Thursday, October 31, 2019

John C. Murray and the Homoousion of Nicaea

These comments by John C. Murray (S.J.) are taken from his book The Problem of God (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1964. Page 50):

"The homoousion represents a limit in the understanding of the faith. As there is no stopping short of it on peril of archaist imprecision in the faith, so there is no going beyond it on peril of futurist adulteration of the faith. The homoousion is a limit in another sense. The three data of faith that it synthesizes are data of mystery that the one God the Father is Pantokrator, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son, is Pantokrator, and that the Son is from the Father and other than Father. The homoousion resolves the seeming contradiction. If, as the homoousion asserts, the Son is all that the Father is, except for the Name of Father, then the Son is Pantokrator as the Father is, but he is not the Father. But here intelligence has reached its limit. The problem is solved, to the limits of solution. The mystery remains intact, adorable."

I emphasize that these views are posted to facilitate understanding of opposing stances. I am not a Trinitarian.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Revelation 3:14 (Jurgen Roloff)

The message formula (II) consists of three parts. The first. "Amen," is the same Old Testament designation of God in Isa. 65:16, which appeared in the Greek form in 3:7. Like God himself, Jesus is absolutely truthful and dependable; he keeps his word. The two parts that follow refer back to 1:5 and simultaneously to the situation of the church. Jesus, "the faithful and true witness," who sealed his service with his life, finds such readiness to testify absent in Laodicea. His participation in creation is presented more sharply with the phrase "origin [or beginning] of God's creation" than in 1:4, where there was more emphasis on the majesty of Jesus Christ over history. Surely it is no accident that the tone sounded here resembles one found in Colossians (Col. 1:15-20). Apparently, Revelation also wishes to counter strongly the separation of Christ from the created world, which is represented by Gnosticism.

Jurgen Roloff. Revelation (Continental Commentary Series) (Kindle Locations 986-991). Kindle Edition.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Kallistos Ware on What the Incarnation Means

The following snippet is taken from The Orthodox Way written by Bishop Kallistos Ware. I post this information in order to facilitate understanding between Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians. The language found in Trinitarian creeds is very difficult to fathom at first blush,m but it is my hope that the comments posted here will disambiguate the Trinity doctrine for non-Trinitarians:

"We are not to think of him [Jesus Christ] as 'half-in-half.' Jesus Christ is not fifty per cent [sic] God and fifty per cent man, but one hundred per cent God and one hundred per cent man. In the epigrammatic phrase of St Leo the Great, he is TOTUS IN SUIS, TOTUS IN NOSTRIS, 'complete in what is his own, complete in what is ours'" (page 73).

Introduction to 1 Peter (Modified Talk)

The Greek word translated "holy" appears 8 times in Peter's first inspired letter (1 Pet. 1:12, 15-16; 2:5, 9; 3:5). Therefore, 1 Peter clearly emphasizes our need to be holy. For example, notice 1 Pet. 1:14-16.

To be holy means to be clean or set apart for Jehovah's service. Holiness is not a choice, but an obligation: we must be holy in all our conduct as Jehovah our heavenly Father is holy. Yet how can we imitate God's holiness since we're imperfect, but he is not?

Although we're imperfect sinners, we manifest holiness by obediently preaching the kingdom good news and setting an example in our daily conduct (Philippians 2:15). However, when we unintentionally commit sin, we exemplify holiness by showing true remorse and shunning "practices that dishonor Jehovah.​" How fitting the prayer in Ps. 79:9:
Help us, O God of our salvation,

For the sake of your glorious name;

Rescue us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name. (Psalm 79:9)
Our worship cannot be clean if we do things that Jehovah hates, such as actions that are immoral, violent, or connected with demonism. (Romans 6:12-14; 8:13) However, it would also displease Jehovah if we allowed ourselves to be entertained by such things. Do we exercise caution when watching TV, listening to music or reading books?

The Bible encourages us to be morally, spiritually and physically clean. 1 Peter is one inspired source that exhorts us to be holy as Jehovah is holy.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Tatian the Assyrian and Romans 1:20

"Our God did not begin to be in time: He alone is without beginning, and He Himself is the beginning of all things. God is a Spirit, not pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits, and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things. Him we know from His creation, and apprehend His invisible power by His works" (Tatianus Syriacus, Address to the Greeks 4).

For the Greek Migne edition of Tatian's Oratio (Address), see

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Richard Bauckham and Revelation 3:14 (Screenshot)

I admonish the readers that just because I post some writer's work does not mean I endorse everything the author says or believes.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Galaxie Subscription

I recently subscribed to the Galaxie database in order to download Bibliotheca Sacra articles. It might be something I do for six months or for a year. While my time is currently tight, if I can help anyone with articles from time to time, please let me know.


O'Collins Discussing Richard of St. Victor and the Trinity

This material is taken from The Tripersonal God (pages 143-144) by Gerald O'Collins:

"The divine persons are three incommunicable existents [for Richard of St. Victor]. The Father exists but is not the Son or the Spirit; the Son exists but is not the Father or the Spirit; the Spirit exists but is not the Father or the Son . . . We saw earlier how Richard of St. Victor pushed the analogy of love when expounding the tripersonal God in the light of St. John's lapidary confession: 'God is love' (1 Jn 4:8, 16). Self-love is not the truest and highest form of love. As gift and exchange, love is plural and requires fellowship with others. To be perfect, the human dialogue of mutual love must be open and, in fact, shared with a third person; the love of two persons is thus fused by a third. This version of love at its highest and best, if true of human beings, must be true also of God and in an infinitely greater way."

Comments: Richard of St Victor's argument seems to labor under the notion that the "God" mentioned in 1 Jn 4:8, 16 is the triune God. Maybe this interpretation of the Johannine scripture is not required, but it seems like this is how Richard and Augustine before him construe it. Secondly, the context of 1 Jn 4:8, 16 makes it clear that God the Father is being discussed and not the triune God. Thirdly, and I don't mean to be flippant here, but three is a crowd, IMO. How O'Collins can bring in the idea of three persons somehow completing or exalting love to its figurative apex is beyond me. Why stop with three divine persons other than because of special pleading?

"This Means My Body and My Blood" (Matthew 26:26-28)

(1) Matthew 26:26-28 reads in part:


ESTIN is present indicative active 3rd-person singular of EIMI. More importantly for our purposes here, as BDAG Greek-English Lexicon notes, EIMI or ESTI(N) is sometimes used in explanations "to show how [something] is to be understood is a representation of, is the equivalent of; EIMI here, too, serves as copula; we usually translate mean, so in the formula TOUT' ESTIN this or that means, that is to say . . ."

We observe this usage elsewhere in Matthew. Compare Mt. 13:19, 22, 38. Matthew 26:26-28 thus could be construed, "This means my body . . . For this means my blood." I.e., the bread and wine are symbols of the Lord's body and blood.

(2) Paul employs similar language (ESTIN) with regard to the Lord's Evening Meal. See 1 Cor 11:23-26. Yet, we in no way are implying that the Lord's Evening Meal is merely the consumption of wheat and wine. In our religious paradigm, the bread and wine symbolize precious and inestimable realities: the body and blood of Christ Jesus. Ergo, anyone despising the elements or partaking of them lightly or without awareness of their significance risks incurring the fear-inspiring anger of God. I emphasize this point again. The Memorial of Christ's death is a time to remember what Christ has done in our behalf. It is a time to thank God and His Son for the precious blood that was shed upon the STAUROS of Christ. Symbol does not = denigration of Jesus' death.

(3) One may only speculate that Jesus spoke Aramaic. Then, again, he could have spoken Hebrew and he likely knew Greek. The important factor for me is that the Gospel account was ultimately written in Greek, although Matthew may have originally been written in Hebrew. Paul also utilizes ESTIN as does Matthew. It is pretty difficult to base one's decision on an Aramaic substratum that may or may not be the Vorlage of the Matthean text. Neither the physical presence or mystical view seem likely interpretations of what happened on the night that Christ delivered himself up for the world of humankind. Are we to believe that Christ, while dining with his followers, was physically present in the bread he himself broke and handed to his disciples? Was he somehow mystically united with the apostles on the fateful night of Nisan 14? I seriously doubt it since he was physically present with them at that time. Whether you agree with my construal of ESTIN in Mt 26:26-28, BDAG shows that it is certainly a possible reading of the text. Zwingli and other Reformers also preferred this interpretation to the views that you have advanced in this email.

I also recommend consulting Paul Anderson's The Christology of the Fourth Gospel for an interesting and informative take on sacramental theology in the Gospel of John.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Other Ways of Looking at Revelation 3:14 (Commentators)

Henry Alford: the beginning of the creation of God (= πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, ref. Col., where see note, as also Bleek on the Hebrews, vol. ii. 1, p. 43 note. In Him the whole creation of God is begun and conditioned: He is its source and primary fountain-head. The mere word ἀρχή would admit the meaning that Christ is the first created being: see Genesis 49:3; Deuteronomy 21:17; and Proverbs 8:22. And so the Arians here take it, and some who have followed them: e. g. Castalio,” chef d’œuvre:” “omnium Dei operum excellentissimum atque primum:” and so Ewald and Züllig. But every consideration of the requirements of the context, and of the Person of Christ as set forth to us in this book, is against any such view. Others, as Calov., Bengel, Whitby, al., make ἀρχή = ἄρχων, which is impossible: as it is also to interpret κτίσεως of the new spiritual creation, the church, as Ribera, Corn.-a-lap., Grot., Wetst., al. There can be little doubt that ἀρχή is to be taken in that pregnant sense in which we have it, e. g., in Wisd. 12:16, ἡ γὰρ ἰσχύς σου δικαιοσύνης ἀρχή,—ib. 14:27, ἡ γὰρ τῶν … εἰδώλων θρησκεία παντὸς ἀρχὴ κακοῦ καὶ αἰτία καὶ πέρας ἐστίν: and in the Gospel of Nicodemus, p. ii. cap. vii. Tischdf. Ev. Apoc. p. 307, where Satan is said to be ἀρχὴ τοῦ θανάτου καὶ ῥίζα τῆς ἁμαρτίας, viz. the incipient cause. So Andr., Areth. in Catena (ἡ προκαταρκτικὴ αἰτία τῆς κτίσεως), Lyra, Vitr., Wolf, Stern, Hengst., De Wette, Ebrard, Düsterd., al. The latter asks the questions, “How could Christ write if it were only this present Epistle, if he were himself a creature? How could every creature in heaven and earth adore him, if he were one of themselves (cf. ch. 19:10)? We need only think of the appellation of our Lord as the Α and Ω (ch. 22:13: cf. 1:8) in its necessary fulness of import, and we shall see that in the Α lies the necessity of his being the ἀρχή of the Creation, as in the Ω that of his coming to bring the visible creation to an end”)

William Burkitt: The other title given to Christ, is the beginning of the creation of God; that is, the beginner of the creation of God, the original and first cause, by which all the creatures of God had their beginning. Christ is not only principium principatun [sic], but principium principians; not the passive beginning, or he that first created, but the active beginning, or he by whom the creation was begun, both the old and new creation.

Peter Pett's Commentary: He is ‘the beginning of the creation of God’. As its beginning He is its source, the firstborn before the whole of creation (Colossians 1:15). But equally important is the fact that He is also the beginning of the new creation (Revelation 21:1 with Revelation 1:7). In that there is a land of riches beyond anything they have ever dreamed of. Thus all things belong to Him and are in His hands.

Expositor's Greek Testament: The resemblance of ἡ ἀρχή κ. τ. λ., to a passage in Colossians is noteworthy as occurring in an open letter to the neighbouring church of Laodicea (Philonic passages in Grill, pp. 106–110). Here the phrase denotes “the active source or principle of God’s universe or Creation” ( ἀρχή, as in Greek philosophy and Jewish wisdom-literature, = αἰτία origin), which is practically Paul’s idea and that of John 1:3 (“the Logos idea without the name Logos,” Beyschlag). This title of “incipient cause” implies a position of priority to everything created; he is the first in the sense that he is neither creator (a prerogative of God in the Apocalypse), nor created, but creative. It forms the most explicit allusion to the pre-existence of Jesus in the Apocalypse, where he is usually regarded as a divine being whose heavenly power and position are the outcome of his earthly suffering and resurrection: John ascribes to him here (not at Revelation 12:5, as Baldensperger, 85, thinks) that pre-existence which, in more or less vital forms, had been predicated of the messiah in Jewish apocalyptic (cf. En. xlviii.). This pre-existence of messiah is an extension of the principle of determinism; God foreordained the salvation itself as well as its historical hour. See the Egyptian hymn: “He is the primeval one, and existed when as yet nothing existed; whatever is, He made it after He was. He is the father of beginnings.… God is the truth, He lives by Truth, He lives upon Truth, He is the king of Truth.” The evidence for the pre-existence of messiah in Jewish Christian literature is examined by Dr. G. A. Barton, Journ. Bibl. Lit. 1902, pp. 78–91. Cf. Introd. § 6.

Sources: Alford, Henry. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary.

Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https: 1700-1703.

Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 3:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Hebrews 1:3 (Translate as "substance"?)

ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, (Hebrews 1:3 WH)

ASV: "who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"

The rendering "substance" is possibly not the best way to translate ὑπόστασις in the passage above. BDAG Greek-English Lexicon gives this observation for ὑπόστασις in Heb. 1:3:

"the essential or basic structure/nature of an entity, substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality . . ."
BDAG glosses Heb. 1:3 this way:

"a(n) exact representation of (God's) real being (i.e. as one who is in charge of the universe)"

NET Bible has:

"The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence"

Commentator William L. Lane seems to prefer "nature" as a rendering of ὑπόστασις in Heb. 1:3.

David Ripley Worley has written an interesting monograph about this subject--God’s Faithfulness to Promise: The Hortatory Use of Commissive Language in Hebrews (2019). See

He writes (page 65)

It is not necessary in the first place to translate ὑπόστασις with the meaning it has elsewhere in Hebrews (1:3; 3:14); ὑπόστασις is polysemic and the sense appropriate in 11:l is constrained by the immediate context (‘syntagmatic relationship’).31 A leading question for us is whether πίστις and ὑπόστασις share a related sense (‘paradigmatic relationship’) as do πίστις and ἔλεγχος, and if so, whether such a related sense is appropriate in the immediate context. To answer our question we must turn to the use of ὑπόστασις in the papyri.32

A number of commentators insist that Heb. 1:3 uses ὑπόστασις philosophically or with a philosophical sense. One problem is that most read this word through a fourth-century prism.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Nazarene Commentary on Revelation 3:14

I wanted to make one last observation concerning Rev. 3:14, for now. Duncan can reply if he'd like:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Lupieri and Revelation 3:14 (Beginning of the Creation)

The Lord's Thigh

See Genesis 24:2, 9; 49:10; Psalm 45:3; Revelation 19:16. Compare Isaiah 63:1-6.

The Greek term that's rendered "thigh" is μηρός. See Rogers and Rogers, page 647.

Thigh could refer to the "bodily nature" that the Logos assumes (Edmondo Lupieri, A Commentary on the Apocalypse of John, 306). Names, attributes and dedications were traditionally inscribed on the legs or garments of those who worshiped gods in the Hellenistic sanctuary (idem., 307). The term could be alluding to military gear (ibid.).

For more on Greek statues with names on the thigh, see Aune, Revelation, 52C:1062.

Grant Osborne:

Fourth, the rider on the white horse (19:16) has a name written ἐπὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν μηρὸν αὐτοῦ (epi to himation kai epi ton mēron autou, on his garment at his thigh), which could refer to two places, but most agree (e.g., Beckwith, Ladd, Mounce, Beale) that it is “on his robe, namely [epexegetical καί] his thigh.” In other words, the name is written on that part of his tunic that covered his thigh, the place where his sword would rest and where it would be conspicuous on a mounted warrior.

Osborne also mentions Charles.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

John I. Durham Remarks on Exodus 20:20

Exodus 20:20 (KJV): "And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not."

John Durham: This awesome firsthand experience of the Presence of Yahweh and the speaking of Yahweh, Moses continues, is for the further purpose that Israel might have reverence () for Yahweh always before them as a constant preoccupation of mind and so might not sin. Having reverence for Yahweh is a basic emphasis of Israel’s teaching tradition (Becker, Gottesfurcht, 125–209; Stähli, "fürchten,” THAT 1:774– 78); Wolff (Int 26 [1972] 158–73) has claimed this “Fear of God” as “the most prominent theme of the Elohist.” What is meant by such “reverence” or “fear” is a respect for Yahweh/Elohim that will give a constant emphasis to his way for living and relationship, and so avoid the missing of the way () that is sin.

Source: Durham, Dr. John I. Exodus (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 492). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

NET Bible Footnote 50 for Exodus 20:20: tn The suffix on the noun is an objective genitive, referring to the fear that the people would have of God (GKC 439 §135.m).

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

William Tyndale's Prologue "Upon the Gospel of John" (Screenshot)

Stanley Porter Assesses Westcott and Hort

Here's Stanley Porter's remarks about Westcott-Hort (See Porter's How We Got the New Testament):

Almost since the advent of modern textual criticism and efforts to establish the Greek text of the New Testament—that is, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present—there has been recognition of the possibility of changes to manuscripts that would indicate the theological and other contexts in which these texts were being copied. Thus, although Westcott and Hort, who published the first eclectic text based on early majuscule (capital letter) manuscripts from the fourth century, especially Codex Sinaiticus (01 ℵ),²⁶ asserted that “there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes,”²⁷ a claim that they subsequently attempted to defend,²⁸ this claim was scrutinized by a succession of textual scholars. This scrutiny came from at least two quarters. Westcott and Hort’s opponents who defended the Textus Receptus, a text based on the Greek text published first by Erasmus in the sixteenth century on the basis of several late minuscule (lowercase writing) manuscripts,²⁹ accused the transcribers of the early majuscule manuscripts, for example, of deleting the two longer endings of Mark’s Gospel (e.g., Mark 16:9–20, the longest, but usually referred to as the long ending) and of questioning the authenticity of the pericope of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11).³⁰ Those who defended the kind of text advocated by Westcott and Hort also registered concern for due recognition of later theological and other textual changes.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Parsing Gospel of John 1:10

SBLGNT: Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

1) Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν- ἦν is imperfect indicative active 3rd person singular. Translate here "he was"; some prefer "it."

Bengel's Gnomon of the NT: ἐν τῷ κόσμῷ ἦν, He was in the world) The evangelist adds this, lest any one should so understand the expression, coming into the world, as if the Light had not been previously in the world at all. Three times in this verse world is repeated; three times it is said of the human race, as in the previous verse, but not to the exclusion of the other creatures, at least in the first place.

2) καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

Westcott writes:

John Calvin:

The masculine pronoun αὐτόν, him, refers to the neuter term τὸ φῶς, the light, which proves that αὐτοῦ also must be taken as masculine. This grammatical anomaly arises from the fact that the apostle has now in view the light in so far as it had personally appeared in Jesus. This is, likewise, the reason why he substitutes the word ἔγνω knew, for κατέλαβε laid hold of (John 1:5), although the idea is fundamentally the same. One lays hold of a principle, one recognizes a person.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Adela and John Collins on Revelation 3:14

"As the Gospel of John does, Revelation associates Christ with wisdom (3:14) and with the word of God (19:13). These terms are used quite differently, however, in Revelation. The risen Jesus is associated with wisdom in 3:14 as 'the beginning of the creation of God.' This epithet clearly implies preexistence, but nothing in the work requires the inference that he is eternal. Rather, the implication seems to be that he is God's first creature." (King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature, by Adela Yarbro Collins and John J. Collins), p. 211

[Supplied by a friend.]

Compare the entry in BDAG for arche.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

One Perspective on Exodus 34:29ff (Moses' Horns?)

"Spending an extended period of time in the Lord's presence has a telling effect on Moses: 'his face was radiant' (v.29). The verb qaìran (lit., 'he radiated') is sometimes related to the noun qeren ('horn'). The Vulgate confused these two, which thus led to the representation in medieval art of Moses wearing two horns! Moses’ radiant countenance is referred to three times (vv.29, 30, 35; cf. W. F. Albright, 'The Natural Face of Moses in Light of Ugaritic,' BASOR 94 [1944]: 32 – 35; J. Morgenstern, 'Moses with the Shining Face,' HUCA 2 [1925]: 1:27)."

Quote taken from THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE COMMENTARY: Genesis – Leviticus Genesis — Copyright © 2008 by John H. Sailhamer Exodus — Copyright © 2008 by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Leviticus — Copyright © 2008 by Richard S. Hess.

Published by Zondervan.

One Important Book to read About Philippians 2:6ff

You readers may want to check out the book entitled Where Christology Began: Essays on Philippians 2; edited by Ralph P. Martin and Brian J. Dodd. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.

This work contains one essay by James Dunn, in which he argues that Philippians 2 does not focus on the preexistent Christ. This essay is followed by L.D. Hurst's study which contends that Paul does advocate the preexistence of Christ in Phil 2:6-8. Both of these studies, I believe, should be read in the light of C.A. Wannamaker's article ("Philippians 2:6-11: Son of God or Adamic Christology." NTS, Vol. 33, 1987, 179-193), which is referenced in my chapter on the
kenosis of Christ. See E. Foster, Christology and the Trinity.