Saturday, October 24, 2009

Baptism with the Holy Spirit = Filling with the Holy Spirit

1. All four gospels record John’s statement that Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit (and fire, except Mark and John).
Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
2. Prior to His ascension Jesus prophecied that the disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit after a few days.
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
3. On Pentecost, all the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
4. A few days later they were filled again.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
5. The apostles specify being “full of the Spirit” as a criterion for being a servant in the church. Fullness of the Spirit is, therefore, a characteristic discernible by fellow-believers.
Act 6:3 "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. (cf. 7:55)
Acts 6:5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
6. The Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any of the Samaritan believers prior to Peter and John praying for them. They prayed for them that they might received the Holy Spirit, and then when they laid hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 8:17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
7. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Ananias.
Acts 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
8. At Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit falls upon those listening. The narrator describes Peter’s amazement at the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles. Peter speaks of the reception of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:44 ¶ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 10:45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 10:47 "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"
9. Peter describes the event at Cornelius’ house in terms of the Holy Spirit “falling upon them as He did upon us at the beginning,” and specifically identifies this as an example of Jesus’ prophesy that “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.
11:16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
10. Barnabas is described as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Again, fullness of the Spirit is discernible.
Acts 11:24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.
11. The disciples in Antioch of Pisidia were being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Note the imperfect tense. The ongoing nature of being filled with the Spirit could be interpreted iteratively, as in Acts 2 and then 4, or progressively as Ephesians 5:18 seems to imply.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled (ἐπληροῦντο) with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
12. God gave the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and those assembled with him. The issue here is how δοὺς should relate to ἐμαρτύρησεν: antecedent time or means. It fits the contours of means quite well.
Acts 15:8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν
Acts 15:8 "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
13. After Paul laid his hands on the Ephesians the Holy Spirit came upon them. The variety in terminology suggests that the language itself is non-technical and descriptive: filled, came upon, fell upon, baptized with, received.
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
14. Texts not included above which use the language of “full of/with the Holy Spirit” are Acts 4:8; 7:55 and 13:9.
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,
Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
Acts 13:9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him,
At first glance, these texts seem more like OT texts where the Spirit comes upon a person for a specific purpose and for a limited time. On the other hand, in each of these cases, these people were previously said to have been filled with the Spirit, and in Stephen’s case especially, he was picked as a deacon on the basis of the fact he was full of the Holy Spirit. That data seems to weigh on the side of understanding Luke’s choice to include this characterization as a theological note to avoid the appearance that the special deeds done by these men were self-originating, but were rather Spirit-empowered. The point of this epithet is not to denote a new or renewed “filling,” but the fact of the Spirit’s fullness (i.e., controlling, empowering presence) out of which their actions flowed.

Conclusion: There is no difference between Christ’s baptism of believers with the Holy Spirit promised in the Gospels and Acts 1:5 and the Filling with the Spirit received throughout Acts. This is a Christological baptism with the Spirit (instrumental dative) and is to be distinguished from the Pneumatological baptism by the Spirit (dative of agency) of 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The LORD is a God of Justice (Isa. 30:18)

Isa. 30:18 caught my attention this morning. The nature and necessity of divine justice has been on my mind because I've been lecturing on the biblical teaching regarding election and predestination.

What stirs debate in theological circles generates only praise from inspired writers of Scripture: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ, e.g., He chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him, having predestined us in love to adoption as children through Christ to himself" (Eph. 1:3-5).

In Isaiah 30:18 Isaiah describes Yahweh to rebellious Israel: "Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself/rises to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him."

That sent me looking for other OT texts connecting justice (mishpat) to Yahweh. Three texts stood out to me: "the Lord loves justice" (Psa. 37:28), "I, Yahweh, love justice and hate robbery" (Isa. 61:8), and "I am the LORD who practices lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight" (Jer. 9:24[H 23]).

All the while I'm looking at these texts, Romans 9:14 is sounding in the back of my mind: "Is there injustice with God? God forbid!" Paul could have responded, "God is sovereign. He can do anything He wants," or even, "God is sovereign. He could choose to do anything, and it would by definition be just." And some, it seems, think that is what he says in Romans 9:15-21. But that cannot be what 9:15-21 mean if Romans 9:14 is understood.

There is such a thing as injustice, and it is unthinkable that injustice could be found in God. Thus there are things that God in His infinite sovereignty could not do, for they would be unjust. Yahweh's love for and delight in justice ensure that all his dealings with His creation will fully comport with His revelation of justice.

What does God say justice is? and what is the relationship between divine justice and human culpability?

More on those questions, hopefully sooner rather than later, but for now ...

I rejoice that Yahweh's love for justice and His love for me intersected in His self-propitiation on my behalf (Rom. 3:25)!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Capital Punishment within a Christian Worldview

God entrusted to fallible, fallen, unsaved humans the responsibility of exercising justice (Deut. 1:16-17). He established the principles by which humans were to judge justly:

1. No favoritism or partiality (Lev. 19:15).
2. No allegation may be accepted without a minimum of two witnesses (Deut. 17:6).
3. When the appropriate number of witnesses are present, and the allegations are found to be true, the judges must pass an equitable sentence upon the criminal, i.e., the punishment is to be equal to the crime (Exod. 21:24-25; Lev. 24:19-21; Deut. 19:21).
4. The judges are to be present when the punishment is meted out so that they are fully aware of the effects of the punishment (Deut. 25:1-3).
5. The witnesses, in the case of capital punishment by stoning, are to be involved in carrying out the punishment (Deut. 17:3-6). This means that if witnesses have colluded and falsely accused someone, they become guilty of murder and, when discovered, will receive the same death penalty that they wrongly had inflicted upon another (Deut. 19:15-19).
6. Execution by stoning was to be done publically with the participation of the public (Deut. 17:7). This reinforced the seriousness of the crime and served as a deterrent to future criminal activity.
7. Prior to the establishment of the Mosaic Covenant and the creation of the nation of Israel, God established capital punishment as the appropriate sentence for intentional manslaughter in time of peace (Gen. 9:6)
8. Within the context of the Israelite nation, God established that the following crimes were to be punished with the death penalty
+ Intentional manslaughter in time of peace (Lev. 24:21; Num. 35:30-33). The Numbers passage is important because God says no amount of money may be accepted as reparation for murder. Only by the blood of the murderer being shed can a land be purged from the guilt of murder.
+ The owner of an animal that kills another man, if the owner knew the animal was likely to kill and did not take precaution to keep the animal away from people (Exod. 21:29). In this case, the owner may ransom his life with money if it is demanded of him (Exod. 21:30).
+ Kidnappers (Exod. 21:16)
+ Those involved in witchcraft (Exod. 22:18)
+ Those who are involved in homosexual behavior (Lev. 20:13) or beastiality (Exod. 22:19; Lev. 20:15-16)
+ If a man marries a woman and her mother, they are all to be burned with fire (Lev. 20:14)
+ Whoever blasphemes God’s name (Lev. 24:16).
+ Whoever curses his father or mother (Lev. 20:9) or strikes his father of mother (Exod. 21:15).
+ Those who commit adultery (Lev. 20:10), including the rape of or consensual sex with an engaged woman.
+ Those who commit incest (non-rape) are both killed (Lev. 20:11-12)
+ A non-Levite who gets near the tabernacle during its setup (Num. 1:51).
+ A prophet or dreamer of dreams who entices God’s people to serve other Gods (Deut. 13:3), as well as any person or group of persons who depart from God and serve other gods (Deut. 13:5ff)
+ A stubborn, rebellious son who is a glutton and a drunkard (Deut 21:18-21). It appears that after a person was stoned to death, they were hung on a tree as a warning against committing such crime. They were allowed to hang only until sundown (Deut. 21:22).
Since God is always just, God’s establishment of capital punishment for the above crimes means that it is an appropriate (equitable) punishment for the seriousness of these crimes. If the death penalty seems too severe for these crimes, that tells us that we do not view these crimes the way God does. Since God specifies that certain crimes are to be punished by stoning, others by burning, and others by hanging, none of these forms of capital punishment should be regarded as inhumane or failing to reflect a godly compassion.

The fact that God imparted responsibility to exercise capital punishment to fallible, fallen, unsaved humans tells us that the possibility, even likelihood, of injustice being done, was not a sufficient cause from God’s perspective to forbid capital punishment. It should not, therefore, be a sufficient grounds for us to oppose it.

When we value human life more than God values it, we are idolaters because we are essentially saying we know the real value of things better than God does.

Since we are not part of the nation of Israel, we as individuals do not have the freedom to enact capital punishment. However, to the extent that we can influence the laws of our land, we should seek to influence our laws to punish as capital crimes those sins that God deems worthy of capital punishment.

NT Issues:
Woman taken in adultery. Assuming that this story is actually part of the text (and there are serious questions about its authenticity), Jesus told the witnesses to stone her. He passed judgment that she was worthy of death. However, he also added a condition that exposed the hypocrisy of her accusers: “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.” Jesus is not establishing a requirement that only those without sin can be involved in the judgment of others. If so, that would invalidate all forms of civil courts by non-Christians, but God said that those in authority in civil government are appointed by God (regardless of their personal spiritual status) and they do not “bear the sword in vain,” implying that they legitimately wield the sword (a tool of death) in the punishment of evil doers (Rom. 13:1-6).

1 Cor. 6:9-11 some of the Corinthians were formerly adulterers and homosexuals, but God washed, justified, and sanctified them. Does this show that God no longer considers these capital crimes? No. Rather it shows that these sins are not unforgiveable. Capital punishment in the OT did not preclude the possibility of repentance and forgiveness prior to being killed. Repentance, however, is not a reason to commute a death penalty for those who, according to God, deserve it. The reason the Corinthians weren’t killed for their adultery and homosexuality is because they were not living in Israel under God’s government. They were living under Roman law which did not reflect God’s perspective on these issues. We too live under laws which do not reflect God’s perspective on these issues, but as followers of Jesus, the one who gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, we must view all of life from His perspective.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Glorying in the Cross (Gal. 6:14)

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14 KJV)

Ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, δι᾽ οὗ ἐμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ

What does it mean to "glory in the cross?"

The first rule of interpretation is context, and the previous two verses provide the setting.
Galatians 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. (NASB)
As Paul makes clear throughout this letter, Judaizers were pressuring the Galatian Gentile Christians to be circumcised. Their purpose in this campaign was to avoid persecution themselves and to be able to boast about making "converts," which appears to be what Paul means by "so that they may boast in your flesh."

The word translated "boast" in v. 13 (NASB) is the same word translated "glory" in v. 14 (KJV).
To "glory" in something is to view it as a basis for bragging, boasting, or being proud. BDAG offers the sense "to take pride in someth.," and the glosses "boast, glory, pride oneself, brag" for Gal. 6:13, 14.

In contrast to the Judaizers who wanted to brag or boast about a "righteousness" achieved through external conformity to the Law, specifically through circumcision, Paul asserts that he will only glory, boast, brag about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember singing songs about "glorying in the cross," and being uncertain what precisely it mean to glory in the cross. It is difficult to glory in the cross if I do not see the cross as more than the place Jesus died for my sins.

As I have matured in my understanding of the significance of the cross in God's plan of redemption, my appreciation for the cross (metonymy for all that was accomplished by Jesus in his atonement on the cross) has grown.

The cross should be the grounds for our boasting for at least the following reasons:
• The cross reveals the monstrous nature of my sin – the Son of God had to suffer and die to ransom me. Yet, He did!
• The cross trumpets the necessity of justice, the inevitability of punishment for sin, and an irrevocably moral universe.
• The cross testifies to the value God places upon humanity, made in His image (Col. 3:10).
• The cross unveils the vastness of God’s desire for our restoration to relationship with Himself, the unsearchable limits of His love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).
• The cross is a token of God's purpose to give me all that it takes to live in relationship with Him, for if God spared not His son, how shall He not also with him give me all things freely (Rom. 8:32).
• The cross was the place where Christ provided a propitiation for righteous wrath of God for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
• The cross frees me from the law's claim upon me – for the law views me as dead through my union with Christ – and frees me to be married to Christ and bring forth fruit to God (Rom. 7:4-6).
• On the cross Jesus bore in his body the punishment my sins rightly deserved so that I need never experience that punishment (1 Peter 2:24)
• The cross is the basis of my justification (Gal. 2:16-20).
• The cross provides me with a righteousness I could never acquire on my own (Phil. 3:9; 1 Peter 2:24)
• The cross frees me from sin’s control (Romans 6:1-7:6)
• The cross is the means by which the world has been crucified to me and I have been crucified to the world (Gal. 6:14).
• The cross leads to resurrection and new life.
• The cross is the basis for the believer's entire sanctification (actualizing my union with Christ’s death to sin) and all ongoing growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 6).
• The cross points to the sacrificial blood which now cleanses those who walk in the light from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7).
• The cross removed the barrier to the holy of holies – the temple veil was torn from top to bottom when Jesus cried it is finished.
Hallelujah for the cross!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Valuable Resource for Child Rearing

Several years ago, some of my friends highly recommended Ted Tripp's book Shepherding a Child's Heart. I purchased it and read it. I didn't find it significantly helpful. Probably that's a commentary on me, though Tripp's style tends to be repetitious, and I don't do repetitious well.

Recently, Lizzy Stetler posted a link to a series of five lectures by Tripp on Child Rearing. Marianne viewed the lectures and encouraged me to. The lectures are fabulous. I particularly resonated with his second lecture "Giving Kids a Vision for God's Glory." Powerful stuff!

I heartily recommend any dad (and mom) who is serious about inculcating a Christian worldview (modern term for Scripture's "wisdom") into their children to absorb all you can from these lectures.

Here are the links to the five lectures:
Session 1: The Call to Formative Instruction
Session 2: Giving Kids a Vision for God's Glory
Session 3: Helping Kids Understand Authority
Session 4: Helping Kids Understand the Heart
Session 5: Overview of Corrective Discipline

As usual, my recommendation does not constitute an endorsement of everything Tripp says. We are always responsible to search the Scriptures to verify the accuracy of any teaching.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

He is able ...

• to guard what I’ve deposited with Him δι᾽ ἣν αἰτίαν καὶ ταῦτα πάσχω• ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνομαι, οἶδα γὰρ ᾧ πεπίστευκα καὶ πέπεισμαι ὅτι δυνατός ἐστιν τὴν παραθήκην μου φυλάξαι εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν. (2 Tim. 1:12)

• to do exceedingly abundantly above what we are asking or thinking Τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα ἢ νοοῦμεν κατὰ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν (Eph. 3:20)

• to cause all grace to abound unto me. δυνατεῖ δὲ ὁ θεὸς πᾶσαν χάριν περισσεῦσαι εἰς ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν παντὶ πάντοτε πᾶσαν αὐτάρκειαν ἔχοντες περισσεύητε εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν, (2 Cor. 9:8)

• to help those who are being tested ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι. (Heb. 2:18)

• to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him. ὅθεν καὶ σῴζειν εἰς τὸ παντελὲς δύναται τοὺς προσερχομένους δι᾽ αὐτοῦ τῷ θεῷ, πάντοτε ζῶν εἰς τὸ ἐντυγχάνειν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν. (Heb. 7:25)

• to guard us from stumbling and present us blameless before his glory with great joy. Τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ φυλάξαι ὑμᾶς ἀπταίστους καὶ στῆσαι κατενώπιον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ἀμώμους ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει (Jude 1:24)

• to subdue all things to himself. ὃς μετασχηματίσει τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑποτάξαι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα. (Phil. 3:21)

• to heal blind eyes. ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς• πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ• ναὶ κύριε. τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν λέγων• κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν. (Matt. 9:28-29)

Lord Jesus, I rejoice that you are able! You are more than able to enable me with overcoming power, more than able to give victory again! I rejoice in your ability!

I'm really enjoying using Bagster's Daily Light in BibleWorks 8. This resource offers thematically selected Scripture readings for morning and evening. In BW 8, they can be read in Greek and Hebrew as well (see below).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

God sanctifies Himself (Ezek. 38:23)

Last Sunday I shared a SS lesson with the combined Adult and Young Adult classes at Burlington Bible Methodist Church. I attempted to answer three questions:
1. What does it mean for God to sanctify Himself (Ezek. 38:23)?
2. What does it mean for us to sanctify God?
3. How do the answers to the first two questions relate to the first petition of the Lord's pattern prayer, "Hallowed by thy name?"
In this post I share my answer to the first question. As I journeyed through all the OT texts on holiness, I was struck by the following verses.
Isaiah 5:16 But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will be sanctified in righteousness.

Ezekiel 20:41 "As a soothing aroma I will accept you when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I will be sanctified among you in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 28:22 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, And I will be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the LORD when I execute judgments in her, And I will be sanctified in her.

Ezekiel 28:25 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob.

Ezekiel 36:23 "I will sanctify My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I am sanctified among you in their sight.

Ezekiel 38:23 "I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the LORD."'

Ezekiel 39:27 "When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations.
"Sanctified" appears to have the same basic information component in reference to God that it does in reference to things or human persons: separateness or set apartness. God is sanctified when He acts in a way that clearly separates Him, i.e., distinguishes Him, from the pantheon of ANE gods.

His name had been profaned ("made common, ordinary") by the exile of Israel. From the standpoint of the watching world, Yahweh turned out to be no more powerful than any of the other gods that Nebuchadnezzar's military juggernaut had toppled. Yahweh was, in fact, less power than the Babylonian gods, because the Babylonian gods had empowered Nebuchadnezzar to capture His city and destroy His temple.

This is what Yahweh will not tolerate: being made to look ordinary. Thus he promises that He will sanctify Himself (distinguish Himself from all others), magnify Himself (demonstrate His greatness to the world), and make Himself known in the sight of many nations (Ezek. 38:23) by bringing Israel back from exile and reestablishing her in her land.

The statement that he "is sanctified in righteousness" (Isa. 5:16) deserves special attention. Righteousness in Hebrew, contrary to what many theological word books say, is "conformity to a standard." I am convinced that Lev. 19:35-36 and Deut. 25:13-15 provide the key texts for understanding what it means for something to be righteous: it measures up to the standard under consideration. A righteous scale is one that weighs a pound as a pound and not as a 1.5 lbs or .75 lbs. Righteousness in persons is their conformity to whatever standard is under consideration.

Righteousness in God is God's conformity to His own standards, i.e., His self-consistency. Since God's character sets the standard for righteous behavior in human morals, since character is the standard to which He always adhere. And this is one of the things that sanctifies Him, i.e., sets Him apart and establishes His incomparableness. If the ANE gods were anything, they were fickle and perfidious. This is precisely the opposite of the character of Yahweh. He is righteous in all His ways.

When we pray the first petition of the Lord's prayer, one of the things we are asking God to do is act in the world in a way that clearly manifests the unique excellence of His character and being thereby distinguishing Himself, setting Himself apart, from all others "gods."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Discovery: 1 Peter 1:16 quotes Leviticus 19

I was sitting in chapel a month ago and Dad was doing a great job preaching 1 Peter 1:13-16. This is a great text that demonstrates that NT apostles understood the Pentateuch to provide immediately applicable commands for NT believers.

Verse 16 is Peter's quotation from Leviticus that buttresses his apostolic injunction to be holy in all your conduct: because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."

I was sitting there with my copy of Biblia Sacra (combined Hebrew & Greek Bible), and I noticed the Greek syntax of the quotation placed "holy" in an emphatic position: ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιός.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to look at the syntax of the Hebrew text in the places in Leviticus where this statement is made (Lev. 11:44, 45; 19:2; cf. Lev. 20:7). What struck me as I looked is that Leviticus 19:2 is the only place where the Hebrew syntax exactly matches the Greek syntax of 1 Peter 1:16.

וִהְיִיתֶ֣ם קְדֹשִׁ֔ים כִּ֥י קָד֖וֹשׁ אָ֑נִי (Lev. 11:44)
וִהְיִיתֶ֣ם קְדֹשִׁ֔ים כִּ֥י קָד֖וֹשׁ אָֽנִי׃ (Lev. 11:45)
קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ (Lev. 19:2)

What further piqued my interest was that Peter's "in all your conduct" fits Lev. 19 much better than it fits Lev. 11. Leviticus 11:44 is part of the conclusion of a section on clean and unclean foods and is followed by a chapter on purification of women after childbirth.

I have been slowly memorizing and meditating on Leviticus 19 for about 6 months. I had come to the conclusion that God's "be holy for I am holy" in v. 2 is not merely one command in a list of commands, but is the key command that controls the entire chapter.

Specifically, fearing one's parents (v. 3), keeping His sabbaths (v. 3), rejecting idolatry (v. 4), worshiping God according to His specifications (vv. 5-8), caring for foreigners and the needy (9-10), not stealing or lying (v. 11), not swearing falsely (v. 12), loving your neighbor (v. 18) ... in fact the entire chapter is an explication of what it means to be holy "in all conduct."

I couldn't wait for chapel to be over so I could go check the LXX to see if, in fact, the variations in Hebrew syntax had been maintained in Lev. 11 and 19. I was a bit disappointed to find that it wasn't.

Lev 11:44 ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε ὅτι ἅγιός εἰμι ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν
Lev 11:45 ἔσεσθε ἅγιοι ὅτι ἅγιός εἰμι ἐγὼ κύριος
Lev 19:2 ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιος κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν
1 Pe 1:16 ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἅγιός

In Leviticus 11:44, the LXX doesn't reflect the Hebrew syntax and places "holy" before "you shall be." So ... the syntax really doesn't decide the question of what text Peter was quoting. I suspect that those identifying cross-references just picked Lev. 11:44 because it was the first place this command occurs. However, I did notice that the syntax of 1 Peter 1:16 does perfectly match Lev. 19:2 as far as it goes.

Bottom line: Both the syntax and the context of Leviticus 19 make it a much better fit as a proof text for Peter's command to "be holy in all your conduct."

Application: In AL this week, I preached a two part message on 1 Peter 1:14-16 and Leviticus 19:1-18. Lev. 19:15-18 was a message all of its own, and, wow, what a powerful text on holy living! In fact, even though conduct is on front stage of this chapter, vv. 17-18 powerfully demonstrate that the holiness God wants from His people has always been a heart holiness that manifests itself in one's life.

To be holy as God is holy is to have the same excellence of character and conduct distinguishing us from the world that distinguishes God from all others gods.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Deut. 6:6-7 -- Train them when you sit, walk, lie down, get up ... what am I supposed to say?

In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God says,
6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The KJV of v. 7 reads, "thou shalt teach them diligently." When I think of teaching, I think primarily of a setting where one person imparts information to others who do not have that information.

That needs to happen, but it isn't what God is talking about in this the classic passage on child training.
The word translated "teach" in the KJV means "repeat." By using the word repeat God focuses on the method of instruction, not on the instruction itself.

Every teacher knows repetition aids learning. The Master Teacher commands parents to repeat His words (contextually, the Ten Words which are the Ten Commandments) to their children, not just daily, but all throughout the day.

I'm trying to take this to heart. So, my kids have learned the Ten Commandments Song, and Allan can accurately quote them and identify them by number. At almost five, he's showing a fairly decent understanding of what they mean.

But does Deut. 6:6-7 mean I'm supposed to quote the Ten Commandments at least four times each day to my kids? Three considerations suggest a negative answer to that question.
  1. If there is any repetitive distillation of biblical wisdom that expounds the implications of God's Ten Words, it is the Book of Proverbs. Yet, Proverbs is far from being dull, monotonous, or inartistic. Its literary variety in vocabulary, syntax, and structure make its repetitions interesting and lively. Proverbs is, in fact, an explicit biblical model for parental obedience to Deut. 6:6-7. Say it over and over, but beware unvaried pattern.
  2. The Ten Words themselves are actually applications of the two greatest words God has given us: Love God wholeheartedly, and love your neighbor as yourself. In and on these two commands hangs all God desires from us. Therefore, our daily repetitions must include them, flow from them, and point to them.
  3. Although the Ten Words are the immediate context of Deut. 6:6-7, the entire book is a restatement of God's Torah (instructions) for His people. God promises success and blessing to those to memorize and meditate upon, not merely the Ten Words, but the totality of His Torah (Josh. 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3, etc.)
That means that the totality of God's word is to be the repeated object of conversation with our children when they rise, walk with us, sit with us, and when they go to bed. ... The problem is where to start.

Here's a few of the things I've been doing to implement God's method of child training. I welcome your ideas as well.
  • I started quoting Psalm 23 (with appropriate hand motions) when I put the boys to bed. Thanks to Mark Cravens for this idea. Psalm 23 lead to Psalm 1 which has lead to Psalm 19--what I'm currently working on.
  • When we eat breakfast together, Marianne or I play Scripture off Allan's favorite is the entire book of Jonah. But we vary the texts.
  • Sunday we have nearly 2 hours of driving time in the car. So I am putting together a family radio program that is a mix of Scripture, children's songs (1, 2), familiar hymns (1, 2), and children's stories. This is also a part of my attempt to make the Sabbath a special day for the boys.
  • We memorize verses during family worship.
I was reading William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life this afternoon. Chapter 18 is well-worth a parent's time reading, especially dads. Starting on p. 147 of the pdf version, William Law introduces "Paternus," a father who talks to his 10 year old son about God. I was struck by the solid, Scriptural advice Paternus gives his son. In fact, I intend to incorporate some of it (in modernized English) into my repertoire of key truths I want to inculcate in my sons. Here are a couple samples:
Aspire after nothing but your own purity and perfection, and have no ambition, but to do everything in so reasonable and religious a manner, that you may be glad that God is everywhere present, and sees and observes all your actions.
I can bring you food and medicines, but have no power to turn them into your relief and nourishment. It is God alone that can do this for you. Therefore, my child, fear, and worship, and love God. Your eyes, indeed, cannot yet see Him. But all things that you see are so many marks of His power and presence, and He is nearer to you than anything that you can see. Take Him for your Lord, and Father, and Friend, look up unto Him as the fountain and cause of all the good that you have received through my hands; and reverence me only as the bearer and minister of God's good things unto you. And He that blessed my father before I was born, will bless you when I am dead.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Reader's Hebrew Bible: Appendix A Available For Download

Zondervan has given me permission to make Appendix A--the glossary containing all words occurring over 100x-- available as a free download. I have formatted the document so that it can be printed double-sided as a booklet. For the booklet version click here:

If the booklet format is too hard to figure out how to print (it can be difficult), you can download a full-pageversion which you can then print in whatever way you prefer. For the full-page version click here:

Tole, Lege!
Philip Brown