:

5:24: “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.” (NET)
6:47: “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who believes has eternal life.”
6:54: “The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand.”

Other verses are complimentary to this theme: 3:15; 5:21; 6:40; and 17:3. Other verses said by the Evangelist also contain similar statements: 3:16, 19, 36; 8:51; 12:25. So, were people able to receive/have/possess eternal life during Jesus’ (earthly) ministry? Was Jesus referring “literally” to the present? Was the use of the present a literary device? What about a futuristic present … is there really any good evidence for that category?

Realized eschatology in the Fourth Gospel has been a popular topic of discussion (see references below). I propose that Jesus did not literally mean that during his ministry some were receiving eternal life.[1] Rather, he was speaking in the present about only something that could happen in the future. When one takes into consideration historical-salvation considerations, and in particular, the Johannine definitions of “eternal life” and “sin,” this dilemma can be solved.

So, to say it more boldly, Abraham did not have eternal life, when the disciples believed in Jesus they did not have eternal life, and no one actual had eternal life prior to the cross. How is that possible? We shall see ………

[1] Contra Carroll, “Eschatology,” 66, who states: “the disciples of Jesus, who believe in him as the Son sent from the Father, already possess eternal life.” See also, Pamment, “Eschatology,” 84, “One may reason that since belief in Jesus is possible now, eternal life can be a present possession.”

Some sources for Realized Eschatology in the Fourth Gospel:
Charles H. Dodd, Parables of the Kingdom (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958).

Charles H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (New York: Scribner’s and Sons, 1938).

Roderic Dunkerley, “Unrealized Eschatology,” The London Quarterly and Holborn Review 186 (1961): 51–54.

John T. Carroll, “Present and Future in Fourth Gospel Eschatology,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 19 (Ap 1989): 63–69.

John F. Walvoord, “Realized Eschatology,” Bibiotheca Sacra 127 (Oct.–Dec. 1970): 313–323.

Robert Berkey, “Realized Eschatology and the post-Bultmannians,” Expository Times 84 (Dec. 1972): 72–77.

Robert Kysar, “Eschatology of the Fourth Gospel,” Perspective 13, no. 1 (1972): 23–33.

John Painter, “Theology, Eschatology, and the Prologue of John,” Scottish Journal of Theology 46, no. 1 (1993): 27–42.

Donald R. Sime, and Jere Yates, “Eschatology in the Gospel of John,” in The Last Things (ed. W. B. West and Jack Pearl Lewis: Austin: Sweet Publishing, 1972), 124–139.

Severino Pancaro, “Statistical Approach to the Concept of Time and Eschatology in the Fourth Gospel,” Biblica 50, no. 4 (1969): 511–524.

Margaret Pamment, “Eschatology and the Fourth Gospel,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 15 (1982): 81–85.

Some commentary sources:
Bultmann, John, 155–7, 164–7, 219–20, 236, 256–62, 402–403.

Brown, John, 1:lxviii, cxx–cxxi, 2:741.

Barrett, John, 215.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Leon Morris will be missed

I'm speechless ... Leon Morris' John commentary was the first book that got me excited about New Testament studies ... praise God for this man's life and work. See here. His obituary is here. Some sermons by Leon Morris here.

An Argument for Altar Calls: Part 7

Acts 16:9 “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”

In Acts 16:9, parakaleo has been translated as “beseeching” (ASV, RSV), “requesting” (BBE), “urging” (ESV, NET, NJB), “prayed” (KJV), “appealing” (NASU), “begging” (NIV), “pleaded/ing” (NKJV, NRSV, NLT), and “calling upon” (YLT). The majority of translators used the sense of “to ask for something earnestly and with propriety” (Louw and Nida, 33.168). The Macedonian man was surely “inviting” Paul to come, but we know that because of the verb diabaino, to step or come across. That is the word that indicates an invitation, not parakaleo.

Matt 8:5 “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him”

In Matthew 8:5, parakaleo is translated as “beseeching” (ASV, KJV, RSV), “request” (BBE), “appealing” (ESV, NRSV), “imploring” (NASU), “asking” (NET, NIV), “pleaded/ing” (NJB, NKJV, NLT), and “calling upon” (YLT). Again, the sense of parakaleo here is the same as that in Acts 16:9. Note that the NET and NIV translation of “asking” is probably inadequate, since this word means more of an urgent type of asking.

But it is in Matthew 8:6 when we read, “and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented,’” that and implied invitation is given. Jesus tells the man in the next verse that he will go to his house. However, parakaleo functions here as it normally does: an urgent appeal, not an invitation.

Acts 28:14 “There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.”

Silva has stated that words should be translated in a way that provides the less dramatic impact on the meaning/interpretation of a passage. That’s helpful to remember in translation and when looking at parakaleo in Acts 28:14. While parakaleo in this verse has been translated as “invited” in the vast majority of major translations (ESV, NASU, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV), the minority have translated it with its usual meaning: “entreated” (ASV), “desired” (KJV), “great encouragement” (NJB), and “called upon” (YLT). Looking up “invite” in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, it yields this definition: “to offer an incentive or inducement to … to increase the likelihood of … to request the presence of participation … to request formally … to urge politely.” Notice that last definition: “to urge politely.” That is exactly what the majority of instances of parakaleo refer to … to urge. When inserting "urged” into Acts 28:14, we see that this normally understanding of parakaleo fits well … the aspect of an “invitation” is only borrowed from the following word, epimeno (“to stay”). Therefore, again, parakaleo does not refer to an invitation.

Therefore, this survey of texts reveals that parakaleo does not refer to an invitation. To suggest that altar calls are biblical because of the use of this word is inappropriate. This is not to say anything about altar calls in general … just this argument for them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls: Part 6

In Acts 8:31, parakaleo is translated various ways: “invited” (CEV, ESV, ISV, NASU, NET, NIV, NRSV, TEV), “earnestly requested” (AMP), “besought” (ASV), “made” (BBE), “urged” (NJB, NLT), “asked” (NKJV), “desired” (GNV, KJV), and “called” (YLT). As you can see, “invited” is the most popular translation. So, does parakaleo refer to an “invitation” in Acts 8:31. No. The verb here still means to “urge” (NJB, NLT) or “ask,” (NKJV) but since the request (AMP) being made is to “come up and sit,” the request is for an invitation. In other words, parakaleo still refers to a request, but it this context the request happens to be for someone (Philip) to “come up and sit.” Thus, parakaleo still refers to a request/urge/asking, not, strictly speaking, to an invitation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dave Ramsey

I'll get back to the altar call discussion soon. However, I was finally able to pinpoint exactly what bugs me so much about Dave Ramsey's financial philosophy. He said this morning on his radio show (a paraphrase) that we should live differently than everyone else now, so that later we can live differently than everyone else. What he meant by that was that if we live frugally now, then we won't have to live frugally when we are older. That, right there, is one of the big problems with his financial advice.

We ARE supposed to try to live frugally. Ramsey encourages people to earn as much as they can and save as much as they can. John Wesley did the same in a sermon called: On the Use of Money. However, Wesley scolded the Methodists of his day the same way he would scold Ramsey-ites. Wesley said that while Methodists were good at earning, and good at saving, they missed the whole point of the earning and saving. Scripture wants us to do those things with a particular goal in mind ... as Wesley put it ... to "GIVE ALL YOU CAN."

We don't earn and save so we can be comfortable. We earn and save so we can give! So, we should live differently than everyone else now, so we can GIVE differently than everyone else later. Giving is the goal, not finanacial comfort and stability.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Well, my move was much more difficult than I thought it would be. However, I'm back online and will continue my blog very soon. Sorry for the delay.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I will not be posting for about 1 week since I'm moving. I will be teaching New Testament at a great Christian university this Fall. We packed the truck today ... and couldn't fit all our stuff!! Arghhh! Please pray for smooth sailing and safe travels. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls: Part 5

Acts 2:40 “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’” (NASU)

Here are the several different ways parakaleo is translated in Acts 2:40: “offering” (them salvation) (BBE), “exhort(ing/ed)” (ESV, KJV, NKJV, NASU, NASB, NET, NRSV, RSV, YLT), “pleaded” (NIV), and “urg(ed/ing)” (NJB, NLT).

Any argument from this verse must be based upon the context, that is, Acts 2:41. However, it is stretching credulity and naïve to assume that every translation of Acts 2:40 translated parakaleo incorrectly. Rather, just because Acts 2:41 portrays what some might call an altar call or invitation, that does not justify stretching the semantic range of parakaleo to include “invitation.” Nothing demands parakaleo in Acts 2:40 to mean “invitation” and all these translation did a fine job (not too sure about the BBE, though) translating the word appropriately.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls: Part 4

Luke 15:28
"But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him” (NAS)

Here are the several different ways parakaleo is translated in Luke 15:28: “plead(ing/ed)” (NIV, TNIV, NKJV, HCSB, NAS, NRSV), “begged” (NLT), “entreat(ed/ing)” (ASV, ESV, RSV, YLT), and “request” (BBE).

Now, I should add that the Bible in Basic English (BBE) translated the phrase “pleaded with him” as “made a request to him to come in,” but this should be (mostly) written off as a typical expansion by the BBE without justification in the Greek words themselves, but by the overall context. This leads into why we can know that parakaleo by itself in this verse does not convey the idea of "coming in" or "invitation". Luke 15:28a says that the brother was unwilling to “go in.” Therefore, the translators of the BBE figure that the “going in” was the content of the father’s pleading/begging/entreaty. So, parakaleo simply conveys the idea of a request, an urgent request, maybe even begging. But no concept of “inviting” or “coming” is communicated by parakaleo in Luke 15:28.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Da Vinci Code vs. Left Behind


Denny Burk (NT prof at Criswell) has some good thoughts on Brian McLaren's lack of discernment with the Da Vinci Code vs. some problems he finds with Left Behind.

Monday, May 29, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls: Part 3

Luke 8:41

Here are several different ways parakaleo is translated in Luke 8:41: “desiring” (BBE), “implore(d)” (ESV, NASU), “besought” (KJV, RSV), “entreat” (NASB), “plead…” (NET, NIV, NJB, NLT), and “begged” (NKJV, NRSV).

In Luke 8:41, parakaleo has zero denotation nor connotation of “coming” or “inviting,” that is the job that eiserchomai (“to come, enter”) employs. Every single translation correctly relays the concept of “asking for something earnestly” (see Louw & Nida, 33.168). However, Louw & Nida include Luke 8:41 under 33.315: “to ask a person to accept offered hospitality – ‘to invite.’” But parakaleo does not mean invite here, but simply to urge, implore, or even beg someone to do something. It just so happens that the urging is to “come,” but the “coming” is communicated by a different word: eiserchomai.

Therefore, there is nothing in the use of Luke 8:41 to justify translating parakaleo as “invite.”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls Analyzed

Part 2

The first correction to Fordham is a very minor one: parakaleo occurs 110 times. Below is the list of the 110 occurrences. The numbers in parentheses is the subtotal for the word count.

Matt. 2:18; 5:4; 8:5, 31, 34; 14:36; 18:29, 32; 26:53 = 9
Mark 1:40; 5:10, 12, 17, 18, 23; 6:56; 7:32; 8:22 = 9 (18)
Luke 3:18; 7:4; 8:31, 32, 41; 15:28; 16:25 = 7 (25)
Acts 2:40; 8:31; 9:38; 11:23; 13:42; 14:22; 15:32; 16:9, 15, 39, 40; 19:31; 20:1, 2, 12; 21:12; 24:4; 25:2; 27:33, 34; 28:14, 20 = 22 (47)
Rom. 1:12; 12:1, 8; 15:30; 16:17 = 5 (52)
1 Cor. 1:10; 4:13, 16; 14:31; 16:12, 15 = 6 (58)
2 Cor. 1:4 (x3), 6; 2:7, 8; 5:20; 6:1; 7:6 (x2), 7, 13; 8:6; 9:5; 10:1; 12:8, 18; 13:11 = 18 (76)
Eph. 4:1; 6:22 = 2 (78)
Phil. 4:2 (x2) = 2 (80)
Col. 2:2; 4:8 = 2 (82)
1 Thess. 2:12; 3:2, 7; 4:1, 10, 18; 5:11, 14 = 8 (90)
2 Thess. 2:17; 3:12 = 2 (92)
1 Tim. 1:3; 2:1; 5:1; 6:2 = 4 (96)
2 Tim. 4:2 = 1 (97)
Titus 1:9; 2:6, 15 = 3 (100)
Phlm. 1:9, 10 = 2 (102)
Heb. 3:13; 10:25; 13:19, 22 = 4 (106)
1 Pet. 2:11; 5:1, 12 = 3 (109)
Jude 1:3 = 1 (110)

So, parakaleo occurs 110 times. Now, there are several categories of usage. For example, it can refer to:
“to request/beg/plead/appeal,”
“to exhort/urge,” or
“to implore (to come), invite.”

Examples of parakaleo referring to “comfort” may include Matt 2:18; 5:4; Luke 16:25; Acts 20:12; 2 Cor. 1:4 (3 times), 6; 2:7; 2 Cor 13:11; Eph 6:22; 1 Thess 3:7; and 2 Thess. 2:17. For example, Ephesians 6:22 says, “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts” (New American Standard [1995]). The word translated “comfort” by the NASU translators was parakaleo (an AAS3S). It was translated as “comfort” by the NASU (and NASB), KJV, NKJV, YLT (Young’s Literal Translation), and the BBE (Bible in Basic English) and “encourage” by the NET, NIV, NLT, ESV, NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), NRSV, and the RSV.

One example was found of parakaleo possibly meaning to “apologize” in Acts 16:39: “So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city” (ESV). The ESV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, and NET translates parakaleo here as “apologize” (similar to the NIV’s “appease”) while the BBE uses “made prayers,” the KJV and YLT read “besought,” the NASU says “appealed,” and the NJB (similarly) uses “pleaded”. Lexicographically speaking, it may be safer to include this use under “to appeal” or “to urge,” even though the context seems to urge for the meaning “apologize.”

Examples for “to request/beg/plead/appeal,” and “to exhort/urge,” are so numerous they aren’t necessary. However, several that I believe should fit into this category deserve further consideration since they may be the one’s referred to by Keith Fordham.

Here are the verses (in NASU) that contain a usage of parakaleo that could refer to an invitation (with the word translated from parakaleo in bold italics):

Luke 8:41 “And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house”

Luke 15:28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.”

Acts 2:40 “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’”

Acts 8:31 And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Acts 16:9 “A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”

Acts 28:14 “There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.”

Matt 8:5 “And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him”

Each of these will be looked at throughout the next few days to see if parakaleo ever means “to invite” in the New Testament and therefore if it should be used as an argument for altar calls.

Friday, May 26, 2006

An Argument for Altar Calls ... from parakaleo

The following excerpts were taken from the Christian Index and were written by J. Gerald Harris in February of 2005. It was an article about Keith Fordham, an evangelist, who was nominated for the position of 1st Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention recently.

“The Christian Index recently interviewed Keith Fordham of Fayetteville, who is serving as president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE). The national organization provides networking between churches and evangelists across the denomination.”

“Fordham, a member of Harp's Crossing Baptist Church, addressed the need of using harvest evangelists in revival services.”

“Fordham: I believe it is a Biblical command. Of the 108 times the Greek verb parakaleo is used in the New Testament, five times it is used in conjunction with preaching and means ‘give a come forward, stand by the preacher’ invitation. In Acts 2:40 Peter exhorted [parakalei] the people on the day of Pentecost. He asked those who believed on Christ to come forward and stand by him publicly and 3,000 came. He kept on calling them and they that received Christ were baptized.”

“Furthermore, public decisions bless the church. When people see the lost come forward to give their hearts to Christ it does something to the church that is glorious and unexplainable. When you take the crowd out of a Falcon's game at the Georgia Dome the Falcons are easier to beat. When the church sees people come to the altar it lifts the morale of the church. The people of the church need to know that Jesus is invincible and that He still saves.”

The next few posts will analyze the 110 (not 108) occurrences of parakaleo … don’t worry, each text won’t be analyzed individually. Does parakaleo ever mean to “‘give a come forward, stand by the preacher’ invitation”? This is not going to be a series on altar calls, but on this particular defense of altar calls.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Seven texts (or motifs) have been analyzed to discover that the concept of repentance is present in the FG. Not all of the arguments are equally convincing. Here is the list of arguments in order from the strongest to the weakest:

(1) The FG’s Paraphrase of Isaiah 6:10: 12:40
(2) Stop sinning: 5:14 (8:11)
(3) Light and Darkness Motif: 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5
(4) The Snake in the Wilderness: 3:14–15 and Num 21:4–9
(5) Born Again or Born From Above: 3:3–5
(6) Belief and Obedience: 3:36
(7) Abiding in the Vine: 15:1–5

The Abiding Passage in John 15 contained three possible arguments, but only one stood the test: “apart from me” is conceptually the opposite of repentance. In John 3:36, obedience was described as the outcome of both belief and repentance. While the discussion about being “born from above” has its exegetical difficulties, the translation of “from above” over “again” or “anew” and Ezekiel 36 being an OT background are a fairly solid foundation to understanding the passage. Since regeneration is the overall theme, of which repentance is a part, the concept is contained within this passage. This is, admittedly, a veiled reference to our concept. The background text to John 3:14–15 fairly clearly contains the picture of Israelites repenting. The Numbers 21 text is specifically the background text and there are no reservations in commending a reference to repentance in this text. The light and darkness motif contains the third strongest argument for repentance. The picture of those in unbelief fleeing the Light and those who believe coming to the Light portrayed the previously understood definition of repentance. The analysis of this passage concluded that every time the FG mentions believing (after 3:21), the concept of repentance should be kept in mind. The man whom Jesus healed in John 5 and then told to “stop sinning” contained the second strongest connection to repentance. Finally, the Johannine paraphrase of Isa 6:9–10 actually contains the term used for repentance in the LXX.

While repentance cannot be said to be an overwhelming theme of the FG, it should not be considered absent. Those claiming that since the FG contains no references to repentance then Christians should avoid referring to the concept in evangelism and gospel presentations may not have studied close enough the conceptual links to repentance in the FG.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Abiding in the Vine

John 15:1–5

The exegetical issues involved with this passage are too numerous to even begin to approach a detailed discussion and interaction with scholarship. However, these will be steered clear of while still attempting to discern if this passage contains the word-picture of repentance.

Three aspects of these verses could possibly portray the concept of repentance. (1) Does the concept of “bears fruit” allude to John the Baptist’s teaching in Matt 3:8? (2) Can the idea of being cleansed be related to repentance? (3) Does the phrase “apart from me” mean the opposite of repentance (turning away from God, not away from sin)?

The relationship between the Synoptic Gospels and the FG obviously can not be examined in detail at this time. Scholarship has mostly come to the consensus that the FG is independent. However, several commentaries link the author of the FG as being a disciple of John the Baptist (like Morris). This would leave the possibility that the author (and Jesus) could be drawing from John the Baptist’s words. While the phrase appears to be functioning in the same way with the same meaning (see discussion above under Matt 3:8), this appears to be too far of a stretch to put any significant weight upon.

Can kathairein be connected to repentance? In 15:2 it is used metaphorically, referring exclusively to pruning, with no moral or cultic imagery. But it is used differently in 15:3: here it does not, however, refer to conversion. The logon is the reason for the disciples’ purity. According to Bultmann, “this logos includes the forgiveness of sins, but does not refer specifically to it.” The theme of outward ritual purification (John 2:6; 3:35) may be held in contrast to this cleansing. The previous use of this word in the FG was at 13:10.

In 15:5, being “apart from” the vine is contextually the opposite of abiding. The idea of being apart from the vine contains slight connotations to being the opposite of repentance. Repentance is the turning away from sin and is demonstrated by bearing fruit (Matt 3:8); abiding is remaining in God and is demonstrated by bearing fruit. Regarding feron karpon in John 15, Bultmann says that it is not specifically missionary work, nor does it refer to success or reward; rather, “similarly to Mt. 3:8,” it “signifies the evidence for vitality of faith.” Abiding appears to be the other side of the same coin as repentance: abiding is loyalty, a remaining in God; repentance is turning away from sin. This final proposal is the most helpful one in seeing the concept of repentance in this passage. Again, repentance is linked with faith.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ryken, Calvinism, and Election

Philip Graham Ryken, senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA, said in an article “Hearts Aflame: Reformed Piety” (in Tabletalk, a magazine by Ligonier Ministries) that Christians were chosen “in Christ for the very purpose that we would be holy.” His discussion is on personal holiness, not positional holiness. He continues: “To see this, we only need to follow the logic of Paul’s opening argument in Ephesians. There the apostle praises God for choosing us in Christ ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4a). But why did God give us this blessing? What was His purpose for choosing us in Christ? It was so ‘that we should be holy and blameless before him’ (Eph. 1:4b).”

Does Ephesians 1:4 contain a call to personal holiness? If so, then 1:4b is a reference to personal holiness and not positional holiness. However, contextually, positional holiness seems to be the much preferred reading. For example, while 1:4 says that His choosing leads to our holiness, 1:5 says that Him predestining us leads to our adoption … a positional concept. In fact, the whole context of 1:4-13 relates more to positional concepts than “personal” (see also our “inheritance” in 1:11).

This is not to deny Ryken’s statement that Christians are chosen to live a holy life. Ephesians 2:8-10 - especially 2:10 (which says that the purpose for our salvation was for us to do good works) – affirms Ryken’s theology, but not 1:4. Did I miss something or has this convinced Calvinist read his thoughts into Eph 1:4?

Friday, May 19, 2006

The FG’s Paraphrase of Isaiah 6:10 - Part 2

John 12:40

There are two major, conflicting, ways to understand this verse. First, this hardening in no way rejects human responsibility. Israel had consistently been confronted with being born from above and consistently rejected it. Unbelief is not blamed upon a harsh, predestinarian God, but is portrayed as a punishment. This punishment takes the form of abandoning them in their unbelief “as a result of which whatever God gives them to see and hear can no longer lead to salvation, that is, to repentance and healing” (so Ridderbos, 444-45).

The second way views the original Isaiah text as a use of irony. Hollenbach is the major promoter of this view.[1] First, Hollenbach defines irony as “an expression of scorn directed against someone made by the speaker taken at face value.” The problem with irony is that, especially in English, there is no way to communicate it in the text. Therefore, context remains determinative in deciphering where irony exists.

Hollenbach says, “Isaiah 6.9, 10a serves largely to characterize the audience to which Isaiah’s message will be directed.” It was not that Isaiah was told to command them to be hardened (as the Hebrew text appears to indicate) but that he was told that they would be hardened (as the LXX appears to indicate). It appears, then, that the translators of the LXX were making the irony more explicit. This can also be seen in Matt 13:15 and Acts 28:27, in which they say, “they have closed their eyes.” Therefore, it was the people who rejected God. “John 12:40a basically quotes Isaiah 6.10a to show that the whole of Jesus’ ministry was prophesied by Isaiah to effect stubborn unbelief.” Since Jesus is the subject in 12:40, it would be him who was blinding the people. This makes his appeal in 12:35–36 seem disingenuous. Hollenbach concludes that the most plausible way of understanding Isa 6:10b (and John 12:40b) is as a statement of irony “showing God’s disgust with the unwillingness of his people to respond to Him.” If that is true, then the attitude of God toward his people in Isaiah is parallel to Jesus’ attitude toward the crowd in 12:35–36: “although time is running out, they are reluctant to respond.” According to Hollenbach, this verse is used by the Evangelist to explain why the crowd did not want to repent.

Both of these views have much to merit them, but since the evidence for Johannine irony has been mounting in recent research, Hollenbach’s argument has more to favor it. With this understanding, the theme of believing and repentance have come to the front as the themes for this passage.

Against this, it could be argued that the mentioning of strefo is inconsequential to the argumentation of this passage (especially if the first view is taken) and that the author of the FG is not, himself, using the word, but he is just quoting the Isaiah passage. In response to the former, 12:39 and Hollenbach’s hypothesis argue against strefo being an inconsequential word in this passage. This verse frames the discussion into a salvific context by the use of “believe.” The argumentation is as follows: “The Jews refused to believe and repent and have hardened their minds and eyes to the signs of Jesus.” The inclusion of the statement in 12:42 that nevertheless many believed gives an “implicit appeal to believe” to 12:37–40. The closing words of John 12:40 discuss “turning” and “healing.” Taken as irony, these words are a condemnation to the Jews who have hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes because they did not want to repent and be healed. The latter argument, that the author of the FG is not actually employing the term himself, is a little hazy. While it is true that the FG is referring to Isa 6:10, it is not a quote from the Hebrew nor the LXX. The LXX used a different (though definitely related) word; the Hebrew has many differences from this reference, also. Therefore, the author of the FG is probably reciting the verse from memory, paraphrasing it for convenience, or making the original authorial intent (irony) clearer. Regardless, it is his own words, not a slavish copying of Isa 6:10, that occurs in John 12:40. This makes his use of strefo even more compelling.

[1] Hollenbach, “Lest they should turn and be forgiven: Irony,” Bible Translator 34 (1983): 312–21. The following discussion is heavily dependent upon his article.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The FG’s Paraphrase of Isaiah 6:10 - Part 1

John 12:40

Another candidate for repentance in the FG occurs in John 12:40 with the Evangelist’s use of strefo. The FG paraphrases Isaiah saying, “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted (or turn back) and I heal them.” This text (which is closer to the Hebrew than the LXX) from Isa 6:10 (also quoted in Matt 13:13–15; Mark 4:11–12; 8:17–18; Luke 8:10; 19:42; Acts 28:26–27), while it could be understood as referring back to the rejection described in 1:11, is better understood in the immediate context of 12:36–39, 41–42. Craig Evans rightly concludes that John 12 functions “to explain how a messianic claimant who performs one messianic sign after another finds himself rejected and crucified.” The context in Isaiah 6 is that after Isaiah had a vision which resulted in his “repentance and cleansing” (Carson, John, 448), he offers to serve the Lord saying, “Here I am.” God informs Isaiah of the response he will receive from the people. What is God saying to Isaiah? Keener notes that “Later rabbis emphasized the note of repentance” in this text. Most all scholarly research on repentance has connected the underlying Hebrew word used in Isa 6:10 (shub) with the concept of the definition of repentance presented in this research: that of turning away from sin. The Greek word used here, strefo, means to turn.[1] It is the word the LXX used for repentance.

The paraphrase in 12:40 is connected to the quote in 12:38. The main theme connecting them is the question of why the Jews did not believe; but they also contain themes of being lifted up, glory, and sin. The aspect of their unbelief addressed is that of hardening (obduracy), which is essentially the opposite of repenting.

The author of the FG has taken some liberties in his citation of Isa 6:10: he emphasizes the blinding of eyes and hardening of hearts, and changes (from the LXX) the passive (“has become hardened”) to the active (“He blinded”). This change presents the peoples hardness as regrettable. The Hebrew uses an imperative: “Make the heart of this people.” He has not included the “deafness” mentioned in Isa 6:10. Goodwin concludes that the text that the Evangelist was using was, nonetheless, the LXX.

Part 2 will discuss two major ways of viewing this passage and the implications for repentance in the FG.

[1] In the LXX, the word used is epistrefo; the Hebrew word is shub. For shub meaning “repent,” see 1 Kgs 8:47; 2 Chron 6:37; Psa 7:12; Jer 5:3; 8:4; 15:7, 19; 18:8; 31:19; 34:15; Ezek 14:6; 18:30, 32; Hos 11:5; Zec 1:6; Job 36:10; Isa 30:15; 59:20. Regarding strefo, Brown (John, 1: 484) says that it “really has the sense of a middle voice: ‘turn themselves.’” Anderson, “Repentance,” 19, concludes that in Isa 6:10 it must refer to an external turning, not an internal. Therefore, turning from sins would then be the fruit of repentance and believing. His definition: “an internal resolve to turn from one’s sins.”

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Repentance found in the phrase "Stop Sinning"

John 5:14; 8:11

Two passages exist where Jesus tells an individual not to sin: 5:14 and 8:11. In 8:11, the woman caught in adultery is told to go and sin no more. While an analysis on how this phrase may be linked to repentance could be convincing (and I think it is), because I don't accept this text as an original part of the text of the FG, it would be inappropriate to utilize it for the current purposes (for support, see a recent work giving solid evidence for the spuriousness of this text: William L. Peterson, “OUDE EGO [KATA]KRINO. John 8:11, The Protevangelium IACOBI, and The History of the Pericope Adulterae,” in Sayings of Jesus: Canonical and Non-Canonical: Essays in Honour of Tjitze Baarda, eds. Willaim L. Peterson, Johan S. Vos, and Henk J. De Jonge (New York: Brill, 1997), 191–221.

However, the text in 5:14 does not pose the same textual problems. While the connection between the sin and the disease may be unclear, Jesus’ words about what he is supposed to do are not. Jesus’ words have been translated in two ways: “stop sinning” and “do not continue sinning any longer” which essentially mean the same. Grammatically, some have assumed that a present imperative that is prohibitive must be understood as “stop” doing something. However, while “that may be the correct interpretation in this instance, … there are too many exceptions to this grammatical ‘rule’ to base the interpretation on the present tense" (see Carson, John, 246, n. 1). Carson points out that the present imperative is used to stress urgency (as compared to an aorist imperative). Therefore, this is essentially an injunction to repent. Jesus is telling him to change his ways, turn his life around, and turn to God. The command to “stop sinning” is conceptually equivalent to “turn away from sin.” The narrative about the man who received sight in chapter 9 may be viewed in contrast to the lame man in chapter 5: while the blind man is viewed positively, the lame man is portrayed negatively. As the pericope closes, the reader is left viewing the lame man as unbelieving. Yet, Jesus confronts one who does not believe with these words: “stop sinning.” The context is salvific, not of progressive sanctification. The conclusions by some that calling for unbelievers to turn from their sin is adding works to the gospel is seriously questioned by this verse. It is fascinating that in the discussions on repentance in the FG, no one was found who raised this verse as a possibility.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Belief and Obedience

John 3:36

The inclusion of a discussion on 3:36 is based primarily on three reasons: (1) the relationship between believing and obedience has been controversial; (2) the relationship is significant for understanding believing; and (3) the lack of attention given to this verse in relationship to this discussion.

The primary purpose of this verse is twofold: (1) unbelief is shown by disobedience; and (2) a contrast in the results of each. The verb apeitheo is in an antonymous relationship to pisteuo. Obedience is presented as a natural result of one who believes. Therefore, the Evangelist’s portrayal of people’s belief can be known by their actions of obedience or disobedience to Jesus. Part of our understanding of repentance relates to this: one aspect of repentance is the changing of one’s actions to line up with God’s Word. This is what obedience is, also. Therefore, while obedience and repentance are not synonyms, nor nearly synonymous, obedience in 3:36 is a result of belief and it is also a result of repentance.

Similarly, Riddlebarger (“Faith,” 104) says that “one who has exercised faith in Christ, and is united to Christ by that faith, will repent and will struggle to obey and yield. But these things are not conditions for nor component parts of faith itself. They are fruits of saving faith. They are the inevitable activity of the new nature.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Light and Darkness Motif: 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5

The main passage to discuss for the light and darkness motif is 3:19–21. It was very convenient for Bing (“John’s Gospel,” 4) to consider 3:14–15, but not mention 3:16–21. While 1:4–9 uses similar terms to 3:19–21, this latter passage can be distinguished since light and darkness in John 3 “have clear moral connotations” (so Köstenberger).

3:19–21 comes at the end of the Nicodemus narrative with the Evangelist reflecting upon believing in Jesus, which leads to eternal life. Jesus is the Light who has come into the world so that people could have eternal life, rather than judgment. However, people love darkness. Why? Because by staying in darkness the evil deeds that they practice can stay hidden. They did not want their life to be examined and shown wanting; they did not want to cease from these deeds. This reflection by the Evangelist tells why Nicodemus’ belief was inadequate, and consequently, why those in 2:23–25 had an unacceptable faith: men love the darkness rather than the light. Rather than coming to the Light (Jesus), they flee from it so they do not have their sins exposed. The word elegxo refers to “not only exposure but shame and conviction” (Carson, John, 207). The Evangelist continues (3:20) by saying that those who refuse the Light actually hate the Light. This is followed by a contrast with those who “practice the truth.” These one’s do not flee from the Light because their life is full of deeds “worked in God.” The comparison is between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not. The description of those who believe is that they are obedient, abiding, and following the commands of Christ (thereby loving Him). The description of those who do not believe is that they have refused to turn from their evil ways: this is a description of those who have refused to repent. They do not turn from their sins and turn to God in belief. Therefore, one who believes is characterized as having turned from their evil ways and is living a life where their deeds are “accomplished in God.”

This passage is paradigmatic for the concept “believing” in the FG. Whenever the concept of believing is discussed, readers of the FG would (at least from this point on) understand that one who believes is one who has changed his life, been radically transformed. Also, future passages that refer to light (8:12; 9:5) should be viewed alongside this passage: Jesus, as the light of the world, causes people to choose sides. Some walk in darkness and are judged; others do not walk in darkness and possess eternal life.

A verse that may not seem connected on the surface to believing and the motif of light and darkness is 16:9. While the FG describes sin in 15:21–25, it is now explicitly defined in 16:9 as unbelief: Bultmann aptly notes: “The world reacts to Jesus by clinging on to itself, by menein en te skotia.” In 16:9, the problematic elegxo occurs: “in every instance the verb has to do with showing someone his sin, usually as a summons to repentance” (Carson, John, 537). Therefore, to convict the world is shaming it and attempting to persuade it of its guiltiness, and in this way “calling it to repentance” (ibid.). The goal of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world that it is guilty in sin so that it will turn to God and stop sinning. Repentance is always turning from sin; the FG defines sin as unbelief. Therefore, when one is said to believe, they have repented from the unbelief, the sin. The concept of repentance in the FG is turning away from unbelief.

When a character in the FG is portrayed (positively) as believing, there is always a description of action in the context to communicate to the reader what Johannine belief demands of one who responds to Jesus. Those who are portrayed negatively are not described as having these actions; therefore, their response of belief is less than what Jesus was demanding. John 3:19–21 connects the ideas of believing and moral actions. Those who do not believe have their “moral actions” described as “evil deeds.” Those who believe have ceased from doing “evil deeds” and now are doing works “wrought in God.” They have turned away from their sinful lives; in John 3 terminology, they are now born from above, born of water and spirit. They have been cleansed and have a new heart; this has been evidenced by their changed life (see Ezek 36:27). These words are reminiscent of John the Baptist’s preaching in Matthew 3: “bring about fruit worthy of repentance.” Those who the FG describes as pisteon are also described as having a changed life (not just mind). No one is portrayed positively as believing when this component is missing. Therefore, the concept of repentance has now been located in the Fourth Gospel. Any challenges?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Snake in the Wilderness

John 3:14–15 and Numbers 21:4–9
The primary connection being made between John and Numbers is the lifting up of the serpent to the lifting up of Jesus. Secondarily, as the Israelites were to turn to the serpent to preserve (physical) life, people are called upon to believe in Jesus for eternal life. In Num 21:4–5, the sin of the Israelites is referenced. 21:6 relays the consequence of that sin (serpents attacking and killing the Israelites). 21:7 becomes very significant as the people came to Moses and said: “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” This verse describes the repentance of the Israelites from their sin. In response, God told Moses to place a serpent upon a bronze pole and whoever looked at it would not die. Therefore, the connection between Numbers and the FG is two-fold. Primarily, the author of the FG is discussing Jesus’ lifting up (which Nicodemus probably did not understand until sometime after the crucifixion). Secondarily, just as the Israelites “looked” at the serpent and were given life, so belief in Jesus gives life. However, Numbers 21 portrayed the Israelites as repenting, turning from their sin, and then “‘looking’ in faith.” While the background of Ezekiel 36 proposed for John 3:3–5 was not a direct reference, this background is a direct reference. While Bing has examined the idea of “looking,” he failed to examine the context of the passage and its OT background.
For reference to Bing, see:
Bing, Charles C. “The Condition for Salvation in John’s Gospel.” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 9, no. 16 (1996): 25–36.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

John 3:3-5: Born Again or Born From Above ...

Jesus informs Nicodemus that he must be gennethe anothen. The first problem is the meaning of anothen: is it “again” or “from above”? The occurrence of this same word in 3:31 with the unquestioned meaning “from above” quickly tilts the evidence in that direction. It also has that meaning in 19:11, 23. (Note that when some [i.e. Ridderbos and Hendriksen] go back to the underlying Aramaic the discussion quickly gets muddied.) So, what does the phrase “born from above” mean in this context? While the expression likely harkens the readers of the FG to think back to 1:12–13 (which it then would mean “born of God”), Jesus himself explains it again to Nicodemus in 3:5: to be born from above means to be born of water and spirit. While water has been interpreted as a reference to baptism, purification, and natural birth, when the background to this verse is seen as Ezek 36:25–27, an explanation becomes easier. The themes in the Ezekiel 36 passage are of cleansing (“sprinkle clean water … and you will be clean”) and a new spirit (“put a new spirit within you”). The result of this action that God will take is that the people will “walk in My statutes” and “observe My ordinances.” The whole passage is a call to repentance, to return to God, and a description of what God will do: “cleans(e) human hearts” and “inner transformation by his Spirit” (so Köstenberger, “John,” 35). In fact, according to Keener, “Qumran’s Manual of Discipline connects Ezek 36 with an immersion in conjunction with repentance (1QS 3.8–9).”

However, Ezekiel 36 is not quoted nor directly alluded to in John 3. Therefore, this (likely) background text should not be pressed too far. Regardless, enough exists in Jesus’ own words to formulate a conclusion: be born from above means to be born of water and spirit. To be born of water refers to being cleansed and being born of the spirit refers to the spirit that God will place in Christians. This “water-spirit” is the origin of the regeneration that is demanded. Both of these result in living a radically different life; they involve changing. Jesus is exhorting Nicodemus to change his life, not just his way of thinking, but all of himself. Hendriksen refers to being born from above as a “radical change,” and Morris as a “divine remaking.” Certainly, Carson’s understanding that this passage’s focus is on “the need for transformation” fits the current understanding as well. This is related to the concept of repentance, whereby someone is called to turn from their sins.

Summary of Parts 3-7

Part-way Summary

These five arguments are listed below in order of strongest argument to weakest:

(1) Lamb of God: 1:29
(2) Passages Referring to Hearing, Keeping, Perseverance, and Love
(3) John the Baptist and Baptism: 1:25ff 3:23 10:40
(4) The Stone Waterpots at the Wedding in Cana: John 2:1–12
(5) The Samaritan Woman: 4:16–18

The final two essentially contain no connection whatsoever to repentance; the first three may allude to repentance, but the exegetical ground was somewhat shaky.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 7

The Samaritan Woman: 4:16–18

Though the discussion on repentance in the FG has been extremely limited, when it was discussed this text was typically raised. Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman and asks for her to go get her husband, knowing that she has had many husbands and the man she was now with was not her husband. While some may want to say that Jesus was calling for her to repent, that is, turn from her wicked ways, the text never says that. Jesus simply points out her sin (rather than ignoring it) and she counters by changing the subject rather quickly. Therefore, this passage does not contain the concept of repentance.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 6

Passages Referring to Hearing, Keeping, Perseverance, and Love

Some passages in the FG discuss the relationship between hearing and believing (5:24),[1] keeping Jesus’ word and never seeing death (8:51), the concept of continuing to follow (8:31), and love and obedience (14:15, 21, 23–24). While these passages contain some hope for containing the concept of repentance, the last one (John 14) may be the closest. In 14:15, Jesus says that you show your love for him by obeying his commands. Therefore, obedience, which is (somehow) related to repentance, is a proof of genuine love. After 14:15 is restated in the first part of 14:21, Jesus continues and stresses the relationship between obedience and love. This is again reiterated in 14:23–24. This theme re-emerges in the account of Peter’s restoration (21:15–17, 19b). These verses strengthen the argument that love is tied to action, but they still fall short of containing the concept of repentance.[2]

[1] Carson, John, 256, says that “Hearing in this context, as often elsewhere, includes belief and obedience.” Keener, John, 1:653, translates the word as “heed.” When “obey” is used, repentance is not necessarily in mind (cf. 8:55 “keep,” “obey”). But when a change is called for, and the result is obedience, then repentance is in mind. Bing, “John’s Gospel,” 4, says hearing means more than physical hearing, but means listening, as in “I hear you.” He never wrestles with whether or not the connotation of obedience is present.

[2] Bultmann is convinced that this passage does not portray him repenting: “Surely the denial and the repentance of Peter ought to have found mention! And nothing like an absolution is expressed in the statement of Jesus” (Bultmann, John, 712). Instead, he views this as Peter’s commission for the leadership of his current congregation. In 21:19, when Jesus calls Peter to follow him, it is a call to tell people to follow me (ibid., 712–13).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Hardest NT Texts to Interpret

Surfing around the biblio blogosphere, I saw a comment by Michael Bird about Romans 7 being one of the hardest NT texts to interpret. That got me thinking: what are some of the hardest texts?

Romans 7 is surely difficult, but I'd place 1 Cor 15:29 ("baptized for the dead") as more puzzling. Also, 2 Thess 2:8 (restrainer), Luke 22:36 (why do they need a sword), Mark 16:16-18 (the teaching on baptism and snake handling ... if it's original which I don't think it is), John 1:16 ("grace upon grace"), 1 Cor 11:16 (is it a practice in the church or not), Romans 11:26 ("all Israel will be saved"), Matthew 16:18 (is Peter the rock), John 20:22 (Johannine Pentecost?), and 1 Pet 3:18-21. Also, the divorce texts can be very frustrating when attempting to apply them to real life church situations. Any others you'd like to add?

Also, how about passages that are frequently mutilated? Like lukewarm Christians in Revelation 3:15-16 or "stumbling block" theology (Rom 14; 1 Cor 8) or 1 Thess 5:22? Those are really not difficult passages, but they sure are mishandled a lot.

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 5

The Stone Waterpots at the Wedding in Cana: John 2:1–12

This passage describes Jesus’ first sign in Galilee. Why not just take the sign at face value and move on? In the Fourth Gospel, one has not truly “seen” the sign until one understands its significance. According to Brown, the focus of this passage is the “replacement of Jewish institutions and religious views” which points to “Jesus as the one sent by the Father to bring salvation to the world.” Bultmann describes the main significance of passage as communicating Jesus’ divinity as Revealer. The only way a connection to repentance could be made is by combining the idea of the Jewish ritual purifications with forgiveness; then connecting forgiveness to repentance. This, admittedly, appears to be a stretch in light of the conclusions just discussed. Also, Moloney finds essentially no significance in the purification rituals mentioned: “There is no need to link the purification mentioned here with any particular feast, or with rites before or after a meal.” Essentially, it is not what the story is about. Therefore, no connection to repentance should be emphasized.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 4

Lamb of God: 1:29
When John the Baptist said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” does he insinuate the concept of repentance? The first problem with this verse is the expression “Lamb of God.” While it may refer to the apocalyptic lamb mentioned in Revelation 5 (Beasley-Murray, Dodd, Carson), or the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, it most likely is a reference to the Paschal lamb.

The connection to repentance can only be made if one understands the phrase “sin of the world” as a reference to forgiveness, and then points out the connection between repentance and forgiveness of sin in the NT (for example, see Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; 17:3–4; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31; 8:22). It should also be noted that there is one explicit mention of believing and forgiveness of sins in the NT: “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). Evidence for “takes away” referring to forgiveness can be found in the LXX of 1 Sam 15:25 and 25:28 where the Greek verb (airo) refers to forgiveness. In this context, it could also take the meaning of “sin-bearing,” though this appears less likely. This text appears too distant from the concept of repentance to draw any strong conclusions.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 3

John the Baptist and Baptism: 1:25ff 3:23 10:40

The author of the FG assumed some kind of knowledge of the general story about Jesus. This can be seen in a few places. In 1:40, Andrew is introduced to the reader as “Simon Peter’s brother.” However, Simon Peter has not yet been introduced; that occurs in the following verse (1:41). This does not necessitate a claim to Johannine literary dependence upon the Synoptics. Other examples are found at 3:24 (an analeptic reference to John the Baptist being thrown into prison); and 11:1–2 (an analeptic reference to Mary anointing Jesus’ feet). Therefore, familiarity with the general story about Jesus is assumed. It should also be mentioned that John the Baptist is always referred to as “John,” without the additional “the Baptist.” While this is frequently used to support evidence of apostolic authorship, it also demonstrates that the audience probably was already familiar with John (the Baptist’s) ministry.

If the above is true, and the emphasis of John’s ministry, as confirmed in the Synoptics, was repentance and baptism, then it may be the case that the author of the FG did not find it necessary to repeat much about John since knowledge about him was already assumed.
The words for “baptism” occur frequently with words for repentance in the NT (for example, see Matt 3:6–16; Mark 1:4–9; Luke 3:7–21; Acts 2:38–41; 8:12–38; 11:16; 19:3–5). In the FG, baptizo occurs thirteen times. The relationship of baptism to repentance may have been strong enough for the author of the FG to not find it necessary to make this link explicit.

Another connection, which could be made between John the Baptist and repentance, is the mention of “purification” in 3:25. While purification may refer to John’s baptism, Carson (more perceptively) connects this “purification” with the same word in 2:6 and thus Jewish purification rites are in mind. While more will be said about 2:6 later, Morris’ conclusion regarding this dispute is surely astute: “This verse is compressed to the point of obscurity.”

While the former text may allude (from a very distant perspective) to repentance, it surely is not strong enough to connect them tightly. The latter text does not meet the standards. Therefore, neither text adequately contain the concept of repentance.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 2


The following texts were identified as possibilities and examined to test their merits:

(1) References to John the Baptist and baptism: 1:25ff.; 3:23ff; 10:40.
(2) Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”: 1:29.
(3) The Wedding at Cana: could the reference to the purification jars be a reference to repentance: 2:1–13.
(4) Born from above/anew and born of water and spirit: 3:3–7.
(5) The lifting up of the snake in the wilderness: 3:14 (see Num 21:4–9).
(6) Light and darkness motif throughout FG: 1:4–9; 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5.
(7) The relationship of obedience and believing: 3:36.
(8) Jesus pointing out the Samaritan woman’s sinful life: 4:16–18.
(9) Jesus’ command to not sin: 5:14; 8:11.
(10) The motif of hearing and its relationship to obedience: 5:24; 12:47.
(11) The motif of “coming”: 5:40; 6:35.
(12) “die in sin”: 8:21.
(13) “continue to follow”: 8:31.
(14) obeying Jesus’ teaching equals never seeing death: 8:51; 17:6.
(15) “turn to me” from Isaiah: 12:40.
(16) obedience and love: 14:15, 21, 23–24.
(17) remain and bear fruit: 15:1–5.
(18) Peter’s restoration: 21:15–17, 19b.

The majority of these concepts and texts have not been analyzed in relationship to repentance in previous research. Some texts were found to provide no concrete evidence for the concept of repentance and others may provided only some weak evidence. The first group that will be discussed will include those texts that are not strong texts for repentance in the Fourth Gospel.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Repentance and the Fourth Gospel: Part 1

Now that the concept of repentance has been discussed, does this concept occur in the Fourth Gospel? Before discussing specific passages the may (or may not) allude to this concept ... what is the significance of the underlying Greek words to repentance (metanoia and metanoeo) not occuring in the Fourth Gospel?

In order to provide a small amount of evidence to the proposition that because something is not explicitly stated that it is not communicated, some items will now be brought forth to show that this idea is incorrect. The virgin birth is not mentioned in the FG, but that does not mean that the author did not know about it or intentionally left it out because he disagreed with it. The word (noun form) “faith” is absent from the FG. Hell (hades, gehenna, tartaroo) is not mentioned in the FG. Regarding other NT books, the verb “to believe” is absent from Revelation, and the noun form only occurs four times. While the verb “to save” occurs in Matthew fifteen times, Jesus is never called Savior. Similarly, the verb “to save” occurs in Mark fourteen times and “salvation” occurs once, but Jesus is never called Savior. If the absence of a word means de facto that the author purposefully left it out and/or the concept is not present then:

(1) The concept of Jesus as Savior is absent from Matthew, Mark, Romans, Colossians, Hebrews, and Revelation;
(2) The concept of grace is absent from Matthew and Mark;
(3) The concept of salvation is absent (in noun form) from Matthew and completely in Colossians;
(4) The verb pisteuo does not occur in Colossians or Revelation and the noun pistis does not occur in the FG;

These conclusions are unwarranted: the absence of a word does not necessitate the absence of the concept. This out-dated linguistic mindset is what led to so many problem with the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. The next post will list texts that may contain the concept of repentance in the Fourth Gospel.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

Two interesting (and short) thoughts on the Gospel of Judas: the first by Craig A. Evans and the second by Andreas J. Kostenberger. Good reads!

The Meaning of Repentance: Conclusion

The three main views on the definition of metanoia are: (1) an actual turning away from one’s sins (not just a willingness or resolve to do so); (2) the intention, resolve, or willingness to turn from sins; (3) to change one’s mind (about something). Metanoeo and metanoia do not mean “to be remorseful,” “to be sorry,” or “to regret;” that is the primary meaning of metamelomai. It is more than a “change of mind.” It is not simply “turning over a new leaf.” Rather repentance involves a change in the mind and conduct, which involves (at least) a resolve to turn away from sins that produces demonstrable results. Some have bemoaned that these words were translated by our English word repent. Dement says that the concept of repentance is “very difficult to express in other languages” (Dement, “Repent,” 136). Kümmel prefers the translation “conversion” or “convert.” Genuine repentance contains three elements: cognitive (understand some things about God and sin), emotional (abhor sin), and volitional (determination to forsake sins).

Some would accuse those viewing repentance this way as denying justification by grace through faith (alone). This understanding does not make repentance a work; rather Scripture clearly calls it a gift (so Richardson, Stagg). This is brought out specifically in Rom 2:4 and 2 Tim 2:25: repentance is not achieved, but received. It is not a work; it is not a way to merit or be rewarded salvation. Therefore, it is a God enabling human response.

Can the OT help to understand the NT meaning of metanoia? The data is agreed upon but conclusions differ. If anything, the idea of turning from sins may not have been dominant and changing one’s mind may have been. But conclusions are tenuous. This is the reason that the emphasis has remained on the evaluation of the data from the NT.

Two aspects of repentance need to be distinguished. The emphasis in Scripture is upon the initial act of an unbeliever turning away from his sins and coming to faith in Christ. However, repentance is also a part of progressive sanctification, whereby Christians continually confess and align their lives with God’s will (see Luke 22:31–32; Eph 4:22–23; Rev 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19). It exists throughout one’s Christian life.

Therefore, this study sides with definition (2) described above, while finding much sympathy for the first definition.

Summary of Findings
Matt 3:7–9__Genuine repentance includes good fruit
Mk 1:14–15__Repentance and faith are inseparable, linked; repentance precedes faith
Matt 12:41___Repentance linked to turning; also related to believing
Acts 3:19____Repenting and turning are related
Acts 10:43___Repentance, believing, and turning are all related to each other
___________and to forgiveness of sins
Acts 11:19___Believing and turning are related
Acts 20:20___Repentance is directed toward God; it precedes believing
Acts 26:20___Paul characterized his preaching ministry as a call to repent

Who believes what?
Those who side with the first definition above include:
James Montgomery Boice, James Graham, George Peters, Charles H. H. Scobie, A. W. Tozer, Bruce Demarest, William Barclay, F. C. Grant, Daniel Fuller, Mark R. Talbot, Walter Chantry, J. I. Packer, Robert N. Wilkin, and Zane Hodges, (who says repentance is turning, but that it has nothing to do with salvation, just a harmonious relationship with God).

Those who side with the second definition above include:
Billy Graham, George Ladd, John R. W. Stott, and A. W. Pink (at times Pink seems to say it is an actual turning, at other times a determination to turn).

Those who side with the third definition above include:
Lewis Sperry Chafer, G. Michael Cocoris, H. A. Ironside, and Charles C. Ryrie.