Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Brevity Of Human Life

“Death! Strange that there should be such a word, and such a thing, and we ever forget it; that one should be living, warm and beautiful, full of hopes, desires and wants, one day, and the next be gone, utterly gone, and forever!”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Reunion (Chap. XXVIII)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

There Is More To Life Than This World

 "...But it is often those who have least of all in this life whom he chooseth for the kingdom. Put thy trust in him [God] and, no matter what befalls thee here, he will make all right hereafter.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Freeman's Defense (Chap. XVII)

Friday, December 2, 2022

A Textual Critical Analysis Of Mark 16:9-20

          Most modern English translations of the Bible place into brackets or footnotes the text of Mark 16:9-20, which is about Jesus appearing to the disciples and giving them instructions to carry on the work of preaching the gospel. The text records Jesus appearing first to Mary Magdalene who was not believed after telling others the news of Him being resurrected after His crucifixion. He then appears to two other disciples bodily and later for a third time to the eleven while they were supping. Scholars generally do not consider Mark 16:9-20 to be part of the original text of the gospel of Mark.

          Two key witnesses consulted in reaching this conclusion would be Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Their importance lies in them containing the oldest full copies of the Greek New Testament. In regards to textual defects, Randall Price writes, "...there are thousands of variants between them [Sinaiticus and Vaticanus], but where they agree they appear to represent a text that goes back to the second century AD" (Searching for the Original Bible, p. 80). Philip Wesley Comfort writes, "Through the use of chemicals and painstaking effort, a scholar can read the original writing underneath the printed text" (The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament, p. 27, n 1).

          Early Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian translations are appealed to as evidence for Mark's gospel ending at 16:8. The New English Translation has this excerpt on Mark 16:9-20: "Most mss include the “long ending” (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has unique material between vv. 14 and 15] Θ ƒ 33 M lat sy bo); however, Eusebius (and presumably Jerome) knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses." This scribal interpolation was produced and in circulation as early as the second century. A few manuscripts contain a shorter ending that comes after Mark 16:8, which is cited as follows:

          "And they reported all the instructions briefly to Peter’s companions. Afterwards Jesus himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen."

          Verses 12 and 13 parallels Luke 24:13-35 in which Christ chided two of His followers traveling on the way to Emmaus for their lack of faith. Verse 14 mirrors Christ appearing to the eleven apostles and eating with them in Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-23. Verse 15 is derived from Christ's commandment to preach the gospel to the unbelieving world in Matthew 28:18-20. Verse 16 echoes the words of incurred divine judgement on those who reject the gospel message found in John 3:18. The reference to handling snakes was gleaned from Paul's miraculous recovery from a snake bite during an encounter with barbarians in Acts 28. The idea of miraculous survival after drinking poison is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

        Contributor Walter W. Wessel writes in the Expositor's Bible Commentary on Mark 16:9-20 regarding differences in vocabulary and style when compared to Mark's gospel: 

        "Of the 75 significant words in v. 9-20, 15 do not appear elsewhere in Mark and 11 others have a different meaning. In other words, more than a third of the words are non-Markan. The marked difference in vocabulary between 16:9-20 and the rest Mark's gospel makes it difficult to believe that they both came from the same author." 

        The insertion of Mark 16:9-20 as a conclusion to Mark's gospel after verse 8 disrupts the flow of the narrative in that it is suddenly introduced and reads awkwardly. The use of the word "now" at the beginning of verse nine seems disconnected with the ending of verse eight for the reason that there is no smooth change in focus from the woman mentioned in Mark 16:8 to Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene in Mark 16:9. Mark did not write his gospel in a choppy style. It would also be unusual for Mark to introduce in this place (as if it were for the first time) Mary Magdalene when she was already mentioned a few times before (Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1). Why is the detail of her having seven demons cast out by Christ brought up here?

         The explanation taken here for Mark's gospel ending at 16:8 would not be that the concluding part of the work has been lost but he intended it to end that way. The theme of trembling and astonishment is one found throughout Mark's gospel (2:12; 4:41; 9:6; 10:32). The New English Translation has this footnote which speaks of, "the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself." It continues, "E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.”

Monday, November 28, 2022

A Textual Critical Analysis Of John 7:53-8:11

          Most modern English translations of the Bible place into brackets or footnotes the story of the woman caught in adultery, which can be found in John chapter seven verse fifty-three through the eleventh verse of the next chapter.

          The story of the woman caught in adultery has value because it sets in stone the superiority of Jesus Christ over the Law and portrays the cross as being the fountain of mercy that washes away iniquity. It powerfully emphasizes grace over law; justification rather than condemnation before God. The scribes and Pharisees tried to set up a trap for Christ. If He answered them by saying outright that justice should not be administered to this woman, then that would violate the Law of Moses and cause a negative reaction amongst the Jews against Him. If He were to take the administration of justice into His own hands, then that could have been viewed as a challenge to Caesar's authority. Rather than dong either, Jesus pointed out that all people fail to obey the Law.

          The text of John 7:53-8:11 strongly conveys to us the message that God has been gracious to us. Hence, it is no wonder that Christians would want to preserve this tradition in writing. Furthermore, there exists no credible reason to deem this event in the life of Jesus Christ as being a forgery. However, the oldest manuscripts available do not incorporate the text in question into John's gospel narrative. Henry Clarence Thiessen, in his Introduction to the New Testament, p. 176, writes in regard to John 7:53-8:11:

          "The section about the adulterous is, no doubt, a true story from the life of Jesus; but it is poorly supported by documentary evidence. It is not found in Aleph A B C L T W X Delta and at least seventy cursives and numerous Evangelistaria (Gospel Lectionaries). It is also wanting in the Old Syriac, the Peshitta, the Harkloan, in some copies of the Old Latin, and in several of the minor versions. Really, it appears in no Greek manuscript earlier than the eighth century, save in Codex Beza (5"cent.), which has many textual peculiarities. It is not quoted as by John until late in the fourth century, at which time Augustine says that some have removed it from their copies, fearing, he supposes, that its presence might give their wives undue license Jerome says that in his day it was contained in many Greek and Latin MSS." Plummer reminds us, however, that most of the worst corruptions of the text were already in existence in Jerome's time." Practically all scholars today accept it as a true incident in the life of Jesus, but not as a genuine part of John's Gospel. This includes conservative scholars as Warfield and A. T. Robertson. Yet there we have the statements of Jerome and Augustine!"

          J.B. Phillips, in his New Testament in Modern English, writes:

          "This passage [John 7:53-8:11] has no place in the oldest manuscripts of John, and is considered by most scholars to be an interpolation from some other source. Almost all scholars would agree that, although the story is out of place here, it is part of a genuine apostolic tradition."

          In fact, some manuscripts that do contain this passage have it located after John 21:24. There is one manuscript that has John 7:53-8:11 inserted after John 7:36. Others have the story of the woman caught in adultery placed after Luke 21:38, or at the very end of Luke's gospel.

          There is nothing inherently wrong with accepting this text as canonical Scripture, since it contains no doctrinal error and accurately reflects the tender side of Jesus Christ. This story is actually something that we would have more expected to be recorded in Luke's gospel, since he focused more on women than did the other three writers. The story of the woman caught in adultery does not in any way contradict historical details of the four gospels.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

An Interesting Look at the Life of Jonah

Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming authority ordered the scattered people to condense. "Star board gangway, there! side away to larboard- larboard gangway to starboard! Midships! midships!"

There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.

He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.

This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog- in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy-

The ribs and terrors in the whale, Arched over me a dismal gloom, While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by, And lift me deepening down to doom.

I saw the opening maw of hell, With endless pains and sorrows there; Which none but they that feel can tell- Oh, I was plunging to despair.

In black distress, I called my God, When I could scarce believe him mine, He bowed his ear to my complaints- No more the whale did me confine.

With speed he flew to my relief, As on a radiant dolphin borne; Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone The face of my Deliverer God.

My song for ever shall record That terrible, that joyful hour; I give the glory to my God, His all the mercy and the power.

Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled high above the howling of the storm. A brief pause ensued; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of the Bible, and at last, folding his hand down upon the proper page, said: "Beloved shipmates, clinch the last verse of the first chapter of Jonah- 'And God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.'"

"Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters- four yarns- is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul Jonah's deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish's belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand! We feel the floods surging over us, we sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the sea is about us! But what is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches? Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah. As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his wilful disobedience of the command of God- never mind now what that command was, or how conveyed- which he found a hard command. But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do- remember that- and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.

"With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that a ship made by men, will carry him into countries where God does not reign but only the Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish. There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here. By all accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the modern Cadiz. That's the opinion of learned men. And where is Cadiz, shipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days, when the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea. Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly coast of the Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the westward from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar. See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee worldwide from God? Miserable man! Oh! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye, skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening to cross the seas. So disordered, self-condemning in his look, that had there been policemen in those days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been arrested ere he touched a deck. How plainly he's a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet-bag,- no friends accompany him to the wharf with their adieux. At last, after much dodging search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in the cabin, all the sailors for the moment desist from hoisting in the goods, to mark the stranger's evil eye. Jonah sees this; but in vain he tries to look all ease and confidence; in vain essays his wretched smile. Strong intuitions of the man assure the mariners he can be no innocent. In their gamesome but still serious way, one whispers to the other- "Jack, he's robbed a widow;" or, "Joe, do you mark him; he's a bigamist;" or, "Harry lad, I guess he's the adulterer that broke jail in old Gomorrah, or belike, one of the missing murderers from Sodom." Another runs to read the bill that's stuck against the spile upon the wharf to which the ship is moored, offering five hundred gold coins for the apprenhension of a parricide, and containing a description of his person. He reads, and looks from Jonah to the bill; while all his sympathetic shipmates now crowd round Jonah, prepared to lay their hands upon him. Frightened Jonah trembles. and summoning all his boldness to his face, only looks so much the more a coward. He will not confess himself suspected; but that itself is strong suspicion. So he makes the best of it; and when the sailors find him not to be the man that is advertised, they let him pass, and he descends into the cabin.

"'Who's there?' cries the Captain at his busy desk, hurriedly making out his papers for the Customs- 'Who's there?' Oh! how that harmless question mangles Jonah! For the instant he almost turns to flee again. But he rallies. 'I seek a passage in this ship to Tarshish; how soon sail ye, sir?' Thus far the busy Captain had not looked up to Jonah, though the man now stands before him; but no sooner does he hear that hollow voice, than he darts a scrutinizing glance. 'We sail with the next coming tide,' at last he slowly answered, still intently eyeing him. 'No sooner, sir?'- 'Soon enough for any honest man that goes a passenger.' Ha! Jonah, that's another stab. But he swiftly calls away the Captain from that scent. 'I'll sail with ye,'- he says,- 'the passage money how much is that?- I'll pay now.' For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it were a thing not to be overlooked in this history, 'that he paid the fare thereof' ere the craft did sail. And taken with the context, this is full of meaning.

"Now Jonah's Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. So Jonah's Captain prepares to test the length of Jonah's purse, ere he judge him openly. He charges him thrice the usual sum; and it's assented to. Then the Captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive; but at the same time resolves to help a flight that paves its rear with gold. Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent suspicions still molest the Captain. He rings every coin to find a counterfeit. Not a forger, any way, he mutters; and Jonah is put down for his passage. 'Point out my state-room, Sir,' says Jonah now, 'I'm travel-weary; I need sleep.' 'Thou lookest like it,' says the Captain, 'there's thy room.' Jonah enters, and would lock the door, but the lock contains no key. Hearing him foolishly fumbling there, the Captain laughs lowly to himself, and mutters something about the doors of convicts' cells being never allowed to be locked within. All dressed and dusty as he is, Jonah throws himself into his berth, and finds the little state-room ceiling almost resting on his forehead. The air is close, and Jonah gasps. Then, in that contracted hole, sunk, too, beneath the ship's water-line, Jonah feels the heralding presentiment of that stifling hour, when the whale shall hold him in the smallest of his bowels' wards.

"Screwed at its axis against the side, a swinging lamp slightly oscillates in Jonah's room; and the ship, heeling over towards the wharf with the weight of the last bales received, the lamp, flame and all, though in slight motion, still maintains a permanent obliquity with reference to the room; though, in truth, infallibly straight itself, it but made obvious the false, lying levels among which it hung. The lamp alarms and frightens Jonah; as lying in his berth his tormented eyes roll round the place, and this thus far successful fugitive finds no refuge for his restless glance. But that contradiction in the lamp more and more appals him. The floor, the ceiling, and the side, are all awry. 'Oh! so my conscience hangs in me!' he groans, 'straight upwards, so it burns; but the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!'

"Like one who after a night of drunken revelry hies to his bed, still reeling, but with conscience yet pricking him, as the plungings of the Roman race-horse but so much the more strike his steel tags into him; as one who in that miserable plight still turns and turns in giddy anguish, praying God for annihilation until the fit be passed; and at last amid the whirl of woe he feels, a deep stupor steals over him, as over the man who bleeds to death, for conscience is the wound, and there's naught to staunch it; so, after sore wrestling in his berth, Jonah's prodigy of ponderous misery drags him drowning down to sleep.

"And now the time of tide has come; the ship casts off her cables; and from the deserted wharf the uncheered ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea. That ship, my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers! the contraband was Jonah. But the sea rebels; he will not bare the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes on, the ship is like to break. But now when the boatswain calls all hands to lighten her; when boxes, bales, and jars are clattering overboard; when the wind is shrieking, and the men are yelling, and every plank thunders with trampling feet right over Jonah's head; in all this raging tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep. He sees no black sky and raging sea, feels not the reeling timbers, and little hears he or heeds he the far rush of the mighty whale, which even now with open mouth is cleaving the seas after him. Aye, shipmates, Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship- a berth in the cabin as I have taken it, and was fast asleep. But the frightened master comes to him, and shrieks in his dead ear, 'What meanest thou, O, sleeper! arise!' Startled from his lethargy by that direful cry, Jonah staggers to his feet, and stumbling to the deck, grasps a shroud, to look out upon the sea. But at that moment he is sprung upon by a panther billow leaping over the bulwarks. Wave after wave thus leaps into the ship, and finding no speedy vent runs roaring fore and aft, till the mariners come nigh to drowning while yet afloat. And ever, as the white moon shows her affrighted face from the steep gullies in the blackness overhead, aghast Jonah sees the rearing bowsprit pointing high upward, but soon beat downward again towards the tormented deep.

"Terrors upon terrors run shouting through his soul. In all his cringing attitudes, the God-fugitive is now too plainly known. The sailors mark him; more and more certain grow their suspicions of him, and at last, fully to test the truth, by referring the whole matter to high Heaven, they all-outward to casting lots, to see for whose cause this great tempest was upon them. The lot is Jonah's; that discovered, then how furiously they mob him with their questions. 'What is thine occupation? Whence comest thou? Thy country? What people? But mark now, my shipmates, the behavior of poor Jonah. The eager mariners but ask him who he is, and where from; whereas, they not only receive an answer to those questions, but likewise another answer to a question not put by them, but the unsolicited answer is forced from Jonah by the hard hand of God that is upon him.

"'I am a Hebrew,' he cries- and then- 'I fear the Lord the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry land!' Fear him, O Jonah? Aye, well mightest thou fear the Lord God then! Straightway, he now goes on to make a full confession; whereupon the mariners became more and more appalled, but still are pitiful. For when Jonah, not yet supplicating God for mercy, since he but too well knew the darkness of his deserts,- when wretched Jonah cries out to them to take him and cast him forth into the sea, for he knew that for his sake this great tempest was upon them; they mercifully turn from him, and seek by other means to save the ship. But all in vain; the indignant gale howls louder; then, with one hand raised invokingly to God, with the other they not unreluctantly lay hold of Jonah.

"And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea; when instantly an oily calmness floats out from the east, and the sea is as Jonah carries down the gale with him, leaving smooth water behind. He goes down in the whirling heart of such a masterless commotion that he scarce heeds the moment when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish's belly. But observe his prayer, and learn a weighty lesson. For sinful as he is, Jonah does not weep and wail for direct deliverance. He feels that his dreadful punishment is just. He leaves all his deliverance to God, contenting himself with this, that spite of all his pains and pangs, he will still look towards His holy temple. And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment. And how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonah, is shown in the eventual deliverance of him from the sea and the whale. Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin but I do place him before you as a model for repentance. Sin not; but if you do, take heed to repent of it like Jonah."

While he was speaking these words, the howling of the shrieking, slanting storm without seemed to add new power to the preacher, who, when describing Jonah's sea-storm, seemed tossed by a storm himself. His deep chest heaved as with a ground-swell; his tossed arms seemed the warring elements at work; and the thunders that rolled away from off his swarthy brow, and the light leaping from his eye, made all his simple hearers look on him with a quick fear that was strange to them.

There now came a lull in his look, as he silently turned over the leaves of the Book once more; and, at last, standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the moment, seemed communing with God and himself.

But again he leaned over towards the people, and bowing his head lowly, with an aspect of the deepest yet manliest humility, he spake these words:

"Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you; both his hands press upon me. I have read ye by what murky light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches to all sinners; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, for I am a greater sinner than ye. And now how gladly would I come down from this mast-head and sit on the hatches there where you sit, and listen as you listen, while some one of you reads me that other and more awful lesson which Jonah teaches to me, as a pilot of the living God. How being an anointed pilot-prophet, or speaker of true things and bidden by the Lord to sound those unwelcome truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, Jonah, appalled at the hostility he should raise, fled from his mission, and sought to escape his duty and his God by taking ship at Joppa. But God is everywhere; Tarshish he never reached. As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale, and swallowed him down to living gulfs of doom, and with swift slantings tore him along 'into the midst of the seas,' where the eddying depths sucked him ten thousand fathoms down, and 'the weeds were wrapped about his head,' and all the watery world of woe bowled over him. Yet even then beyond the reach of any plummet- 'out of the belly of hell'- when the whale grounded upon the ocean's utmost bones, even then, God heard the engulphed, repenting prophet when he cried. Then God spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the sea, the whale came breeching up towards the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights of air and earth; and 'vomited out Jonah upon the dry land;' when the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah, bruised and beaten- his ears, like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean- Jonah did the Almighty's bidding. And what was that, shipmates? To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it!

"This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe to him who as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway!

He drooped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm,- "But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck higher than the kelson is low? Delight is to him- a far, far upward, and inward delight- who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self. Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges. Delight,- top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven. Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath- O Father!- chiefly known to me by Thy rod- mortal or immortal, here I die. I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world's, or mine own. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?"

He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling, till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in the place.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 9: The Sermon

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

An Exegetical Study Of Habakkuk 2:4 As It Relates To Paul's Doctrine Of Justification By Faith

  • Discussion:
          -The Book of Habakkuk is a classic example of what we would call a theodicy. It serves as a defense of the goodness of God in the midst of evil. A theodicy aims to solve the paradox of His general providence in a world of pain and misery. How could an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God allow people to go through bad things? Why do evil people seem to prosper while the righteous suffer, being continually trampled on? Why is perfect justice not always inflicted on evildoers in this world? Questions of this nature plagued Habakkuk's mind in the situation of his day and countless other people throughout the course of human history.

          Habakkuk was troubled deeply by the corrupt society in which he lived. The laws of the prophet's own nation were not being enforced. Justice was not a thing to be found in that land. Faithlessness toward God abounded. Habakkuk wondered how a righteous God could be silent and allow these things to come to pass. Why does He stand by and do nothing? The prophet raised such questions not in a state of doubt, but faith. While God did not specifically answer the why behind that man's questions, the response given aroused a greater sense of perplexity than he originally had. How could a righteous God use Babylon, a nation more wicked than Judah itself, as an instrument of divine judgement?

          The underlying theme of the Book of Habakkuk is that we can place our trust in God because of His sovereignty. He is working things out for the good of those who love Him. Whether things seem impossible to us is irrelevant to God. He will right the wrongs of evildoers in His own perfect timing. His plan will prove satisfactory to us in the grand scheme or complete picture of all events when they are brought to a close. The Book of Habakkuk contains a passage that is quoted twice by the Apostle Paul in the context of our justification before God, particularly in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. The text being discussed is cited in its entirety as follows:

          "Behold, as for the impudent one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous one will live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)

          Habakkuk was told by God to write down a message of the ruination of the Babylonian Empire and the restoration of Judah. The king of Babylon would die as a result of being conceited. God would preserve a small remnant of Jews who were obedient to His commandments. The Babylonian army was brutal in conquest. Captured leaders were humiliated. A series of woes is pronounced on Nebuchadnezzar for his greed, covetousness, and cruelty. Habakkuk 2:4 contains a description true of human nature in that we fail to properly honor God. What did the Apostle Paul see in this passage that made it relevant to his teaching on justification in Romans and Galatians? Did he misunderstand the words of Habakkuk?

          Paul sees in this passage the foundation of the message of the gospel in which man is declared righteous by God apart from the merit of good deeds. The prophet's words are certainly broad enough to fit with Paul's application of them. The apostle's message could be paraphrased in this manner: "the one justified by faith shall live." He concerns himself with the reception of spiritual life. Habakkuk 2:4 is the only text besides Genesis 15:6 that brings together faith and righteousness in the Old Testament. Thus, we see the reason for Paul appealing to them in his argumentation against Law observance for justification in Romans and Galatians. A righteousness that comes by faith is antithetical to a Law righteousness.

          The Apostle Paul's point of emphasis in Romans 1:17 is that the person who has been justified by faith is to live a life of faith. We receive a righteousness from God that does not belong to us and is based on Christ's propitiatory work on the Cross. Spiros Zodhiates writes, "The expression "from faith to faith" is merely an intensive form meaning "faith alone"" (Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, excerpt on Romans 1:17). Paul was a Hebrew who used expressions in the manner of that found in the Old Testament. Examples of phrases comparable to "from faith to faith" in Romans 1:17 would be "vanity of vanities" (Ecclesiastes 1:2) and "Holy of Holies" (Exodus 26:34). Paul interpreted the Prophet Habakkuk's words which were originally delivered to a faithful remnant that appeared to be on the brink of utter destruction as being words of hope for lost humanity. The condition for Jews to receive blessings and protection from God under the Old Covenant is the same for Christians under the New Covenant: faith. A man cannot obtain a just standing before Him without faith. Faith, righteousness, and life are things that are intimately connected to each other. God is our source of comfort and security, whether we live or die.

          Paul in Galatians 3:11 gives weight to Habakkuk 2:4 with the intent of making the point that one is justified in the sight of God on the basis of faith. He uses something other than the Law to make us right with Him. It is a life of faith that glorifies God. It is that kind of a life which brings honor to Him. The Apostle Paul's teaching of living by faith is to be contrasted with the Law's requirement of "doing" in order to have life (Deuteronomy 27:26; Leviticus 18:5). The latter way brings about death and is therefore of no avail to us in getting a righteous standing before God. The word "by" in the Greek of Galatians 3:11 means, "'in the power of,' 'in virtue of,' 'according to the principle and nature of"" (J.N. Darby's Translation footnote). We obtain a righteous standing before God by faith. We are freed from the guilt of sin by grace through faith. 

          Hebrews 10:38 is the third and final place of the New Testament which contains a citation of Habakkuk 2:4. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is unknown. The context of this passage is not justification before God but persevering in doing the will of God. There is a contrast in this verse between two types of people. The person whom God considers as righteous is one who longs for the fulfillment of His eternal promises which as of yet cannot be seen. They endure persecution and so secure for themselves an inheritance that cannot perish. The author in the next chapter proceeds to give examples of such people from the Old Testament who rejected worldly pleasure in favor of eternal blessings. All of the faithful will be richly rewarded by God in the life to come. The person who succumbs to persecution is regarded as one in whom He "takes no pleasure." That course of action is called apostasy.

          Some translations of the Bible use the word "faith" in Habakkuk 2:4 (New King James Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, etc.), while others have "faithfulness" (New International Version, New English Translation, etc.). Either choice of wording is acceptable in this context. The LXX Septuagint translation says, "the just shall live by my faith," as if God's faithfulness is in view. However, that reading of the text is not taken into consideration here. A man who has faith is one who trusts in God. Such a man's character is honorable and reliable. His ways are morally upright. Those who have faith in God will also believe His promises. They are loyal to His covenant. The Apostle Paul would have derived his understanding of faith from the Old Testament Scriptures. It would prove beneficial to us if we did the same. David W. Kerr, in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 876, writes:

          "...In most places in the OT where it [faith] is used it has the second meaning [faithfulness rather than faith], for example, in II Kgs 12:15; Jer 5:1. It is, however, worth noticing that the root of this word [Hebrew emunah] has already been used in Hab 1:5 in the sense of giving credence to God's word or promise. Moreover, faithfulness, even as an aspect of a man's character, does not occur in the void. Faithfulness must be exercised in relation to someone or something. In this case the individual is to be faithful to God, to God's word and covenant. He must rely firmly upon, or have a deep-rooted trust in God himself. The NT use is in complete agreement with this."

          The same author cited before comments further on the text of Habakkuk 2:4, p. 877:

          "...Paul, in comparison with Habakkuk, enlarges infinitely the scope of the word "live," for he applies it to life to come, to the sphere of salvation or eternal well-being in distinction from merely temporal well-being. That the apostle is justified in doing so will readily be granted by Christians, since the NT writers employ many forms and figures of the OT with a fullness of meaning far transcending that which they had for believers under the older dispensation. Finally, the antithesis between the principle of active faith and that of meritorious law-works as a means of salvation is, of course, a part of the apostle's own argument. It is a logical development from the nature of faith itself."

          The Concordia Self-Study Commentary, by Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, p. 639, has the following note on the meaning of the word faith in Habakkuk 2:4:

          "The word faith occurs only once in Habakkuk (2:4); but his whole prophecy is a word of faith, faith agonized, questioning, seeking, finding repose in God, and jubilant, finally, in assurance of God's love, and all this in the face of the obstacle to faith posed by God's scandalously mysterious governance of history. When Paul quotes 2:4 in his thematic statement of justification by faith in Ro 1:17, it is only fair to assume that he is quoting with a consciousness of this original context of faith in Habakkuk. For Paul, as for Habakkuk, faith is confronted by an action of God which is offensively enigmatic, namely, the weakness and foolishness of the Cross; for both Paul and Habakkuk faith is faith without works, for both it is "quietly waiting" for God to do His saving work. For both, faith is not one aspect of man's existence before God but the whole of his relationship to Him."

          Elmer A. Martens, in the New International Version Zondervan Study Bible, p. 1834-1835, writes:

          "2:4 the enemy. Babylon (either collectively or its king) or anyone who is arrogant and follows evil desires (elaborated in vv. 6-19). puffed up. A person who is haughty, arrogant, self-sufficient, and presumptuous (Num 14:44). desires are not upright. Examples are listed in v. 5 (see note). the righteous person. The one whose faithfulness (see NIV text note) is anchored in the God who triumphs over evil (3:3–15, especially v. 13; cf. Gen 15:6; Isa 26, especially vv. 1-8; Ezek 18:9). The righteous person trusts God in the darkest of times, holding fast to the conviction that God's promises will be fulfilled (2 Cor 1:20). The teaching that people are saved by grace through faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Eph 2:8) includes the call to live by faith (Heb 10:38–39; 11:17; Jas 2:22-23)."

Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Discussion On Using The Bible To Legitimize Homosexuality

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a series of excerpts with responses to them from a debate that veered far from the original topic of the article in which they were published. A number of points may prove to be useful in discussing the issue of whether the Bible endorses homosexuality:

          "What if some christians think that oppressing gay people is a great evil and others do not even see their harsh treatment of homosexuals as oppression?"

          That would be a matter of semantics in this culture. If by "oppressing gay people" you are referring to something genocidal in nature, then that would be a heinous crime. If by that phrase you are speaking of disagreement with their lifestyle, then that is not by any means oppressive.

          "What if, in these cases, all concerned are genuinely striving to follow God and they've just reached different conclusions?"

          If God has delineated something to be good or evil, then there is no other conclusion to reach than that which He told us.

          "Are those in sincere confusion and mistake going to be damned for their lack of understanding?"

          I suspect the problem is more willful than accidental for a lot of people.

          "As to 1 Cor 6, as I'm sure you know, Paul was writing to a specific place with some specific circumstances and throughout Corinthians, he is addressing some specific concerns they had, offering his advice."

          Paul also gave moral imperatives for us to adhere to at all places and at all times. Morality pertains to that which is timeless and transcendent.

          "God has not delineated gay folks getting married as good or bad. Literally, that never has happened. Not in the Bible and not to you or me."

          Go read of the Apostle Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. He says outright that people who practice such a lifestyle will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul would have drawn this teaching from the Book of Leviticus which is in the Old Testament.

          "But the word that is sometimes translated as "homosexual" (and the word translated as "soft" or "effeminate" sometimes) are not at all clear in the text or context. But in context, sometimes in that day and time, men would have young male prostitutes - boys who were forced to be the "soft" ones and abused by the men who were prostituting them. That's the reality of Greco-Roman life at the time."

          The text of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 refers to both the active and passive partners of a homosexual relationship. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, edited by Spiros Zodhiates, contains Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament which has this entry on the phrase "abusers of themselves with mankind": 

           "733 arsenokoites ar-sen-ok-oy'-tace from 730 and 2845; a sodomite:--abuser of (that defile) self with mankind."

           The section of this Study Bible titled Lexical Aids to the Old Testament has this entry on the meaning of the term sodomite:

          "6945 Qadesh; this adj. is derived from 6942. It means a consecrated one, a devoted one, a sacred person; a devotee to licentious idolatry, a cultic prostitute or priest of Astarte (1 Kgs. 22:46). It is ironic that such a "holy" word could be applied to abominable practices of male homosexuals dedicating themselves to the honor of a false god (Deut. 23:17; 1 Kgs. 14:24; 15:12; 2 Kgs. 23:7; Job 36:14)!"

          Consider also this excerpt from a Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, by William Smith:

          "Sodomites. This word does not denote the inhabitants of Sodom (except only in 2 Esd. vii. 36) or their descendants; but it is employed in the A.V. of the Old Testament for those who practised as a religious rite the abominable and unnatural vice from which the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah have derived their lasting infamy. It occurs in Deut. xxiii. 17; 1 K. xiv. 24; xv. 12; xxii. 46; 2 K. xxiii. 46; 2 K. xxiii. 7; and Job xxxvi. 14 (margin). The Hebrew word kadesh is said to be derived from a root kadash, which (strange as it may appear) means "pure," and thence "holy." "This dreadful 'consecration,' or rather desecration, was spread in different forms over Phoenicia, Syria, Phrygia, Assyria, Babylonia."

           Consider this excerpt from the Archaeological Study Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett general editors:

           "Evidence exists that even the Greeks may have been aware that this behavior was deviant. Aristophanes, the Greek comic poet, mocked homosexual behavior (even as he employed it as a comic device). For example, in Women at the Thesmophoria he ruthlessly ridiculed the notorious homosexuality of the poet Agathon. It would be an overstatement to claim that Aristophanes opposed homosexual practice, but his comedy betrayed an uneasy conscience about such behavior within the culture he inhabited. Plato, on the other hand, in his earlier dialogues spoke approvingly of homosexual behavior. Yet near the end of his career he observed in his Laws that homosexual intercourse was widely recognized to be unnatural." (p. 1836)

           It should be clear to anyone that the Apostle Paul condemned homosexual relationships as such. He would have expressed disdain toward the idea of a same-sex wedding. That would have been totally repulsive to him. Paul would have viewed homosexuality as sinful and something practiced only by people who are heathenish. 

          "Why do those religious traditions get to speak for God what God hasn't said? Isn't that blasphemous? Why not?"

          Are you serious in taking up this kind of a sweeping skepticism toward the moral dimension of the Mosaic Law? What sort of textual critical evidence do you have to support this branding of moral imperatives from God as being nothing other than man-made oral tradition?

          "So, if there SEEMS to be some disagreement with Jesus and the OT or Jesus and Paul, we look FIRST to what Jesus said to help us understand the other, not the other way around."

          This reasoning would be utterly inexcusable given that both Jesus and Paul held to Old Testament ethics. Jesus Christ upheld traditional marriage as defined by God since the timing of creation: "And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" (Matthew 19:4-5)

          "We have Saved by God's Grace gay and lesbian and transgender members, beloved by God. The Bible does not say otherwise. Anywhere. It's just not there."

          The consistent pattern of marriage in the Bible from beginning to end is between a man and a woman. It presupposes that kind of a relationship. Never once are two partners of the same gender even hinted at. Never once are more than two genders spoken of.

          "But those all appear, on the face of them, to not be any kind of universal condemnation of gay guys getting married..."

          But God describes homosexual behavior in Leviticus 18:22 as being an "abomination" and "worthy of death" in Leviticus 20:13. That is indeed a universal condemnation of the practice. Consider this excerpt from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, on the Hebrew term toeba:

          "...the abomination may be of a physical, ritual or ethical nature and may be abhorred by God or man. Sharing a meal with a Hebrew was ritually offensive to an Egyptian (Gen 43:32), as was offering certain kinds of sacrifices (Ex 8:22). homosexuality and other perversions are repugnant to God and fall under his judgment (Lev 18:22–30; 20:13). Idolatry (Deut 7:25), human sacrifice (Deut 12:31), eating ritually unclean animals (Deut 14:3–8), sacrificing defective animals (Deut 17:1), conducting one’s business dishonestly (Deut 25:13–16), practicing ritual prostitution (I Kgs 14:23f.), and similar acts of disobedience (for seven more abominations, see the list in Prov 6:16–19) were sure to bring God’s wrath on those who perpetrated them. Twelve times the book of Proverbs uses the phrase, “is an abomination to the Lord.” In Ps 88, a prayer for help written by a man close to death, the physically repulsive appearance of a tôʿēbâ is stressed; the man’s former friends avoid him because they consider him to be a thing of horror (Ps 88:8 [H 9])."

          The Jewish Study Bible has this excerpt on Leviticus 18:22:

          "Biblical and ancient Near Eastern culture was not familiar with homosexuality in the sense of a defined sexual orientation of lifestyle (the Bible gives no indication that David and Jonathon had a sexual relationship). It acknowledges only the occasional act of male anal intercourse, usually as an act of force associated with humiliation, revenge, or subjugation (for the biblical examples see Gen. 19.4-5; Judg. 19.22). Of the biblical collections only H mentions it (here and in 20.13), declaring it to be an abominable act and a capital offense. One possible explanation might be that H views certain sexual acts that are not potentially procreative as aberrant."

          "(heck, lesbians aren't mentioned at all in the OT, so presumably, it's okay for THEM to get married, right?)"

          You take liberties by attempting to follow the strict letter of the text in a manner that is favorable toward your own theology. Your efforts to manipulate what it says is disingenuous and proves that you do not really care what Scripture says. How could you possibly be a Christian?

          The original audience to whom the Law was given would have understood Leviticus 18:22 to apply to lesbianism in principle. Furthermore, Paul expressly casts such relationships in a negative light in Romans 1:26-27. There is something especially unnatural about two women being together given that they have a motherly instinct. 

          "I know there are a handful of passages that SEEM to touch on perhaps gay issues, but they are nothing like clear or definitive condemnations of gay folks getting married."

          Even if there was only one passage in the entire Bible that implicitly showed God's disapproval of homosexual marriage, that would be enough for a real Christian. That would still count as evidence, but there are multiple lines of evidence showing that homosexuality is incompatible with a biblical theology of marriage.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

An Discussion On Culture And "Gay Rights"

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a series of excerpts with responses to them from a debate that veered far from the original topic of the article in which they were published. Some points may prove to be useful in discussing the normalization of homosexual behaviors with other people:

          "Ah, but WHO is it that is plotting even now to deny the right to marry and other basic rights to LGBTQ people?"

          That is not happening anywhere except in the Middle East. No reasonable person has any plans whatsoever to deprive the group of people that you mention of any basic human rights. They are being treated just like everybody else.

          "It's conservatives and the religious right. LGBTQ folks are NOT trying to tell straight people who they can and can't marry."

          We do not really see heterosexual people parading around the streets of cities in ridiculous and ugly attire exclaiming what they do behind closed doors. We do not see heterosexual people putting symbols of their sexuality on children's cereal boxes during a specific month of each year. Where has your sense of decency and honor gone?

          "Who is it who's telling transgender folks which bathrooms they must use? It's conservatives. LGBTQ folks aren't telling conservatives which bathrooms to use."

          There are only two genders which are determined by genetics. That people want to be called by something other than what they really are, is no one else's problem but their own. There is no obligation on my part to affirm a man to be a woman or visa versa when all of human history up to this point did not do so.

          If this matter is really all that important, then businesses should create unisex, single person restrooms. Problem solved.

          "Who is it who's telling gay or lesbian couples that they can't adopt children? It's conservatives. LGBTQ people aren't trying to say that "Southern Baptists can't adopt children!"

          Adoption is not a gay rights issue. It is a children's issue.

          "LGBTQ people HAVE been oppressed for centuries/throughout history in nations around the world and in the US."

          Even if that is true, they are not being persecuted in the West right now. This leads up to a bigger point, namely, the utter futility of trying to negotiate with people who have a victim mentality. They are never happy no matter what you do for them, always demanding more.

          "They just want to live their lives in peace and without oppression."

          Dissidents only wish to be left alone and be able to live out normal lives without fear of their children being sexualized by predators.

          "Would you return to the days of criminalized homosexuality if you could?"

          This question is a meaningless hypothetical. I could not return to the days of criminalized homosexuality, even if I wanted to.

          "Would you deny the right of gay guys/lesbian women to marry who they want?"

          Let those people be with whoever they want behind closed doors, but I would deny that homosexual "marriage" is a natural human right from the very beginning. It is actually a deviation from that which is moral.

          "The Supreme Court conservatives may do so."

          Homosexuals already had "rights" long before the Obergefell v. Hodges decision of 2015. So, it is not likely that anything will change in the foreseeable future.

          "Look, you are free to think what you want about LGBTQ people, but conservative Christians (and extremist Muslims) have lost this argument, at least in the free world."

          If "conservative" ideas have really been defeated, then why are they the only ones that have withstood the test of time? Why are "conservative" morals and values the ones that built up Western civilization? Moreover, bad ideas do not improve just because more people embrace them. Wrong is still wrong even if everyone believes it.

          "That's illegal discrimination and rightfully so. So, too, for gay customers. You don't have to like it, but discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation is illegal in our nation."

          You are making an invalid comparison. Skin color and gender is not changeable like sexual orientation. They are not behavioral characteristics as is homosexuality and lesbianism. They have nothing to do with each other. Gay customers should be served on the condition that employees are not required to compromise their religious beliefs. It is ironic that these people demand acceptance and toleration while at the same time not extending the same treatment toward those who disagree with them.

          "And for many of us, we thank God that these human rights have been accomplished because we're fighting for justice and morality, as best we understand it."

          Homosexuality is a sin against God. Such "marriages" are not recognized as valid before Him. However, LGBTQ people should not be shut out of society. They should not be denied access to basic needs. These people should not be demonized and dehumanized. We live in a fallen world which cannot possibly live up to God's perfect holiness.

          "That's one way that's one way that bigots use to demonize the other, make them monstrous, people who target children! It is an unsupported false claim."

          It is not an unsupported false claim when children's libraries contain books with essentially pornographic content and there are parents who are outraged about it. It is not an unsupported false claim when there are reports of teachers telling students not to disclose the subject-matter of their classes to parents.

          "Are you saying that people who take the time to teach children are "targeting them" for propaganda?"

          Not exactly. It depends on the content of the instruction.

          "Or, when conservatives do it, they're just being helpful, but when liberals do it they're targeting and grooming children?? You see the problem with that, don't you?"

          The problem is that children are basically being taught how to have sex. They should be being taught things like math, grammar, and science. Children should not be being sexualized. They have no real understanding of how the world works. Moreover, people have grown up to have sex for thousands of years without any instruction as to how it is done. They just procreated.

          "And if you find my positions weird And tomorrow, perhaps you can understand how I also find your positions weird and immoral. As well as unbiblical, ungodly and irrational."

          Why would you defend exposing children to drag queen story hour? Even their attire is a symbol of sexuality. Why cannot people be dressed in modest clothing and read stories that are actually appropriate for children?

          "After all I'm not trying to be objective, I'm saying that gay folks committing to one another in a loving respectful marriage is obviously, on the face of it, a good thing. How's that bad?"

          That is not how God designed things to be. There does not have to be some other reason than that He has given us a moral standard to abide by.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

An Exegetical Study On The Sin Lists Of Paul's Epistles

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
          -The Apostle Paul says twice in the same passage that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God. He also specifies who these kinds of people are. Compare with 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. The repeated emphasis demands consideration on our behalf. Paul does not want readers of his epistle to misunderstand or minimize the seriousness of his message.
          -Homosexuality is mentioned in this passage as being one of many damnable sins. Paul elsewhere says that lesbianism is condemned by God as such behavior on a widespread scale is an indicator of divine judgement (Romans 1:26-27).
          -Paul echoes the teaching of Jesus Christ to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again in order to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). The expression "Kingdom of God" refers to His reign existing in a state having been brought to full fruition. Evil has no presence there. His kingdom is designed specifically for people who are morally upright.
  • Ephesians 5:4-7:
          -Paul again expects his audience to live lives that correspond with their profession of faith. His message to those who have a newfound identity in Christ is this: "Be what you are." Morally impure behaviors are "not fitting" (Ephesians 5:4) in the Christian life. By that, it is meant they are not worthy to be practiced among those who have been set apart for a holy life.
          -This "inheritance" is spoken of as a future possession that cannot be enjoyed by those who are not in Christ. They do not know Him. They have not been forgiven by God. Compare with Ephesians 1:14 and Colossians 1:14.
          -Greed is isolated from a broader list of sins and called a form of idolatry. Compare with Colossians 3:5. Covetousness corrupts how a person conducts business.
          -The kingdom of heaven belongs to both Christ and God, since the latter has put everything under the dominion of the former (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22).
  • Galatians 5:19-21:
          -The first three sins mentioned in this list are of sexual nature. They are spoken of in all-encompassing terms. Sexual sins were common in Greco-Roman society.
          -The next two terms relate to worship. Idolatry is giving anything reverence that belongs to God alone. It is a more common problem than we realize. It is easier to get caught up in than we think. Asia Minor had problems with witchcraft (Acts 19:18-19).
          -The rest of the sins mentioned in this text relate to human temperament; the overall ugliness of sinful man's reactions to things and the rate at which he does so. 
          -Unbelievers are excluded from the Kingdom of God because that is the place in which His will is done. Selfish people are not qualified to partake in the eternal blessings that God bestows on those who love Him. Their perspective is utterly incompatible with His. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Faith And Endurance

III. The apostle tells us what these believers endured by faith. 1. They were tortured, not accepting deliverance, [Hebrews 11] v. 35. They were put upon the rack, to make them renounce their God, their Saviour, and their religion. They bore the torture, and would not accept of deliverance upon such vile terms; and that which animated them thus to suffer was the hope they had of obtaining a better resurrection, and deliverance upon more honourable terms. This is thought to refer to that memorable story, 2 Macc. ch. vii., etc. 2. They endured trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, and bonds and imprisonment, v. 36. They were persecuted in their reputation by mockings, which are cruel to an ingenuous mind; in their persons by scourging, the punishment of slaves; in their liberty by bonds and imprisonment. Observe how inveterate is the malice that wicked men have towards the righteous, how far it will go, and what a variety of cruelties it will invent and exercise upon those against whom they have no cause of quarrel, except in the matters of their God. 3. They were put to death in the most cruel manner; some were stoned, as Zechariah (2 Chron 24 21), sawn asunder, as Isaiah by Manasseh. They were tempted; some read it, burnt, 2 Macc 7 5. They were slain with the sword. All sorts of deaths were prepared for them; their enemies clothed death in all the array of cruelty and terror, and yet they boldly met it and endured it. 4. Those who escaped death were used so ill that death might seem more eligible than such a life. Their enemies spared them, only to prolong their misery, and wear out all their patience; for they were forced to wander about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented; they wandered about in deserts, and on mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, v. 37, 38. They were stripped of the conveniences of life, and turned out of house and harbour. They had not raiment to put on, but were forced to cover themselves with the skins of slain beasts. They were driven out of all human society, and forced to converse with the beasts of the field, to hide themselves in dens and caves, and make their complaint to rocks and rivers, not more obdurate than their enemies. Such sufferings as these they endured then for their faith; and such they endured through the power of the grace of faith: and which shall we most admire, the wickedness of human nature, that is capable of perpetrating such cruelties on fellow creatures, or the excellency of divine grace, that is able to bear up the faithful under such cruelties, and to carry them safely through all?

IV. What they obtained by their faith. 1. A most honourable character and commendation from God, the true Judge and fountain of honour—that the world was not worthy of such men; the world did not deserve such blessings; they did not know how to value them, nor how to use them. Wicked men! The righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them; and, though they widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, that it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world; and therefore God receives them out of it, to that world that is suitable to them, and yet far beyond the merit of all their services and sufferings. 2. They obtained a good report (v. 39) of all good men, and of the truth itself, and have the honour to be enrolled in this sacred calendar of the Old-Testament worthies, God's witnesses; yea, they had a witness for them in the consciences of their enemies, who, while they thus abused them, were condemned by their own consciences, as persecuting those who were more righteous than themselves. 3. They obtained an interest in the promises, though not the full possession of them. They had a title to the promises, though they received not the great things promised. This is not meant of the felicity of the heavenly state, for this they did receive, when they died, in the measure of a part, in one constituent part of their persons, and the much better part; but it is meant of the felicity of the gospel-state: they had types, but not the antitype; they had shadows, but had not seen the substance; and yet, under this imperfect dispensation, they discovered this precious faith. This the apostle insists upon to render the faith more illustrious, and to provoke Christians to a holy jealousy and emulation; that they should not suffer themselves to be outdone in the exercise of faith by those who came so short of them in all the helps and advantages for believing. He tells the Hebrews that God had provided some better things for them (v. 40), and therefore they might be assured that he expected at least as good things from them; and that since the gospel is the end and perfection of the Old Testament, which had no excellency but in its reference to Christ and the gospel, it was expected that their faith should be as much more perfect than the faith of the Old-Testament saints; for their state and dispensation were more perfect than the former, and were indeed the perfection and completion of the former, for without the gospel-church the Jewish church must have remained in an incomplete and imperfect state. This reasoning is strong, and should be effectually prevalent with us all.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Commentary On Psalm 73:25-26

IV. He was hereby quickened to cleave the more closely to God, and very much confirmed and comforted in the choice he had made of him, v. 25, 26. His thoughts here dwell with delight upon his own happiness in God, as much greater then the happiness of the ungodly that prospered in the world. He saw little reason to envy them what they had in the creature when he found how much more and better, surer and sweeter, comforts he had in the Creator, and what cause he had to congratulate himself on this account. He had complained of his afflictions (v. 14); but this makes them very light and easy, All is well if God be mine. We have here the breathings of a sanctified soul towards God, and its repose in him, as that to a godly man really which the prosperity of a worldly man is to him in conceit and imagination: Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is scarcely a verse in all the psalms more expressive than this of the pious and devout affections of a soul to God; here it soars up towards him, follows hard after him, and yet, at the same time, has an entire satisfaction and complacency in him.

1. It is here supposed that God alone is the felicity and chief good of man. He, and he only, that made the soul, can make it happy; there is none in heaven, none in earth, that can pretend to do it besides.

2. Here are expressed the workings and breathings of a soul towards God accordingly. If God be our felicity,

(1.) Then we must have him (Whom have I but thee?), we must choose him, and make sure to ourselves an interest in him. What will it avail us that he is the felicity of souls if he be not the felicity of our souls, and if we do not by a lively faith make him ours, by joining ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant?

(2.) Then our desire must be towards him and our delight in him (the word signifies both); we must delight in what we have of God and desire what we yet further hope for. Our desires must not only be offered up to God, but they must all terminate in him, desiring nothing more than God, but still more and more of him. This includes all our prayers, Lord, give us thyself; as that includes all the promises, I will be to them a God. The desire of our souls is to thy name.

(3.) We must prefer him in our choice and desire before any other. [1.] "There is none in heaven but thee, none to seek to or trust in, none to court or covet acquaintance with, but thee." God is in himself more glorious than any celestial being (Ps 89 6), and must be, in our eyes, infinitely more desirable. Excellent beings there are in heaven, but God alone can make us happy. His favour is infinitely more to us than the refreshment of the dews of heaven or the benign influence of the stars of heaven, more than the friendship of the saints in heaven or the good offices of the angels there. [2.] I desire none on earth besides thee; not only none in heaven, a place at a distance, which we have but little acquaintance with, but none on earth neither, where we have many friends and where much of our present interest and concern lie. "Earth carries away the desires of most men, and yet I have none on earth, no persons, no things, no possessions, no delights, that I desire besides thee or with thee, in comparison or competition with thee." We must desire nothing besides God but what we desire for him (nil præter te nisi propter te—nothing besides thee except for thy sake), nothing but what we desire from him, and can be content without so that it be made up in him. We must desire nothing besides God as needful to be a partner with him in making us happy.

(4.) Then we must repose ourselves in God with an entire satisfaction, v. 26. Observe here, [1.] Great distress and trouble supposed: My flesh and my heart fail. Note, Others have experienced and we must expect, the failing both of flesh and heart. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; and that which touches the bone and the flesh touches us in a tender part, that part of ourselves which we have been but too fond of; when the flesh fails the heart is ready to fail too; the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. [2.] Sovereign relief provided in this distress: But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Note, Gracious souls, in their greatest distresses, rest upon God as their spiritual strength and their eternal portion. First, "He is the strength of my heart, the rock of my heart, a firm foundation, which will bear my weight and not sink under it. God is the strength of my heart; I have found him so; I do so still, and hope ever to find him so." In the distress supposed, he had put the case of a double failure, both flesh and heart fail; but, in the relief, he fastens on a single support: he leaves out the flesh and the consideration of that, it is enough that God is the strength of his heart. He speaks as one careless of the body (let that fail, there is no remedy), but as one concerned about the soul, to be strengthened in the inner man. Secondly, "He is my portion for ever; he will not only support me while I am here, but make me happy when I go hence." The saints choose God for their portion, they have him for their portion, and it is their happiness that he will be their portion, a portion that will last as long as the immortal soul lasts.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Did The Jews And Church Fathers Accept The Apocrypha As Canonical?

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut a handful of claims made by Roman Catholic apologist Trent Horn in defense of the apocrypha against charges of its canonicity being rejected by the Jews and certain church fathers. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "Melito’s list of the Old Testament books lacks the deuterocanonicals, but this is not surprising given that many second-century Jews rejected the deuterocanonical books. The Protestant citation of Melito only helps their case if Melito was listing the Christian canon of the Old Testament. But because Melito was composing a defense of Christ from sources Jews would accept, we would expect Melito’s canon in his Extracts to reflect what Jews in his time accepted. In Hebrew Scripture in Patristic Biblical Theory, Edmon Gallagher says, “Most scholars have been willing to attribute [Melito’s] list ultimately to Jewish Sources.”

          This argument made by Trent Horn that these canon lists were Jewish rather than Christian backfires, since Christians accepted the Jewish canon. The Jews were entrusted with the "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). Those writings are quoted as Scripture in the New Testament writings. Jesus Christ and the apostles appealed to the Old Testament in debating Jewish opponents. The very first Christians were Jews who worshiped in the synagogues. 

          "The fact that Melito went all the way to Israel (or the “eastern place”) instead of asking the Jews in Sardis about the Old Testament canon shows, as we noted earlier, that there was not a consensus among second-century Jews about the canon of the Hebrew Bible. McDonald says, “Not all Josephus scholars agree with Josephus’s account that all Jews everywhere both know and would die for these twenty-two sacred books. . . Why did [Melito] not go across the street and talk to the nearest Jew to find out, if the matter was well known long before his time?”

          It is possible that a situation required Melito of Sardis to travel that we know not of. Why doubt his integrity? Did the apocrypha ever have widespread acceptance as canonical amongst the Jews? Was there no consensus about the Old Testament canon at all? Josephus said that a sacred collection of only twenty-two books existed in his day which was laid up in the temple. He was not alone in holding to a threefold division of the Jewish canon. A Dead Sea Scrolls text (4QMMT) "speaks of the Book of Moses and the words of the prophets and of David. Here "David" serves as a title for the third division, since it began with his Psalms" (Archaeological Study Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett general editors). The Apostle Paul alluded to a body of writings that were accorded a special status in his own day when he made statements such as "according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-6) and "the Holy Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:15). 

          "Another point to mention is that if being present in either Melito’s or Origen’s lists were necessary for canonicity, then Esther and Lamentations would be disqualified since they are absent from both lists."

          If that proves anything at all, then it would only mean some books of the Old Testament have stronger attestation than others. Even if we did remove a book from the Protestant Old Testament canon, that is not going to somehow justify adding the apocrypha. Further, an individual does not have to provide a complete list of books of the Old Testament canon in order to have relevant information about its structure. That certain canon lists fail to include books like Esther is not the only criterion that we have for canonicity.

          One reason that the authenticity of the Book of Esther has been challenged is that it nowhere mentions the word God. However, a few points of consideration can be made to mitigate this problem: 1.) We have evidence of divine providence in this narrative as God works through circumstance to reverse certain destruction on the Jewish people., 2.) The writer may have left out the name of God to convey his own belief that the Jews who did not return to Israel from Persia were severed from covenant blessings. It would be a way of saying that God was not present amongst the exiles., and 3.) The author may have written in such a way to help foreigners in Persia understand the reasoning behind the Jews observing Purim. He would narrow in on details of the king and write about the Jews without any tone of emotional involvement or interest. That could account for the Book of Esther not explicitly mentioning God.

          "Regarding Cyril, he divided the Old Testament Scripture into three groups: the protocanonical works that catechumens should read, books of “secondary rank” that catechumens should avoid, and books “not read in Churches”— that catechumens should also avoid. The fact that Cyril wanted those who were new to the faith to avoid the deutero-canonical books does not prove they were noncanonical. According to Gallagher, “Cyril himself uses and cites Wisdom and Sirach. Cyril’s canon list was written for catechumens, and so he may have intended his prohibition to apply to them alone, as those who are unable to properly separate the wheat from the chaff.

          Even though Cyril of Jerusalem did not consider the deuterocanonical books to be apocryphal, he clearly thought they had a secondary degree of authority and importance in comparison to the Old Testament Scriptures. His position on the canonicity of the apocrypha is not identical with the modern-day Roman Catholic position, which makes no such distinction between them.

          "Athanasius uses the same division in his festal letter and even places Baruch alongside protocanonical books like Jeremiah. He did not reject the inspiration of the deuterocanonical books, because, as we’ve seen, he called them “Scripture” and used the book of Wisdom in his defense of orthodox Christology. Athanasius recognized that these books were disputed by the Jews of his time but still said those who seek further catechesis should read them."

          Athanasius rejected the books of Tobit, Judith, and Maccabees as inspired. Baruch was viewed as being a part of the Book of Jeremiah. 

          "Since Jerome was mistaken about the reliability and textual tradition of the Septuagint, this refutes his claim that the true Hebrew canon could be found only in manuscripts that lacked the deuterocanonical books. It also refutes Protestant apologists who cite later medieval theologians, along with biblical commentaries, that rejected the deuterocanonical books simply because they followed Jerome’s erroneous argument about the Hebrew text."

          That claim is based on Roman Catholic tradition so as to keep those non-canonical books. Jerome was correct in following the original Hebrew canon which excluded the apocrypha. He grudgingly added the apocryphal books to his Latin Vulgate translation after he was pressured to do so.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Ridiculousness Of The Roman Catholic Eucharist

"But seeing, for the frequency of pretending the change of nature in their consecrations, it cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is not, contrary to the testimony of man’s sight and of all the rest of his senses. As for example, when the priest, instead of consecrating bread and wine to God’s peculiar service in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (which is but a separation of it from the common use to signify, that is, to put men in mind of, their redemption by the Passion of Christ, whose body was broken and blood shed upon the cross for our transgressions), pretends that by saying of the words of our Saviour, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood,” the nature of bread is no more there, but his very body; notwithstanding there appeareth not to the sight or other sense of the receiver anything that appeared not before the consecration. The Egyptian conjurers, that are said to have turned their rods to serpents, and the water into blood, are thought but to have deluded the senses of the spectators by a false show of things, yet are esteemed enchanters. But what should we have thought of them if there had appeared in their rods nothing like a serpent, and in the water enchanted nothing like blood, nor like anything else but water, but that they had faced down the king, that they were serpents that looked like rods, and that it was blood that seemed water? That had been both enchantment and lying. And yet in this daily act of the priest, they do the very same, by turning the holy words into the manner of a charm, which produceth nothing new to the sense; but they face us down, that it hath turned the bread into a man; nay, more, into a God; and require men to worship it as if it were our Saviour himself present, God and Man, and thereby to commit most gross idolatry. For if it be enough to excuse it of idolatry to say it is no more bread, but God; why should not the same excuse serve the Egyptians, in case they had the faces to say the leeks and onions they worshipped were not very leeks and onions, but a divinity under their species or likeness? The words, “This is my body,” are equivalent to these, “This signifies, or represents, my body”; and it is an ordinary figure of speech: but to take it literally is an abuse; nor, though so taken, can it extend any further than to the bread which Christ himself with his own hands consecrated. For he never said that of what bread soever any priest whatsoever should say, “This is my body,” or “This is Christ’s body,” the same should presently be transubstantiated."

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Of the Kingdom of Darkness (Chap. XLVI)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Men Of Faith Who Were Also Men Of Science

 "We, the undersigned students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are prevented by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.

We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.

We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular.

We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.

We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong.

Rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."

A manifesto signed by 617 men of science at the British Association of Scientists in 1865; cited by Alfred M. Rehwinkel in The Flood, p. XVIII-XIX

Friday, April 15, 2022

Exegetical Analysis Of Ephesians 2:4-7

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." (Ephesians 2:4)

Man has broken the laws of God and has come under His righteous judgement. Our sentence of eternal condemnation in the divine court is duly deserved. However, there is another dimension to be considered in which there is a remedy for our situation. Man has no merit on his own account, but God does. The Apostle Paul defines the means by which our salvation has been brought about: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). What is the extent to which God loves us? It is very great, meaning a depth beyond our comprehension. His love is infinitely wide in scope. He reached out to us with His graceful offer of eternal life even though we were not seeking after Him.

"even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." (Ephesians 2:5)

Our disobedience toward God made us spiritually dead and destined for His wrath. It meant certain doom for us apart from the intervention of God Himself. Paul elsewhere specifies a number of ways that a person can violate God's Law: "...the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers..." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The point to be made is that no one on earth can live up to God's perfect moral standard. So, how can we be made alive with Jesus Christ? We are made alive together in Christ through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We were once dead to evil ways. Now we live a new life of holiness. Our old ways have passed away. Paul expounds further on the phrase about grace in parenthesis in Ephesians 2:8. We have been purchased by the blood of Christ to be vessels of honor to God. He initiates this transformative process of sanctification and brings it to completion.

"and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6)

We have been raised together to newness of life in union with Christ. That is the greatest benefit of having been reconciled to a holy God. We have a new identity in Christ as children of God. We have a new purpose in this life which is to bring glory to God. We become partakers of His kingdom, which is a kingdom of righteousness: "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). There is a radical change of heart which happens in the lives of those who place their faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul's former lifestyle was that of a murderer, since he persecuted the church of God. He went from zealously chasing after Christians to becoming a member of that very group he had once despised. His transformed life was one of service to God in preaching the gospel. Paul now enjoys the fullness of fellowship with Christ in heaven. He has seen Him face to face in glory, and so can we.

"so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7)

Christ's sacrifice for our redemption is the greatest expression of love made by God to us. It serves as a testimony to His generosity for eternity. The greatest demonstration of love took place when Jesus Christ made atonement for our sins on the cross. He laid down His life for us. God ought to be praised forever for this wondrous deed. This act was not done because we were righteous and deserved His favor. It was solely because of His benevolence.

There Will Always Be Inequality

"Human beings are obviously unequal in numberless ways, including: health, opportunities, abilities, energy, moral character, and contribution to society. It is essential, therefore, in asserting the equality of all men to delineate the nature and the source of that equality. In Christian ethics the nature of equality is that all men are equally to be loved — not equally admired, or emulated, or praised; but equally loved."

Calvin D. Linton, Wycliffe Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Carl F.H. Henry editor, p. 213-214

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Early Church Evidence Against Transubstantiation

"It is not we who eat human flesh — they among you who assert such a thing have been suborned as false witnesses; it is among you that Pelops is made a supper for the gods, although beloved by Poseidon, and Kronos devours his children, and Zeus swallows Metis."

Tatian's Address to the Greeks, Chapter XXV

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Was First Century Judaism Legalistic?

  • Defining the Issues:

          -Advocates of the New Perspective on Paul argue that first century Jewish people did not actually believe that righteousness is obtained through the keeping of the Law, but rather subscribed to a religion of grace or covenantal nomism. Theopedia expounds on that term as follows:

          "This term is essential to the NPP view, as Sanders argues that this is the "pattern of religion" found in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism...as long as a Jew kept their covenant with God, he remained part of God's people. How does one keep the covenant? Sander's tells us "the covenant requires as the proper response of man his obedience to its commandments." All of Judaism's talk about "obedience" is thus in the context of "covenantal nomism" and not legalism. As a result, Judaism is then not concerned with "how to have a right relationship with God" but with "how to remain his covenant people...Advocates of the NPP say that it was not their works that helped them attain salvation, but it was their "nationalistic boundary markers" (i.e. circumcision, food laws, sabbath, etc.) that kept them within the people of God. Thus, the works, along with the boundary markers were used to keep themselves within the boundary of God's people. Paul was not fighting legalism, but was instead fighting the works and national pride that separated the Jews from the Gentiles."

          Even assuming for the sake of argument that the necessity of grace was upheld in Second Temple Judaism, that does not prove no system of one becoming accepted before God on the basis of faith plus meritorious works existed. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that precisely such a viewpoint was common amongst Jews in the first century.

          Evidence from the Intertestamental Period:

          "Not merely in 4 Ezra but also 2 Enoch it seems clear enough that we have what could be called a works righteousness based on law-keeping such that there is a post-mortem judgment based on the deeds done in this life—resulting in rewards and punishments. Interestingly in Jubilees while ‘getting in’ may well be on the basis of election, staying in and final salvation is said to be on the basis of obedience to the Law.[5] In 2 Baruch God bestows mercy on those who keep the Law, the ones called the righteous. In these same sources when God’s righteousness is discussed it is not a cipher for God’s covenantal faithfulness, but rather has to do with his just judging or ruling." (Ben Witherington, The "New Perspective" on Paul and the Law)

          Evidence from the Four Gospels:

          Jesus Christ repeatedly rebuked the Jews for them looking down at other people whom they perceived as being less faithful to the Law. For example, the Pharisees had inquired as to why Christ ate with people of lower stature (Matthew 9:11). He scolded them for seeking after an outward righteousness (Luke 11:38-39). Jesus even said, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees..." (Matthew 5:20). He said to the chief priests and elders, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." (Matthew 21:1). Jesus addressed a rich young man who wanted to enter heaven on the basis of his faithfulness to the Law (Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30). Consider also the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.

          Evidence from the Epistles of Paul:

          The Apostle Paul wrote extensively to combat the error of works-righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:4). He, being a former Pharisee, testified to his own efforts of obtaining righteousness through the Law (Philippians 3:4-9).

          Arguments Based on Liberal Scholarship:

          "...For instances of a similar, general use of the language of "works" in Paul's epistles, see 2 Cor. 11:5; Col. 1:21; Gal. 5:19. For instances of this usage in passages that are not universally acknowledged as authentically Pauline, see Eph. 2:9-10; 5:11; 1 Tim. 2:10; 5:10, 25; 6:18; 2 Tim. 1:9; 4:14; Titus 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:5, 8, 14. Even if we were to grant the view that these texts are not Pauline (which we do not), they minimally suggest that an author influenced by Paul took him to exclude all boasting in any works whatever in the matter of salvation (Eph. 2:9)." (By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Cornelis P. Venema, p. 53, note 50)