Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The 'Chain of Revelation' in Revelation 1:1-3. Part 1: "God"

[Continuing a review of some notes taken during my M.Div. Greek Syntax and Exegesis class over Revelation 1-3, specifically in regards to the 'chain of revelation' mentioned at the end of my last post.]

First, it may be helpful to review Revelation 1:1-3.

My translation of Revelation 1:1-3.

1 [This is the] Revelation from Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His servants [the things] that must happen quickly, and He made [it] known [by] sending [it] through His angel to His servant John 2 who testifies the message of God– the testimony of Jesus Christ– as many [things] as he saw. 3 Blessed is the one reading and those hearing the words of prophecy, and heeding the things written in it, for the time [is] near.

The 'Chain of Revelation' in Revelation 1:1-3.

1. God-> 2. Jesus Christ-> 3. His angel-> 4. John-> 5. The one reading-> 6. Those hearing

1. "God."

The "revelation" is "from Jesus Christ," and the text says that God gave Jesus the Revelation. In Revelation 1:1 "God" is clearly meant to signify "God the Father"- the first Person of the Trinity. Referring to "God the Father" simply as "God" is common in the New Testament. Jesus is often referred to as "the Son of God" (given that Jesus Himself is "God over all"- Romans 9:5- "God" in the phrase "Son of God" is not meant to refer to God in His essential unity- so that "the Son of God" would nonsensically make Jesus His own Son!- but to the Person known as "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"- Colossians 1:3), and there are a great number of verses that speak of "God" and "Jesus" as distinct Persons (see, for example, Jesus' words in John 17:3) without taking anything away from the Deity of Christ.

Though essentially One, the three Persons of the Trinity are revealed to take on distinct roles, so that (for example) the Father sent the Son into the world (John 8:42), and not vice-versa, and it was the Son, not the Father, who suffered and died upon the Cross.

Likewise, God the Father is demonstrated as the Person of the Godhead who is the distinct Author of revelation. In the first chapter of John's Gospel, God [the Father] is distinct from the Word (though, mysteriously, One with the Word as well- John 1:1), and it is the Word who reveals God (John 1:18). Likewise, in Hebrews 1:1-2 God [the Father] is the One speaking and the Son is the One through whom He speaks. In Revelation 1:1 God is the Author of revelation while Jesus Christ is the unique Agent of revelation from whom the revelation comes to the other members of the 'chain' outlined above.

As the reader will begin to perceive, it is impossible to truly contemplate God without contemplating His Word- Jesus Christ- and so the thought of God the Father as the distinct Author of revelation may become more intelligible in my next post, which will focus on Jesus Christ as the unique Agent of revelation.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Notes on Revelation: "Jesus Christ"

[Continuing a review of some notes taken during my M.Div. Greek Syntax and Exegesis class over Revelation 1-3. The following are some notes I have over the second and third words of Revelation: =Ihsou: Cristou: .]

=Ihsou: Cristou:

The above genitive phrase is usually rendered "of Jesus Christ" in the translations and is taken by many preachers to indicate that the revelation of the book is "concerning Jesus Christ." Indeed, it is certain that Revelation is a Christ-centered book from John's initial vision of Jesus in chapter 1 to the Christ-directed praise uttered by the heavenly hosts in chapter 5 to the benediction at the end of chapter 22- and at all points in between- Jesus is glorified.

Currently, however, here is a wide-ranging consensus of commentators- including David Aune, Greg Beale, Grant Osborne, and Robert Thomas- who note that, as it is used in Revelation 1:1, =Ihsou: Cristou: appears intended as a subjective genitive, so that the phrase should be rendered "from Jesus Christ." An understanding of the phrase as indicating Jesus Christ as the chief agent of the revelation related by John, rather than as the content of the revelation related by John, fits better within verse 1, in which the content of the revelation seems to be "[the things] that must happen quickly." As noted previously, "revelation" indicates an uncovering of "what has formerly been hidden." If my understanding of verse 1 is correct, then John is indicating that Jesus Christ is uncovering "[the things] that must happen quickly." This understanding would also make sense of why the book is referred to as "the words of prophecy" in 1:4, and would fit well with the Christology presented in John's Gospel in which Jesus is called the "Word," and is seen as God's chief agent of special revelation (John 1:1, 18).

And so, if my understanding is correct, then the first 3 verses of Revelation present a chain of revelation, as follows:

1. God-> 2. Jesus Christ-> 3. His angel-> 4. John-> 5. The one reading-> 6. Those hearing

In my next post, I hope to explore this 'chain of revelation' a little more in depth.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Notes on "Revelation"

[Since receiving my M.Div. from SBTS, I've been reviewing some notes that I took on Revelation 1-3 in studying for my Greek Syntax and Exegesis class. The following are some notes I have from the first word of Revelation: =ApokavluyiV.]


Translated "apocalypse" or "revelation." This word "expresses the subject and nature of the book" (G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 181). =ApokavluyiV, or some form of this word, occurs in the NT "44 times (verb, 26; noun 18), nearly always with the basic thrust 'to uncover what has formerly been hidden'" (Grant Osborne, Revelation, 52). "The book is a heightened form of prophecy, which can be referred to as 'apocalyptic,' as apparent from the use of 'apocalypse' and 'prophecy' in vv. 1-3 and in 22:7" (Beale, 181). As used in Revelation, "apocalypse" does not seem to refer to a technical genre of Greek literature, as this word for revelation and related words have specific meanings- meanings that do not necessarily coincide with extra-biblical uses of the term- both in this book and in the rest of the NT canon; therefore, the conventions of extra-biblical "apocalyptic literature" have limited value (at best) in exegesis of the book of Revelation.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Notes from Romans 9:6-18

[In my Sunday school class, we've been studying through Romans. The following are the notes I've taken in preparing to teach Romans 9:6-18 tomorrow.]


6 But it’s not as though the word of God has failed. For not all those from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s seed, but “in Isaac your seed will be called.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are the children of God, but the children of the promise are accounted unto seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah will have a son.” 10 And not only this, but Rebecca also conceived from one man, from Isaac our father. 11 For they were not yet born, nor had they done anything good or bad– in order that the purpose of God according to election might remain, 12 not from works, but from the one calling– it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? May it never be! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will mercy whom I would mercy and I will pity whom I would pity.” 16 So then it is not of the one willing nor of the one running, but of God mercying. 17 For Scripture says to Pharoah, “For this very purpose I raised you up, that I might demonstrate my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he mercies whom he wills and he hardens whom he wills.

Textual Connections

v. 6. Paul returns to the “true Jew” issue that he raised in Rom 2:28-29.

v. 7. Paul quotes Gen 21:12.

v. 8. Paul also addresses the ‘children of the flesh vs. children of the promise’ issue in Gal 4:21-23ff.

v. 9. Paul quotes from Gen 18:10, 14.

v. 10-12. An allusion and a quote from Gen 25:21-23.

v. 13. Paul quotes from Mal 1:2-3.

v. 14. That God is just is basic to our knowledge of God from what He has revealed (see, for example Deut 32:4).

v. 15. Paul quotes from Exod 33:19.

v. 17. Paul quotes the word of judgment against Pharoah from Exod 9:16.

The “5 Ws”

Who: 1. God, whose word has not failed, who has promised to raise up seed for Abraham. 2. Israel, defined not according to physical descent, but according to the election of God. 3. Jacob, who was loved, Esau, who was hated, and Pharaoh, who was hardened.

What: 1. God’s promise insures that there will be seed for Abraham. 2. Abraham’s seed is defined according to this promise and not according to physical descent. 3. God’s purpose according to election determines who is effectually called into a relationship with Him. 4. Injustice is no part of God’s activity; God works according to either His justice or His mercy. 5. Mercying and hardening are activities of God.

When: God’s activity in election has been constant in human history from the time of the patriarchs to the time of Moses, to the time when Paul is writing, to the present day.

Why: That God has a purpose in His electing activity is clear, though it is impossible to fully know the “why” of our infinite God’s purpose, we may at least discern that God wishes to show His justice and His mercy to the glory of Christ.

How: Romans 3:21-26 has already described how Jesus’ work on the cross demonstrates the justice of God.

So what? This passage demonstrates the sovereignty of God and is meant to provide believers assurance of His control; God has not failed and will not fail in His work with Israel.

2 Tim 3:16 Hermeneutic

Teaching: God is trustworthy, sovereign, merciful, and just.

Rebuking: This passage rebukes those who would think of God as untrustworthy, out of control, unloving, or unjust.

Correcting: This passage corrects those who believe that God’s purpose of election is determined by Man’s will or activity.

Instruction in righteousness: We must trust God, depend on Him, cry out to our sovereign for mercy on behalf of ourselves and others, and know that He is just in all His works.


Gene Bridges (on “hardening”): 1. What kind of people are hardened? Those who, like Pharaoh or Judas, have had close acquaintance with God’s revelation, but who reject God. “God isn’t putting fresh evil in their hearts, He is giving them what they want all the more. This is judicial on His part. They deserve this treatment, so God punishes their sin with more sin, which is poetic justice served upon them.” 2. God is “sovereign but not arbitrary” is His hardening activity– He has a purpose.

Augustine: “God does not choose us because we believe, but that we may believe.”

Martin Luther: “Very aptly he says: ‘Neither having done any good or evil’; and not: ‘Neither being good or evil’; for without doubt both sons were evil by the corruption of original sin. So far as their merit was concerned, they were equal to each other in birth and rank; both belonged to the same corrupt mass (of humanity).”

John Calvin: The text assumes that both Esau and Jacob as children of Adam were “sinners by nature.”

John Murray: “God’s covenant promise was not made so as to include all of ethnic Israel. Thus the exclusion of Israelites from God’s covenant favour does not negate the word of the oath.”

Doug Moo: “If God’s love of Jacob consists in his choosing Jacob to be the ‘seed’ who would inherit the blessings promised to Abraham, then God’s hatred of Esau is best understood to refer to God’s decision not to bestow this privilege on Esau. It might best be translated ‘reject’… Indeed, these questions state the human response to an insistence on the sovereignty of God in salvation: if God decides apart from anything in the human being whom he will chose and whom he will reject (v. 13), how can he still be ‘righteous’ (v. 14)– and how can he blame people if they reject him (v. 19)?” … Criticism of Paul’s teaching often springs from false notions that the ways of God must conform to human assumptions and human reasoning. “Paul’s approach is quite different” in that he considers his defense of God’s righteous “to be successful if it justifies God’s acts against the standards of Scripture (vv. 15-18) and his character as Creator (vv. 20-23). In other words, the standard by which God must be judged is God himself. Judged by this standard, Paul contends, God is indeed ‘just.’ Paul does not provide a logically compelling resolution of the two strands of his teaching– God, by his own sovereign choice elects human beings to salvation” and human beings are held accountable whether or not they believe in the gospel. Paul does not have to give a resolution in order to accomplish his purpose of showing God to be just and trustworthy and no resolution of this issue seems possible this side of heaven. “Paul cites OT texts in which God himself speaks. Such texts constitute the most important evidence we can have about God’s essence and ways of acting… God’s hardening, then, is an action that renders a person insensitive to God and his word and that, if not reversed, culminates in eternal damnation.”

Tom Schreiner: “Those who insist that corporate election alone is intended in chapters 9 and 11 are inconsistent when they revert to individual decisions of faith in chapter 10… Malachi describes God’s ‘hatred’ of Esau (Edom) in active terms; he lays waste their land (Mal. 1:3), tears down their buildings (v. 4), and his ‘anger’ is upon them ‘forever’ (v. 4).” Verse 15 provides an explanation for why God is not unrighteous (cf. 3:5-6; 6:1-5; 7:7-11). “How does this constitute an answer to the objection that God is unrighteous? … The righteousness of God is defended… by appealing to his freedom and sovereignty as the Creator… God’s righteousness is upheld because he manifests it by revealing his glory both in saving and in judging.”