Monday, August 31, 2015

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (The Referent?)

A reader has asked me to watch a video, then offer some comments on it. My time is tight now. But I did view this video and might have some thoughts prepared by Wednesday. I've heard the argument before that Satan is not the referewnt of 2 Cor 4:4, but it's really God (Jehovah).

Personally, I don't have strong feelings about the issue, but my current position is that Satan is being discussed in this context. Yet I want to weigh and present evidence for what I say. So I post the YT link for now and will let my readers decide if this subject interests them.

Metaphoric Language for the Divine (the Son's Birth and Kingly Rule)

I want to avoid undue speculation here, but it's possible that events which Scripture reports transpiring in the spirit realm are usually metaphorically tinged. I desire to avoid the position, however, that says one can never speak literally about God. Nevertheless, when Jehovah "speaks" to His spirit sons while convening the heavenly council, which is reported in 1 Kings 22:19-23, the description probably should not be taken literally. In other words, God cannot have a voice in the same way that humans have voices since "He" is not human (Num. 23:19), lacks a larynyx (etc.) and there is evidently no way for sound waves to travel in the spirit realm because it is more than likely devoid of matter or atmospheric conditions which makes vocal sounds possible. John Sanders also seems to make an excellent point when he notes:

"When God is said to be a husband, father and friend, these metaphors depend on the reality of God's being a personal agent" (The God Who Risks, page 26).

The point I want to extract from Sander's comment is that when the Bible speaks about God being a husband, father or friend, it is employing metaphorical language. God doesn't literally have a wife and He is not a friend to me in the same way that my human friends are. The same principle applies to my relationship with Jehovah as Father or when it comes to His relationship with Jerusalem above (Gal. 4:26)--his figurative wife.

Having said the foregoing, however, I want to make it clear that I think it is still possible to speak literally (i.e., non-metaphorically) about certain spiritual realities. A medieval thinker named Duns Scotus set forth the possibility that we can speak univocally about God and creatures. The late William Alston did work in our time on this same question.

One example of metaphorical uses in Scripture might be Col. 1:15. PRWTOTOKOS is possibly a metaphor that is not to be construed literally: (1) For according to Scripture, Christ was not really born, but he was created since John calls him, the ARXH THS KTISEWS (Rev. 3:14). The term "born" (and its derivatives or cognates) is used metaphorically in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the divine act of bringing forth a contingent entity. Ps. 90:2 refers to the "birth" of mountains actually created by God. Isa. 66:7-8 depicts Zion giving birth to sons and a land in one day. But the context shows that God is the one who causes Zion to bring forth sons in a figurative sense. He too produces the land spoken of in this verse in that He is responsible for the repatriation of Judah and causes her to teem. By returning Judah to her homeland, God "creates" a new heaven and a new earth (Isa. 65:17ff). However, the prophet also employs birth language to delineate this event.

BDB Hebrew and English Lexicon likewise shows that God figuratively becomes a Father to the Son in that He installs His anointed one upon Zion, His holy mountain (Ps. 2:7). Even in its Messianic sense, the term "Son" in the second psalm only has reference to the king's function; it does not convey the thought of a divine generatio but rather "an investiture with royal dignity." Artur Weiser points out that the OT rejects the notion of God literally procreating a kingly human son (Ps. 89:26). The psalmist, he observes, excludes the view of God physically generating the Israelite king by employing the word "today" and the familiar adoption formula "you are my son" in connection with the generative language of Ps. 2:7. The King consequently becomes God's Son through the process of enthronement. He is thus YHWH's vice-regent and figurative royal offspring; the language in the second psalm turns out to be metaphorical.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hypothetical Syllogism Regarding the Trinity (Falsifiability)

1) If the Trinity doctrine can neither be proved nor disproved, then it is not falsifiable.
2) If the Trinity doctrine is not falsifiable, then it is neither true nor false.
3) Therefore, if the Trinity doctrine can neither be proved nor disproved, then it is neither true nor false.

Proof here refers to rational argumentation (a logical demonstration) as opposed to proving the doctrine from biblical texts or from creation, although reasoning is also used when one attempts to make a case from scripture for one doctrine or another.

Karl Popper is known for advocating falsification when it comes to scientific hypotheses. He evidently thought: "The adherents of a pseudo-science are able to cling to its hypotheses no matter how events turn out, because the hypotheses are not testable." So if the Trinity doctrine is not logically testable or falsifiable, that would seem to make us question its overall truth-value or its claims pertaining to deity.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2 Corinthians 5:19 (V.P. Furnish's Commentary)

I found a valuable discussion of 2 Corinthians 5:19 in V.P. Furnish's Anchor Bible Commentary on 2 Corinthians. The discussion spans about three pages (pp. 317-319), so I will merely sum up some of the main points here.

ὡς ὅτι: The Latin Vulgate gives this phrase a causal sense, treating it like ὅτι. It renders ὡς ὅτι as QUONIAM QUIDEM ("since" or "because").

Others think that ὡς ὅτι (in 2 Cor. 5:19) is epexegetical and that it should be rendered "namely that" or "that is."

Kasemann construes the ὡς in this passage as transitional: he thinks that ὅτι introduces a quotation. Furnish concurs and therefore suggests the translation for ὡς ὅτι: "As it is said."

Concerning θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ, Furnish makes the following points:

(1) One may read the verb ἦν independently of the participle ("God was in Christ, reconciling").

(2) The construction in 2 Cor. 5:19 could be periphrastic.

(3) θεὸς could be a predicate nominative rather than the subject of the verb ἦν.

Furnish prefers (2) and translates thus: "God, in Christ, was reconciling."

He sets his rendering off by commas "to make it clear that 'God-in-Christ' is not intended as an incarnational formula here [in 2 Cor. 5:19]. Nor does the phrase in Christ have the full eschatological meaning present in v. 17. Rather, as observed already by Chrysostom (NPNF, 1st Ser. XII:333), it is equivalent to through Christ in v. 18" (Furnish 318).

There is much more, so I encourage you to reference Furnish's treatment of 2 Cor 5:19ff.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the NT (Daniel Wallace Video Lecture)




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Herodotus and the Greek Word γενέσθαι (for Sean)

ἀπικόμην δὲ καὶ ἐς Θάσον, ἐν τῇ εὗρον ἱρὸν Ἡρακλέος ὑπὸ Φοινίκων ἱδρυμένον, οἳ κατ᾽ Εὐρώπης ζήτησιν ἐκπλώσαντες Θάσον ἔκτισαν: καὶ ταῦτα καὶ πέντε γενεῇσι ἀνδρῶν πρότερα ἐστὶ ἢ τὸν Ἀμφιτρύωνος Ἡρακλέα ἐν τῇ Ἑλλάδι γενέσθαι. (The Histories 2.44.4)

Then I went to Thasos, too, where I found a temple of Heracles built by the Phoenicians, who made a settlement there when they voyaged in search of Europe; now they did so as much as five generations before the birth of Heracles the son of Amphitryon in Hellas. (A.D. Godley translation, 1920)

See Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 1.21.147.

Picture courtesy of

In the public domain.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Theocentrism in Revelation (Revelation 11:15ff)

"The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!" (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The "He" who will reign forever and ever is God the Father. He is the "Lord God Almighty" mentioned above. Compare Revelation 1:4-8.

"The radical theocentrism of John's revelation is not heard more clearly than here. The antecedent of he will reign for ever and ever is God rather than either Christ or both God and Christ" (Robert W. Wall, Revelation, page 153).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Demas (2 Timothy 4:10)

In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul tells Timothy that Demas forsook him because Demas "loved the present age." Just exactly what this phrase means has been hotly debated. Gordon Fee writes that apostasy is signified by the phrase AGAPHSAS
TON NUN AIWNA (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus [New International Biblical Commentary], Page 299).

Yet Thomas D. Lea avers: "Paul's words [in 2 Tim. 4:10] did not picture him [Demas] as an utter apostate but reflected disappointment at his self-interest" (1 & 2 Timothy, Titus [New American Commentary], Page 252).

My question: does the use of AGAPH here or anything contained in the syntax of this Pauline account suggest that Demas was an apostate? Or could it be that he simply left off sharing in Paul's ministry, which shows something about his spiritual state, but does not mean he became an apostate? Lastly, if Demas was "saved" and did in fact defect from the apostle and (more importantly) the Lord Jesus Christ--it would seem that a genuine Christian can apostatize after experiencing God's unparalleled XARIS.