Saturday, December 30, 2023

Samuel Clarke: Causality versus Design

"For to say a thing is produced, and yet that there is no cause at all of that production, is to say that something is effected, when it is effected by nothing; that is, at the same time when it is not effected at all.—Whatever exists, has a cause, a reason, a ground of its existence; (a foundation, on which its existence relies; a ground or reason why it doth exist rather than not exist;) either in the necessity of its own nature, and then it must have been of itself eternal; or in the will of some other being, and then that other being must, at least in the order of nature and causality, have existed before it" (Samuel Clarke).

Naturalists might argue that things in the cosmos have a cause, but were not designed. Yes, that's possible logically but how probable is it that all things in the cosmos and the cosmos itself were not designed? Again, it's logically possible that Biltmore House was not made by intelligent designers or that it did not have human builders, but how likely is it?

Friday, December 29, 2023

Beards (A Reflection Written Some Years Ago, But Now Edited Somewhat)

I personally have nothing against beards, depending on how they're groomed, etc. So I once undertook research on this question and concluded that "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not" (1 Cor 10:23 KJV).Secondly, there are even some secular companies that do not allow their employees to have beards. When I used to clean at one local business (doing janitorial work), I noticed that the company would not allow employees to have beards. If a driver came to work unshaven, he would be given a razor before he could deliver parcels. That was back in the early 2000s: the company apparently later eased restrictions on beards.

Thirdly in this matter of beards, consider the example of Joseph: "Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh" (Gen 41:14 Geneva Study Bible).
Pharaoh immediately sent for Joseph. As quickly as possible he was fetched from the prison; and after shaving the hair of his head and beard, and changing his clothes, as the customs of Egypt required (see Hengst. Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 30), he went in to the king (Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament).
Joseph shaved although there was nothing inherently wrong with his beard: he adapted to the customs of Egypt that did not conflict with God's laws. It's interesting to think about how Paul handled the issue of wearing a beard; he was a Jew (a Benjaminite) and Roman citizen who lived in a Hellenistic milieu as a follower of Christ. Hence, Paul wrote that he became all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). At the end of the day, we know that ancient Israelite men were commanded not to destroy "the edges" of their beard (Leviticus 19:27). Hence, Jesus likely had a beard and Paul probably would have worn one as a Jew. Whether someone chooses to wear or not wear a beard today is a matter of choice like many other areas of life in Christianity. As Paul wrote about eating meat once sacrificed to idols, 
"If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?" (1 Corinthians 10:30)

See the surrounding context of 1 Corinthians 10:30. 

Monday, December 25, 2023

How the First English Bible Originated (Vos on Wycliffe)

"He [John Wycliffe] also engaged in Bible translation, and it was largely through his influence that the first English version was produced. Though he personally translated or supervised translation of parts of the Bible, his version was not completed until after his death, by Nicholas of Hereford and John Purvey. Without doubt, its widespread use had an influence on the development of the English language" (Howard Vos, Exploring Church History, page 78).

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Some Reasons Not to Celebrate Christmas

1. Jesus was not born on December 25 and his DOB is not made known by his early disciples. See

2. Christmas propagates a number of untruths (falsehoods) like Santa Claus, a man who travels around the world in one night leaving gifts for all the good children as he rides a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Furthermore, Santa supposedly plummets own the chimney to deliver toys, if you have one. See Ephesians 4:25; John 4:23-24.

Is it always wrong to tell a story or fable to one's child? No it is not, but the Santa Claus myth is told as though it were truly happening and it might be told for years before a child begins to see the falsity of it or is capable of knowing it's false. There is nothing wrong with telling a story but it's better told when both parties understand that the story should not be taken at face value or thought to be true.

3. The promotion of commercialism. The term "commercialism" here refers to "emphasis on the maximizing of profit" (Oxford Languages).
We need commerce in this world, in some form or fashion, but we don't need commercialism in this sense of the word. Is there anything with a business making a profit? No there is not: if a merchant does not run a profitable business, then he/she will not have a business for long. Yet when it comes to Christmas, people are often forced by guilt to buy things they cannot afford and go into needless and painful debt, thereby becoming slaves to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). 

4. Jesus never commanded his disciples to observe his birthday: such a command is not to be found in the Bible at all (compare John 14:15).  

5. Early Jews and Christians did not celebrate birthdays--the day of death was considered better than the day of one's birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

6. Christmas usually promotes greed and covetousness. The norm is that children mostly focus on what they can get, and so do adults. Poor people tend to feel bad when they can't get their child that much-coveted gift which all the kids want while uber-rich couples buy each other brand new matching trucks valued at $60,000 bucks apiece or more. Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying gifts for a loved one and we should not be jealous of others, but I find commercials that tout this idea of purchasing each other highly expensive gifts for the holidays (the birth of Jesus at that!) to be rather perverse. With all of the problems and suffering taking place in the world, those who have the means to help others are encouraged to buy expensive vehicles on the Lord's supposed birthday? Makes a lot of sense to me.

Latin and the Allative Case

Maybe some of you already know about the "allative case," but I only learned this term within the past year. According to the SIL Glossary of Linguistic Terms, "Allative case is a case that expresses motion to or toward the referent of the noun it marks."

Also from concerning "allative":
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Quarterly Journal Education. From post-classical Latin allativus, designating the case expressing motion to or toward (1826 or earlier; earlier in sense ‘for bringing’) from classical Latin allāt-, past participial stem of afferre to bring to + -īvus.
It seems that Latin might not have the allative case or lost it over time, but the language possibly found ways to communicate similar ideas through merged cases. Early Greek apparently made use of the allative case, which is an extension of the locative case. I guess the difference is that motion towards an object is indicated by the case ending with the allative whereas the five-case system in Greek doesn't always do this explicitly. 

I also read section 427 in Allen and Greenough: it's provides some help. A & G give these examples inter alia for how Latin indicates motion to or toward an object:

bellī, mīlitiae, and domīterrā marīque is another good one.

Friday, December 22, 2023

One Evidence for Divine Creation: A Drop of Water

Numerous Bible verses portray Jehovah (YHWH) as the Creator of "all things" (ta panta) and the maker of heaven and earth (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Revelation 4:11). Just as a house needs a builder, Hebrews 3:4 proclaims that all things (i.e., the cosmos) were made by God. There are various examples that could be given, but one for now is a drop of water:

According to Michael Padilla, there are 2 sextillion atoms of oxygen and twice the number of hydrogen atoms in a drop of water. We can represent 2 sextillion exponentially as 2 x 10^21. That is 2 times 10 to the 21st power. Amazing!

Looked at from another perspective, there are 1.67 sextillion molecules in a drop of water, which on average is 0.05 mL. Did this composition merely happen by chance? 

Revelation 10:6 (KJV): "And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer."

Compare Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

2 Timothy 3:1 ("difficult times"?)

Greek (SBLGNT): Τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ἐνστήσονται καιροὶ χαλεποί·

(LEB): "But know this, that in the last days difficult times will come,"

The NWT uses "critical times," so why the difference?

BDAG Entry: χαλεπός, ή, όν ⟦chalepós⟧ (s. next entry; Hom.+; ins, pap, LXX, TestSol, Philo; Jos., Ant. 4, 1 βίος, 13, 422 νόσος; Just., D. 1, 5; Tat.; comp. χαλεπώτερα Just., A II, 2, 6)
pert. to being troublesome, hard, difficult καιροὶ χ. hard times, times of stress 2 Ti 3:1. Of words that are hard to bear and penetrate deeply (Hes., Works 332; Dio Chrys. 49 [66], 19) Hv 1, 4, 2 (w. σκληρός). Of pers. (Od. 1, 198; Chion, Ep. 15, 1f; SIG 780, 31; EpArist 289; Jos., Ant. 15, 98) hard to deal with, violent, dangerous Mt 8:28. Of animals (Pla., Pol. 274b; Ps.-X., Cyneg. 10, 23; Dio Chrys. 5, 5) B 4:5 (comp.). In the sense bad, evil (Cebes 6, 2 of the πόμα of Ἀπάτη) τὰ ἔργα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῆς πονηρίας χ. ἐστι the deeds of the angel of wickedness are evil Hm 6, 2, 10.—Subst. τὰ χ. (that which is) evil (X., Mem. 2, 1, 23; POxy 1242, 36) MPol 11:1 (opp. τὰ δίκαια). ἀρχὴ πάντων χαλεπῶν φιλαργυρία everything that is acrimonious begins with love of money Pol 4:1 (cp. 1 Ti 6:10).—B. 651. DELG. M-M. Spicq.

Spicq observes: When applied to things, chalepos can mean simply “difficult, hard,”1but sometimes it also takes on the nuance of “regrettable” (2Macc 4:4), “grievous” (Wis 3:19), “severe” (Plutarch, De sera 4), and “cruel” (Wis 19:13; 4Macc 7:24). It is used fairly often for dangerous circumstances,2 which is precisely the case in 2Tim 3:1, which announces the onset of the last days: there will be kairoi chalepoi, dangerous or perilous times for the faith and the existence of the church, harmful for Christians, with a nuance of violence and aggressiveness3 that befits calamities.4

The whole entry is worth reading. 

William Mounce (WB Commentary on the Pastorals): 

Τοῦτο δὲ γίνωσκε, ὅτι ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ἐνστήσονται καιροὶ χαλεποί, “But take note of this, that in the last days there will be stressful times.” In an attempt to place Timothy and his conflict at Ephesus in historical perspective, Paul reminds Timothy that he is living in the last days. In vv 2– 5 Paul will describe in detail what χαλεποί, “stressful,” involves, and in vv 6–9 he will apply this description of “moral decadence” (Guthrie, 156) to Timothy’s opponents.

Mounce thinks 2 Timothy 3:1-5 delineates Timothy's current situation rather than the future: I tend to disagree. See his commentary for the grammatical arguments made in favor of a then present understanding. For a different analysis, see Raymond F. Collins. I &II Timothy and Titus in the NTL series. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Anselm of Canterbury and the Preservation of God's Word

"And 'tis no small miracle how God has so long preserved and protected this book [the Bible]; for the devil and the world are sore foes to it" (Anselm of Canterbury)


Compare Isaiah 40:8.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Moderating the Next Few Days

 I will be busy for the next 3 days. Will try to approve posts the best I can. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

"If a man dies, shall he live again?"--Job and the Resurrection (Modified Talk)

The well-known "Collins Dictionary" defines death as "the permanent end of the life of a person or animal."

This definition ties in well with the title of our Treasures talk this week: If a man dies, can he live again?

That question, which comes from the book of Job, is a rhetorical question. As we know, rhetorical questions makes us think and they usually have a presupposed answer which is either yes or no. So what about the question, if a man dies, can he live again?

If we consider this question from the human angle, let's see what answer we get from Job 14:1,2, 4, 10. (Read)

Human life is temporary and uncertain like a shadow and it's filled with trouble; humans are powerless to prevent death and once a person dies, no mortal can restore his or her life.

The elixir of immortality: some alchemists in the past tried to produce elixirs that would produce immortality and the Chinese Taoists believed that they could change the body’s chemistry by means of meditation, breathing exercises, special dieting and thus produce human immortality or invulnerability. However, in harmony with the words of Job, none of these things worked. The miraculous fountain of life keeps eluding humanity's grasp, but does this mean that death is permanent as the Collins Dictionary says?

Looking at Job 14:7-9, we find a brighter prospect. (Read)

Maybe Job had the vibrant olive tree in mind when he spoke so assuredly about the dead coming back to life again. Job knew that Jehovah is the God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9). However, not only will Jehovah raise the dead, Job 14:14-15 tells us something else about our God.

After reading

If a man dies, can he live again? Jehovah loves and deeply appreciates his loyal ones: he has a special yearning to raise them from the dead.

The Hebrew word rendered "a yearning" is “unquestionably one of the strongest words to express the emotion of longing desires,” says one scholar. Yes, not only does Jehovah remember his worshippers but he longs to raise them from the dead.

As we think about our picture for tonight and meditation question, I believe we all can give a vibrant "yes" to the rhetorical question that Job posed. Jehovah will call the dead through his Son and the dead will answer by rising to life again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

WoundedEgo Banned

Banned not because of "dissenting posts," but because he would not abide by this blog's rules and he continually insults Jehovah's Witnesses and calls me/us a cult. 

Plenty of readers have offered dissenting views and I did not block them, but continued disregard for this blog's purpose can result in the moderator showing you the door. Thanks.

Paula Fredriksen on Philippians 2:6 (Screenshot)


The Nazarene Commentary and "No part of the world" (Screenshot)


Duns Scotus and the Will

Duns Scotus scribit: "In potestate voluntatis nostrae est habere nolle et velle, quae sunt contraria, respectu unius obiecti" 

Hannah Arendt translates this Latin sentence: "It is in the power of our will to nill and to will, which are contraries, with respect to the same object."

Doctor Subtilis evidently advocates counterfactual freedom here. Is it possible that while a rational subject wills or nills in relation to one object, the contrary option remains possible such that one could have willed otherwise? 

The language of contraries reminds me of logic's square of opposition where two statements (a universal affirmative and a universal negative) cannot both be true but they can both be false. E.g., "All whales are marine mammals" (universal affirmative) versus "No whales are marine mammals" (universal negative). Therefore, it's fitting for Scotus to juxtapose nilling and willing as contraries with respect to the same object. 

See the discussion in John Duns Scotus 1265-1965 on page 88 (note 22), edited by John K. Ryan and Bernardine M. Bonansea (CUA Press, Mar 2, 2018).

Note 22 states in part:  Oxon., II, d. 25, q. un., n. 6; XIII, p. 201a: "In potestate voluntatis nostrae est habere nolle et velle, quae sunt contraria respectu unius obiecti"; Ord., I, d. I, n. 149 II, p. 100: "In potestate voluntatis est non tantum sic et sic velIe, sed etiam velle et non velle, quia libertas eius est ad agendum vel non agendum."

Monday, December 11, 2023

Is Wine a Gift from God? (Psalm 104:15)

Regarding alcohol: Psalm 104:15 exclaims that God created wine to make the heart of man rejoice. Paul also told Timothy to take a "little wine" for his stomach and frequent cases of illness, and Jesus both turned water into wine and imbibed moderately himself from time to time (1 Tim 5:21). He was accused of being a glutton and winebibber, which wouldn't make much sense unless he ate food of some kind and drank wine to some degree. Of course the charges were false, but teetotalers normally don't get accused of being winebibbers unless there is some ulterior motive for making the charge or it could just be a mistaken view of the individual suffering the calumny.

Christian elders are also told to drink in moderation--if they drink at all (1 Timothy 3:3). This is not to say that one has to drink alcoholic beverages, but the Bible indicates that wine or other fermented beverages are loving gifts from God. Even a biblical proverb says that strong drink should be given to those perishing, and wine should be provided to those heavy of heart (Prov 31:6). Yes, we have to guard against becoming hooked on alcohol or using it improperly: if we decide to drink, it needs to be in moderation. But doesn't that same principle apply to food, sleep, and using one's tongue? About any good thing can be abused, even the atom. but abuse does not vitiate use.

John Chrysostom once observed:

"Drunkenness then surely does not arise from wine, but from intemperance. Wine is bestowed upon us for no other purpose than for bodily health; but this purpose also is thwarted by immoderate use."

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ecclesiastes 3:11-"eternity in their hearts"

What did Qoheleth mean when he wrote that God "put eternity" (הָעֹלָם֙) in the heart of man? And how does the last part of the verse connect with the preceding portion?

Robert Alter (The Hebrew Bible: A Translation): "Everything He has done aptly in its time. Eternity, too, He has put in their heart, without man’s grasping at all what it is God has done from beginning to end."

Alter's Footnote: "The Hebrew ʿolam means 'eternity' in the biblical language, though some interpreters argue that here it has the sense of 'world' that it carries in rabbinic Hebrew—that is, God has planted in the human heart the love of the world. It seems more likely that the intended meaning is: man is conscious of the idea of eternity (Qohelet as philosopher surely is), but that is the source of further frustration, for he is incapable of grasping 'what it is God has done from beginning to end.' Other interpreters reverse the second and third consonants of ʿolam to yield ʿamal, 'toil.' "

See also

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Philippians 2:6 in the Amplified Bible

"who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it];" (Philippians 2:6, Amplified Bible)

Sorry, but there is great overreach in this verse by the Amplified Bible. While this passage is a highly contentious verse in NT scholarship, rendering morphe as "unchanging essence" does not seem warranted here at all and the bracketed "amplification" isn't any better.

P. M. Casey writes:

"On a strict definition of 'incarnation,' Philippians 2:6-11 does not qualify because Jesus was not fully divine, in the view of the original author" (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God [Cambridge, UK and Louisville, KY: James Clarke and Westminster/John Knox, 1991], 112-114).

While the NIV translates Phil. 2:6, "Who being in very nature God," Carolyn Osiek believes that this translation is not wholly faithful to the Greek text. Contra the NIV, she does not think 2:6 teaches the absolute Deity of Christ (See Osiek 2000:60ff).

C.A. Wannamaker's article on Phil. 2:6ff contains the following observation:

"In this passage Paul maintains that Christ's universal sovereignty derives from the Father and that ultimately the Son shall be subject to the Father when he returns his present sovereignty to God. The subordinationist character of 1 Cor. 15:24-28 demonstrates quite clearly that Paul did not believe in Christ's absolute equality with God" (Wannamaker 187-188).

Observations from Wannamaker's article are found in my Christology and Trinity book, which can be purchased on

See C.A. Wannamaker (NT Studies, Vol. 33, 1987, pp. 179-193).

The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible treats the Greek this way: "Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped."

The Catholic NABRE reads similarly and contains this footnote on Phil. 2:6:

"[2:6] Either a reference to Christ’s preexistence and those aspects of divinity that he was willing to give up in order to serve in human form, or to what the man Jesus refused to grasp at to attain divinity. Many see an allusion to the Genesis story: unlike Adam, Jesus, though…in the form of God (Gn 1:26–27), did not reach out for equality with God, in contrast with the first Adam in Gn 3:5–6."

In any event, the Catholic Bibles I've consulted don't translate the Greek phrase, morphe theou as "in very nature God"

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Places Where Tertullian of Carthage Refers to God the Father As "Creator"

Adversus Praxean 3: "I prefer your exercising yourself on the meaning of the thing rather than on the sound of the word. Now you must understand the overthrow of a monarchy to be this, when another dominion, which has a framework and a state peculiar to itself (and is therefore a rival), is brought in over and above it: when, e.g., some other god is introduced in opposition to the Creator, as in the opinions of Marcion; or when many gods are introduced, according to your Valentinuses and your Prodicuses. Then it amounts to an overthrow of the Monarchy, since it involves the destruction of the Creator."

The context shows that he is referring to the Father.

Adv Prax 19: "But this very declaration of His they will hastily pervert into an argument of His singleness. I have, says He, stretched out the heaven alone. Undoubtedly alone as regards all other powers; and He thus gives a premonitory evidence against the conjectures of the heretics, who maintain that the world was constructed by various angels and powers, who also make the Creator Himself to have been either an angel or some subordinate agent sent to form external things, such as the constituent parts of the world, but who was at the same time ignorant of the divine purpose. If, now, it is in this sense that He stretches out the heavens alone, how is it that these heretics assume their position so perversely, as to render inadmissible the singleness of that Wisdom which says, When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him? (Proverbs 8:27) — even though the apostle asks, Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? (Romans 11:34) meaning, of course, to except that wisdom which was present with Him. (Proverbs 8:30) In Him, at any rate, and with Him, did (Wisdom) construct the universe, He not being ignorant of what she was making. Except Wisdom, however, is a phrase of the same sense exactly as except the Son, who is Christ, the Wisdom and Power of God, (1 Corinthians 1:24) according to the apostle, who only knows the mind of the Father. For who knows the things that be in God, except the Spirit which is in Him? (1 Corinthians 2:11) Not, observe, without Him. There was therefore One who caused God to be not alone, except alone from all other gods. But (if we are to follow the heretics), the Gospel itself will have to be rejected, because it tells us that all things were made by God through the Word, without whom nothing was made. (John 1:3) And if I am not mistaken, there is also another passage in which it is written: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by His Spirit. Now this Word, the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, must be the very Son of God. So that, if (He did) all things by the Son, He must have stretched out the heavens by the Son, and so not have stretched them out alone, except in the sense in which He is alone (and apart) from all other gods."

Adv Herm 22: "He confirms (by that silence our assertion) that they were produced out of nothing. In the beginning, then, God made the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) I revere the fullness of His Scripture, in which He manifests to me both the Creator and the creation. In the gospel, moreover, I discover a Minister and Witness of the Creator, even His Word. (John 1:3) But whether all things were made out of any underlying Matter, I have as yet failed anywhere to find. Where such a statement is written, Hermogenes' shop must tell us. If it is nowhere written, then let it fear the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the written word. (Revelation 22:18-19)"

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Ezekiel 41:11 and the Temple Vision

Hebrew (Leningrad Codex): וּפֶ֤תַח הַצֵּלָע֙ לַמֻּנָּ֔ח פֶּ֤תַח אֶחָד֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ הַצָּפֹ֔ון וּפֶ֥תַח אֶחָ֖ד לַדָּרֹ֑ום וְרֹ֙חַב֙ מְקֹ֣ום הַמֻּנָּ֔ח חָמֵ֥שׁ אַמֹּ֖ות סָבִ֥יב ׀ סָבִֽיב׃

Ezekiel's temple vision is one of the most fascinating accounts in the Bible to me--it raises numerous questions and there is so much to learn from the vision. I've often tried to envision just what the prophet saw although our Pure Worship publication supplied some help.

NET: "There were entrances from the side chambers toward the open area, one entrance toward the north, and another entrance toward the south; the width of the open area was 8¾ feet[a] all around."

Ftn: tn Heb “5 cubits” (i.e., 2.625 meters).

The NA Commentary on Ezekiel (Lamar E. Cooper, Sr.) makes these remarks: 
 "The base extended away from the building for five cubits on every side (v. 11). Behind the temple was another building seventy by ninety cubits with a wall five cubits thick (v. 12). The exact function of this building is unknown (see Figs. 2 and 3),42 although it has been associated with the parbar (“court”) of 1 Chr 26:18, which probably was an open area. This open area may have been in front of the building, or it may refer to the open area of the large room inside the building, whose purpose is unclear."

Monday, December 04, 2023

2 Corinthians 1:9-'the God who raises up the dead"

Greek (NA28)-2 Corinthians 1:9: ἀλλ᾽ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες ὦμεν ἐφ᾽ ἑαυτοῖς ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρούς·

In 2 Corinthians 1:8, after a discussion about Jehovah being the God of all comfort and the Father of tender mercies (1:3-4), the inspired apostle then recounts how that he and his co-workers faced perilous danger when they first entered Asia Minor. It sounds like Paul and his fellow laborers nearly died, but this happened with God's permission. Yet why did he allow them to hover over the abyss of death?

In order that their trust might be ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρούς

What does this part of the verse signify? Here are some possibilities.

Alfred Plummer (2 Corinthians in the ICC Series, page 19):

Ben Witherington III (2 Corinthians): "There is some question as to how we should translate apokrima in 1:9. The word occurs nowhere else in the NT. In secular Greek it refers to a decree, verdict, or decision that settles a matter.
4 Here we are told that it was a decree or verdict of death. But Paul says that he has received this verdict within himself, which leads to the suggestion that he is talking about some sort of illness. He knows that there is no cure, short of resurrection, for the terminal illness by which all, as fallen creatures, die. He believes in a God who raises the dead and so is able to talk of hope beyond and triumphing over death, not of a hope that seeks somehow to bypass death. Paul acquired this death sentence in himself (cf. the 'thorn in the flesh' in 12:7) so that he would not trust in his own strength but in God who raises the dead. But Paul has received a stay of execution. He has been rescued from imminent danger in Asia (1:8, 10), and he believes that ultimately God will rescue him, and so he fixes his hope on God. In v. 11 he speaks of the partnership he and the Corinthians have. They can both pray and give thanks for one another."

Despite making different things their focus, both commentators agree that Paul is referencing the God who raises up the dead. That precious resurrection gives us hope and keeps Christians steadfast especially when enduring severe trial. 

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Greek Information of the Day: Intensive Particles (Quote From Blackwelder)

Note the strong inferential force of with the aorist imperative denoting urgency in I Corinthians 6:20, “For you were bought with a price: now [or indeed, really, by all means therefore] glorify God in your body.” Findlay points out that the command to glorify God in, not with, the body, makes it the temple wherein each man serves as priest.[135] “Paul’s argument stands four-square for the dignity of the body as the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit united to the Lord Jesus.”[136]
The most common intensive particle in the New Testament is men. Its original function was “emphatic confirmation of single words, usually the weightiest word in the sentence.”[137] It may be translated surely, indeed, in truth, and the like. Sometimes men has a concessive force (e.g., II Cor. 11:4, “For if indeed he that comes proclaims another Jesus”), and there are instances where it implies contrast. “Its most common usage is to help differentiate the word or clause with which it occurs from that which follows.”

Blackwelder, Boyce W. Light from the Greek New Testament (Kindle Locations 2612-2623). Reformation Publishers. Prestonsburg, KY. Kindle Edition.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Words of the Month (December 2023)

1. The English word "agglutination" may denote the "Combination in which root words are united with little or no change of form or loss of meaning" (Webster Dictionary, 1913).

Definition given by AI: "Agglutination is a linguistic term that refers to languages where words are made up of easily distinguishable units, or morphemes. The meaning of a word in an agglutinative language can be understood by breaking it down into its base word and word endings"

Compare the Turkish word ev-ler-du ( evlerdu = from the houses). Here, the word contains a stem and two further morphemes.


2. Anomalous monism (English)-Collins Dictionary gives this definition: "the philosophical doctrine that although all mental states consist merely in states of the brain, there exist no regular correspondences between classes of mental and physical states, and so no psychophysical laws"

This terminology was first proffered by Donald Davidson in 1970: anomalous monism implies that mental states or events are reducible to physical states or events.

σοφία (Greek)-A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Abbott-Smith) defines the word thus: "[in LXX chiefly for chokmah] skill, intelligence, wisdom, ranging from knowledge of the arts and matters of daily life to mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense"

See the entry for sophia to access the entire definition given in A-S; compare BDAG.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Remain Humble and Modest Before Jehovah (Modified Talk)

There is one indispensable quality that all servants of Jehovah need--that is humility. In addition to humility, we also need to be modest or aware of our limitations. King Saul was initially humble and modest, but did he remain that way?

Jehovah picked Saul as the first human king of Israel, yet how did he react to this divine selection? Let's notice Saul's reaction in 1 Samuel 9:21 (read)

Was Saul humble and modest at the outset? Yes, since he referred to his family as insignificant and the smallest tribe in Israel. Saul displayed lowliness of mind, and he was aware of his limitations. 1 Samuel 10:20-22 confirms this point. (read)

When Saul was officially selected, where was he? He was "hiding himself among the luggage." Why did he do this? Saul was humble and modest at first: he did not assume more responsibility despite being chosen by Jehovah through the prophet Samuel. However, did Saul remain humble and modest? He did not but later displayed presumptuous and undue pride. This ancient king is a warning example for us today: he illustrates how we must always work on being humble and modest.

However, as long as Saul relied on Jehovah, he kept a proper estimation of himself. For example, he did not act rashly when others unfairly criticized him. Let's read 1 Samuel 10:27.

Who criticized Saul. The scripture says it was "worthless men." How did Saul react to their unjust criticisms? He refused to answer or respond in kind. 1 Samuel 11:12-13 further illustrates how Saul viewed criticism.

So did Saul take undue criticism to heart? No, he did not, and the reason why is because he was humble and modest. Saul refused to punish Israelites who spoke out against his kingship even though he could have felt justified in defending his God-given position, and when he defeated the Ammonites, to whom did he direct the credit? Saul gave credit to Jehovah. What humility he first displayed.

One other way that Saul showed humility and modesty is mentioned in 1 Samuel 11:5-7 (read)

Saul followed the leadings of Jehovah's spirit. Did you notice the courage he displayed because the spirit of Jehovah empowered Saul and he humbly followed the spirit's leadings? What a good start that Saul had; he should have continued to show humility and modesty.

[picture and discussion]

Humility will help us view our privileges and abilities as gifts from Jehovah. (Romans 12:3, 16; 1Corinthians 4:7) Also, if we are humble, we will continue to rely on Jehovah for guidance.

May we start and then remain humble and modest before Jehovah.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Sketching Infinity: The Makings of a Book?

I may never write a book on infinity, but these are some of my meditations in sketch form:

A Relatively Short History of Infinity (Greek Thought)

1) Etymology and background of the word/concept "infinity" in Greek

intensive infinity

extensive infinity

negative infinity

5) potential infinity

6) actual infinity

7) conceptual problems

an infinite God

9) transfinite math

10) infinite sets

11) an infinite past?

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Scriptures for Encouragement and Support

1) Isaiah 33:24; 35:1-5; 41:10-13; 43:1-7; 59:1.

2)  Psalm 23:1-6; 34:19; 41:1-3; 56:8; 68:19; 145:14, 18; Job 14:13-14.

3) Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 21:3-5; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:4-6;

4) 2 Corinthians 1:1-9; 
4:7-10, 16-18; 7:4-7; 12:9-10.

5) Philippians 4:6-9; 1 Chronicles 7:20-22; 1 Peter 5:6-7; James 5:11.

Matthew 6:9-15--Is Calling It the "Model Prayer" Wrong?

Some places on the Internet where Matthew 6:9-15 is called the "model prayer":

Numerous examples here:

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Acts 1:3 and the The Hapax Legomenon, "Infallible Proofs"

Acts 1:3-Greek (NA28): Οἷς καὶ παρέστησεν ἑαυτὸν ζῶντα μετὰ τὸ παθεῖν αὐτὸν ἐν πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις, δι’ ἡμερῶν τεσσεράκοντα ὀπτανόμενος αὐτοῖς καὶ λέγων τὰ περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ·

Louw-Nida: " 'by many convincing proofs he showed himself alive after his death' Ac. 1:3. In a number of languages 'convincing proof' is rendered as 'that which causes one to know for sure' or 'with certainty' " (Semantic Domain 28.45).

BDAG Greek-English Lexicon: τεκμήριον, ου, τό ⟦tekmḗrion⟧ (Aeschyl., Hdt., Thu.+) that which causes someth. to be known in a convincing and decisive manner, proof (demonstrative proof: Aristot., An. Pr. 70b, 2; Rh. 1357b 4; 1402b 19; Diod S 17, 51, 3 τεκμήρια τῆς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γενέσεως; SIG 867, 37 μέγιστον τεκμήριον w. ref. to Artemis; 685, 84; PGiss 39, 9) ἐν πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις by many convincing proofs Ac 1:3 (DMealand, ZNW 80, ’89, 134f [Hell. reff.]; cp. Jos., Ant. 5, 39 διὰ πολλῶν τεκμηρίων.— τεκ. used w. παραστῆσαι Jos., Ant. 17, 128. Cp. Libanius, Or. 18, 13 τὸ τῆς φύσεως βασιλικὸν πολλοῖς καὶ μεγάλοις τεκμηρίοις ἐμηνύετο=his regal nature was attested by many exceptional signs).—DELG. M-M.

Herodotus writes:

[2.13.1] "This, too, that the priests told me about Egypt, is a strong proof : when Moeris was king, if the river rose as much as thirteen feet, it watered all of Egypt below Memphis. Moeris had not been dead nine hundred years when I heard this from the priests. But now, if the river does not rise at least twenty-six or twenty-five feet, the land is not flooded."

[The Histories, 2.13.1] ἔλεγον δὲ καὶ τόδε μοι μέγα τεκμήριον περὶ τῆς χώρης ταύτης οἱ ἱρέες, ὡς ἐπὶ Μοίριος βασιλέος, ὅκως ἔλθοι ὁ ποταμὸς ἐπὶ ὀκτὼ πήχεας τὸ ἐλάχιστον, ἄρδεσκε Αἴγυπτον τὴν ἔνερθε Μέμφιος: καὶ Μοίρι οὔκω ἦν ἔτεα εἰνακόσια τετελευτηκότι ὅτε τῶν ἱρέων ταῦτα ἐγὼ ἤκουον. νῦν δὲ εἰ μὴ ἐπ᾽ ἑκκαίδεκα ἢ πεντεκαίδεκα πήχεας ἀναβῇ τὸ ἐλάχιστον ὁ ποταμός, οὐκ ὑπερβαίνει ἐς τὴν χώρην.

Additionally, Sophocles pens these words in one of his plays:

Clytemnestra states:

"No, not in vain; how can you say 'in vain' when you have brought me sure proofs of his death?" (Soph. Electra 774)

Greek: οὔτοι μάτην γε: πῶς γὰρ ἂν μάτην λέγοις, εἴ μοι θανόντος πίστ᾽ ἔχων τεκμήρια

Ralph Earle (Word Meanings in the New Testament, page 97) commenting on Acts 1:3: "Infallible Proofs--This is one word in Greek, tekmeriois--a strong term (only here in the NT). J. R. Lumby says, 'A tekmerion is such an evidence as to remove all doubt.' "

In the final analysis, Earle cites "convincing proofs" (NASB, NIV) as a suitable rendering for tekmeriois.

The Amplified Bible prefers "unquestionable evidence" and another possibility is
"indubitable proof." The word's semantic range allow for this rendering. In the context of Acts 1:3, "unquestionable" or "indubitable" seems to be a good choice. The apostles are being shown signs that will make them suitable witnesses of Christ throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). Surely they would have needed strong proof to be convinced and to persuade others.

Another consideration here is the Classical usage of tekmerion. When consulting LSJ, I found that tekmerion was variously defined as "sure proof" or "strong proof" as well as "evidence." The word seems to have strong connotations of evidence that is undeniable. 

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon: τεκμήριον ου η.

1 sure sign or principle, criterion (for adopting a particular course of action) A.

2 piece of evidence seen or heard, sign, evidence, proof (of sthg.) Hdt. Trag. Men.

3 evidence from facts or logic, evidence, proof (of sthg.)

Hdt. Trag. Th. Ar. Att.orats. +

4 evidence which constitutes proof in a logical argument, necessary sign Arist.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Proverbial Sayings in the Epistles of Paul?

I wrote these thoughts some years ago, but I've since found reason to believe that my question could be answered in the affirmative now. 

This may be an off the wall question, but I've often wondered if the apostle Paul used sayings that were rooted in Roman proverbs or common maxims. After all, we know that everyday proverbs from the ancient world are found in his writings (see 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 6:9-10), but when I read classical Latin, there are times when the language reminds me of Paul's letters. E.g., "me miseram" ("wretched woman that I am!"). Compare Romans 7:24 (Vulgate): "infelix ego homo" or "O frustra, inquit, mihi suscepti labores!" which can be translated "O that in vain, he said, my labors have been undertaken." Think of how Paul refers to "toiling in vain."

Monday, November 20, 2023

What's In a Word? Trying to Define An Oft-Used Term

Linguists try to discern what a "word" is. For instance, George Yule thinks that we're probably better off talking about "linguistic forms" or lingual elements rather than words: he suggests that "word" is a slippery concept (See Yule, The Study of Language).

D.A. Black maintains: "The WORD has yet to be given a satisfactory universal definition. People sometimes assume that a word is recognizable because it represents a 'whole thought' or a 'complete thing.' But this view is clearly wrong when one looks at the lack of correspondence between words from different languages."

He then goes on to illustrate this point by referring to the "best-known definition" of "word" that was put forth by Leonard Bloomfield, namely, "a minimal free form." But Black insists that even this definition is not that helpful when we are dealing with non-English languages. He then makes a distinction between the spoken and written word (See his work Linguistics for Students of NT Greek, pp. 57-58).

However one may choose to define "word," when studying Greek, it is good to remember that we want to advance beyond words to sentences, phrases, clauses, paragraphs and whole discourses. In this way, one can begin to get the sense of the words. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

1 Peter 1:8 (Parsing, Syntax and Semantics)

Greek: ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε, εἰς ὃν ἄρτι μὴ ὁρῶντες πιστεύοντες δὲ ἀγαλλιᾶτε χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ,

"Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now though you see him not, you believe and, believing, shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified" (1 Peter 1:8 New Advent Translation)

It's an okay translation, but the rendering would be more idiomatic if the NAT constructed the English syntax differently. I believe the translation strives to mirror the original Greek structure/order. Nevertheless, I want to parse some of the words in 1 Peter 1:8 to see what points we can learn from Peter's correspondence with first-century Christians living in Asia Minor.

ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε-We begin with an accusative singular form of the relative pronoun ὅς: translate "Whom" as NAT does or use "him." This pronoun is the direct object of ἀγαπᾶτε and it's apparently the object of the aorist participle (P.J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, page 102): the pronominal term ὃν refers to the Lord Jesus in 1 Peter 1:7.

Contrariwise, I like how the ESV, NWT and other translations add the idea of concession for this part by using "Although" or "Though." That is a good way of handling οὐκ + the aorist active participle. Furthermore, the action delineated by ἰδόντες is likely antecedent to the action delineated by ἀγαπᾶτε.

Why is οὐκ and not μὴ employed with ἰδόντες here? See Achtemeier, page 103. 

Despite not having seen Jesus, these first-century followers of Christ still believed in the Son of God and rejoiced with ineffable joy over their faith in him. In the last part of 1 Peter 1:8, NAT translates "with joy unspeakable and glorified." The Greek is χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ καὶ δεδοξασμένῃ

χαρᾷ is dative singular feminine of χαρά; ἀνεκλαλήτῳ is equally dative singular feminine of ἀνεκλάλητος. Finally, δεδοξασμένῃ is perfect passive participle dative singular feminine of δοξάζω.

ἀνεκλάλητος-"ineffable, unspeakable, inexpressible"

δοξάζω-"glorify, praise, honor" (Mounce)

These Christians could say regarding Jesus, "though we never personally met you, we believe in and love you."


Monday, November 13, 2023

1 Corinthians 15:53 in the NLT

"For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies" (1 Corinthians 15:53 NLT).

This rendering is a stretch in my opinion. The text does not actually say that mortal bodies will be changed to immortal bodies. Rather, mortality itself (a mortal body) is replaced with immortality itself. What immortality means should be ascertained from the context, not read into the passage. Secondly, if Paul said that immortality would be "put on" then how does this proclamation affect the belief in immortal souls? What an interesting biblical chapter.

I'm not denying the Pauline teaching that Christians will undergo a change from humiliated bodies to glorified bodies, which Phil 3:20-21 explicitly states and Corinthians certain indicates. But what terms, syntax or concepts in the text lead us to the NLT translation of 1 Cor 15:53?

Friday, November 10, 2023

Greek Word of the Day: συντάσσω

Greek word of the day: συντάσσω. Some definitions for this word are "to put in order together, to draw up, to put in array" (LSJ).

See Herodotus, "The Histories" 7.78.

BDAG Entry: 
συντάσσω ⟦suntássō⟧ fut. 3sg. συντάξει LXX; 1 aor. συνέταξα, mid. συνεταξάμην (Sus 14 Theod.; Papias [2:16]); pf. συντέταχα Job 38:12. Pass.: 2 aor. ptc. gen. συνταγέντος Da 11:23; pf. 3 sg. συντέτακται LXX (Hdt. et al.; TestSol 22:11 B; TestAbr B 5 p. 109, 19f [Stone p. 66]; Jos., Ant. 3, 213; 7, 305 al.; Just., Tat.) 1 to direct that someth. be done in an explicit fashion, order, direct, prescribe (X., Cyr. 8, 6, 8; Polyb. 3, 50, 9; ins [e.g. IAndrosIsis, Kyme 14 of origins of paths for sun and moon], pap, LXX) τινί ( for) someone (PEdg 10 [=Sb 6716], 2 [258/257 b.c.] Ἀμύντου μοι συντάσσοντος) Mt 21:6 (προστάσσω v.l., cp. 1:24); 26:19; 27:10 (cp. Ex 37:20; 40:19; Num 27:11 al.; RPesch, Eine ATliche Ausführungsformel im Mt, BZ 10, ’66, 220–45). 2 to arrange various parts in an organized manner, organize Ματθαῖος … Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λογία συνετάξατο M … . organized the sayings in Hebrew (i.e., some form of Aramaic) Papias (2:16).—M-M.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

The Latin Pluperfect Passive Indicative and the Latin Vulgate

Latin forms the pluperfect passive indicative by compounding the perfect passive participle with the imperfect tense of sum (the "to be" verb). Here are the principal parts of the verb, porto:

porto, portare, portavi, portatus ("carry").

Examples of the pluperfect passive indicative:

1) portatus eram ("I had been carried")-1st person singular
2) portati eramus ("We had been carried")-1st person plural

I've been looking for a scriptural example of the pluperfect passive indicative, and there may be one or more, but I've noticed that the Vulgate tends to translate Greek pluperfects with Latin participles or a form of the perfect. 

If you ever look into Latin pluperfects, it's good to know that some books call them, past perfects.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Dwell With Them According to Knowledge (1 Peter 3:7)

Greek: Οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν, ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν, ὡς καὶ συγκληρονόμοις χάριτος ζωῆς, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι τὰς προσευχὰς ὑμῶν.

ESV: "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

There are two things in 1 Peter 3:7 that constitute the foci of this blog entry:

1) How is it possible for a Christian husband to dwell with his wife, κατὰ γνῶσιν?

2) What things might "hinder" a husband's prayers?

Craig Keener and other commentators locate this Bible passage within the context of the so-called Haustafeln ("household codes"). In 1 Peter 2:13-25, the apostle gives counsel to slaves, he provides counsel for how Christians should comport themselves in the midst of secular rulers, then one finds guidance for husbands and wives in 1 Peter 3:1-7. See Keener, 1 Peter: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021.

But how should one construe the language, Οἱ ἄνδρες ὁμοίως συνοικοῦντες κατὰ γνῶσιν?

Charles Bigg explains the construction this way (The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, 154): " 'According to knowledge,' like wise and sensible men who understand the due gradations of honour. The Pauline sense of γνῶσις, in which it signifies the understanding of spiritual mysteries, is quite foreign to St. Peter. In the following words we observe the same elegant classicism as in i. 19."

Moreover, the Greek qualifies how a husband should live with his wife "according to knowledge," when it adds: ὡς ἀσθενεστέρῳ σκεύει τῷ γυναικείῳ ἀπονέμοντες τιμήν.

From the commentary quoted earlier that's written by Bigg, one learns that Peter apparently encourages husbands to show "consideration, wise guidance, marital helpfulness" (154). It seems that showing honor is part of dwelling with one's wife according to knowledge.

On the other hand, a husband's prayers could be hindered in two fundamental ways: 1) Maybe a man would not feel up to approaching God because of failing to give his wife due honor; 2) God might possibly not want to hear the prayers of a man, who does not show proper consideration for his wife. See Lamentations 3:44.

In the Sacra Pagina commentary by D.P. Senior for Peter's first epistle and some other letters, we read:

"The passive form of the infinitive implies that God is the one who would not hear the prayers of a husband who treats his wife without respect."

The passive infinitive appears in the part that gives the admonition, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐγκόπτεσθαι.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Words of the Month (November 2023)

1. Luke 4:16 in the Latin Vulgate reads: et venit Nazareth ubi erat nutritus et intravit secundum consuetudinem suam die sabbati in synagogam et surrexit legere

I was curious about the word, nutritus, which one translation renders "brought up." The morphological form nutritus in Latin is a participle singular perfect passive masculine nominative of nutrior, which is a deponent verb.

According to the Dictionary of the Vulgate NT (page 80), the word in Luke 4:16 (Vg) could mean "nurse, rear" in this context.

2. "Isotropic" denotes "exhibiting properties (as velocity of light transmission) with the same values when measured along axes in all directions."

— isot·ro·py \ī-ˈsä-trə-pē\ noun
International Scientific Vocabulary
First Known Use: 1856
From Merriam-Webster Online 

The universe is said to be isotropic.

3. Black box functionalism-"The mind is a black box, to be explained solely in terms of inputs and outputs. The internal workings of the mind, the black box, that transform the input into the output are internal, hidden from our view, and they are of no concern to the theory. Mental phenomena, such as pain, are reducible to the abstract information-processing functions of a black box. (Input-output plus internal information processing)."


Monday, October 30, 2023

How Jehovah Helps Materially Poor Ones (Modified Talk)

Poor ones or servants of Jehovah never have reason to be anxious because Jehovah sustained poor ones in ancient Israel and he continues to uphold the poor today (Galatians 2:10). However, in what ways does God help the poor among his servants today? Not to say that Jehovah ignores the poor of the world, but this entry will discuss God's relationship with his servants.

Firstly, Jehovah has taught his poor servants to have a balanced view of money. If we turn to Luke 12:15, notice how Jesus said we should view money.

After reading: did you notice the warning that Jesus gave? He said, "guard against every sort of greed"

Money is a protection;  while it makes a good servant, it is a poor master (Ecclesiastes 7:12). We preserve a balanced view of money by avoiding greediness and materialism (an inordinate desire for the things money can buy). As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:8, "So, having food and clothing, we will be content with these things."

Job 34:19 mentions a second way that Jehovah helps his materially poor servants (Read).

Jehovah has taught the poor to have respect for themselves, even if they are poor. He is not partial: Jehovah does not favor the rich over the poor. Is this not a comforting thought for servants of Jehovah, who have limited means? The poor and the rich are both creations of Jehovah. They are the work of his hands.

Secondly, Jehovah teaches the poor to work hard and avoid harmful habits. Proverbs 14:23 stresses the importance of hard work. Many people today feel that hard work is not for them: they refuse to do anything they consider to be menial or beneath them. Furthermore, it is easy to develop harmful habits like overdrinking or drug abuse. These practices can waste valuable resources and harm our health. Yet what does God's Word teach about such practices?

See Proverbs 20:1 about drunkenness and overdrinking and 2 Corinthians 7:1 can be applied to smoking and the use of illegal drugs: cleanse yourself of every defilement of flesh and spirit.

Another way that Jehovah helps the poor is by bringing them into a loving brotherhood. Read and apply John 13:35.

1 John 3:17-18 teaches Christians to help brothers and sisters in need: we can offer practical assistance like food and help with clothing. We should love in deed and truth, not just in word. The love we show for the poor is an expression of Jehovah's love and concern for the afflicted (Proverbs 19:17).

A final benefit to the poor is that Jehovah gives them hope. See Isaiah 65:21-23.


No matter how desperate our situation might become, we do not need to be anxious. (Isaiah 30:15; Philippians 4:6-7) Jehovah will care for our material needs as long as we continue to seek his Kingdom first.​—Matthew 6:31-33

Saturday, October 28, 2023

King David, "a man according to" Jehovah's Heart

King Saul was told: "Jehovah hath sought for Himself a man according to His own heart, and Jehovah chargeth him for leader over His people, for thou hast not kept that which Jehovah commanded thee'" (1 Samuel 13:14, YLT).

King David was that person according to God's own heart. Additionally, he served YHWH (Jehovah) with a complete heart, one that was fully devoted to him. Yet if David was this kind of person, we may wonder how he could commit adultery with Bathsheba, hide the indiscretion, then have Uriah killed. How could a person so highly favored by God and devoted to him commit such unspeakable acts?

David clearly dropped his guard: he erred and acted detestably toward the Law of Jehovah (2 Samuel 12:9-10). Maybe he relied too much on himself or became confident in his own strength (compare 1 Corinthians 10:12). Whatever happened, the king was humble, penitent--yes, genuinely sorry for his errors when Jehovah's prophet brought it to his attention (2 Samuel 12:13). God looked beyond what David did, took into account his repentance, and reckoned David as righteous despite these sins. That divine forgiveness undoubtedly felt like water to one traveling in a parched desert (Acts 3:19). How this account emphasizes the richness of God's mercy and extent of his loyal love.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Louis Berkhof and the Knowledge of God (How to Know God)--Pros and Cons

Louis Berkhof (1873-1957) relates that the medieval Scholastics generally framed questions about God's Being in three primary ways, namely, An sit Deus? Quid sit Deus? and Qualis sit Deus? It is not important to concern ourselves with the first question since this post will assume that God exists. However, the second and third queries have more to do with our present discussion of theological language and religious episteme. (See Berkhof's Systematic Theology.)

Regarding the second and third questions, Berkhof explains that we apparently cannot fully understand God's innermost constitution (his quidditas), for it is impossible to fathom the Almighty as Zophar avers in the book of Job (Job 11:7-9). In this regard, Berkhof avers:

"Apart from the revelation of God in His attributes [Qualis sit Deus?], we have no knowledge of the Being of God whatsoever. But insofar as God reveals Himself in His attributes, we also have some knowledge of His Divine Being, though even so our knowledge is subject to human limitations" (Berkhof 43).

Berkhof appears to say that we can know God in the sense of qualis, but we cannot know God's quidditas, much less "comprehend" it. He then alludes to Martin Luther's distinction between Deus Revelatus who remains Deus Absconditus per essentiam and then Berkhof observes that Calvin believed the act of speculating on God's quiddity is futile, but we can have some knowledge of God's qualities or attributes. The systematic theologian concludes:

"While he [Calvin] feels that God cannot be known to perfection, he does not deny that we can know something of His Being or nature. But this knowledge cannot be obtained by a priori methods, but only in an a posteriori manner through the attributes, which he regards as real determinations of the nature of God. They convey to us at least some knowledge of what God is, but especially of what He is in relation to us" (43-44).

I have related Berkhof's comments and observations extensively, so I will not comment much further on the matter, but his account seems fairly clear and might even align with some things in the Bible. In other words, we humans evidently have some knowledge of God's attributes by virtue of His divine self-disclosure. However, if we are attuned to God's attributes, albeit imperfectly, then why can't we know "what God is" to a certain degree? Not utterly fathoming the Almighty is perfectly understandable, but to know nothing concerning God's whatness or quidditas seems highly problematic from a biblical standpoint.

Additionally, this view is seemingly at loggerheads with a divine revelation model that posits God disclosing himself in the act of special revelation. I admittedly need to do more work on God's simplicity and the implications that attend this doctrine. Nevertheless, I am not comfortable with equating God's essence and existence nor do I think that God and his attributes are all the same (i.e., that God is justice or mercy or that he is equivalent with patience). It seems that there is at least a "formal distinction" (distinctio formalis) between God and his attributes, then thinkers like Berkhof talk about the difference between God's communicable and incommunicable attributes.. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Some Uses of DIA in the GNT

As with other prepositions, the Bible employs DIA in many ways. Therefore, I have chosen focus on the context of agency but we know that DIA functions other ways. This is also just a sampling of cases where the writer is communicating the idea of agency.

Matthew 1:22 (WH)-Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Hebrews 1:1-2 (WH)-ἐπ' ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι' οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας·

Hebrews 2:2 (WH)-εἰ γὰρ ὁ δι' ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος ἐγένετο βέβαιος, καὶ πᾶσα παράβασις καὶ παρακοὴ ἔλαβεν ἔνδικον μισθαποδοσίαν,

Hebrews 2:10-Ἔπρεπεν γὰρ αὐτῷ, δι' ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα, πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι.

1 Peter 1:12 (WH)-οἷς ἀπεκαλύφθη ὅτι οὐχ ἑαυτοῖς ὑμῖν δὲ διηκόνουν αὐτά, ἃ νῦν ἀνηγγέλη ὑμῖν διὰ τῶν εὐαγγελισαμένων ὑμᾶς πνεύματι ἁγίῳ ἀποσταλέντι ἀπ' οὐρανοῦ, εἰς ἃ ἐπιθυμοῦσιν ἄγγελοι παρακύψαι.

1 Peter 1:21 (WH)- τοὺς δι' αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν.

1 Peter 2:5 (WH)-καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον, ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ·

1 Peter 5:12 (WH)-Διὰ Σιλουανοῦ ὑμῖν τοῦ πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ, ὡς λογίζομαι, δι' ὀλίγων ἔγραψα, παρακαλῶν καὶ ἐπιμαρτυρῶν ταύτην εἶναι ἀληθῆ χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰς ἣν στῆτε.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Resources for Esther and the Tetragrammaton

Thursday, October 12, 2023

What Some Theologians Are Saying About God and Evil

"We know that God Himself never does that which is evil. Nevertheless, He also ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Though He does not do evil and does not create evil, He does ordain that evil exists."

My question: What do you mean by "ordain"? How does God ordain "whatsoever comes to pass," and still not cause evil?

Another theologian states:

"God is certainly sovereign over evil. There's a sense in which it is proper even to say that evil is part of His eternal decree. He planned for it. It did not take Him by surprise. It is not an interruption of His eternal plan. He declared the end from the beginning, and He is still working all things for His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:9-10). But God's role with regard to evil is never as its author. He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends. Ultimately He is able to make all things-including all the fruits of all the evil of all time-work together for a greater good (Romans 8:28)."

Trent Horn writes:

"Jeremiah avoids detracting from God’s sovereignty by admitting that the Lord causes grief. But God doesn’t just stand by and helplessly watch it happen or delight in our suffering for its own sake. Jeremiah makes that clear by saying God “does not willingly afflict or grieve” us (Lam. 3:33). Instead, God uses suffering to call us to repentance. This is the context in which Lamentations 3:38 is best understood."

Part of the Westminster Confession declares:

"The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin."

See the part on this website where God is called the "final cause of evil but not its efficient cause.

J.G. Machen: "
When God causes the bringing to pass of the evil actions of men, he does that in still a different way. He does not tempt the men to sin; he does not influence them to sin. But he causes the bringing to pass of those deeds by the free and responsible choices of personal beings. He has created those beings with the awful gift of freedom of choice. The things that they do in exercise of that gift are their acts. They do not, indeed, surprise God by the doing of them; their doing of them is part of his eternal plan; yet in the doing of them they, and not the holy God, are responsible."


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

God Does Not Will Evil Acts (A Deductively Valid Argument)

In certain contexts, one can define "validity" in deductive terms: if the premises are true, then the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. Richard Arthur defines validity as something along these lines (An Introduction to Logic, page 29). If an argument is valid, "it would be inconsistent to deny an argument's conclusion while simultaneously accepting its premises."

Here is a short valid argument in opposition to the idea that God wills/ordains evil:

1) God only wills actions that bring honor to his name.
2) No hypocritical actions bring honor to the name of God.
3) Therefore, God does not will hypocritical actions.

See Romans 2:24.

Another slightly different version of this argument:

1) All acts willed by God bring honor to his name.
2) No hypocritical acts bring honor to the name of God.
3) Therefore, God does not will hypocritical acts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Romans 15:4 (ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη)

Greek: ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη, ἵνα διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν.

Potential date of writing for Romans: Written between 55-60 CE.

Within the context of verse 4, Paul has just exhorted those who are "strong" in Rome to bear the frailties of those who are "weak." Much of the discussion concerns eating and drinking or matters of conscience. The apostle urges his readers to act for the good of their neighbors, then he appeals to Christ's example as he quotes Psalm 69:9. From there, the letter refers to ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη or
 "For whatever was written in former times . . ."

γὰρ obviously makes a connection with what comes before it ("for"), but what is the referent of the things that were written beforehand? Is Paul including secular and sacred literature of the Greco-Roman world? Does the passage include Tanakh and the NT? After all, he employs ὅσα in this correspondence.

The context reveals that Paul likely has Tanakh in mind (the Hebrew Bible), and he quotes from the Psalms, which adds some credibility to this view. It is very doubtful that the apostle is referring to literature outside of Scripture that was written to upbuild or encourage Christians (
εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη). He is talking about the Torah, the Prophets and the writings: these things were composed to give hope and encouragement--to help Christians endure (Romans 15:5). Cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

Another thing that helps us to perceive what the things written beforehand are, is διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν. Yes, comfort issues forth through the holy writings (Scripture). It is not just any writings that impart hope and help us to endure but it's God's Word, which encompasses the Tanakh along with the NT that supply these things. Compare the use of γραφάς in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

The Early Church Fathers Quoted Paul's Writings

Origen of Alexandria (De Principiis I.2.1)- "The first-born, however, is not by nature a different person from the Wisdom, but one and the same. Finally, the Apostle Paul says that Christ (is) the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Cyprian of Carthage (On the Advantage of Patience): "But that hope and faith may attain to their result, there is need of patience. For we are not following after present glory, but future, according to what Paul the apostle also warns us, and says, 'We are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we by patience wait for it.' Therefore, waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil that which we have begun to be, and may receive that which we believe and hope for, according to God’s own showing."

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, Book III)- "In us it is not only the spirit which ought to be sanctified, but also our behaviour, manner of life, and our body. What does the apostle Paul mean when he says that the wife is sanctified by the husband and the husband by the wife?"

Tertullian of Carthage (Against Marcion, Book V):-"Should you, however, disapprove of these types, the Acts of the Apostles, at all events, have handed down to me this career of Paul, which you must not refuse to accept. Thence I demonstrate that from a persecutor he became an apostle, not of men, neither by man; thence am I led to believe the Apostle himself; thence do I find reason for rejecting your defense of him, and for bearing fearlessly your taunt. Then you deny the Apostle Paul. I do not calumniate him whom I defend. I deny him, to compel you to the proof of him. I deny him, to convince you that he is mine. If you have regard to our belief you should admit the particulars which comprise it."

Irenaeus (Against Heresies, Book IV.2.7)-"And many more Samaritans, it is said, when the Lord had tarried among them, two days, 'believed because of His words, and said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we ourselves have heard [Him], and know that this man is truly the Saviour of the world.' (3) And Paul likewise declares, 'And so all Israel shall be saved;' (4) but he has also said, that the law was our pedagogue [to bring us] to Christ Jesus. (5) Let them not therefore ascribe to the law the unbelief of certain [among them]."

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Jesus as the "First Creation"? (Clement of Alexandria)


S. Vernon McCasland and Heinrich Lausberg on Metonyms/Metaphors

McCasland provides an illuminating definition for the term “metonym.” He demonstrates that this literary device involves exchanging names between things that share conceptual relations. For example, “bottle” might be used to rename “drunkenness" or a writer might substitute "crown" for "royalty." See S. Vernon McCasland, “Some New Testament Metonyms for God,” JBL 68.2 (June 1949): 99-113.

Heinrich Lausberg notes that the distinction between metaphor and metonymy is fluid, especially when it comes to personal (emblematic) metonymy. See his Handbook of Literary Rhetoric, §571. On the other hand, McCasland considers “Father” a metonym (see Matthew 6:4, 6; Luke 11:2) and he lists three senses in which God is Father: for the Jewish nation, for the Messiah and for those whom God regenerates spiritually through Christ. Moreover, McCasland documents other significant metonyms in the NT (see “Some New Testament Metonyms for God,” pages 99-113).

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Words of the Month (October 2023)

1. χάρις (Greek)-The KJV famously translates this word as "grace," but that is somewhat vague. χάρις apparently occurs 156 times in the NT and KJV renders it "grace" 130 times. However, other ways to render the word are "undeserved kindness" or "unmerited favor." Paul employs the term over 100 times.

2. δόξα (Greek)-Depending on the context, the word may denote "glory, reputation, opinion" or "splendor/radiance." See

Compare 2 Corinthians 3:18

3. Secularism (English)-"the belief that religion should not be involved with the ordinary social and political activities of a country" (Cambridge English Dictionary).

Friday, September 29, 2023

Opinion, Belief, Understanding and Knowledge in Platonic Thought--How Applied to Theology?

Plato makes the following epistemic distinctions in his work, the Republic (509d-510a). These steps go in ascending order: in other words, d) comes before c), etc. I have called these steps--"the epistemic ladder." Others make use of this terminology but sometimes apply it differently at times; see

In any event, here are the four distinctions that Plato makes along with the objects of their episteme:

a) dialectic thought (noesis)-contemplation of the Platonic Forms/Ideas

b) understanding (dianoia)-reflection on or use of mathematics/geometry

c) belief (pistis)-immediately apprehends sensory sensation

d) opinion (eikasia)-rooted in sensory phenomena

How do these distinctions apply to theology? Thomas Aquinas delineates one potential way:

"The truths that we confess concerning God fall under two modes. Some things true of God are beyond all the competence of human reason, as that God is Three and One. Other things there are to which even human reason can attain, as the existence and unity of God, which philosophers have proved to a demonstration under the guidance of the light of natural reason" (Aquinas, SCG 1.3).

To be clear, Aquinas' theology owes more to Aristotle than to Plato, but I'm just showing how the epistemic distinctions of Plato might be applied to theological methods in general. Historically, theologians did make use of Platonic philosophy to shape the contours of their thought: Augustine of Hippo and Justin Martyr are prime examples among the church fathers.

Monday, September 25, 2023

The Dative in Colossians 1:16

Greek: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα, εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι· τὰ πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται·

I think it would be fair to say that ἐν + the dative case here could be rendered "in him." As for the dative case itself, I originally learned that it describes how action affects the indirect object: I equally learned that casus dativus/ἡ δοτικὴ πτῶσις is the "to" or "for" case. But while these observations are technically correct, the matter becomes more complex with Greek prepositions and cases.

For instance, context is a factor that one must consider when translating the dative case. Additionally, one must reflect on the usus loquendi of the particular dative being analyzed. What is its particular usage within a determinate context?

For example, ἐν + dative could be locative (maybe locative of sphere) or it could be instrumental. The Old Vine's Dictionary used to describe constructions like Colossians 1:16 that way. Compare 2 Cor. 5:19.

Nevertheless, I prefer to say that Colossians 1:16 is probably a dative of agent while I acknowledge that it could be understood differently. Cf. also Heb. 1:1-3.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Word of God and the Will of God (A Brief Reflection)

I think it was Bruce Laurin who wrote (or he penned words to this effect): "not everything that happens in the word of God is the will of God." From what I recall, he was talking about the "holy war" that occurs in the Hebrew Bible. Yes, there is war in the Tanakh: people are slaughtered, hacked, and run through. However, I believe that Laurin has a point. For while some of the "violence" in the Hebrew Bible was certainly said to be sanctioned by YHWH (Jehovah), not all of it was. There is also a question about how we should define violence or categorize it. For example, is all violence morally objectionable? Furthermore, what counts as violence?

Another way I want to address the violence in the Hebrew Bible is to distinguish between prescription and description: much of what I find in the Tanakh is a description of how imperfect humans acted as they rebelled against the dictates of God, not a prescription to commit violence. In fact, Psalm 11:5 condemns the person who loves violence and says that YHWH "hates" such an individual. Another consideration is that even when YHWH used Israel or other nations for the cause of war, God set limits, which limits imperfect humans transgressed.

The accounts of holy war are part of the Bible's candor; Scripture may utilize euphemisms at times but it likewise supplies very open accounts that honestly lay bare human iniquity. On the other hand, the justice of God can be severe and Scripture doesn't hide that fact either. See Hebrews 10:26-31.

In the spirit of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I believe we can learn many lessons from the accounts of war found in the Hebrew Bible.

The McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia contains some interesting remarks under its entry for "war":

It has been questioned whether wars are, under any circumstances, justifiable from Jewish example. While it is certain that the practice of offensive' wars cannot be defended by reference to sacred history, it is equally clear, if wars must be, that they can only be consistent with the light of that dispensation which breathes forgiveness and forbearance on the clear and obvious ground of necessity and self-defense. When the principles of the Bible shall have illuminated the minds of all nations, wars shall cease from the ends of the earth, and all men will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will will universally prevail (Ps 46:9; Ps 76:3; Isa 2:4; Eze 39:9; Lu 2:14).

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Matthew 6:22 and the Simple Eye

Commenting on Matthew 6:22, Blomberg writes:

[Note] 76: “ 'Good' is actually the more specific word , [haplous] implying single-minded devotion and/or generosity."

Blomberg, Craig L. Matthew: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (p. 135). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I think the context of Matthew 6:22 also supports this understanding of the text (Mt. 6:24-33).

On the other hand, Zerwick-Grosvenor take haplous in 6:22 to mean "simple, unmixed, clear/clear-sighted" when used of the eye in contrast to an eye that is poneros (possibly unhealthy or not clear-sighted).

From Vincent's Word Studies:

"Single (ἁπλοῦς)

The picture underlying this adjective is that of a piece of cloth or other material, neatly folded once, and without a variety of complicated folds. Hence the idea of simplicity or singleness (compare simplicity from the Latin simplex; semel, once; plicare, to fold). So, in a moral sense, artless, plain, pure. Here sound, as opposed to evil or diseased. Possibly with reference to the double-mindedness and indecision condemned in Matthew 6:24."

See BDAG, page 91.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Matthew 6:9 and the Tetragrammaton

Greek: ὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers: "The words 'Jehovah, hallowed be His name,' were familiar enough to all Israelites, and are found in many of their prayers, but here the position of the petition gives a new meaning to it, and makes it the key to all that follows. Still more striking is the fact, that this supplies a link between the teaching of the first three Gospels and that of the fourth. Thus the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray—thus, in John 12:28, He prayed Himself, 'Father, glorify Thy name.' "

Additionally, here is a footnote from a Journal Article, "The Fourteen Triads of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-7:12)" written by Glen H. Stassen:

"83 Dale C. Allison, Jr., The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 172-73, 176-77, 180. Allison demonstrates the connection between Matt 5:1-2 and Moses ascending Sinai in Exod 19 and 20; he also shows that it was understood well before Matthew's time that Moses ascended to heaven to get the commandments. This could be another connection with 'Our Father who art in heaven.' Allison's account does not connect Matt 5:1-2 with 6:9, although in a personal communication, he did connect Matt 6:9 with the Tetragrammaton. For insightful discussion, see also Davies, Setting, 85, 93, 99, 116-18."

On page 305, Stassen writes: " 'Hallowed be thy name' (surely the Tetragrammaton, YHWH) in the first petition of the Lord's prayer is probably also connected with the revelation of YHWH in Exod 19 and 20."

So at least three scholars agree with Jehovah's Witnesses that Matthew 6:9 alludes to the Tetragrammaton. I'm sure that research will uncover more who agree, but it would be nice to find some ancient witnesses who likewise concur. However, one problem is what happened with the divine name during the Second Temple period. 

Two Kinds of Sealing (Ephesians 1:13-14)

I wrote this piece back in 2012 on another forum; edited 9/18/23.

A friend recently asked me about the subject of "sealing" in the Bible. For example,
"in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,-- in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14 ASV).

Notice that the Ephesians "were sealed" (past tense) with the holy spirit. But if they were sealed in the past, then why does the Bible indicate that a future sealing will occur? See Ephesians 4:30; Revelation 7:1-8.

A beloved Christian sister once explained to me that there are two phases of God's sealing. Jehovah seals a Christian when he/she is anointed, but the seal must be kept until death or the system's end (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:1-5; Matthew 24:13; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). When anointed, the seal is written with a pencil (so to speak), but the final sealing is done with a pen that is made of indelible ink. I always liked her explanation. It helped me to see how there could be two phases to the divine sealing carried out by Jehovah. See also Romans 8:23.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Choosing Good Friends (Nehemiah 13:1-5)-Modified Talk

One of the most important decisions we can make is our choice of friends: friendships affect our relationship with Jehovah in a positive or negative way. Therefore, loyalty to Jehovah is paramount even when choosing our associates. 

In Nehemiah's day, High Priest Eliashib faced a challenge that tested his loyalty and it could have resulted in adverse consequences for the nation of Israel, if Nehemiah had not decided to take swift action. Please turn to Nehemiah 13:1-2; it tells us about a restriction that Jehovah placed on Israel. Learning about this law will help us to understand tonight's material in our Treasures talk.

(After reading)

Since the Ammonites and Moabites adamantly opposed Jehovah's people Israel and would not assist the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land, the Mosaic law commanded that no Ammonite or Moabite could enter the congregation of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3). What this command likely meant was that no Ammonite or Moabite could ever gain full legal membership to the Israelite nation or have full privileges like natural Israelites did. We learn this point from the example of Ruth and Zelek, one of David's chief warriors. However, despite this prohibition, notice what Eliashib did, according to Nehemiah 13:4-5.

Eliashib permitted Tobiah, an Ammonite, to use the dining hall in Jehovah's temple. Why did Eliashib allow this Ammonite to use part of the temple in defiance of Jehovah's law? 

Tobiah had become a close associate of Eliashib; furthermore, Tobiah and his son Jehohanan married Jewish women and evidently gained the favor of numerous Jews (Neh. 6:17-19). One of Eliashib’s grandsons was married to an intimate associate of Tobiah. (Neh. 13:28) These familial and social bonds may account for why High Priest Eliashib allowed an unbelieving opposer to influence him. However, Nehemiah refused to let this bad associate of Eliashib's infect Jehovah's holy nation. Please read Nehemiah 13:7-9 with me.

Nehemiah threw all of Tobiah’s household furniture out of the storeroom, then he cleansed them. In this way, Nehemiah demonstrated loyalty to Jehovah because he did not allow God's High Priest to associate with a known enemy of Jehovah. What lesson does this account teach us?

How does Jehovah feel if we choose friends who do not love him? The disciple James wrote: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

We do not want to associate with any willful sinners since the Bible cautions us about mixing clean with unclean things (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). Moreover, if we're going to be loyal to Jehovah, would this not include avoiding bad association in person and on television or with other forms of entertainment like social media?

Discuss the picture and "ask yourself" question at the end.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Glosses Versus Definitions (Lexicality)

1) The problem of how to render Greek or Hebrew words is an ongoing challenge, but lexicographers normatively differentiate glosses from word definitions. The word "love" for ἔρως is a gloss: not entirely wrong, but admittedly not all that illuminating either. Lexica and monographs suggest "real definitions" for these words. Admittedly, what constitutes a real definition is debatable but one major improvement is when lexica give sentential definitions over terse glosses.

2) Literary context generally is the determinant for what a word denotes. Who is using the word, and under what circumstances? I agree that we have to be careful about Koine or Classical word definitions; however, it is interesting that the Septuagint (LXX) does not use ἔρως in the Song of Songs or in 2 Samuel 13, where a sexual violation occurs because of human lust, passion or ἔρως. I believe the word only appears in the sapiential book, Proverbs, but 2 Samuel uses agape instead.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

George Yule on Hyponymous Relations and How It Applies to Greek (Linguistics)

Back in 2012, I felt the same way about this subject as I do now. My ideas about employing hyponymy and cognitive semantics to advance the study of Greek and Latin are stuck in the inchoate stage partly because I get distracted by other subjects or activities, including work.

Linguistically, hyponymy may refer to a specific kind of relationship obtains between particular signifiers. By "signifier," I mean a word's sound, graphic form or imagistic representation, which is distinguished from its semanticity. George Yule provides a diagram of hyponymous relations in his book The Study of Language (page 119). I will somewhat simplify and rework his diagram below:
Animate entities
animal plant human
| | |
| | |
dog tree man
Hyponymous relations are arranged hierarchically. Interpreted psychologically and pedagogically, this means that Greek would be taught in a way that's easy to retain and apprehend, in a manner that would allow a student to organize data according to conceptual hierarchies. Cognitive semantics is a related concept that I will not discuss now, but the thoughts in this post need to be developed and revised. Hopefully, writing them down and posting my reflections will assist me in that endeavor. I've already edited some things that I wrote back in 2012.