Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Message of the Bible

I am reading through Edward Fisher's "The Marrow of Modern Divinity".  In chapter two he has a sentence that I think accurately summarizes the whole theme of Biblical revelation.

God, to whose eternal knowledge all things are present, and nothing past or to come, foreseeing man's fall, before all time purposed, and in time promised, and in the fullness of time performed, the sending of his Son Jesus Christ into the world, to help and deliver fallen mankind.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Link: Jehovah's Witnesses and John 1:1

A friend of mine sent me a link to his friend's blog. He has a very interesting post on John 1:1.

Here's a quote:

The construction is specific and purposeful on John’s part. The pre-verbal anarthrous predicate nominative construction is speaking about the nature of the Word. In other words, John 1:1c is not trying to say whether The Word is God the Father or the Word is a different kind of God or godlike. What John is saying is “what God was the Word was” or as the NET puts it “the Word was fully God.” (see note there). The construction is addressing the nature or quality of the Word. It is interesting to note that in more recent publications the Watchtower recognizes this but still comes to a different conclusion.

You can check out the rest of the article here:

Jehovah's Witnesses and John 1:1

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thoughts on Eternal Life

The Greek words for "eternal life" are  zoe aionios.  Aionios comes from the Greek word for age.  Zoe means life.  Unless I am mistaken, I think the basic idea is “the life of the age.” The "age" in view here is the life in "the age which is to come". There is a clear idiom here that implies duration, but there is also much teaching on the quality of this life.

Essentially what I understand is that zoe aionios, eternal life, refers to both:

1) to a quality of life. "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV) This is the quality of life that is found in the age to come. This is quality of life that is of such a high quality because it involves a deeply intimate relationship with God through Christ.  "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3 ESV)

2) to a duration of life. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 ESV) This is the unending duration of the life to be found in the age to come. Because we have eternal life, our life will never end. Our life will never end because the age to come will never end. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." (John 5:24 ESV)

Some say eternal life is ONLY a quality of life with no implied duration.  Some say it's ONLY a duration.  I think that the tendency to restrict the meaning of "eternal life" to only one of these two aspects is overly simplistic.  I think it's quite probable that there are shades of meaning here. Different verses emphasize different meanings in this phrase, and some verses emphasize many meanings at once.  It isn't a cut and dry, black and white thing.

Also, by way of a rabbit trail, what we have here is a simultaneous now/not yet paradigm.

We have eternal life now, yet we have not yet entered into the full experience of that life.  The power and presence of "the age which is to come" has invaded "this present evil age". The kingdom is here, but it isn't fully realized. "The age to come" has commenced and is running along side "this present evil age". When you become a Christian, you are transferred from one age to the other, yet this is only fully realized at the consummation.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  One day "this present evil age" will be gone and all that will be left is "the age which is to come".

From the NET (New English Translation) Bible Translation notes on John 17:3:

This is eternal life. The author here defines eternal life for the readers, although it is worked into the prayer in such a way that many interpreters do not regard it as another of the author’s parenthetical comments. It is not just unending life in the sense of prolonged duration. Rather it is a quality of life, with its quality derived from a relationship with God. Having eternal life is here defined as being in relationship with the Father, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. Christ (Χριστός, Christos) is not characteristically attached to Jesus’ name in John’s Gospel; it occurs elsewhere primarily as a title and is used with Jesus’ name only in 1:17. But that is connected to its use here: The statement here in 17:3 enables us to correlate the statement made in 1:18 of the prologue, that Jesus has fully revealed what God is like, with Jesus’ statement in 10:10 that he has come that people might have life, and have it abundantly. These two purposes are really one, according to 17:3, because (abundant) eternal life is defined as knowing (being in relationship with) the Father and the Son. The only way to gain this eternal life, that is, to obtain this knowledge of the Father, is through the Son (cf. 14:6). Although some have pointed to the use of know (γινωσκω, ginosko) here as evidence of Gnostic influence in the Fourth Gospel, there is a crucial difference: For John this knowledge is not intellectual, but relational. It involves being in relationship.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Log - Jan. 1 - 15, 2011

I have decided to follow the example of a friend of mine and start a log of all the books I have finished reading with brief reviews.

Jan 1 - Jan 15 2011

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- A very entertaining read. Holmes at his best. This one contains my favorite Holmes story, "The Final Problem".

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The good thing about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is that you can expect nothing but the best from him.  This is the follow up book to Memoirs.  Once again, very entertaining.

Living for God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel R. Beeke
- An awesome introduction to Calvinism that spans more then just the five points.  Although I don't think this book would convince an non-Calvinist, it is quite helpful to those interested in Calvinism or those who want a broad overview.  The chief part of this book is the excellent way it relates Calvinism to the rest of the Christian life, and not just the "Five Points". Highly recommended.

Growing Up in Grace: the Use of Means for Communion with God by Murray G. Brett
- A decent although basic book.  At times quite convicting and a bit Law heavy. Some good guides on prayer and sin.  A good for an introductory discussion about sanctification and the daily struggle with sin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Jehovah" in the New Testament?

The Jehovah's Witnesses have their own translation of the Bible, the New World Translation.  One of the major differences of this translation from other translations is the insertion of the name "Jehovah" over 200 times in the New Testament. 

However, The Tetragrammaton, (the four letters of God's name in Hebrew), is never found in any of more than 5,000 ancient Greek manuscript copies of the New Testament. It is also missing from ALL of the 36,000+ quotations of the Scriptures made by the early church fathers before the 4th century. The Tetragrammaton never occurs in the Greek text of the Kingdom Interlinear Translation.

If something as important as God’s name was lost from the Christian Greek Scriptures, did God fail to keep His promise to preserve His word from corruption?

The Watchtower says that "Apostate Christendom" removed it? Who removed it? What group? How? Where is your evidence? Proof? How did they get all the manuscripts that were spread to every corner of the Roman Empire and even beyond? How did they do it while being thrown to lions? We have manuscripts that date to within 25 years of the original? How did they do it without leaving any trace of tampering?

The Apostles didn't make a mistake. They were led by the Holy Spirit to do replace the Divine name with Kurios this way. If you say that it was changed, you can't trust anything else in the New Testament. Nothing. You can't know if anything else was taken out or if anything else was added. If they can take out the Divine Name and there is not a shred of manuscript evidence to prove it, then throw out the New Testament.

The Watchtower makes assertions, but simply has no proof.

Obviously not. The implication of this, and the evidence point to the fact that the Tetragrammaton was never in any of the New Testament manuscripts EVER. IF it was removed, you can't trust anything the Bible says because there is not a shred of textual evidence to show that it was removed. By insisting on having the Tetragrammaton in the New Testament you undermine the Bible's reliability!  If the name went missing, what else might have? What might have been added?  You lose all trust and confidence in the New Testament. 

Further, the Septuagint (The Greek Old Testament), despite the best attempts made by the Watchtower, does not make reference to Jehovah or Yahweh, but uses the Greek term kurios in place of the Tetragrammaton. It was translated 300 years before Christ by Jews. By the time of Christ, the Tetragrammaton was unpronounced by everyone except the High Priest. All used either adonai or kurios. The Watchtower is wrong here.

Let's examine a few of the passages from the New World Translation, compare them with the Greek, and see if this is the case. These are commonly cited passages.

Matthew 4:4
επί παντί ρήματι εκπορευομένω διά στόματος θεού
epi panti remati ekporeuomeno dia stomatos theou
but by every word coming forth by the mouth of God.

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have theou, God, not the Divine Name

Matthew 4:7
ουκ εκπειράσεις κύριον τον θεόν σου
ouk ekpeipaseis kurion ton theon sou
You shall not put to test the Lord your God.

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have kurion ton theon, The Lord your God

Matthew 4:10
γεγραπται γαρ κύριον τον θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις
gegraptai gar kurion ton theon sou proskuneseis
For it is written, You shall do obeisance to the Lord your God

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have kurion ton theon, The Lord your God

Matthew 22:37
αγαπήσεις κύριον τον θεόν σου εν όλη τη καρδία σου
agapeseis kurion ton theon sou ek ole te kardia sou
love the Lord your God with your entire heart

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have kurion ton theon, The Lord your God

Matthew 22:44
είπεν ο κύριος τω κυρίω μου
eipen ho kurios to kurio mou
The Lord said to my Lord

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have ho kurios, the Lord

Luke 4:18
πνεύμα κυρίου επ΄ εμέ
pneuma kuriou ep eme
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have kuriou, the Lord

Luke 4:19
κηρύξαι ενιαυτόν κυρίου δεκτόν
kepexai eniauton kuriou dekton
to proclaim the accepted year of the Lord

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have kuriou, the Lord

Acts 15:14-17
όπως αν εκζητήσωσιν οι κατάλοιποι των ανθρώπων τον κύριον και πάντα τα έθνη εφ΄ ους επικέκληται το όνομά μου επ΄ αυτούς λέγει κύριος ο ποιών ταύτα πάντα

opos an ekzetesosin oi kataloipoi ton anthropon ton kurion kai panta ta ethne eph ous epikekletai to ovoma mou ep autous legei kurios o poion tauta panta

so that the remnants of men shall seek after the Lord, and all the nations upon which my name has been called upon by them, says the Lord -- the one doing all these things.

There is no divine name in this passage. Here we have τον κύριον, ton kurion, the Lord.

In every case where the New World Translation says "Jehovah" in the New Testament, the Greek says "kurios" or one of its forms.

There is no evidence that these texts have ever been changed, altered, or tampered with at all. I take the New Testament at it's word. When it says Jesus said, "the Lord" instead of the divine name, I believe it. The question is are you going to let your tradition overturn what the New Testament actually says?

But what about texts in the New Testament that talk about the name of God? "Hallowed be thy name", "I have made thy name known", Etc.

Here I cite the Watchtower against itself. From the Watchtower of 1973 May 1st p. 259, in the article,  "What Does God’s Name Mean to You?"

We are not to believe that when Jesus said, “I have made your name known” or “manifest,” he referred to only the pronunciation of the divine name. His listeners were Jews who, reportedly with the exception of the high priest, did not know the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew letters making up the name. Then, how did Jesus, by more than pronouncing the name correctly, ‘make God’s name known’ to the apostles? Note the answer given by one noted Bible commentator:

“The word name [in John 17] includes the attributes, or character of God. Jesus had made known his character, his law, his will, his plan of mercy. Or in other words, he had revealed God to them. The word name is often used to designate the person.”—Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Gospels by Albert Barnes (1846).

When they say, "We are not to believe that when Jesus said, “I have made your name known” or “manifest,” he referred to only the pronunciation of the divine name." I would disagree with an implication in this sentence. When Jesus said he made the Father's name known, he NEVER referred to the use or pronunciation of the divine name.

But Albert Barnes (A good Calvinist I may add), is right. The term "God's name" or other related phrases are just a fancy way of referring to God himself. Jesus did not mean he made a personal pronoun known. That is taking him far too literally. When he said he made God's name known, he means he made God known. The phrase "God's name" thus, "includes the attributes, or character of God. The word name is often used to designate the person."

The use and pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is not important. If it was, it would be in the New Testament, which it isn't. There is no proof that Jesus or the disciples ever used or pronounced the divine name. The quote from the Watchtower and Mr. Barnes is quite enough proof of that. Notice the Watchtower's admission, "His listeners were Jews who, reportedly with the exception of the high priest, did not know the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton." They used ADONAI instead of the name. When the Greek New Testament was written, they rightly use Kurios, because Kurios is the Greek equivalent of Adonai. If they had used the Tetragrammaton, it would be in the Greek too.

"But what we have here is a quote from the Old Testament, and the Divine Name is in the Hebrew quote". Who cares! It's not in the Greek, and it's not in the Greek for a reason. Do not change the manuscripts based on what you think should be there.

If you consistently render "kurios" as "Jehovah" every time that an Old Testament verse is quoted where "Jehovah" was used, then you must be consistent in this practice....

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 ESV)

This is also quoted in Romans:

"Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
(Romans 14:10-11 ESV)

These are actually quotes from "Jehovah" in Isaiah:

"By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him." (Isaiah 45:23-24 ESV)

Now if you were going to be consistent, should it not be, "and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, to the glory of God the Father"?

There is a transition of the power and authority of the Old Testament name of Jehovah to the New Testament name of Jesus. This happened in order to reveal God's full plan of salvation. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV) If you reject Jesus' full inheritance of the name Jehovah, you are in essence rejecting the Father as well. Jesus said clearly, "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." (John 5:22-23 ESV)

Here is another example:

"You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands." (Hebrews 1:10 ESV)

Hebrews 1:10-12, which is applied to the Son, is a quotation of a Psalm talking about Jehovah!

“O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days—you whose years endure throughout all generations!" Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (Psalm 102:24-25 ESV)

I insist that the words that translators use in their translations of the Bible must be words actually found in the best available Bible manuscripts. I do not allow translators to change the meaning of the best available Bible manuscripts by adding different words from sources outside of these ancient Bible manuscripts themselves.

The fact is, the New Testament has kurios, and not the divine name. If you think that it should have "Jehovah", then be consistent. The result of consistency would be a direct application of the divine name to Jesus Christ. God the Father (Jehovah) would be calling His Son, Jesus Christ, by the divine name, Jehovah, in numerous passages. The Watchtower can't handle this, and thus they are not consistent.