Sunday, June 30, 2019

E.A. Speiser's Commentary Remarks for Genesis 31:42ff

the Awesome One of Isaac. The appellative (Heb. pahad) remains obscure. It may have here its customary sense of “fear,” in which case some reference to the Ordeal of Isaac (xxii) may be implicit; or it might be an altogether different term; cf. A. Alt, Der Gott der Vater, 1929, pp. 27 ff.

From Speiser, Anchor Bible Commentary on Genesis, page 247.

Craig Keener's Thoughts for Matthew 4:8-10 (Pages 86-7)

For the third temptation, the devil took Jesus “to a very high mountain” (v. 8). Again, this is visionary, so we should not expect to be able to identify a specific mountain in or near Israel. Nevertheless, “high” mountains do figure significantly in Jewish traditions (see Isa 40:9; Ezek 17:23; 20:40; 40:2; Bar 5:7). Two passages from intertestamental writings could be especially pertinent. The patriarch Levi describes a dream: “And I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it” (T. Levi 2:5). A vision is explained to Enoch: “This high mountain which you have seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is his throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when he shall come down to visit the earth with goodness” (1 Enoch 25:3).
The devil showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (v. 8). Taking Jesus up to a high mountain, that he may see “all the kingdoms of the world,” may allude to Deut 34:1–4, where God showed Moses the length and breadth of the Promised Land. But the parallel is inexact, for the devil shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world, not the land of Israel, and offers to give them to him, not withhold them. We should understand these kingdoms as Gentile kingdoms, some of which have oppressed Israel and some, like the Roman Empire, that still do. The devil promises to give “all these” to Jesus. This is a dream offer for a would-be messianic leader of Israel itching to throw off the Gentile yoke. The language of the devil’s offer, “all these I will give you,” parallels the Testament of Job, in which the devil gains authority over all that Job owns (T. Job 8:1–3; 16:2).

Friday, June 28, 2019

Introduction to Ephesians (Adaptation of a Talk)

1) What is the sacred secret (τὸ μυστήριον)?

2) What is Jehovah's administration (οἰκονομίαν)?

3) How can each of us promote unity in Jehovah's organization today?

Eph. 1:8-9, the sacred secret involves the messianic kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ and his 144,000 co-rulers.

Mark 4:11 links the sacred secret with God's kingdom when Jesus there exclaims to his disciples: “To you the sacred secret of the kingdom of God has been given.”​

Compare Ephesians 3:4-6.

In a similar manner, Jehovah's sacred secret and his administration are intimately related. Continuing with Eph. 1:10, we read that Jehovah purposed . . . (read Eph. 1:10)

So what is this administration? It is God's arrangement for unifying all his intelligent creatures, both the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. This administration will carry out its objective in two stages. The first stage prepares the sacred congregation of anointed ones for life in heaven under Jesus Christ as their spiritual Head. This stage began at Pentecost 33 C.E. when Jehovah started to gather those who would rule with Christ in heaven. (Acts 2:1-4) Since the anointed have been declared righteous for life on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, they heartily accept their standing as “God’s children.”​—Rom. 3:23, 24; 5:1; 8:15-17.

The second stage of Jehovah's administration prepares those who will dwell in Paradise on earth under Christ’s Messianic Kingdom. The “great crowd” comprise the initial part of this group. (Rev. 7:9, 13-17; 21:1-5)

During the Thousand Year Reign, they will be joined by billions of resurrected ones. (Rev. 20:12, 13) Imagine how the resurrection will further demonstrate our unity! At the end of the thousand years, the “things on the earth” will be subjected to a final test. Those proving faithful will be adopted as earthly “children of God.”​—Rom. 8:21; Rev. 20:7, 8.

Both stages of God’s administration are concurrently developing today​—the heavenly and earthly parts.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Galatians 2:11-14 ( Adaptation of a Talk)

What lessons can we learn from Paul's inspired letter to the Galatians?

Read Galatians 2:11-13.

Did you notice why Peter refused to associate with his gentile brothers when circumcised Christians were around? Peter trembled at men, thereby giving way to the snare mentioned in Prov. 29:25. Despite his firsthand knowledge of Jehovah’s thinking on the matter, Peter feared the opinion of circumcised Jewish brothers from Jerusalem (men from James). So Paul resisted him face-to-face (κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην). What possibly accounted for Peter's fear of the men from James?

Ronald Y.K. Fung offers this suggestion:
Peter's "fear" may have been no more than a genuine concern lest he, who was head of the "home mission" work of the Jerusalem church (cf. 2:7), should appear to be (and be reported as) apostatizing from Judaism and thus prove a stumbling-block to those whom he was seeking to evangelize. But the actual term used ("he was afraid"; phoboumenos) suggests a rather stronger emotional reaction and makes it plausible that there was more to the message from James than was suggested above: if that message had also appealed to Peter's concern for the physical safety of the Jewish Christian churches in Judea, which were already in considerable jeopardy from nonChristian Jews (cf. 5:11; 6:12) as a result of the increasing rumors of Jewish Christian fraternizing with uncircumcised Gentiles in Antioch and Galatia, this would provide further explanation for Peter's behavior.

Whatever caused Peter's fear, Paul felt the need to correct Peter because he avoided the non-Jewish brothers when the circumcised brothers were around. How would Peter respond to Paul's strong counsel?

Please notice Galatians 2:14

Although Peter demonstrated the fear of man sometimes, he never forsook Jehovah or Jesus. For example, Peter publicly denied his Master, not just once, but three times. (Luke 22:54-62) Later, Simon Peter treated gentile Christians as if they were somehow less than circumcised Jewish Christians. But the apostle Paul did not tolerate such class distinctions in the congregation (compare James 2:1-4). Before Peter's conduct could spoil the brotherhood, Paul summoned up the necessary boldness to counsel Peter directly, that is, face-to-face--and he counseled Peter in front of all the brothers at Antioch. (Gal. 2:11-14)

How did Peter respond to Paul's strong rebuke? Did he take offense and decide to quit being a Christian?

We know that Peter seriously considered Paul’s counsel, applied it, and kept running in the race for life. See Proverbs 19:20. May we imitate his fine example.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Physis and Nature

I thought you might enjoy this tidbit from Louw and Nida's Greek-English Lexicon. The information can be found under semantic domain 58.8:

"φύσις,εως f: the nature of something as the result of its natural development or condition--'nature.' τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς 'beings who by nature are not gods' Ga 4.8; θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως 'sharers in the divine nature' 2 Pe 1.4.

For languages in which there is really no ready equivalent to the lexical term 'nature,' it may be possible to render the expression in Ga 4.8 as 'beings who are really not gods,' and in 2 Pe 1.4 one may translate 'to share in what God is like' or 'to be like God in certain ways.'"

Sunday, June 23, 2019

What the Word "Subsistence" Means in Trinitarian Lingo

I would say that "subsistencies" within a Trinitarian context means "divine persons." For a number of Trinitarians, subsistencies are persons and persons are subsistencies (a convertible proposition)--the denotation "person" for
subsistentia is a familiar one to those who have studied Latin theology.

In this regard, I notice that the Iconoclastic Council of 754 professes:

"They [the Nestorians] fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, ascribe to it a subsistence of its own, a personality of its own, which they depict, and thus introduce a fourth person into the Trinity."

The same council declared:

"If anyone shall not confess, according to the tradition of the Apostles and Fathers, in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost one godhead, nature and substance, will and operation, virtue and dominion, kingdom and power in three subsistencies, that is in their most glorious Persons, let him be anathema."

Another source (The Belgic Confession, Article 8) provides this understanding of the tripersonal deity:

Nevertheless, this [triune] distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has a distinct subsistence distinguished by characteristics—yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God.

It is evident then that the Father is not the Son and that the Son is not the Father, and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.

We close with these observations from Calvin:

"But to say nothing more of words, let us now attend to the thing signified. By person, then, I mean a subsistence in the Divine essence, - a subsistence which, while related to the other two, is distinguished from them by incommunicable properties. By subsistence we wish something else to be understood than essence. For if the Word were God simply and had not some property peculiar to himself, John could not have said correctly that he had always been with God. When he adds immediately after, that the Word was God, he calls us back to the one essence. But because he could not be with God without dwelling in the Father, hence arises that subsistence, which, though connected with the essence by an indissoluble tie, being incapable of separation, yet has a special mark by which it is distinguished from it" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.13.6).

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Species of Dualism: Substance Versus Hylemorphic Dualism

I believe that dualism is false, but to be fair, not all dualistic thought belongs to the same genus. There are various species of dualism such as substance dualism, emergent dualism, and property dualism. Edward Feser even speaks of hylomorphism in dualistic terms, calling it "hylemorphic dualism" (also spelled hylomorphic). So what is the difference between substance dualism and the other dualistic variants?

The most famous advocate of substance dualism has to be Rene Descartes (1596-1650 CE), a French philosopher known as "the father of modern philosophy." Cogito, ergo sum is likewise forever anchored to our memory of Descartes. That famous dictum sheds light on one aspect of Cartesian dualism (substance dualism). Why is that the case? Because Descartes proposes two substances that exhaust creaturely reality: res extensa and res cogitans.

Res extensa refers to extended substance (which is unthinking and exemplified by material substances), and res cogitans refers to thinking substance (soul or mind). In classical thought, a substance is a thing that bears properties, but cannot be borne as a property itself. For example, a table is capable of bearing properties that might include color, molecularity, being made of wood, having legs, and it bears the property of extension. On the other hand, res cogitans is non-extended, mental, incorporeal, and rational. Descartes contends that God creates both res extensa and res cogitans; however, God himself is transcendent and uncreated substance--the supreme being.

In contrast to substance dualism, hylomorphism submits that material objects constitute matter and form unities: for example, the matter of a tree is united with the form of treeness to comprise one hylomorphic compound. By "matter" (hyle), Aristotle possibly signifies the "stuff" out of which a material object is composed; on the other hand, "form" (morphe) denotes what an object is. It signifies the essence or substance of a material object. A tree is material or physical, but its treeness presumably is not. In any event, hylemorphic dualism is not the same as substance dualism.



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Some Thoughts on Proverbs 9:10

James Moffatt's OT: "To know the Deity is what knowledge means."

Rotherham's Emphasized Bible: "The beginning of wisdom, is the reverence of Yahweh, and, the knowledge of the Holy, is understanding"

Roland Murphy and Elizabeth Huwiler: Verse 10 is a key statement for understanding verses 7–12. Holy One is literally the plural (of majesty) as in 30:3b. Knowledge of the Holy One is a definition of fear of the LORD. As always, knowledge is practical, active, and reverent.

Jewish Encyclopedia Entry for "Fear of God": "The Hebrew equivalent of "religion." It is the mainspring of religion, morality, and wisdom, and is productive of material prosperity and well-being. Who fears God will refrain from doing the things that would be displeasing to Him, the things that would make himself unworthy of God's regard."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Luke T. Johnson's Remarks About Luke 17:21

The kingdom of God is among you: This saying is unique to Luke and has been interpreted in several ways. The critical problem is the understanding of entos hymon. Some read this as "within you" as though the rule of God were a spiritual awareness. This fits the sense of the Greek adverb (cf. e.g., Matt 23:26), but it does not do as well with the plural pronoun "you," or the narrative context of Luke, in which such a statement to the Pharisees would be unthinkable. The present translation follows the majority opinion that the adverb entos with the plural pronoun should have the sense of "among you." This makes good sense of the narrative context: Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom is forming around the prophet even in their midst, yet they cannot see it for what it is.

Source: Luke T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke (Sacra Pagina Series), page 263.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Victor Hamilton on Exodus 34:27-28

If Moses is the writer referred to in v. 27, the Lord must be the subject referred to in v. 28b. There are several reasons for this (Moberly 1983: 103). First, in “he was there . . . he ate . . . he drank . . . he wrote,” one might expect that because the first three subjects of the verb are Moses, then more than likely Moses is also the subject of the fourth “he.” This is not necessarily so. Hebrew can shift the subject of third-person verb within the same sentence without clearly indicating so, such as we observed in 34:5 (see comments there). Second, making the Lord the subject of the verb in v. 28b makes the claim of that verse consistent with 34:1 (and with Deut. 10:4). Otherwise, there is a blatant inconsistency between the identity of the writer of the Decalogue in 34:1 and 34:28b. Third, in v. 27 the Lord tells Moses to write down “these words” (2x), while v. 28 uses other phraseology, “the words of the covenant—the Ten Words.” If Moses is the writer in v. 28b, then one would expect the language to echo v. 27, that is, “And he [Moses] wrote these words.” Fourth, the note in v. 28a (Moses’s forty-day fast) would more than likely have followed v. 28b rather than preceded it, if Moses were the writer in v. 27 and 28b. Why break up two references to the same author’s scribal activities through this parenthetical remark?

See Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary.

Paul and the Temple of God

Dear blog readers,

Here is an essay that I wrote in the nineties. I have not completely polished it up yet, but I think the work contains a number of points that some might find interesting.


The Temple of God

Anointed Christians have been given a wonderful trust: they have the inestimable privilege of comprising a temple class. Paul discusses this figurative temple of God in 1 Corinthians 3, thereby demonstrating the importance of treating God's sacred edifice with respect. We ultimately learn that both the anointed and the great crowd have the responsibility of being holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16).

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16 NABRE)

In the past humans worshiped God at different material temples and sanctuaries. The Garden of Eden was the first sanctuary of God: it is also conceivable that Melchizedek worshiped Jehovah in an earthly sanctuary. Furthermore, as time progressed, God ordered the Israelites to build the tabernacle in the wilderness and to construct Solomon's temple on Zion. In Ezekiel 40, the ancient prophet of God was shown a glorious temple and blessed with a grand tour of it. In the NT, Hebrews 8 discusses the true tent that God built in heaven--all of these structures enjoyed divine approval and were used as approved sanctuaries. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul focuses on a different temple: this temple is comprised of living stones.

"And, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet.2:5 NAB)

The living stones that compose God's temple have been anointed with the holy spirit; all persons in this group have experienced the special work described at 2 Cor. 1:21, 22:

"But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment." (NAB)

This Scripture makes it plain that God works through His anointed congregation since the spirit is not given apart from the temple of God, the "place" in which the spirit of God dwells.

"Through him [Christ] the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Eph. 2:21, 22 NAB).

John also professes: "But you have the anointing that comes from the holy one, and you all have knowledge . . . As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you." (1 Jn. 2:20, 27).

These scriptures indicate that God does not work through individuals only, especially through individuals who are not part of the spirit-anointed congregation or associated with it. As a group, God's children have been appointed as stewards of the sacred secrets of God. Jehovah imparts His sacred secrets to the chosen ones (1 Cor. 4:1, 2). With knowledge, however, comes both privileges and responsibilities. In 1 Cor. 3:17, Paul helps us to appreciate what our privileges and duties are toward God.

"If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy." (1 Cor. 3:17) These apostolic words echo the sentiments of 1 Chronicles 16:22: "Touch not my anointed, and to my prophets do no harm." (NAB).

It is a very serious matter for anyone to try wreaking havoc on the temple of God, in any way. Whether one persecutes or opposes those who are part of the true temple, or whether someone attempts to denigrate the congregation of anointed ones--the outcome is the same: if anyone tries to destroy God's temple, God will deal accordingly with that person.

When Paul wrote those words to the Christians in Corinth, there were members of the temple itself, who were doing things to destroy the temple of God. The Corinthians were engaging in schisms and immorality; they were taking their brothers to court and they were not applying biblical standards in their respective marriages. All such actions could result in the destruction of the temple. How apropos Paul's words were! As Christians, we have a responsibility to remain holy before our God. May Paul's warning make us endeavor to uphold holiness in the Christian congregation. In the NAB, an interesting comment appears, "Holy: belonging to God." Since anointed Christians belong to God, may all such ones, as well as the other sheep, remain holy before God.

"What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God." (2 Cor. 6:16 NAB)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

1 Corinthians 15:58--The Work of the Lord

I find it intriguing that the apostle Paul does not explicitly define the Lord's work in 1 Cor. 15:58. Another question I've long had about this verse is how do we know the Lord, in this case, is Jehovah. Could it be Jesus Christ instead, whom God made Kurios? Here's what others have written about 15:58.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible:
15:58 your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Speakers and writers often concluded a work or a section with a summary statement (cf. the risk of acting in vain in vv. 2,14,17); conclusions sometimes offered exhortations. Many people who believed in future judgment thought that those who did not (such as Sadducees or Epicureans) lacked reasons to behave morally. In view of the future resurrection of the body, which will last forever, believers should live wholly for Christ (cf. 6:13 – 14).

Expositor's Greek Testament:
περισσεύοντες κ.τ.λ. adds the positive to the foregoing negative side of the injunction: “abounding (overflowing: see parls.) in the work of the Lord always”. τ. ἔργον τ. Κυρίου (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1; Colossians 3:23 f., Matthew 21:28, Mark 13:34) is “the work” which “the Lord” prescribes, while “the work of God” (Romans 14:20 : cf. Romans 3:9 above) is “the work” which “God” does: contrast 1 Corinthians 12:5-6 above.—“Knowing (as you do) that your toil is not empty in the Lord.” εἰδότες implies assured knowledge, such as springs from the confirmation of faith given in this chap. On κόπος, see note to 1 Corinthians 3:8; and on κενός, 1 Corinthians 15:14 : the “toil” is “empty” which is spent on illusion; “ce n’est pas là une activité d’apparat, accomplie dans le néant, comme si souvent le travail terrestre, mais un sérieux labeur, accompli dans la sphère de l’éternelle réalité” (Gd[2590]); hence the pr[2591] ἐστὶν rather than ἔσται.—ἐν Κυρίῳ: in the sphere of Christ’s authority, wrought under His headship, which supplies the basis of all Christian relations and duties; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 7:22, etc.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, page 608:
The phrase to ergon tou kyriou, “the work of the Lord,” will appear again in 16:10 as a way of expressing the evangelical ministry, in which both Paul and Timothy are engaged. Cf. Phil 3:30 [sic], where Epaphroditus’s ministry is characterized as “the work of Christ.” In each case, the subj. gen. expresses the one who has assigned the task to Paul, Timothy, or Epaphroditus. Here the phrase has a broader comprehension, denoting all that Corinthian Christians do in their service of the Lord, and the gen. is rather objective. Such service is more important than all disputatious denials of the resurrection of the dead or queries about its nature; that is why Paul recommends it to them.

Note the variants for Philippians 2:30 (not 3:30):|reference=Phil.2.30&options=GNHVU

Monday, June 10, 2019

David E. Garland on 1 Corinthians 11:1

Paul often calls on his charges to follow his example or commends them for already doing so (4:6, 16–17; 7:7; Gal. 4:12; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:6–9). This appeal was a common literary and hortatory motif in antiquity (B. Dodd 1999: 16–18; see also Fiore 1986: 26–163), but it takes a different twist in light of the divine command “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:26; cf. Matt. 5:48) and Paul’s assertion that he follows the example of Christ. He is to be followed only insofar as he adheres to the divine standard set forth by Christ. As the Corinthians' founding apostle, he revealed that standard to them by preaching the crucified Christ and ing [sic] what that means. Following his example in this instance entails two things: (1) submitting to his authority (see Michaelis, TDNT 4:668–69) and his injunctions to dissociate themselves from anything overtly connected to idolatry; and (2) imitating his personal example by forgoing the exercise of perceived rights so that one achieves a greater benefit for others.

See David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2013 edition (eBook).

Monday, June 03, 2019

Truth-Functional Logic

I teach formal logic from time to time, and the course involves discussing truth-functional logic. One example of a truth-functional statement might be, "If it is raining, then the grass is wet." You could rewrite this conditional statement as r------->w. In other words, express an "if . . . then" statement by using truth-functional connectives (symbols that connect utterances/compound utterances).

Another example could be, "John and Carol are home" which could be symbolized as J & C. So, you're taking wordy sentences and reducing them to variables coupled with symbols.

For more information, see

William R.G. Loader Discusses Genesis 1 & 2 (Imaging God)