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)."

See https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/users/philosophy/courses/100/eb9mich00n.htm#:~:text=Black%20Box%20functionalism%20(e.g.%20David,no%20concern%20to%20the%20theory.

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."

See https://faculty.wts.edu/posts/did-god-ordain-sin/

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 https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/doxa

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).