Archive for the ‘New Testament’ Category

Myths and Misnomers about the New Covenant

Jason Robertson left a comment under Matt’s post that raised more questions than it answered. You can read it in it’s entirety here. He continues to make the same tired point that is factually untrue which in sum is:

Regardless of how you try to parse my words or divert attention away from the theological issues the fact remains that at its core Dispensational Theology (DT) denies the fact that the Church is in the New Covenant.

In dealing with myths about Dispensationalism, Michael Vlach makes the point that “Most books [blogs?] critical of dispensationalism often emphasize the dispensationalism of the early twentieth century and do not adequately deal with more recent dispensational scholars” (Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, 53). A similar point is made by John Feinberg, that such are “reacting to what they think dispensationalists hold rather than to the logic of the system itself” (Salvation in the Old Testament, 48).

In addition to the resources Matt mentioned in his post, I would also recommend Robert Saucy’s The Church in God’s Program. Here Saucy writes:

The Scriptures, however, do not reveal a separate new covenant. The blessings for the church of the indwelling Spirit and the inward law (2 Cor 3:3-6) are the same as those promised to Israel (Jer 31:33-34). Moreover, as has been indicated, Jeremiah’s prophecy is directly applied to believers in the book of Hebrews. The fact of only one new covenant does not, however, necessitate that the church is fulfilling Israel’s prophecy in her place. Rather, both Israel and the church share in this covenant, as in the Abrahamic covenant, for the new covenant is the realization of the salvation of the Abrahamic promise” (78).

I think Saucy is making an excellent point that is often overlooked in many discussions about the New Covenant. The New Covenant is a progressive manifestation of the Abrahamic Covenant. Here is why dispensationalists of all types and stripes see a remaining ethical distinction between Israel and the Church (note: not a salvific distinction!). It is because “progressive revelation from the New Testament does not interpret or reinterpret Old Testament passages in a way that changes or cancels the original meaning of the Old Testament writers as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics” (Vlach, 60). Therefore the fact that the Church is now saved by the New Covenant in no way cancels previous promises made to Israel such as those of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Exegetical Question about Romans

Several years ago I was listening to a preacher expound Romans 1:16-17 and explain how these verses set forth the theme of the entirety of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. As I listened, I had my Greek NT open in my lap, and I got to wondering about the gar [“for”] at the beginning of Romans 1:18. If you’ve studied Greek, you know that the conjunction gar most commonly introduces either a reason for what precedes or a further explanation of what precedes. So my question is this: Could it be that the gar at the beginning of Romans 1:18 serves to introduce the remainder of Romans as an explanation of Romans 1:16-17? I’ve never heard anyone say this, but if so, it would certainly support this idea that Romans 1:16-17 is indeed the theme of the entire letter. What do you think?

“This generation” in Matthew 24:34

Something I came across the other day:

Jesus’ words, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” are the chief cornerstone in the preterists’ defense of their system. R. C. Sproul, a moderate or partial preterist, states, “The most critical portion of this text is Jesus’ declaration that ‘this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.’ ” Preterists point out that in all the other instances in the Gospels “this generation” refers to the then-present generation (Matt. 11:16; 12:41-42, 45; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12 [twice], 38; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 50-51; 17:25; 21:32).

Preterists also assert that Christ was warning people who were living then. For instance in the same general context the Lord said, “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:36). Dispensationalists agree that 24:34 refers to the Lord’s contemporaries. To make the saying even more emphatic, οὐ μή with the aorist subjunctive occurs in all three Synoptic references (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32). The verse may be rendered, “By no means will this generation pass away.”

How then is this verse to be explained? Actually it is difficult for any theological position, including that held by moderate preterists. (They struggle to interpret “all these things,” which clearly implies the coming of Christ in glory described in verses 27-31 and 37-41.) A number of explanations of verse 34 have been proposed. First is the interpretation of the preterists, who say all the predictions of Matthew 24:4-33; Mark 13:5-29; and Luke 21:8-31 were fulfilled in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. However, this view can be held only by overlooking the meaning of several verses in the discourse, including Matthew 23:39; 24:22, 27, 30, and the meaning of παρουσία.

A second interpretation, held by a number of futurists, affirms that the noun γενεά means race, that is, the Jewish race. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich give “clan” as a primary meaning, but they list only Luke 16:8 as an illustration in the New Testament. It is difficult for dispensational premillennialists to take this view because this would imply that Israel would cease to exist as a nation after the Lord’s return: “This race of Israel will not pass away until the Second Advent.” But Israel must continue after the Second Advent into the millennium in order to fulfill the promises God made to that nation.

A third interpretation, common among dispensationalists, is that “this generation” refers to the future generation of Jews who will be alive when the Lord Jesus returns. For example Hiebert says, “It seems best to preserve the natural meaning of generation as denoting the people alive at a given time and accept the view that the reference is to that future, turbulent, wicked generation that will see the actual beginning of those eschatological events (vv. 14-23). The assurance is that the end-time crisis will not be of indefinite duration.”

The near demonstrative pronoun may have the meaning of a near concept (cf. “this bread,” 1 Cor. 11:26). But the problem remains that in the New Testament “this generation” normally refers to the generation contemporaneous with the speaker or writer. As Carson affirms, ” ‘This generation’ . . . can only with the greatest difficulty be made to mean anything other than the generation living when Jesus spoke.”

A fourth interpretation says this is an illustration of multiple fulfillment. As Mounce asserts, “Biblical prophecy is capable of multiple fulfillments.” He comments as follows on Matthew 24:32-35. In the immediate context, the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15) builds on the defilement of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, is repeated when the sacred temple in Jerusalem is destroyed by the Roman army in A.D. 70, and has yet a more complete fulfillment when the eschatological Antichrist exalts himself by taking his seat in the “temple of God” proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). In a similar way, the events of the immediate period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem portend a greater and more universal catastrophe when Christ returns in judgment at the end of time. Gundry is right in his observations that double fulfillment (I would say “multiple fulfillment”) involves an ambiguity that needs to be accepted as fact rather than objected to on literary grounds. A number of commentators agree with this explanation.

Another question for all interpreters is the meaning of “all these things” in Matthew 24:34 and Mark 13:30 (Luke 21:32 has “all things”). It is possible that the “these things” looks back to the question of the disciples when they asked, “When will these things [the destruction of the temple] happen”? (Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7). But there are difficulties with this explanation. First, the question of the disciples is so far removed from the Lord’s statement in Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; and Luke 21:32 that it makes such an interpretation improbable. Second, when the Lord said “all these things,” He undoubtedly was looking at more than the destruction of the temple. “All these things” must include His glorious return to reign, as the immediate context clearly implies.

A fifth interpretation seems best. It takes the verb γένηται as an ingressive aorist. The same verb is found in all three Synoptics and is translated “takes place” (Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32). As an ingressive aorist it emphasizes the beginning of the action with the meaning “begin to take place.” All those things would begin in that generation and find their ultimate completion at the Second Advent. This fits with the idea of not being deceived by the events mentioned in Matthew 24:4-8. The Lord specifically referred to these as “the beginning of birth pangs” (v. 8). Interestingly, although Mounce does not accept this interpretation, he suggests it as a possibility and gives no refutation of it.

[Stanley D. Toussaint, BibSac 161:644 (Oct 2004) p. 483-86]

The Ten Most Absurd Statements in the Book of Romans

In NT Greek, there are many ways to say that something is untrue, but none so emphatic as the expression me genoito. This formula literally means, “May it not be,” but it is translated in a variety of ways:  

  • “God forbid!”
  • “Of course not!”
  • “May it never be!”
  • “By no means!”
  • “Away with the notion!”
  • “Perish the thought!”

As you read the NT, you find that the apostle Paul uses this formula a total of 14 times in his epistles, and always after a rhetorical question. In doing so, his point is to say that the idea expressed in that question is absolutely unthinkable, even abhorrent. In other words, this is the kind of thing that is so absurd that it shouldn’t even enter the believer’s mind as a possibility, and so it is repudiated by Paul in the strongest possible terms: me genoito! 

This got me wondering what kinds of things were so outrageous to the apostle Paul that they are not even worthy of serious consideration. What I found were these, the ten most absurd statements in the book of Romans. According to Paul, the following ten assertions are so absurd that we shouldn’t even entertain the possibility that they are true:  

  1. The fact that so many Jews have refused to believe in the Messiah shows that God was not faithful to keep His promises to His chosen people (Rom 3:3-4).
  2. God’s punishment of the wicked is a grand demonstration that He is unrighteous (Rom 3:5-6).
  3. The fact that both Jews and Gentiles are justified through faith alone means that the Law is nullified (Rom 3:31).
  4. Since grace abounds all the more where sin is committed, believers should continue in their sin in order to experience even more grace from God (Rom 6:1-2).
  5. Being under grace (rather than under law) should motivate us to lighten up in our pursuit of holiness and help us feel comfortable to sin from time to time (Rom 6:15).
  6. Because it arouses sinful passions, the Law itself is evil and sinful (Rom 7:7).
  7. Because it arouses sinful passions, the Law itself is to blame for the sinner’s death (Rom 7:13).
  8. God’s sovereign choice to set His love upon one individual and His hatred upon another (and before either of them were born!) is proof positive that He is not a righteous and just God (Rom 9:13-14).
  9. The current unbelief of the majority of ethnic Jews is evidence that God has rejected His chosen people Israel (Rom 11:1). 
  10. Israel’s rejection of the Messiah means that the nation has permanently forfeited the covenant promises of Yahweh (Rom 11:11).

Methodology for Ministry from Jeremiah – Part 2

According to Paul, God is on a mission to “destroy the wisdom of the wise” (v. 19). The means by which He wages this war is the simplicity of the message of the cross. In contrast to those who seek miracles that point to the authenticity of the message and those who continue to search for human wisdom, Paul simply preached “Christ crucified” (v. 23).

Moreover, Paul gives us the reason that God is on this mission, and he bases this reason upon the message developed by Jeremiah. It is as if Paul is expositing for us the passage we have considered in part 1. His conclusions are the same as Jeremiah:

First, God destroys boasting in man because God Himself and His message about Christ will only be understood by those who have true wisdom.

Consider the following verses from 1 Corinthians 1 (with Jeremiah 9:23–24 in mind):

26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Jeremiah had rebuked the entire nation for their faulty, human wisdom, for their presumption upon the strength they believed they had in the covenant, and for their worldly pursuits. Yet, he also encouraged them to pursue the things that honor God—loyalty, justice, and righteousness—things that their spiritual condition would not allow them to accomplish without His intervention to provide them with true wisdom.

Similarly, according to Paul, the calling of God is not found in human wisdom, might, or wealth but only “in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (v. 30). It is only through Christ that faithfulness, justice, and righteousness can be found.

As a result God accomplishes His purpose, namely, that “no man may boast before God” (v. 29) and “so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (v. 31). The reason, then, that a lost world refuses to embrace the message of the cross is the same reason that Jeremiah’s message was ignored—they have confidence both in themselves and in deceptive, comforting words of man-made religion.

Furthermore, as pastors and teachers and Bible students, we must be careful not to place our glory (the basis for our ministry) in our knowledge rather than our Lord. Knowledge puffs up…builds an ego. Be careful that you consistently pursue knowledge of God that begins with “the fear of the Lord,” a knowledge that recognizes His authority and that responds with proper worship.

Second, God destroys boasting in man because the message of the cross will only be embraced through the work of the Spirit of God.

Turning to 1 Corinthians 2, but not leaving the same idea, Paul now applies his thinking to his own preaching ministry.

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

Paul’s point, then, is that his methodology of preaching the Gospel reflected his dependence upon the Spirit to bring these things to bear upon the mind of his listeners.

In Jeremiah’s day, the Lord gave him a message to speak that the people would not listen to. In fact, the Lord told him that would be the case: “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you” (7:27). In fact, the Lord told Jeremiah not to pray for this people, because He would not hear him (7:15).

This is a theme that runs through the prophets, beginning even with Deuteronomy. God was so fed up with their rebellion, apostasy, and refusal to listen to His prophets, that His determination to judge them was certain. He would not relent. Therefore, no matter what the prophet said, the message fell upon infertile ears and hearts. Without the breaking through of God’s power, there would be no acceptance. The reason there would be no acceptance is because their hearts were calloused, unable to hear and receive this message.

As a result, the Lord promised later in Jeremiah that He would take things into His own hands (see Jer 31).

He would provide them with a new heart.
He would make a new covenant with them.
He would give them the ability to know Him and to be His people.

Paul picks up on this truth in the verses before us.

Similarly, we who are given the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel should pay careful heed to this warning. Not only was our own calling dependent upon the Spirit who gave us the wisdom to know the things of God, but also our message must rely upon God to intervene in the hearts and minds of those who hear us. In other words, we must be careful that our words and/or our presentation be clearly dependent upon God’s intercession.

False words will be readily received if presented in an appealing way. Moreover, an appealing presentation might very well breed false conversions. Even more, if you are relying upon your own abilities and talents to build the ministry in which you are involved, then you are really fighting against Christ in the building up of His church.

Paul seems to be saying in this passage that true boasting in God comes by mean of the demonstration of the Spirit of God, not through human argumentation or novelty or ingenuity. It is only when the message is received clearly through the demonstration of the Spirit of God that true boasting can take place.

To be honest, it is no surprise that the people consistently rejected the message of Jeremiah. After all, he was speaking the truth, no holds barred, right? Why would they believe him when they were hearing a more palatable message from the other prophets? The point of Jeremiah, then, is consistent with Paul’s point here—without a breaking through by the Spirit of God, the message will not be received, because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (v. 14).

1 Corinthians 11:2-3 (pt 2)

A few questions should be considered. We know Eve was taken from Adam’s rib, but Andrea (my wife) did not come from Caleb, did she? Did the man originate from Christ? How did God create the first man in Genesis? Should the Greek words in verse 3 be translated husband/wife or as man/woman? Are their any good textual or grammatical reasons to interpret the words more specifically as husband/wife over the more general terms man/woman? (note the NAS and the ESV here).  Most importantly, what does the word “head” (“kephale”) mean in this particular context? Complementarian scholars believe it means “Authority.” Egalitarian  scholars believe it means “Source/Origin”

Let’s examine how Paul uses this same word (head) in a similar context. Here the word is also used figuratively.  More specifically it’s used in the context of husbands and wives. Observe Ephesians 5:22-24, 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Women should submit to their husbands (their God-ordained authority figures), as the church submits herself to Christ.

Let’s also observe the inspired words of Ephesians 1:20-23; 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Head (kephale) clearly means authority here. Jesus Christ is the leader of the Church. He is our glorious head. He has authority over the Church.

Before we move on let’s also check out a usage of this word in Colossians. Colossians 2:9-15, 9 For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. The concept of Jesus’ authority and supremacy is clearly declared in this wonderful text.

The word “head” in I Corinthians 11:3 clearly implies “authority”. Let’s read this verse using “authority” in place of “HEAD”. But I want you to understand that Christ is the authority of every man, and the man is the authority of a woman, and God is the authority of Christ. (Note: A few of the good modern day English translations use husband and wife instead of man and woman).

Some of you lay theologians may object to this understanding: “I thought the members of the Trinity (Father, Son & Spirit) are totally equal in essence, nature, personhood, and being? Isn’t that true? If I answer ‘no’ here I would rightly be labeled a heretic. Why? Because the Bible clearly teaches us that the Father is God very God, the Son is God very God, and the Holy Spirit is God very God. I love to sing the following Christian song lyrics, “Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one!” The doctrine of the Trinity is central to biblical Christianity. The Bible also says that though perfectly equal in nature and being the members of the Trinity have different functions and roles! This understanding is absolutely crucial. If you miss this point you won’t understand the gospels or the Trinity or Biblical manhood and womanhood.There are no “ontological” differences between Father and Son but they do have different roles. That qualification in no way undermines their fully equality. The Nicene Creed was 100% correct here. Jesus is of the same substance as God the Father. There are three members that make up one Godhead. Three distinct persons but just one God.A distinct role does not logically imply inferiority! The Son submits to the Father in various Bible passages (just observe I Cor. 15:28, Jn 3:17, 14:28). The Father commands and sends and the Son obeys and comes. Dr. Bruce Ware has done some wonderful research that further proves this point if you want a more detailed study of this.

The subordination the Bible talks about deals with order and relation not being or essence. God is the head over Christ yet He is not essentially greater than Christ. Generally speaking Christian women are under male authority but they are not inferior to men. God gave women different gender defined roles that in no way undermine their full equality with men. The same is true in regards to the Trinity. Christian feminists and radical feminists miss God’s mark when they try to promote equal roles in the church and the home. If you don’t believe me study the Holy Trinity! Carefully follow Paul’s logic in I Corinthians 11:3. Do an in depth research project on the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has willingly taken on a role in which He eternally exists in the backdrop. The Spirit lives to bring glory to the Son and He seeks to bring about the will of the Father. What an amazing example of Divine humility and submission for all of us to consider. (Examine Bruce Ware’s wonderful book “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”)

When kephale (head) is used figuratively (speaking of people or relationships) it always conveys the idea of authority. Dr. Grundem adds this helpful comment, “Therefore there is no linguistic basis for proposing that the New Testament texts speak of Chirst as the head of the church or the husband as the head of the wife can be read apart from the attribution of authority to the one designated as ‘head.’” [For a more detailed article that supports this claim check out “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” Appendix 1, pp 425-468]

The holy Trinity proves that men and women can be totally equal yet they can also have different functions and roles that are gender defined by Divine design. 

1 Corinthians 11:2-3

This is one of the key New Testament texts that highlight many essential principles of Biblical manhood and womanhood. Verses 2-16 address the roles of men and women in the worship service or during some other setting where believers gathered together. Dr. Schreiner believes this section addresses actions that were taking place during the public worship service while Dr. MacArthur believes that Paul is addressing problems in a different context. It appears to me that Paul is trying to correct some of the problems that where taking place during the church worship service in chapters 11-14.

None the less, Paul goes back and forth with statements about men and women (see Garland’s chart below). Clearly this passage is very applicable to the subject at hand. David Garland notes, “Whatever the motivation, the structure of Paul’s argument makes clear what the issue is:

11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies
11:5 Every woman who prays or prophesies

11:7a On the one hand (men gar ) the man. . .
11:7b On the other hand (de) the woman

11:7 A man ought not (ouk opheilei) . . . the head
11:10 A woman ought (opheilei) . . . the head

11:11a Neither a woman apart from the man
11:11b Neither the man apart from the woman

11:12a For just as the woman . . .
11:12b Thus also the man . . .

11:13 It is shameful for a woman to pray to God uncovered
(no parallel)

11:14b On the one hand (men) the man . . .
11:15 On the other hand (de) the woman . . .”

According to Garland the crux of the argument is probably located in verse 13. 1 Corinthians 11:13, Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with head uncovered? No parallel statement is made here as David Garland’s chart (listed above) shows. That is a significant observation to keep in mind.

There are only two commands in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. The two imperatives are found in verse 6 (let her cover herself) and in verse 13 (judge for yourselves). With that said, certain details in this section are very difficult to understand. This is not an easy portion of Scripture to understand yet the central theme of the passage can be discerned and applied. In the words of Dr. Schreiner, “There is an abiding principle in the text that is applicable to the 20th century.” It is an important principle for all Christians to understand and apply.

So how does verse 2 relate to vv 3-16? Verses 3-16 indicate there were some problems in the Corinthian church. Why then does Paul open this section with a commendation in verse 2? 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. In parenting, it’s normally wise to reinforce positive Christ-like behavior in the lives of your children (see Tripp’s, Shepherding a Child’s Heart for more detailed guidance on this point). If your child does something well or is obedient I believe it’s wise to draw attention to those behaviors. Some parents on the other hand focus exclusively on their children’s sin and mistakes. That is not wise parenting. Why? Because encouragement is an essential medicine of life. Before Paul corrects the “Corinthian problems” in chapters 11-14, he seeks to encourage them for the things they’re doing right. In the words of one commentator, “The situation of the church is not bleak in every respect.” They were doing some things well which Paul wanted to draw attention to and reinforce. If you’re a boss or a pastor or a parent or a teacher there is biblical wisdom in Paul’s approach to shepherding/leading. Notice his example in 1 Corinthians 1:1-6 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and ball knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians are amazing in light of all the problems this church was going through. Just read 1 and 2 Corinthians through in one sitting and you’ll see what I mean. Let me encourage you to follow Paul’s example and encourage others as much as you can!

After praising the Corinthians in verse 2, Paul addresses some of their problems in 1 Corinthians 11:3-6. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

I believe verse 3 is jam-packed with theological significance. It is probably the most important verse in the entire section. If you get this verse right you’ll probably understand the rest of the passage as well.

Are the Gospels reliable?

Our good friend, Nathan Busenitz, has now finished an excellent series on the reliability of the New Testament Gospels. Nathan takes the reader on a tour of historical issues and is careful to answer objections raised along the way. There is much food for thought in this ten-part written series that would serve well not only for apologetics but as an excellent tutorial for those new to the faith or for others just wanting a refresher course (see here).

Who is the “Seed of Abraham”?

In Genesis 12:3 the foundation is laid for the concept of blessing the seed of Abraham. The LORD tells Abram, “. . . And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Not using any sort of hermeneutical principle employing grammatical historical exegesis but speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:8 that this was a pre-cross (“beforehand”) promise of the gospel.

The NT usage of the concept “seed of Abraham” (sometimes translated “descendents ” as in the NASU or “offspring” in ESV) is not used in one exclusive way in the NT. A common fallacy among some interpreters is to exalt one usage of “seed” to the exclusion of the other usages as if one canceled out the others. John Feinberg has warned of this when he writes, “no sense (spiritual especially) is more important than any other senses.”

So how is this concept used in the NT?

  • In can refer to biological descendants of Abraham such as in Romans 4:13, 16.
  • It can refer to the Messiah, who is uniquely the individual seed of Abraham as in Galatians 3:16.
  • It can refer to the righteous remnant of Israel (cf. Isaiah 41:8 with Romans 9:6).
  • It can refer in a spiritual sense to believing Jews and Gentiles in the faith as in Galatians 3:29.

The Purpose and Aim of the Warning Passages

(Our contributor Emeritus, Jerry Wragg, has made an appearance in the comment section with the following which I thought deserved a post of its own ~Paul)

One wonders why God would bother giving a non-contingent warning to those
who are non-elect. If He knows they won’t ever believe (“abide” ala John 15),
what import does a warning passage have?

On the other hand, if only “God knows those who are His” (and He does), then
warning a professing believer to guard against unbelief would serve the
following purposes:

• To forge an active and passionate growth in His grace –
• To prevent the self-deception of false security –
• To test levels of faithfulness –
• To cause sober reflection on the dangers of unbelief –

These warnings will have different impact, depending upon the maturity level
of each believer:

  • For the strong Christian– Warnings offer a reminder to press on all the
    more, and an abiding confidence that one has obeyed these cautions.
  • For the weak but willing – Warnings provide a graphic deterrent to future
    patterns of sin; They display the specific care of God in pointing to dangers;
    They engender a greater dependence on grace.
  • For the weak and stubborn – Warnings bring instant clarity to trouble
    (chastening); They bring greater conviction to the conscience; They expose
    unbelief as the source of all stubbornness.
  • For the hardened – Warnings call for the justice of God, thereby upholding
    holiness; They confirm the traits of apostasy; They declare the absence of true
    conversion.

Indeed, Paul challenged the fleshly Corinthians with “Examine yourselves to
see if you are in the faith!…Or do you not recognize this about yourselves,
that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). This same
admonition is refined with force in Colossians 1:22-23, “…He has now reconciled
you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy
and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly
established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that
you have heard…”. Jesus’ economy of words in Matthew 24:13 is noteworthy, “But
the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” Why such a strong
admonition? Wouldn’t this approach tend to foster an unhealthy introspection,
external performance, and ultimately weakened assurance? The answer lies in the
fact that in the infinite wisdom of God, redemption is accomplished both as to
the end as well as the means. The perseverance of the saints is soundly rooted
in the eternal decrees and power of God, but does not exclude the providential
outworking of all things in due course. Stated another way, God has created us
in Christ Jesus and prepared long ago that we should walk in good works, yet
the ordained means by which He brings about our preservation and glory is the
manifold commands, admonitions, encouragements, and calls to faithfulness.
Furthermore, He has ordained our obedience as the objective source of assurance
(“if you abide in My love, then you are truly My disciples”), which is to be
kept fresh and blossoming daily (2 Pet. 1:3ff.). We might look at the matter in
this way:

Eternal Security → Promises God’s faithfulness, Describes God’s securing power,
Explains God’s sovereign purposes, Ascribes to God exclusive glory
Assurance → Grows with Christian faithfulness, Manifested by increasing
holiness, Shaken by a ravaged conscience, Fades with patterns of neglect and
rebellion
God will do what He promises, but we are warned to practice what He commands
(Heb. 10:23).

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