Friday, April 29, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 5d, Methods of Interpretation (The Study of the Apocalypse)

This blog continues the focus on the different methods of interpreting the Apocalypse.  The 4th one is the futurist view.
The futurist believes that chapter 4-22 deal with events that happen in the future at the eschaton (last).  There are two forms of this belief. 1. dispensationalism and 2. classical premillennialism.
This centers on the stages of which Israel are finally saved.  In this view, the Gentile church is nothing more than a “parenthesis in this plan”.  The church will be “raptured” and a seven-year tribulation period will start where the antichrist makes himself known in the middle of the seven years.  At the end, Jesus will return which will usher in a “real” millennium and then the beginning of eternity.  Dispensationalist see the symbols in Revelation as literal. 
Classical premillennialism
This view reflects the church as a whole and not just Israel, thus, no dispensations of how Israel will be saved.  Christ only returns at the end of the tribulation period and the whole church as well as Israel will go through it.  The symbols in Revelation are just that to Classical premillennialist; symbols.
The weakness on both of these are these: 1. The first century churches would have not benefited from this.  2. The lack of understanding first century background can just make the events “speculation”.  “If all we have are events without symbolic/theological significance, much of the power of the book can be lost”.  Osborne*** (Pg. 21).
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 5c, Methods of Interpretation (The Study of the Apocalypse)

This blog continues the focus on the different methods of interpreting the Apocalypse.  The 3rd one is the Idealist view.
The view is that the Apocalypse doesn’t relate to historical events, but to “timeless spiritual truths”.  This view holds that Revelation deals with the church between the 1st and 2nd coming of Jesus and the judgements found in Revelation are on all sinners at all times.  The beast refers to all anti-christian empires at all times and the millennium is not a future event, but just describes the church age.
One of the strengths of this way of thinking or Revelation is that the book has relevance for the church at all times.  Among the weaknesses is the inability to see any future events based on the prophecies of the book. 
Osborne*** (Pg. 20)
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 5b, Methods of Interpretation (The Study of the Apocalypse)

This blog continues the focus on the different methods of interpreting the Apocalypse.  The 2nd one is the Preterist view.
The view is that the Apocalypse only has to do with the seven churches in Asia Minor and the problems that they were dealing with at that time.  Everything in Revelation points to events that happen in the 1st century.  
There are three main schools of thought on this view:
  1. Revelation is a response to how the Roman Empire was impacting the churches.  The Empire was persecuting the churches and trying to get them to comply with emperor worship and pagan worship.  The beast is the Roman Empire or the Roman emperor and all of the judgements are against the Empire.
  2. Revelation is a response to “perceived” persecution because the Roman Empire really wasn’t persecuting the churches on a large scale.  The churches are being called out of the world, but the symbols only reinterpret the current situation and do not refer to future events.
  3. Revelation was written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and deals with the apostate Jews who rejected Jesus and persecute the churches.  The beast is Rome and the battle of Armageddon is the siege of Jerusalem during 66-70 A.D.
Osborne*** (Pgs. 19-20)
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 5a, Methods of Interpretation (The Study of the Apocalypse)

The next few series of blogs will focus on the different methods of interpreting the Apocalypse.  We will start with the Historicist view.
This view goes back to the 12th century.  It basically means that Revelation tells the history of the West (Western Europe) from the time of the Apostles to the present.  Later, scholars like Martin Luther used this way of thinking to place the pope as the antichrist.  Still later, this gave way to dispensationalism where scholars used the seven letters as “periods of time” throughout history.  
As one would guess, it has weaknesses.  
  1. This view only deals with Western European history.
  2. The book would have meant nothing to the churches that John was writing to.
  3. Believers in this method would have to rework the different dispensations as history changed.
Osborne*** (Pgs. 18-19)
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 4, Canonicity (The Study of the Apocalypse)

Some may find it interesting that Revelation took some time before it was accepted in the canon of the New Testament.  The western church (western Europe) did seem to accept the book from the beginning, but the eastern church (eastern Europe, western Asia, northeastern Africa) didn’t take to it as well.  Most of the doubts centered on the authorship of the letter.  Dionysius, an early bishop of Alexandria from 248 to 264 A.D., thought the differences between the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse were enough to pronounce the Apocalypse as not being written by John.  This influenced others to not accept the book in the east.  As a result of all of the this, the book didn’t make the list of canonical books at the Council of Laodicea in 360 A.D.  In 397, it got added to the canonical list at the Council of Carthage mostly due to a single person, Athanasius, who fully accepted it..  Finally, Revelation was accepted and canonized in 680 at the Council of Constantinople.  Osborne*** (Pgs. 23-24).
As one can see, the Apocalypse went through a many centuries before it became a book of the New Testament.  As one might expect, there were other books of the New Testament that faced similar treatment.  
As a side note to this, most people don’t know that it took centuries before the canon of the New Testament was set.  As we can see here, it took around 500 years to set the entire New Testament to what we see today as the New Testament.

***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 3, A Map of the Seven Churches (The Study of the Apocalypse)

I thought it would be a good idea to offer a map of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).  You will see from this map that the seven cities of the Apocalypse are in somewhat of a ring.  Many scholars believe that the order of the messages to each church indicated the route in which the messenger would have taken to deliver the letter.  In other words, the order represents the main communication router of the time.

Due to the lack of detail that a small map can provide (and the limited screen on this blog), here is a link to the map courtesy of Bible History Online.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 2, Authorship (The Study of the Apocalypse)

Tradition says that the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse.  Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The writer of Revelation only identifies himself as John (This is actually much better than the Gospel that is attributed to John as no author is mentioned there).  He also refers to himself as a slave of Jesus.  He in no way claims to be the Apostle John.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t write it, it just means that he didn’t identify himself as such.  
We have a few choices from scholars.  I will put up the most plausible.
  1. John the Apostle
  2. John the Elder (1st, 2nd, and 3rd John.  This assumes that the writer of the John letters is not John the Apostle)
  3. An unknown John
Some scholars even believe that there were three writers that were close associates of the Apostle John that wrote the Gospel, the letters, and the Apocalypse, but it can’t be proven.  If it were true, that would certainly explain both the similarities and differences of the three.
The first person to write that the Apostle John was the writer of the Apocalypse was Justin Martyr in the middle of the 2nd century.   Soon after, other christian fathers also filed suit.  Among them were Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen.  There also were some who rejected it as product of John (Dionysius and Eusebius).
The language of the Apocalypse is similar to that of John, but also very different at times.  The Greek in the Apocalypse is crude at times, and seems different at times than John.  With that said, it is a fact that the only books of the Bible that refer to Jesus as ὁ λόγος (the word) is the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse.  Both also use the titles “Lamb of God” and “Son of Man”.
I can say that after having done translation work in all three, I find the writing similar in the Gospel of John, the letters of John, and the Apocalypse.  With that said, I’m still a novice at things like this and tend to be critical.  My opinion is “I don’t know”.
But in the end, I think we can rely on some of the early christian fathers and at least agree that it is plausible that the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse.
What does your heart say?

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Introduction to Revelation Part 1, An Outline (The Study of the Apocalypse)

So, where does one start with the Apocalypse?  Many start with authorship, settings, or maybe location.  The more I thought and prayed about this, the more I felt led to provide an outline in the beginning of this study.  I've read this book many times, but I always get lost in all of the imagery and lose focus on the events.  What could be used to keep people on track?  An outline!

I felt that the best place for people to start on the journey of the book of Revelation was to see the book broken down into its parts and sub-parts.  This will give the student a great overview of how the book (letter) flows and it will give one an idea of the layout of the book.

The author, Grant Osborne*** provides an outstanding outline in his book on Revelation (see below).

The decision has also been made that a bibliography will be provided in each blog to list the sources that Stephen and I are using throughout this study.  They will be found at the bottom on every blog (starting on this one).

One more thing, I will interchange Apocalypse and Revelation regularly.  Both words refer to the title of the book.

Outline of the Apocalypse (Based Osborne’s*** outline, (pgs. 30-31) 
  1. Prologue (1:1-8)
  2. Churches addressed (1:9-3:22)
    1. Inaugural vision (1:9-20)
    2. Letters to the seven churches (2:1-3:22)
      1. Letter to Ephesus (2:1-7)
      2. Letter to Smyrna (2:8-11)
      3. Letter to Pergamum (2:12-17)
      4. Letter to Thyatira (2:18-29)
      5. Letter to Sardis (3:1-6)
      6. Letter to Philadelphia (3:7-13)
      7. Letter to Laodicea (3:14-22)
  3. God in majesty and judgment (4:1-16:21)
    1. God’s sovereignty in judgement (4:1-11:19
      1. Throne room vision (4:1-5:14)
        1. God on his throne (4:1-11)
        2. Christ the Lamb, worthy to open the seals (5:1-14)
      2. Opening the seals (6:1-8:1)
        1. First six seals (6:1-17)
        2. First interlude: saints on earth and in heaven (7:1-17)
          1. Sealing the saints (7:1-8)
          2. Great multitude in heaven (7:9-17)
        3. Seventh seal (8:1)
      3. Seven trumpets (8:2-11:19)
        1. Introduction to trumpet judgements (8:2-6)
        2. First four trumpets (8:7-12)
        3. Fifth trumpet / first woe (8:13-9:11)
        4. Sixth trumpet (9:12-21)
        5. Interlude: prophecy and witness (10:1-11:13)
          1. John and the little scroll (10:1-11)
          2. John measures the temple and altar (11:1-2)
          3. Ministry, death, and resurrection of the two witnesses (11:3-13)
        6. Seventh trumpet (11:14-19)
    2. Great conflict between God and the forces of evil (12:1-16:21
      1. Interlude: great conflict described (12:1-14:20)
        1. Conflict between the dragon and God as well as his people (12:1-13:18)
          1. The woman and the dragon (12:1-6)
          2. War in heaven (12:7-9)
          3. War on earth (12:13-17)
          4. Two beast wage war (12:18-13-18)
            1. The beast from the sea - the Antichrist (12:18-13:10)
            2. The beast from the earth - the false prophet (13:11-18)
        2. Song of the 144,000 (14:1-5)
        3. Message of three angels (14:6-13)
        4. Harvest of the earth (14:14-20)
      2. Great conflict culminated (15:1-16:21)
        1. Introduction to the bowls - angel with final plagues (15:1-8)
        2. Seven last bowl judgments (16:1-21)
  4. Final judgement at the arrival of the eschaton (17:1-20:15)
    1. Destruction of Babylon the Great (17:1-19-5)
      1. The great prostitute on the scarlet beast (17:1-18)
      2. Fall of Babylon the Great (18:1-24)
      3. Hallelujah chorus - joy at his just judgement (19:1-5)
    2. Final victory: the end of the evil empire at the parousia (19:6-21)
    3. The thousand-year reign of Christ and final destruction of Satan (20:1-10)
    4. Great white throne judgement (20:11-15)
  5. New heaven and new earth (21:1-22:5)
    1. Coming of new heaven and new earth (21:1-8)
    2. New Jerusalem as the Holy of Holies (21:9-27)
    3. New Jerusalem as the final Eden (22:1-5)
  6. Epilogue (22:6-21)

List of resources used:

The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Apocalypse is coming!

Nuggets in the Biblical Greek (me) and Word for Life in Love (Stephen Brown) have joined forces to bring you a comprehensive study on The Revelation of John.  
The study will include: 
  • A new translation from the original Greek
  • Insight into Greek phrases, words, and sentences
  • Allusions to the Old Testament (The key to understanding the Book)
  • Understanding the different views of the imagery
  • Variant readings
  • 1st century culture and influence
  • How all of the above helps in interpreting the text
The study (blogs) will begin on May 2nd.   Until then, there will be several blogs released on topics on the book.  They will include an introduction, outlines, different views of interpretation, themes, places, written date, consulted works, and authorship.
So why now?
Since the creation of this blog, my blogs on Revelation have been read more (by almost double) than my other blogs.  Due to the present "times", there is a huge interest in this book (letter).  I’ve been approached a few times about blogging on it, so I’m now “giving in” so to speak, but “giving in” is good and it is the right time to do so.
The study will be a lot of fun and we encourage feedback.
We thank you in advance for your support!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Romans 11:25-36 The Restoration of Israel

     25 For I don’t want you to be ignorant1, brothers, about this mystery2, that you may not be conceited3, because a partial4 hardening has come to Israel until of which the full number5 of the Gentiles may come in. 26 And in this manner, all Israel6 will be saved7, as it has been written,

          ‘The One who rescues8 will come from Zion9
          He will turn away the godlessness10 from Jacob11 
          27 And this is my covenant with them 
          Whenever I take away their sins.’12

28 According to the Gospel, they are enemies on your account13, but according to the election14, they are beloved because of the fathers15. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable16. 30 For just as you were disobedient to God at some point17, but you have now been shown mercy because of their disobedience18, 31 and in the same manner, those now have been shown mercy because of your mercy, so that even they may now have mercy. 32 For God has made all of them a prisoner of disobedience so that he may show mercy to all.19

          33 O the depth of the riches, 
                   the wisdom, and the knowledge of God!
          How unsearchable are his judgements 
                   and untraceable are his paths.20
          34 For who has understood the mind of the Lord 
                  or who has become his counselor?
          35 or who has given to him beforehand 
                  that it will be repaid to him?21

36 Because all things are from him and through him and for him. To him be the glory forever, amen.

1 ἀγνοεῖν (to be ignorant) 

or “to not know”.

2 τὸ μυστήριον (mystery)

or “secret”.  The content of that which has not been known before but which has been revealed to an in-group or restricted constituency. Schreiner says, “In the OT and second temple literature it refers to a secret element of God’s plan that has been hidden from human beings but has now been revealed.” Romans (Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament).

According to Schreiner, the mystery is three fold: “(1) A part of Israel is hardened for a limited period of time; (2) the salvation of the Gentiles will precede the salvation of Israel; and (3) all Israel will eventually be saved.” Pg. 614.

3 [παρ ̓] ἑαυτοῖς (conceited) 

Greek: “beside himself”. Idiomatic in nature. It could be translate “in himself” or “wise in himself”.

4 ἀπὸ μέρους (partial) 

Greek: “from a part”. “Because a harding in part has come to Israel”.

5 τὸ πλήρωμα (the full number) 

or “fullness”. More than likely, referring to the number of Gentiles that will come into the faith.

6 “all Israel” probably refers to certain number of Jews at some point in the future. It is not likely to refer to all Jews who are both dead and alive.

7 So what does this mean? The context of the passage suggests that after the “fullness” of the Gentiles comes, only then will all of Israel be saved. This takes a little unpacking. What is the full number of the Gentiles? It is how many Gentiles will be saved! The time period will actually end once Jesus comes back. That will end the “fullness of the Gentiles”. After that, Israel, at that time, will be saved. Paul shows this in the following quotes from the OT.

8 ὁ ῥυόμενος (The One who rescues) 

or “The One who delivers” or simply “The Rescuer” or “The Deliver”.  In this case, Paul is referring to Jesus.

9 The heavenly Zion where Jesus reigns as the Lord.

10 ἀσεβείας (godlessness)

To live in a manner contrary to proper religious beliefs and practice. In this case, the passage is referring to Israel’s unbelief in Jesus Christ.

11 Quote taken from Isaiah 59:20.

12 Quote taken from Isaiah 27:9.

13 δι ̓ ὑμᾶς (on your account)

Greek: “because of you”.

14 or “choice”. It is God’s choice to show grace on people.

15 Paul is referring to the fore-fathers of the Old Testament. God had promised throughout the OT that he would rescue Israel. This is why God’s plan for the Gentiles includes the Jews as well. Salvation of the Gentiles will allow for the Jews to receive mercy from God after Jesus comes.

16 ἀμεταμέλητα (irrevocable) 

or “without regret” In this text, it means that it can not be changed.

17 ποτε (at some point)

Greek: “at some time”.

18 The Jews’ disobedience at not believing that Jesus is the Lord.

19 Paul wraps up how the salvation for the Jews will come. Their unbelief in Jesus Christ has lead the way to the Gentiles, but once all of the Gentile are gathered together to Jesus, the Jews will then be saved. Ultimately, all are subject to disobedience and God shows his divine being by being showing mercy to all people, Jew or Gentile.

20 Quote taken from Isaiah 40:13.

21 Quote taken from Job 41:11.

The Greek

Ῥωμαίους 11·25 Οὐ γὰρ θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο, ἵνα μὴ ἦτε [παρ ̓] ἑαυτοῖς φρόνιμοι, ὅτι πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους τῷ Ἰσραὴλ γέγονεν ἄχρι οὗ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰσέλθῃ 26 καὶ οὕτως πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ σωθήσεται, καθὼς γέγραπται·
ἥξει ἐκ Σιὼν ὁ ῥυόμενος, ἀποστρέψει ἀσεβείας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβ.
Ῥωμαίους 11·27 καὶ αὕτη αὐτοῖς ἡ παρ ̓ ἐμοῦ διαθήκη, ὅταν ἀφέλωμαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.
28 κατὰ μὲν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐχθροὶ δι ̓ ὑμᾶς, κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας· 29 ἀμεταμέλητα γὰρ τὰ χαρίσματα καὶ ἡ κλῆσις τοῦ θεοῦ. 30 ὥσπερ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ποτε ἠπειθήσατε τῷ θεῷ, νῦν δὲ ἠλεήθητε τῇ τούτων ἀπειθείᾳ, 31 οὕτως καὶ οὗτοι νῦν ἠπείθησαν τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ [νῦν] ἐλεηθῶσιν. 32 συνέκλεισεν γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς πάντας εἰς ἀπείθειαν, ἵνα τοὺς πάντας ἐλεήσῃ.
33 Ὦ βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας καὶ γνώσεως θεοῦ·
ὡς ἀνεξεραύνητα τὰ κρίματα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀνεξιχνίαστοι αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ.
34 τίς γὰρ ἔγνω νοῦν κυρίου; ἢ τίς σύμβουλος αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο;
35 ἢ τίς προέδωκεν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνταποδοθήσεται αὐτῷ;
Ῥωμαίους 11·36 ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι ̓ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα·
αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Romans 11:11-24, The Salvation of the Gentiles

     11 I say then, they did not1 stumble so that they might fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to make them2 jealous. 12 But if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure3 be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment4 be.
     13 But I say to you, Gentiles, in as much as I am an apostle for Gentiles5, I glorify6 my ministry, 14 if somehow I may make my race7 jealous and save some of them8. 15 For if their defeat9 is the reconciliation of the world10, what is their acceptance if not life from the dead11? 16 But if the first portion12 is consecrated13, the lump of dough is also, and if the roots are consecrated, the branches are also.
     17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree of which were grafted in among them, you become a sharer14 of the root of richness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches which have been cut off. But if you boast against15 them, remember that you don’t bear the root, but the root bears you16. 19 You will say therefore, “The branches were broken off so that I may be grafted in”. 20 That is true. They were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith, but don’t think highly17, but be afraid18. 21 For if God didn’t spare the ones who are branches by nature, [lest in some way or other]19 he will not spare you either. 22 Therefore behold the kindness and severity of God. To the ones who fell, severity, but to you, the kindness of God, if you will continue20 in kindness21, otherwise even you will be cut off. 23 And those also, if they don’t remain in unbelief, they will be grafted in. For God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted in with a cultivated22 olive tree, how much more are those who are by nature will be grafted in their own23 olive tree.24

1 μὴ (not) 

This expects a “no” answer. Paul expresses this with μὴ γένοιτο (May it never be!)

2 “Them” being the Jews. The Jews are to become jealous because of the Gentiles.

3 τὸ ἥττημα (failure)

The lack of obtaining a desirable position. Their failure to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4 τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν (their fulfillment)

or “their completeness”. In other words, how great it will be when the Jews come to know Christ. That is, when the “remnant” joins the “remaining”, the result will be great!

5 ἐθνῶν (for Gentiles) 

or “of Gentiles”. The context of the passage supports “for Gentiles” or “to Gentiles”.

6 δοξάζω (I glorify) 

or “I praise highly”. Paul puts his ministry on a high plain to try to help his fellow Jews to become jealous.

7 τὴν σάρκα (race) 

Greek: “flesh”. Idiomatic in nature. Paul is referring to his fellow Jews.

8 ἐξ αὐτῶν (of them) 

Greek: “from them” as in “save some from the whole (of Israel).”

9 ἡ ἀποβολὴ (defeat) 

or “loss”. The noun means to be non-existent.

10 In other words, Israel’s loss is the rest of the world’s gain. Israel lose’s the true Messiah, but the Gentiles gain from Israel’s loss.

11 In other words, although Israel is in total destruction right now, at some point they will return to the grace of God and it will be a huge event, in as much as it will be like being raised from the dead, which is exactly what happens when the “full number of the Gentiles comes in” in verse 25.

12 ἡ ἀπαρχὴ (first portion)

or “first-fruit”. The first of something. In this case, Paul is speaking about dough, but is making a connection with the consecrated Israel of the OT.

13 ἁγία (consecrated) 

or “holy”.

14 συγκοινωνὸς (sharer) 

or “a participant”.

15 κατακαυχῶ (boast against)

or “degrade”. Apparently, the Roman Church had started degrading the Jews for their lack of accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul is trying to keep them from doing this.

16 A reminder that the fathers of Israel are the actual root and without that root, the Gentiles would not be part of the tree at all.

17 μὴ ὑψηλὰ φρόνει (don’t think highly) 

or “don’t thing of yourself highly” as in over the branches that were broken off. In other words, the Gentiles are not superior to the Jews.

18 φοβοῦ (be afraid) 

or “fear”.

19 [μή πως] [lest in some way or other] 

This is in brackets as it may not be original to the letter. One can see why it may have been added.

20 ἐπιμένῃς (continue) 

or “remain”.

21 Paul is possibly referring back to the Roman Churches boasting against the Jews. God’s kindness and christian kindness should be the same.

22 καλλιέλαιον (cultivated) 

or “domesticated”.

23 ἰδίᾳ (their own) 

or “one’s own”.

24 Paul is basically saying that if Israel comes to believe in Jesus, it will be very easy to graft them back into the main body of the tree as they were part of the tree to begin with.

The Greek

Ῥωμαίους 11·11 Λέγω οὖν, μὴ ἔπταισαν ἵνα πέσωσιν; μὴ γένοιτο· ἀλλὰ τῷ αὐτῶν παραπτώματι ἡ σωτηρία τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εἰς τὸ παραζηλῶσαι αὐτούς. 12 εἰ δὲ τὸ παράπτωμα αὐτῶν πλοῦτος κόσμου καὶ τὸ ἥττημα αὐτῶν πλοῦτος ἐθνῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῶν. 13 Ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω τοῖς ἔθνεσιν· ἐφ ̓ ὅσον μὲν οὖν εἰμι ἐγὼ ἐθνῶν ἀπόστολος, τὴν διακονίαν μου δοξάζω, 14 εἴ πως παραζηλώσω μου τὴν σάρκα καὶ σώσω τινὰς ἐξ αὐτῶν. 15 εἰ γὰρ ἡ ἀποβολὴ αὐτῶν καταλλαγὴ κόσμου, τίς ἡ πρόσλημψις εἰ μὴ ζωὴ ἐκ νεκρῶν; 16 εἰ δὲ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ ἁγία, καὶ τὸ φύραμα· καὶ εἰ ἡ ῥίζα ἁγία, καὶ οἱ κλάδοι. 17 Εἰ δέ τινες τῶν κλάδων ἐξεκλάσθησαν, σὺ δὲ ἀγριέλαιος ὢν ἐνεκεντρίσθης ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ συγκοινωνὸς τῆς ῥίζης τῆς πιότητος τῆς ἐλαίας ἐγένου, 18 μὴ κατακαυχῶ τῶν κλάδων· εἰ δὲ κατακαυχᾶσαι οὐ σὺ τὴν ῥίζαν βαστάζεις ἀλλὰ ἡ ῥίζα σέ. 19 ἐρεῖς οὖν· ἐξεκλάσθησαν κλάδοι ἵνα ἐγὼ ἐγκεντρισθῶ. 20 καλῶς· τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ ἐξεκλάσθησαν, σὺ δὲ τῇ πίστει ἕστηκας. μὴ ὑψηλὰ φρόνει ἀλλὰ φοβοῦ· 21 εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς τῶν κατὰ φύσιν κλάδων οὐκ ἐφείσατο, [μή πως] οὐδὲ σοῦ φείσεται. 22 ἴδε οὖν χρηστότητα καὶ ἀποτομίαν θεοῦ· ἐπὶ μὲν τοὺς πεσόντας ἀποτομία, ἐπὶ δὲ σὲ χρηστότης θεοῦ, ἐὰν ἐπιμένῃς τῇ χρηστότητι, ἐπεὶ καὶ σὺ ἐκκοπήσῃ. 23 κἀκεῖνοι δέ, ἐὰν μὴ ἐπιμένωσιν τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ, ἐγκεντρισθήσονται· δυνατὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς πάλιν ἐγκεντρίσαι αὐτούς. 24 εἰ γὰρ σὺ ἐκ τῆς κατὰ φύσιν ἐξεκόπης ἀγριελαίου καὶ παρὰ φύσιν ἐνεκεντρίσθης εἰς καλλιέλαιον, πόσῳ μᾶλλον οὗτοι οἱ κατὰ φύσιν ἐγκεντρισθήσονται τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐλαίᾳ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Romans 11:1-10, The Remnant of Israel

     1 I say then, God did not1 reject his people, did he? May it never be! For even I am an Israelite from the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin2 . 2 God did not reject his people3, whom he knew before hand4. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in Elijah5, how he interceded with God against Israel? 3 ‘Lord, they killed your prophets, they destroyed your alters, and only I have been left and they seek my life.’6 4 But what was the divine reply7 to him? ‘I left myself seven- thousand men, ones who8 didn’t bend a knee to Baal.’9 5 In the same way then, even in the present time, there is10 a remnant according to the election11 of grace12. 6 But if by grace, then it is no longer from works13, otherwise, grace no longer becomes grace. 7 What then? What Israel is seeking14, they didn’t obtain this, but the chosen did obtain it.15 But the remaining16 were hardened17, 8 just as it has been written,

     ‘God gave to them the spirit of stupor18 
     Eyes that do not see 
     and ears that do not hear 
     until the present day.19

9 And David says,

     ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, 
     a stumbling-block20 and a retribution to them.21 
     10 Let their eyes be darkened that they don’t see 
     and bend their backs forever22.23

1 μὴ (not) 
This expects a “no” answer. Paul follows this up with μὴ γένοιτο (May it never be!)

2 Paul is providing proof that God didn’t reject Israel as Paul himself is a Jew.

3 An echo from both Psalms 94:14 and 1 Samuel 12:22.

4 A possible meaning to this could be: “Whom he knew before he created the world”.

5 Obviously, there is no book of Elijah. Paul is referring to a passage about Elijah. Paul is referring to 1 Kings 19:1-18 where Ahab kills the prophets of God. Elijah flees and intercedes against Israel.

6 From 1 Kings 19:10 and 14.

7 τί λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ χρηματισμός (what was the divine reply to him)

Greek: “what does the divine revelation say to him”.

8 οἵτινες (ones who) 

Greek: “such as”.

9 From 1 Kings 19:18. Paul uses this as allegory to show how God reserves a “remnant” from a defiant Israel.

10γέγονεν (there is)

Greek: “there has become”. The verb is in the perfect tense and describes an action that occurs in the past, but it’s actions are still being felt at the time of the reader. Thus, the translation “there is”. In other words, the remnant was created and still remains today (at the time of the letter being written).
The “remnant”, like the 7000 men in 1 Kings 19, shows that not all of Israel is defiant to God’s wishes. Although most of Israel during Paul’s time rejected the Gospel of Christ, a “chosen few” received the promise with gladness. Paul is one of these “chosen few”.

11 κατ ̓ ἐκλογὴν (according to the election) 

or “according to the choosing”. God chose the “remnant”.

12 χάριτος (of grace) 

God’s favor on mankind is the only reason that there is an election or choosing.

13 For the most part, Paul is referring to the Jewish law, but on a grander scale, there is nothing that people can do in order to receive the divine gift of eternal life other than to have faith in Jesus Christ. “...if human beings could by their works secure the blessing of God (as Paul points out in the second part of the verse), grace would “no longer” be grace.” Douglas Moo The Epistle to the Romans, page 678.

14 ἐπιζητεῖ (is seeking) 

The verb is in the present tense and carries a “continual” aspect. It could be translated: “continually seeking”.

15 Israel can not obtain the blessings of God by performing the works or the Jewish law or performing any other works for that matter. The “remnant” did obtain the blessings of God through faith in Christ.

16 “The remaining” are the Jews who reject the Gospel of Jesus. 17 Hardened in a spiritual sense. They refuse to believe in the Gospel of Christ.

18 From Isaiah 29:10. “A spirit of bewilderment”

19 From Deut. 29:4.

20εἰς σκάνδαλον (a stumbling-block)

or “a scandal”.

21 The whole passage could be translated, “Let their table be turned into a snare and a trap, into a stumbling-block and retribution to them.”

22 διὰ παντὸς (forever) 

Greek: “through all”. An idiom. The “bend their backs forever” may a reference to slavery.

23 From Psalms 69.

The Greek:

Ῥωμαίους 11·1 Λέγω οὖν, μὴ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ; μὴ γένοιτο· καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ Ἰσραηλίτης εἰμί, ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραάμ, φυλῆς Βενιαμίν. 2 οὐκ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ὃν προέγνω. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ἐν Ἠλίᾳ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή, ὡς ἐντυγχάνει τῷ θεῷ κατὰ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ; 3 κύριε, τοὺς προφήτας σου ἀπέκτειναν, τὰ θυσιαστήριά σου κατέσκαψαν, κἀγὼ ὑπελείφθην μόνος καὶ ζητοῦσιν τὴν ψυχήν μου. 4 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ χρηματισμός; κατέλιπον ἐμαυτῷ ἑπτακισχιλίους ἄνδρας, οἵτινες οὐκ ἔκαμψαν γόνυ τῇ Βάαλ. 5 οὕτως οὖν καὶ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ λεῖμμα κατ ̓ ἐκλογὴν χάριτος γέγονεν· 6 εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις. 7 Τί οὖν; ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραήλ, τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπέτυχεν, ἡ δὲ ἐκλογὴ ἐπέτυχεν· οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἐπωρώθησαν, 8 καθὼς γέγραπται·
ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, ὀφθαλμοὺς τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν καὶ ὦτα τοῦ μὴ ἀκούειν,
ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας. 9 καὶ Δαυὶδ λέγει·
γενηθήτω ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν εἰς παγίδα καὶ εἰς θήραν καὶ εἰς σκάνδαλον καὶ εἰς ἀνταπόδομα αὐτοῖς,
Ῥωμαίους 11·10 σκοτισθήτωσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτῶν τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν καὶ τὸν νῶτον αὐτῶν διὰ παντὸς σύγκαμψον.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς Part 4

This is the last (at least for a while) of the Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς blogs.  In this blog, we will show how Paul restates the Jewish Shema.  One should read the 1st three blogs prior to reading this one. Blog one is here, blog two is here and blog three is here.

One of the greatest Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς moments comes in 1 Corinthians 8:6. Paul is responding to the Corinthians wanting to go to pagan festivals to pagan gods because the Corinthians “know” that there is only one God based on the Jewish Shema and that idols are not really gods to begin with. Paul goes on to tell them that they are somewhat correct in the what they understand, but to still not partake if by doing so it causes a weaker Christian to stumble. Paul also corrects the Corinthians’ theology in the process adding Jesus Christ as “the Lord” of the Jewish Shema in which it is obvious that they have referred to in their prior communication with Paul.

Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 8:6.

     6 ἀλλ ̓ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ 
             ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν,
        καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς 
             δι ̓ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι ̓ αὐτοῦ.

     6 But forus, one God, the Father 
             from whom all things came2 and for him we exist
        and one Lord, Jesus Christ 
             through whom all things came and through him we exist.

Compare that to Deut. 6:4b from the Septuagint. 

     Ἄκουε, Ισραηλ· κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν· 

     Listen3, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.

Paul has taken the Shema and divided it to include Jesus as the Lord! As we know from the first blog in this series, κύριος (Lord) is the Greek replacement word for Yahweh in the Septuagint. Paul keeps “one” in place, but places “The Father” with θεὸς (God) and places Christ as κύριος (The Lord).

Although this passage has much more to offer, the intent of this blog is to point out the Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς moment. This will be expanded in an upcoming online Study on 1 Corinthians. That Study will be part 2 in a series of Paul’s Pillar letters (Part one is the Study of Galatians). 2 Corinthians and Romans will follow that Study.

1 ἡμῖν (for us) 

or “to us”.

2 “To be” verbs are inferred in many Greek passages. The four verbs in italics indicate that the verbs are not actually written in Greek, but inferred. The actual verb would have been “are”, but since Paul is dealing with creation and existence, I used “came” and “exist”.

3 Ἄκουε (Listen) 

or “Hear”.