Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Are Acts 15 And Galatians 2 Different Accounts Of The Same Incident?

        There is debate as to whether the Apostle Paul in Galatians 2 was recounting the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. Points of resemblance would include incidents happening at Jerusalem with the same individuals and the same themes being objects of discussion. Both texts center on the question of Gentiles and Law observance. There are, however, a number of recognizable differences between Acts 15 and Galatians 2.

        The discussion of Acts 15 is a public meeting and Paul's confrontation of Peter in Galatians 2 is personal in nature. Moreover, nowhere is a public decision or letter sent by attendees of the Jerusalem Council mentioned in Galatians. We read in Paul's epistle that he made two visits to Jerusalem. James advocates for Gentiles in Acts 15 and it is Paul who plays a similar role in Galatians 2. How are we to settle this matter?

        One theory advanced to resolve this difficulty is that Paul in Galatians 2 was not so much referring to Acts 15 but to the incident of famine relief in Acts 11:27-30. Paul having been prompted by a revelation to make a second journey is consistent a prophecy uttered by Agabus (Galatians 2:2). He also speaks of keeping the needy in mind (Galatians 2:10). The Apostle Peter's hypocrisy relating to eating with Gentiles fits the context of Acts 10-11. The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote on Galatians 2:1:

        "again to Jerusalem" This may refer to a second visit following his conversion, or to a third visit, recorded in Acts 15:2. The purpose of the visit mentioned here corresponds well with the purpose of the visit in Acts 15, but it is difficult, on this theory, to explain why Paul leaves the second visit (Acts 11:27–30) out of his narrative. If, as some scholars believe, Galatians was written after Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13; 14) but before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), then the journey spoken of here is the Acts 11 journey, and the Acts 15 journey has not yet occurred."

        Duke University New Testament scholar Mark Goodacre takes a different approach to this question, noting the style of Greco-Roman biographies. Another writer outlines his perspective as follows:

        "Goodacre describes Acts 9 as a type of “flash forward” of the events described in Acts 11. But it might be better to think of Acts 11 as a “flashback” to the events of Acts 9, which might fit in well with the use of such compositional devices found in other Greco-Roman biographies. It would be reasonable to suggest that Luke effectively repeats the story of Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem, between Acts 9 and Acts 11, to tie those passages together. In the interim, Luke in Acts 9:32 to Acts 11:18 picks up the story of Peter, specifically focusing on the story of Cornelius, the Gentile Roman military officer, and his conversion to Christ. Once done with the story of Peter and Cornelius, Luke recalls where he earlier stopped off with telling Paul’s story, and to bring things back to Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem. Why does Luke do this? We can not be completely certain. It is quite possible that Luke’s objective in Acts is to narrate how the church grew from being a Jewish-only movement to becoming a Jewish-Gentile movement, centered around the mission of Paul, a converted Jew to Christ, to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. In other words, Luke selects material from the history of the early church, to focus first on Peter, and then to transition to the character of the apostle Paul. It would only be fitting for Luke to build up the story of how the church overcame the problems between Jew and Gentile, by temporarily highlighting the background and story of Peter’s interactions with Cornelius, before returning to his main narrative, following the apostle Paul."

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of 2 Peter 1:1

        "Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have acquired a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:1, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added)

        The Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower Society has rendered 2 Peter 1:1 in a way to evade its support for the deity of Christ. Theological bias in this translation is made glaringly conspicuous as examples of the same type of Greek constructions are rendered correctly elsewhere:

        "In fact, in this way you will be richly granted entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:11, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Certainly if after escaping from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, their final state has become worse for them than the first." (2 Peter 2:20, New World Translation, emphasis added)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Comments On The Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation Rendering Of Acts 20:28

        “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28, New World Translation, emphasis added)

        "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28, New American Standard Bible, emphasis added)

        The Watchtower Society's rendering of Acts 20:28 is a clear example of bias to circumvent the text's implicit support for the deity of Jesus Christ. This passage has been intentionally altered by the translators to get around the fact that He is the God-man.

        Following is an excerpt on Acts 20:28 from the New English Translation:

        "tc The reading “of God” (τοῦ θεοῦ, tou theou) is found in א B 614 1175 1505 al vg sy; other witnesses have “of the Lord” (τοῦ κυρίου, tou kuriou) here (so P A C* D E Ψ 33 1739 al co), while the majority of the later minuscule mss conflate these two into “of the Lord and God” (τοῦ κυρίου καὶ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, tou kuriou kai [tou] theou). Although the evidence is evenly balanced between the first two readings, τοῦ θεοῦ is decidedly superior on internal grounds. The final prepositional phrase of this verse, διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου (dia tou haimatos tou idiou), could be rendered “through his own blood” or “through the blood of his own.” In the latter translation, the object that “own” modifies must be supplied (see tn below for discussion). But this would not be entirely clear to scribes; those who supposed that ἰδίου modified αἵματος would be prone to alter “God” to “Lord” to avoid the inference that God had blood. In a similar way, later scribes would be prone to conflate the two titles, thereby affirming the deity (with the construction τοῦ κυρίου καὶ θεοῦ following the Granville Sharp rule and referring to a single person [see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290]) and substitutionary atonement of Christ. For these reasons, τοῦ θεοῦ best explains the rise of the other readings and should be considered authentic. sn That he obtained with the blood of his own Son. This is one of only two explicit statements in Luke-Acts highlighting the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death (the other is in Luke 22:19)."

Comparing Spiritual Things With Spiritual Things

"The subject of verses 12 and 13 is the doctrine of inspiration. In verse 12 Paul talks about the content of inspiration. That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. In verse 13 his concern is with the communication of inspiration which things (the things freely given) also we speak. Paul's message was not of human contrivance. He was a channel, simply communicating God's truth. The faithful minister of the gospel today does the same thing. He takes of that truth, God's Word, and communicates it to man. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The term comparing (Gr synekrino) occurs only here and in II Corinthians 10:12 where the meaning is clearly "compare." However, in classical Greek, the term was always used in a sense of "to compound" or "to interpret" (cf. LXX Gen 40:8). Probably the most satisfactory interpretation is "combining spiritual things with spiritual words," or "doing spiritual things by spiritual means." After speaking of spiritual things (11-13), Paul now speaks of the forms in which they are conveyed. In other words, spiritual truth is conveyed in language that is given by God's Spirit. This would not be the case if he uttered the revelations of the Spirit in the speech of human wisdom (cf. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 197). Having established the principle by which God's truth is made known, the apostle contrasts to kinds of men to whom the truth comes, i.e., the natural and the spiritual man."

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1462

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Born Of Incorruptible Seed

"Note the ideas of the "sprouting seed" and "new life" which recur in verse 1 Pe 1:23 where this same word is used. The results of the new birth for which Christians are obligated to praise God are indicated by three words in the original each preceded by the same Greek preposition: observe the words lively hope in verse 1 Pe 1:3, inheritance in verse 1 Pe 1:4, and salvation in verse 1 Pe 1:5. Because of the new birth we have a lively hope, which should probably be understood as the hope of the resurrection. We should note that the word hope is used in the Bible with the distinctive meaning "confident expectation." Today, of course, hope means merely to "want" something to happen, without having any real assurance that it will happen, as in the sentence, “I hope tomorrow will be a sunny day." The resurrection is the central hope of Christianity; it is not merely something that we want to happen, but an assurance we have. We know we shall rise!"

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1729

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Passover Cup And Our Redemption

"Mt 26:27-30. The cup. Three cups were passed around by the Jewish householder during the Passover meal; the third, which is probably that referred to here, being known as "the cup of blessing." My blood of the new testament taken from the LXX of Exodus 24:8 with allusions to Jeremiah 31 and Zechariah 9:11. The covenant in Exodus 24:8 was sealed with blood. The word testament (Gr diathe ke) did not mean a covenant, which is an agreement between equals, but a settlement by a great or rich man for the benefit of another. As the most common form of settlement was, and still is, by testament or will, the word came to have this meaning almost exclusively. Shed for many for the remission of sins. Here is a clear statement that the death of Jesus was necessary to enable God to forgive sins. It, in fact, made it right or morally justifiable for Him to do so. That day, i.e., when He comes again in glory."

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1227

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Superiority Of The New Covenant To The Old

[2 Corinthians] 3:7 the ministry of death. Refers to the law and particularly to the Ten Commandments, which were engraved on stone (Deut. 9:10). Since the law showed man his sinfulness and gave him no power to break out of it, it ministered death. Note that the law "fades away" (v. 11). When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the law, his face shown so that the people were afraid to approach him (Ex. 34:29-30). But just as his radiance so also the Mosaic Law was temporary.

[2 Corinthians] 3:8 The dispensation of the Spirit comes with even more glory than the old order.

[2 Corinthians] 3:11 There is no question that the law was glorious for its time and purpose, but its temporary nature and limited purpose caused that glory to fade in the light of the grace of Christ, which has as its eternal purpose the bringing of many sons into glory (John 1:17; Heb. 2:10).

[2 Corinthians] 3:13 Paul means here that Moses veiled his face that the Israelites might not see the fading away of the transitory glory reflected in his countenance.

[2 Corinthians] 3:15 a veil lies over their heart. I.e., as long as they consider the law as permanent and do not turn to Christ, who takes away the veil (v. 14).

[2 Corinthians] 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit. A strong statement that Christ and the Holy Spirit are one in essence, though Paul also recognized the distinctions between them (13:14).

[2 Corinthians] 3:18 with unveiled face, beholding. Paul builds on the experience of Moses in Ex. 34:29-35. We Christians, he says, behold Christ's divine glory., and this beholding changes or transforms us us from glory to glory; i.e., from one degree of glory to another.

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1437

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Beginning Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

        "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1)

        The gospel, or good news, is the message of salvation from sin by Jesus Christ. It consists of His death, burial, and resurrection. The gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Christ is both the object and the source of the gospel.

        Mark may have been alluding to the introductory words of Genesis ("In the beginning...") as he began writing his account ("The beginning of the gospel..."). This language points to Christ as the New Adam who presides over a new heaven and a new earth. There are two different narratives of events in a single glorious story of redemption.

        To be called the "Son of God" entailed deity from a Jewish point of view and thus the usage of that title would be blasphemous if given to a mere man. Moreover, the Roman Emperor would be called the son of a god. The Kingship of Jesus Christ would have presented a dilemma to both worldviews. Following is an excerpt from Dr. Thomas Constable's expository notes:

        "Mark further identified Jesus Christ as the "Son of God." This title does not appear is some important early manuscripts of Mark, but it is probably legitimate. [Note: See Carson and Moo, p187.] It expresses Jesus" unique relationship to God and identifies an important theme in the second Gospel (cf. Mark 1:11; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:7; Mark 9:7; Mark 12:6; Mark 13:32; Mark 14:36; Mark 14:61; Mark 15:39). The title is messianic, but it connotes a subordinate relationship to God. Mark presented Jesus as the Servant of God particularly in this book. Rather than recording a nativity narrative that showed that Jesus was the Son of God, Mark simply stated that fact with this title. [Note: See Herbert W. Bateman IV, "Defining the Titles "Christ" and "Son of God" in Mark"s Narrative Presentation of Jesus," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society50:3 (September2007):537-59.]"

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Roman Catholic Church Gets John 6 Wrong

        In the Old Testament, eating bread was considered the equivalent of obedience to God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). This kind of reasoning in regard to the Book of the Law is also echoed in the Jewish Apocrypha:

        "He who eats of me will hunger still, he who drinks of me will thirst for more; he who obeys me will not be put to shame, he who serves me will never fail.' All this is true of the book of Most High’s covenant, the law which Moses commanded us as an inheritance for the community of Jacob." (Sirach 24:20-22)

        Just as God had provided manna to the Israelites in the desert as deliverance from starvation, so He had sent Jesus Christ into this world as a sacrificial provision to deliver us from eternal condemnation. That is the meaning of Christ being "bread from heaven."

        Unlike the Torah, Christ can completely satisfy our spiritual huger and thirst (John 6:49-51). "Eating flesh" and "drinking blood" is to be understood as trusting in Christ for salvation. We consume Him by faith and He sustains us spiritually by that same means (John 6:35-40). 

        It is the words of Christ that impart life to those who believe (John 5:24; 6:63). This perspective of eating finds its basis in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). To interpret John 6:50-58 as referring to Catholic transubstantiation misses the entire point.

Does Luke 2:34-35 Support Mary As Co-Mediator Or Co-Redemptrix?

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes make reference to Luke 2:34-35 in defending the idea of Mary being co-mediator or co-redemptrix. Following is an article excerpt to illustrate how the argument has been made:

        "Who can measure the sorrows of Our Lady? The fullness of grace abiding in her, infused her with a love that completely transcended our human limitations. Because of this, her sorrow likewise knew no bounds. The two realities in her have been linked at various times to other titles, most notably "Our Lady of Compassion" and "Our Lady of Hope," both beautiful because they speak to this union of love and sorrow. Simeon’s prophecy, as Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus in the Temple, is the first public pronouncement to Mary of where her relationship with the God-Man, her child, will take her (Luke 2:34-35)."

        The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote: "2:35 sword. The sword imagery means that all this will not be without cost to Mary as she sees her Son rejected and crucified. The sword does not refer to any atoning work, but of the deep anguish it will cost her."

        The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote on Luke 2:35: "[2:35] (And you yourself a sword will pierce): Mary herself will not be untouched by the various reactions to the role of Jesus (Lk 2:34). Her blessedness as mother of the Lord will be challenged by her son who describes true blessedness as “hearing the word of God and observing it” (Lk 11:27–28 and Lk 8:20–21)."

        As the above two cited commentaries make evident, there is nothing in Luke 2:34-35 about Mary participating in the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is a foreign concept which has to be read into the text of Scripture.

        There is nothing in this passage about Mary having "immeasurable love and sorrows" or "taking on a universal motherhood for all of us." Those presuppositions are driven by a wild desire to turn Mary into some sort of a goddess.