Thursday, March 25, 2021

Mary, Another Redeemer?

Roman Catholic Pope Francis weighed in on the debate over the question of whether Mary is a co-redemptrix (link to Vatican site):

Christ is the Mediator, Christ is the bridge that we cross to turn to the Father (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2674). He is the only Redeemer: there are no co-redeemers with Christ. He is the only one. He is the Mediator par excellence. He is the Mediator. Each prayer we raise to God is through Christ, with Christ and in Christ and it is fulfilled thanks to his intercession. The Holy Spirit extends Christ’s mediation through every time and every place: there is no other name by which we can be saved: Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and humanity (see Acts 4:12).

After several other remarks, Francis continued:

Jesus extended Mary’s maternity to the entire Church when He entrusted her to his beloved disciple shortly before dying on the cross. From that moment on, we have all been gathered under her mantle, as depicted in certain medieval frescoes or paintings. Even the first Latin antiphon – sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genitrix: the Madonna who ‘covers’, like a Mother, to whom Jesus entrusted us, all of us; but as a Mother, not as a goddess, not as co-redeemer: as Mother. It is true that Christian piety has always given her beautiful titles, as a child gives his or her mamma: how many beautiful things children say about their mamma whom they love so much! How many beautiful things. But we need to be careful: the things the Church, the Saints, say about her, beautiful things, about Mary, subtract nothing from Christ’s sole Redemption. He is the only Redeemer. They are expressions of love like a child for his or her mamma – some are exaggerated. But love, as we know, always makes us exaggerate things, but out of love.

That said, Francis is not a Protestant.  He concluded:  

Prayers said to her are not in vain. The Woman who said “yes”, who promptly welcomed the Angel’s invitation, also responds to our supplications, she hears our voices, even those that remain closed in our hearts that haven’t the strength to be uttered but which God knows better that we ourselves do. She listens as Mother. Just like, and more than, every good mother, Mary defends us from danger, she is concerned about us even when we are concentrated on our own things and lose a sense of the way, and when we put not only our health in danger, but also our salvation. Mary is there, praying for us, praying for those who do not pray. To pray with us. Why? Because she is our Mother.

I will save my critical comments for another time.  I think this represents a setback for the movement to give the title "co-redemptrix" to Mary, but those who are in favor of that will presumably say that (1) this is just a general audience not an exercise of papal infallibility and (2) what they mean by co-redemptrix is somehow consistent with Francis' statements.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Verbs and Biblical Exegesis - Two Examples

I recently came across the following paragraph that captures an issue that turns out to be significant for exegesis as it relates to Calvinism and also to Hell.

Any event can be construed from a variety of perspectives. While this flexibility is fundamental to human ingenuity, it poses a challenge for language learners who must discern which meanings are encoded in their language and by which forms. The papers in this dissertation focus on verbs encoding directed motion (e.g., a girl runs into a house) and caused change-of-state events (e.g., a boy blows out candles). Both classes of events can be expressed by verbs that lexicalize different components of the event, namely Manner-of-motion (e.g., run) or Path (e.g., enter), and Means (e.g., blow) or Effect (e.g., extinguish), respectively.

Amy Celine Geojo, "Breaking and Entering: Verb Semantics and Event Structure," Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (2015), p. iii (bold and underline added, italics original)(link).

While there are numerous verbs encoding directed motion and caused change-of-state events in Scripture, and an even larger number of associated nouns, there are two particular cases that I have noticed in the last few years that seem significant to controversies.

A first case is found in Matthew 25:46:

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

In this case, "punishment," is a noun taken from the verb kolázō (κολάζω).

The verb as such is only used twice in the New Testament, once in Acts and once in 2 Peter 2:9:

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Interestingly enough, these refer to the same thing.  The punishment that is judicially assigned at the day of judgment mentioned in 2 Peter 2:9 is the "everlasting punishment" mentioned in Matthew 25:46.  The verb, punish, refers to the carrying out of the action, rather than the conclusion of the action.  Even if it can have other uses (and perhaps it can), when the noun form is tied to an adjective that expresses duration (everlasting in the phrase, into punishment everlasting - εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον) it becomes clear that what is in mind is an unending punishment - an action of punishing that goes on and on and on forever.  The verb "punish" (at least in this context) is more like the verb "blow" than it is like the verb "extinguish."

The reason for this difference is that the verbal focus is on the actor and action rather than on the acted-on person and the result.  In the case of "blow" and "punish" it is the action that is the focus of the verb, as distinct from "extinguish" or "kill," where it is the result of the action that is the focus of the verb.  While blowing and extinguishing may be descriptions of the same birthday cake event, the emphasis is different.  

A second case is found in John 6:44: 

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The verb to "draw" here is more like "extinguish" than "blow."  It conveys a result, rather than simply an action in progress.  The Greek verb, helkuo (ἕλκω), is used eight times in the New Testament.  Normally it is used of a force that accomplishes the movement intended.

In English we see this difference more clearly encoded in the difference (in English) between "pull" and "drag."  The former implies the process, the latter implies the result.  If you are pulling something and it is not moving, you're not dragging it.

We sometimes express that difference with the use of prepositions functioning as particles.  For example, to "pull out" a tooth implies motion of the object in the verb itself.  If you yank on a tooth but it doesn't move, you didn't pull it out.  By contrast, to "pull on" something only implies the exertion of force, not any resultant motion.  You could pull on a tooth without pulling out the tooth.

God willing, I will post again soon to discuss the use of helkuo in Septuagint Nehemiah.





Friday, September 18, 2020

Rebuttal Thoughts - Romans 9 Debate

These will not make a lot of sense without the context of the debate, and I may pull this post shortly.

The main counter-point to consider is this: what does God take credit for?  The short answer: everything.  Remember how all things work together for good to those who are the called?  The same point is bookended at the end of Romans 11.


Romans 9:14 - Jewish objector or Arminian Objector

Actually, it's neither.  It's a Roman objector.  That said, it's more important what the objection is, and what's behind it, as well as how it's answered.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

What's the thrust of the objection? The thrust of the objection is that God is showing favoritism.  The answer is, it's not unjust because God is the one who decides these things.  Paul doesn't back away from the claim - he doubles down on it.

What about the claim that what the Jews got wrong was confusing law and promise? Well, is that what Paul answers? Not here.  Instead, what God answers is the challenge to his righteousness for picking some. The answer is: God can do what God wants to do.


Romans 9:15-16 Salvation vs. Unconditional Individual Election

It is a false dichotomy, since Election is what leads to salvation, as we've previously established.  Moreover, it is a consideration of things ex ante - namely from before they occur, as especially comes out in vs. 17.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.


Notice as well that when it comes to the objection about "who has resisted God's will," how would that mesh with the supposed thread about confusing law and promise? It wouldn't.  

It does, however, align with preceding point properly understood about God's authority to do what God wants.

Thus, when God makes the pottery illustration it is to affirm his absolute right to do with mankind as God wishes.

Romans 9:17-23 Hardening vs. Unconditional Reprobation

Once again, we are dealing in false dichotomy.  Also, there is an asymmetry between election and reprobation that the heading does not reflect.  Even setting that aside, since reprobation is the source of the hardening - in other words God takes credit for it - the dichotomy is false.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

9:24  οὓς καὶ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς οὐ μόνον ἐξ Ἰουδαίων ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἐθνῶν

What does the "ek" there mean? It's that the calling is not universal, it is particular.  And that connects us back to the previous discussions.

As a side note, I do find it interesting how often non-Calvinists will go to Jeremiah 18 simply because it also mentions a potter and clay.

The similarities and differences chart was interesting, but missed the main point.

"Although willing" as concessive? 

9:22  εἰ δὲ θέλων ὁ θεὸς ἐνδείξασθαι τὴν ὀργὴν καὶ γνωρίσαι τὸ δυνατὸν αὐτοῦ ἤνεγκεν ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ σκεύη ὀργῆς κατηρτισμένα εἰς ἀπώλειαν

This seems to be based on the English use of "I'm willing to," as distinct from the Greek use of thelo.



Exegetical Thoughts on Romans 9:14-33

Romans 9:14-33, gets us into the meat of the tangent Paul is providing. Remember that in Romans 8, we saw Paul set forth the idea of God's unbreakable love.  In Romans 9:1-13, we saw Paul beginning to address the objection that God's love broke or failed as applied to the Israelites. Paul's response was to deny the objection and assert that instead God chose some of Israel rather than other.

This leads us to the objections that are always raised against God's sovereignty and unconditional election.  The first objection is that there is some kind of injustice with God.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 

Paul answers this objection by describing God's love as mercy, while denying that is based on human merit.  This is the very definition of unconditional election.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 

Notice that God takes all the credit and places all the determination of God's choice in God.  God does not simply say, "it is not by running, or by willing," God says is it is not of him who wills or him who runs.  Yes, in Greek "him" is not a separate word, but is conveyed by the verb conjugation.  Nevertheless, what is the bigger point is that it is not of that person, but of God who shows mercy.

Paul then presents the point negatively:

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Thus, God takes credit for mercy and also for hardening.  This leads to one of the most common objections to so-called determinism:

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

If God shows mercy to some and hardens others, how is that fair?

Paul responds:

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Paul's analogy of choice is to compare us to pottery, with God as the potter.  If there is one thing that does not have "libertarian free will," it is a pot.  People sometimes mock the doctrines of grace by saying that turn humans into robots that cannot resist God's will, but simply follow their programming.  There weren't robots in Paul's day (that we know of), but pots are - if anything - a step below them.  Paul could have used a sheep analogy as is often used elsewhere in Scripture, but instead the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to compare us to pottery.

There was Scriptural precedent for this.  Isaiah 64:8, as part of a longer prayer, describes Israel as the clay and God as the potter.  Jeremiah 18 also use a pottery analogy. Psalm 2:9, Isaiah 30:14, and Jeremiah 19:11 compare people to pottery in the context of destruction. Lamentations 4:2  

But in fact, this is a quotation from Isaiah 29:16.

Isa 29:15-16

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

We see the same point Paul is making in the intertestamental Jewish book of Wisdom (aka Wisdom of Solomon 15:7:

Wisdom of Solomon 15:7 For the potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise also all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge.

Likewise, a similar point is made in another intertestamental Jewish book, Ecclesiasticus 33:13:

Ecclesiasticus 33:13 As the clay is in the potter's hand, to fashion it at his pleasure: so man is in the hand of him that made him, to render to them as liketh him best.

It seems apparent to me that the authors of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus were drawing on the inspired analogy in Isaiah and elsewhere to affirm God's absolute sovereignty over humanity.

In any event, however, the point Paul is making is the same.  God decides what use each person is put to: whether they are put to the use of being vessels of mercy or whether they are put to the purpose of being vessels of destruction, it is all up to God.  It's not as though one lump of clay is more suited to one than the other, or as though God forsees what he will make of the lump and makes it that way because he forsaw what He would do (what an absurdity that would be!).

Paul confirms that God is indeed exercising his sovereignty, that God prophesied he would do this, and that this extends both to the salvation of the Gentile and the falling away of the Jews:

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. 27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

Notice that God's love is back in the picture "beloved, which was not beloved."

Notice that God is taking credit for the change: "he will finish the work" "a short work will the Lord make upon the earth" and "the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed".  This also fits well with the unconditional election mentioned again regarding the remnant in Romans 11.

Paul then begins to introduce salvation by faith, as distinct from works of the law.  Paul introduces the questions 

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

In Romans 10, Paul will go on to explain the principle of salvation by faith as distinct from obedience to the law.  Then Paul will encounter the objection that everyone hears the gospel, but not everyone has faith.  He will end up, in Romans 11, giving God the credit for this as well.

It's important to recognize this overall trajectory.  Salvation is by grace, through faith. At the same time, God is still taking credit.  God laid a stumblingstone, not a stairway or a ladder.

Some of the next discussion about faith may seem to place things back on man.

Rom 10:13

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται

Literally, for all those calling upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Paul makes it sound so easy that the question about Israel comes back:

Rom 10:18

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Then Paul increases the temperature of the discussion:

Rom 10:19-21

But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

This leads to Paul reiterating the point raised earlier in the beginning of Romans 9 and Romans 10 at the start of Romans 11:

Rom 11:1-6 

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Notice that contrary to what we may hear from those who object to the doctrines of grace, they were not the remnant because they didn't bow the knee, they didn't bow the knee because they were remnant - a remnant according to God's choice by grace, not works.   

This leads to Paul concluding Romans 11 in these words:

Rom 11:25-36

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.¶

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

The last portion is especially reminiscent of Isaiah:

 Isa 40:13-17

Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Exegetical Thoughts on Romans 9:6-13

Romans 9:6-13

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Now Paul answers the objection that God's word failed or was ineffectual.  His solution is simple: he distinguishes between physical Israel and spiritual Israel.  Physical Israel would be his brethren according to the flesh.  Spiritual Israel, however, are the "children of the promise." 

The promise is a theme that Paul developed back in Romans 4:13-22:

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

The children of the promise, therefore, is a reference to the children promised to Abraham. Moreover, keep in mind the point that what God promises, God performs.  Abraham may have brought Ishmael, but God brought Isaac.  Thus, the children of promise have a specific connection to God's work, as distinct from human work.

Paul proves that the promised children are not simply the children according to the flesh in two ways:

  • Isaac, not Ishmael, was the child of promise
  • Jacob, not Esau, was the child of promise

Ishmael was the child that Abraham conceived with Hagar.  Isaac, however, was promised by God to Sarah.  It is not exactly the same promise of being "heir of the world," but it was a part of that.  

Likewise, even while they were in the womb, God made a promise to Rebecca that Esau (the elder) would serve the younger (Jacob).

Moreover, this distinction between Esau and Jacob was based on God's love, returning to the theme we were given in Romans 8.  Paul quotes a couplet from Malachi 1.  The point Paul is making is clear, namely that God loved one brother rather than the other brother from before their birth and not based on what they were going to do.

Some have suggested that the portion of Malachi 1 quoted by Paul relates to the nations of Israel and Edom, as those nations are addressed in the the context there.  

Malachi 1:1-5

1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.

In this passage God is speaking directly to Israel.  Israel complains that God doesn't love them, and God contradicts that.  God uses Edom as a counter-illustration.  God says that although Edom is optimistic about their future, God will make a negative example of them. In the process, God points back to the original brothers: Jacob and Esau.  God says he loved Jacob and hated Esau.  

Paul quotes the same words as are found in the Septuagint, but the Septuagint and the Masoretic Hebrew text have the same meaning here. The Hebrew verb for hated has a perfect aspect, while the verb for loved apparently has an imperfect aspect, while the Greek uses the aorist in both cases.  Our English translation of Romans 9 uses perfect for both and our English translation of Malachi 1 uses past for both of them.  The main takeaway here is that the precise form of the verb is not the key.

Instead, the key is - of course - Paul's usage of God's own statement in Malachi.  Paul is connecting God's love to God's choice about who will serve whom.  Furthermore, Paul is disconnecting that love and choice from the personal history of the brothers. One might argue that Edom got its desolation through its malfeasance.  On the other hand, Paul specifically says "the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil." The point of raising this is not to illustrate God's prescience.

We know that it is not about prescience, because Paul explains: "that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth." 

The critical distinction here between "works" and "him who calls" introduces election into the chain that we already say established and specifically prohibits the interpretation that it is about the one who responds.  

You may recall the golden chain:

(Preamble) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

(1) For whom he did foreknow, (ὅτι οὓς προέγνω )

(2) he also did predestinate (καὶ προώρισεν)

(3a) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς·)

(2) Moreover whom he did predestinate, (οὓς δὲ προώρισεν)

(3b) them he also called: and whom he called, (τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν)

(4) them he also justified: and whom he justified, (τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν)

(5) them he also glorified. (τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν)

You will notice that God's election, as such, as is not mentioned explicitly in the golden chain.

Now, however, we see the purpose of God mentioned again.  Before, it was explained that the calling was according to God's purpose.  Now, God's purpose is described as being "according to election."

The election in mind here is the selection of one or the other brother as the child of promise.  The children according to the promise are ultimately the children promised to Abraham, namely the children who are to be heirs of the world.  

The key aspect to notice is that the election is not of works, but of him who called.  It is also not "of him who responded to the call."  The point is that the election was conditional on God and God's love, not on the person being elected.

This will lead us to the objection that we are going to discuss next, about whether there is unrighteousness/injustice with God.  It is literally the most common objection to the idea of unconditional election, that it makes God unjust or unrighteous, since it is not conditioned on the person but instead on God.

As we mentioned when discussing Romans 9:1-5, the objection being framed here is ultimately also answered in Romans 11.  There Paul returns to the discussion of God's election.  In Romans 11:5, Paul calls it "the election of grace," meaning that the election is not based on human merit.  Likewise, in Romans 11:7, Paul demonstrates that the election is only about God, by contrasting, "Israel has not obtained ..." with "the election has obtained it" and further with "the rest were blinded."

In Romans 11:8 Paul gives God full credit for those who do not obtain it not obtaining it. 

While Paul then does discuss faith and unbelief, and provides proximate credit to their unbelief, in Romans 11:32, Paul makes it clear that God is behind it all: "God has concluded them all in unbelief...." It leads to Paul's glorious conclusion in Romans 11:36: "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

These are the same "all things" that work together for good to the called, which we can now also describe as the election, those who were predestined, those who were loved beforehand by God, not because of something in them, and not because of foreseen good deeds, but because of something in God.

Here we must reiterate that in the phrase, "the election has obtained it," the "election" is reference to people.  People obtain something.  The "election," therefore, is not simply the plan of salvation Sola Fide, though God certainly did choose that.  The election are the people God chose.

We saw a first reference to them back in Romans 8:33: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"  Thus, in the context of Romans 9, we see election of people (not plans) in mind.

As we discussed in the context of Romans 8, when addressing the issue of foreknowledge in the plan of salvation, foreknowledge is the basis of election. 1 Peter 1:2 says, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father ..." as we discussed before.

The harmonization of these various strands is unconditional election.  God, out of love of us before our creation - and without consideration of our individual merit - chose some people to be the children of promise, and others he "hated."  Election of people leads to their active, powerful calling, which leads to their justification, and ultimately their glorification.

Some may say that calling is never irresistable.  I cannot agree with this claim.  Recall what is written in the Prophet:

Isa 45:4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

This discussion is part of Isaiah's announcement of Cyrus as well as one of the central claims of God's divinity.  Indeed, only a few verses later we find part of the inspiration for Paul's use of the potter analogy:

Isa 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

For the purposes of the passage we are considering now, however, the point is that calling is not necessarily at all about the response.  Calling someone a name is what God does or our parents do.  We can call ourselves a name (I'm an example of that), but God's calling is not something I have any control over.  Calling myself "TurretinFan" doesn't change the name my parents gave me, nor does it change the name God gives me - the surname of the family of God.

This is not a stretch, because we see it in the direct context:

Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Notice that the calling here has nothing to do with Isaac's response.  It's all about God and God's claim.  

Later in the chapter, we will see the same thing:

Rom 9:24-25

Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

We need to discard the inserted idea that the "calling" mentioned is simply the gospel call. To "call them my people," is not simply to preach the gospel.  To call Isaac (as distinct form his half-brothers) the child of promise is more than just inviting him to take some further action.

No, God's calling in this context is a calling of power.  It is God taking what God wants.  It is God saying, "these are mine."

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Textual Variant Consideration - Romans 9:1-13

The most surprising differences between the KJV and ESV in Romans 9:1-13 are two places where the ESV is actually longer than the KJV reading: "and cut off" in Romans 9:3 and "next year" in Romans 9:9. While there is a slight difference between the NA28 (link) reading and the TR reading at Romans 9:3, the phrase "and cut off" is not in the Greek.  Likewise, "next year" is also not in the Greek.  The meaning is not significantly altered, but it is interesting to note these free additions without manuscript support.

There is also a difference worth noting at verse 7.


9 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

9 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 


2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 


3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 

ESV includes "and cut off," which the KJV omits.


4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 

KJV has "service of God" where ESV has "worship"  The ESV seems to be a better reading here, as "of God" is not in the Greek and "service" is less precise than "worship."  The meaning is not significantly different.


5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.


6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,


7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

ESV has "named" instead of "called," which may seem like a trivial point.  Likewise, the ESV uses "offspring" instead of "seed," which is a trivial matter here.  The word here, a form of kaleo (κληθήσεταί), is the same in the TR and NA28.  It is valuable to use "called" instead of "named" from the standpoint of making the connection back to chapter 8.  On the other hand, the point of "named," is interesting from the standpoint of its focus on the the person doing the action.  Applying this same principle back to chapter 8, it makes good sense in connection with a call that is effectual.  The difference between "seed" and "offspring" is of greater significance when considering Paul's use of a similar theme in Galatians.


8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 


9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 

ESV includes "next year," which the KJV omits.


10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 


11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—


12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 


13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”



Romans 9:1-5 - Exegetical Thoughts

 Romans 9:1-5 

9 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Here, in a passage that affirms the hypostatic union (vs. 5), Paul sets up an objection (see vs. 6) to the passage that comes before (8:28-39, esp. 38-39).  After all, Paul has just suggested that all things work together for good to those who are the called and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. What about the bulk of the Jewish people in Paul's day? 

In Romans 9:1-5, Paul acknowledges that most of the Jews of his day are lost, despite having received many blessings from God.  These are people that Paul cares about -- not just because they are fellow human beings, but because they are his relatives.  Moreover, of all the nations on earth, up to that point they had received the greatest spiritual blessings.  If everything works together for good, and if nothing can separate us from the love of God, then how could this befall the nation of Israel?

Paul will return to this point and objection at the start of Romans 11:

Romans 11:1-10

11 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

What follows in Romans 9-10 is connected to this objection, in one way or another.  We are about to discuss Romans 9 in more detail, but Romans 10 itself also picks up the same theme from a different angle:

Romans 10:1-3

10 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Romans 8 and the Westminster Confession

 The Westminster Confession was adopted without proof texts.  Nevertheless, it was sent back to the Assembly to include proof texts.  Accordingly, the Assembly did include proof texts after the fact -- not as though the doctrines were not based on Scripture, but simply because that format of the Confession was not the original vision.  The proof texts were not subject to the same level of debate as the text, and consequently one should be very careful about putting too much weight on the interrelationship between the text of the Confession and the associated proof texts.

That said, it is interesting to see how often Romans 8 was selected and for which points of doctrine.  In the following, I've highlighted references to Romans 8:28 and following, though there were additional references to the first half of the chapter.

Some of the uses will not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the Calvinism/Arminianism debate.  The passage relates to God's Eternal Decree, to Providence, to Effectual Calling, and to Perseverance of the Saints.  What may be of greater interest is the passage's relationship to consolation.  WCF III(VIII) explains: "So shall this doctrine afford matter ... of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel," citing Romans 8 among other passages.

Chapter III. Of God's Eternal Decree

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,(i) out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto:(k) and all to the praise of His glorious grace.(l)

(i) Eph. 1:4, 9, 11; Rom. 8:30; II Tim. 1:9; I Thess. 5:9.
(k) Rom. 9:11, 13, 16; Eph. 1:4, 9.
(l) Eph. 1:6, 12.

VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto.(m) Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,(n) are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,(o) and kept by His power through faith, unto salvation.(p) Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.(q)

(m) I Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:4, 5; Eph. 2:10; II Thess. 2:13.
(n) I Thess. 5:9, 10; Titus 2:14.
(o) Rom. 8:30; Eph. 1:5; II Thess. 2:13.
(p) I Pet. 1:5.
(q) John 17:9; Rom. 8:28 to the end; John 6:64, 65; John 10:26; John 8:47; I John 2:19.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,(s) that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.(t) So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,(u) and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.(w)

(s) Rom. 9:20; Rom. 11:33; Deut. 29:29.
(t) II Pet. 1:10.
(u) Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:33.
(w) Rom. 11:5, 6, 20; II Pet. 1:10; Rom. 8:33; Luke 10:20.

Chapter V. Of Providence.

VII. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner, it taketh care of His Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.(c)

(c) I Tim. 4:10; Amos 9:8, 9; Rom. 8:28; Isa. 43:3, 4, 5, 14.

Chapter VIII. Of Christ the Mediator.

IV. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake;(x) which that He might discharge, He was made under the law,(y) and did perfectly fulfil it,(z) endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,(a) and most painful sufferings in His body;(b) was crucified, and died;(c) was buried, and remained under the power of death; yet saw no corruption.(d) On the third day He arose from the dead,(e) with the same body in which He suffered,(f) with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of His Father,(g) making intercession,(h) and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.(i)

(x) Ps. 40:7, 8 with Heb. 10:5 to 10; John 10:18; Phil. 2:8.
(y) Gal. 4:4.
(z) Matt. 3:15; Matt. 5:17.
(a) Matt. 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46.
(b) Matt. 26, 27 chapters.
(c) Phil. 2:8.
(d) Acts. 2:23, 24, 27; Acts 13:37; Rom. 6:9.
(e) I Cor. 15:3, 4.
(f) John 20:25, 27.
(g) Mark 16:19.
(h) Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; Heb. 7:25.
(i) Rom. 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; Acts 10:42; Matt. 13:40, 41, 42; Jude ver. 6; II Pet. 2:4.

VIII. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same,(p) making intercession for them,(q) and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation,(r) effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit;(s) overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.(t)

(p) John 6:37, 39; John 10:15, 16.
(q) I John 2:1, 2; Rom. 8:34.
(r) John 15:13, 15; Eph. 1:7, 8, 9; John 17:6.
(s) John 14:26; Heb. 12:2; II Cor. 4:13; Rom. 8:9, 14; Rom. 15:18, 19; John 17:17.
(t) Ps. 110:1; I Cor. 15:25, 26; Mal. 4:2, 3; Col. 2:15.

Chapter X. Of Effectual Calling.

I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time effectually to call,(a) by His Word and Spirit,(b) out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;(c) enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,(d) taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh;(e) renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power determining them to that which is good,(f) and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:(g) yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.(h)

(a) Rom. 8:30; Rom. 11:7; Eph. 1:10, 11.
(b) II Thess. 2:13, 14; II Cor. 3:3, 6.
(c) Rom. 8:2; Eph. 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; II Tim. 1:9, 10.
(d) Acts 26:18; I Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17, 18.
(e) Ezek. 36:26.
(f) Ezek. 11:19; Phil. 2:13; Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27.
(g) Eph. 1:19; John 6:44, 45.
(h) Cant. 1:4; Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16, 17, 18.

Chapter XI. Of Justification.

I. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth;(a) not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,(b) they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.(c)

(a) Rom. 8:30; Rom. 3:24.
(b) Rom. 4:5, 6, 7, 8; II Cor. 5:19, 21; Rom. 3:22, 24, 25, 27, 28; Tit. 3:5, 7; Eph. 1:7; Jer. 23:6; I Cor. 1:30, 31; Rom. 5:17, 18, 19.
(c) Acts 10:43; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:19; Acts 13:38, 39; Eph. 2:7, 8.

III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf.(f) Yet, inasmuch as He was given by the Father for them;(g) and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;(h) and both freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace;(i) that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God, might be glorified in the justification of sinners.(k)

(f) Rom. 5:8, 9, 10, 19; I Tim. 2:5, 6; Heb. 10:10, 14; Dan. 9:24, 26; Isa. 53:4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12.
(g) Rom. 8:32.
(h) II Cor. 5:21; Matt. 3:17; Eph. 5:2.
(i) Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7.
(k) Rom. 3:26; Eph. 2:7.

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,(l) and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:(m) nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.(n)

(l) Gal. 3:8; I Pet. 1:2, 19, 20; Rom. 8:30.
(m) Gal. 4:4; I Tim. 2:6; Rom. 4:25.
(n) Col. 1:21, 22; Gal. 2:16; Tit. 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter XVII. Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

II. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father;(b) upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ;(c) the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them;(d) and the nature of the covenant of grace:(e) from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.(f)

(b) II Tim. 2:18, 19; Jer. 31:3.
(c) Heb. 10:10, 14; Heb. 13:20, 21; Heb. 9:12, 13, 14, 15; Rom. 8:33 to the end; John 17:11, 24; Luke 22:32; Heb. 7:25.
(d) John 14:16, 17; I John 2:27; I John 3:9.
(e) Jer. 32:40.
(f) John 10:28; II Thess. 3:3; I John 2:19.

Chapter XX. Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience.

I. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the Gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law;(a) and, in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin;(b) from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grace, and everlasting damnation;(c) as also, in their free access to God,(d) and their yielding obedience unto Him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind.(e) All which were common also to believers under the law.(f) But, under the new testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged, in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected;(g) and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace,(h) and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.(i)

(a) Tit. 2:14; I Thess. 1:10; Gal. 3:13.
(b) Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:14.
(c) Rom. 8:28; Ps. 119:71; I Cor. 15:54, 55, 56, 57; Rom. 8:1.
(d) Rom. 5:1, 2.
(e) Rom. 8:14, 15; I John 4:18.
(f) Gal. 3:9, 14.
(g) Gal. 4:1, 2, 3, 6, 7; Gal. 5:1; Acts 15:10, 11.
(h) Heb. 4:14, 16; Heb. 10:19, 20, 21, 22.
(i) John 7:38, 39; II Cor. 3:13, 17, 18.



Origen on the Golden Chain

 Rufinus (d. 411) provided Latin translations of many of Origen's works, including his commentary on Romans (published in two volumes in the Fathers of the Church series).

Origen, of course, predates the Calvinism/Arminianism debate by more than a millenium.  Nevertheless, it is interesting to hear his comments on the text.  Origen agrees with my point that those who God foreknows are a specific group of people - a subset of humanity.

Origen makes a connection to 2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Likewise, Origen contrasts with Matthew 7:23:

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Of course, we affirm both the universal prescience of God as well as general omniscience, but there is an important sense in which God knowing or foreknowing refers to God's special love and care. 

Origen puts the challenge this way:

"He says, 'For those whom he foreknew he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.' Let us not pass over what he has said: 'he foreknew and predestined.' For I think that just as he has not said concerning everyone that they have been predestined, so he has not said concerning everyone, 'those whom he foreknew.' For not according to the common opinion of the multitude should it be thought that God foreknows good and evil, but we should think in accordance with the custom of Holy Scripture. For, let the person who is diligent in the Scriptures observe where he finds Scripture to say that God foreknows the evil, in the same way it plainly says in the present passage concerning the good, that 'those whom he foreknew and predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.' For if it is those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, and yet no evil man can be conformed to the image of the Son of God, then it is obvious that he is only speaking of the good, 'whom he foreknew and predestined to be conformed the image of his Son.' Of the others, however, God is said not only not to foreknow, but not even know them. For 'the Lord knows those who are his.' But to those who are not worthy to be known by God, the Savior says, 'Depart from me, because I have never known you, you workers of iniquity.' Therefore, in the same way, even in the present passage, whomever God foreknew he has also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son."

(Book 7, Chapter 8, section 7(5), FotC vol. 104, pp. 85-86)

Origen also expressly disagrees with the idea that to "foreknow" here means to foresee.  Origen expresses it this way:

"Above he said, 'Those whom he foreknew, these he also predestined.' Now he adds, 'And those whom he predestined, these he also called; and those whom he called, these he also justified.' And if we interpret 'foreknew' and 'predestined' in the general sense, it will surely seem that the one who is justified is justified because he has been called; and the one who has been called is called because he has been predestined; and the one who has been predestined is predestined because he has been foreknown. Yet once more, the contrary is to be understood. Whoever is not justified is not justified because he has not been called; and the reason anyone is not called is because he has not been predestined; and the reason one is not predestined is because he was not foreknown. And behold, into what an absurd interpretation would they fall who understand in this case the foreknowledge of God, as if only someone who knows beforehand what will come to pass afterwards. For through the things we have set forth above, it is found that God did not foreknow those whom he has not predestined. And again, if to this popular understanding is applied that which says that 'those whom he called, these he also justified,' we shall be opening a huge window to those who deny that it lies within man's power to be saved. For they say: If it is those whom God has foreknown that he has also predestined, and it is those whom he has predestined that he has also called, and it is those whom he called that he has also justified, those who are not justified are not to blame. For they were neither called, nor predestined, nor foreknown."

(Book 7, Chapter 8, section 8(2), FotC vol. 104, pp. 87-88)

Origen then immediately goes on to object that Judas was called but not justified, and certainly not glorified.

To resolve the tension that Origen sees in the text, Origen appeals to "And Adam knew his wife" (Genesis 4:1) and the description of Rebecca as "She was a virgin, a man had not known her." (Genesis 24:16).  Likewise, in a different sense, the sons of Levi were said to be punished because none of them "knew" his own father or mother (Deuteronomy 33:9). 

"Furthermore, you will discover many things said in the Scriptures about "knowing" with this sense; and therefore, it is established that in the present passage as well the Apostle had set down this word 'knowing' in accordance with the custom of Holy Scripture. His aim is to show that those who are foreknown by God are those upon whom God had placed his own love and affection because he knew what sort of persons they were."

(Book 7, Chapter 8, section 8(3), FotC vol. 104, pp. 89)

You will notice, I hope, that this is a slightly different understanding than I've proposed.  If anything, I would say that it would be more accurate to say that God had placed his own love and affection on them despite the fact that he knew what sort of persons they were.  

Ultimately, Origen is not a Calvinist nor a proto-Calvinist. Nevertheless, he is interesting because of his fluency in Greek, his nearness to the apostles, and the fact that he records people disagreeing over these sorts of issues already in his day.

When Origen encounters the choice of Jacob over Esau in chapter 9, he will be quick to agree that the election was not based on works done by the people.  Nevertheless, it seems as though Origen's resolution is that some people are better and more worthy by virtue of who they are.  That position also seems to fall short of the Apostle's doctrine.

Exegetical Thoughts on the Golden Chain in Romans 8

Our text for consideration today is Romans 8. The passage is a marvelously Trinitarian passage, with the activities of the Father, Son, and Spirit shown to be in harmony throughout.  The passage is part of a larger passage designed to comfort the Romans reading this letter, because the Trinity is on their side.

Romans 8:28-30
8:28  οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ εἰς ἀγαθόν τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν 29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς· 30  οὓς δὲ προώρισεν τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

The point of this text is that God works all things together for the good of the elect.  Not simply that they work together on their own, or in the abstract, but that they work together harmoniously because God is behind it.  From beginning to end, it is all God.

The chain begins with "foreknow." This verb (προέγνω, a form of the verb proginosko) is used five times in the New Testament, in four different forms.  The next use in Romans will come in chapter 11, when Paul wraps up his objection that he will first raise in Romans 9. 

Rom 11:2-8 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

Romans 11 is, of course, a few pages later in the letter.  That said, it's in the New Testament, in a book by the same human author, in the very same book as the text under discussion, and connecting to the discussion of Romans 9:1-6, which comes only a few verses after the "Golden Chain."  So, the usage in Romans 11 is more relevant than the usage in other books of the NT, books by other humans authors, and certainly then usage in books by uninspired writers.

In Romans 8 and in Romans 11, the object of foreknowledge is people.  The object is not deeds.  The object is not works.  The object is not faith.  In Romans 8, one might think that the issue is ambiguous.  After all, much of Romans is about the difference between obtaining salvation by faith as distinct from works.

Romans 11 puts that interpretation of Romans 8 to rest, because it explains that the election obtained and the rest were blinded, quoting from Isaiah 29:10, which states: "For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered."  We also see Paul's reliance on Isaiah 29 in Romans 9, where Paul borrows an analogy from Isaiah 29:16.

Now, the idea that the elect were foreknown because they were not blinded nor given the spirit of deep sleep is absurd.  God cast away people, yes, Paul admits, but God did not cast away those he foreknew, whom Paul equates with the elect.

The next New Testament usage, which is far less significant, is Luke's report of Paul's words in Acts 26, there, Luke records Paul as saying:

Act 26:4-5
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

This is plainly a very different usage of the word.  Paul is speaking about human knowledge, not divine knowledge.  On the other hand, one important grammatical point remains constant.  The object of the foreknowledge was Paul, the man.  In this case, it also rolls over into his deeds.  The point, however, is to call these people as character witnesses: people who had an intimate knowledge of him and were his close associates and friends from his youth.  They previously knew him, though now they are not acquainted with him.  

The next two usages of the verb foreknow are found in Peter's letters, one in each.  Peter writes:

1 Peter 1:19-20
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Some translations will translate the verb as "foreknown" here instead of "foreordained," but the consistent point is that it was Christ himself, the person, who was foreknown.

Finally, in his second epistle, Peter writes:

2 Peter 3:17
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

Here we finally have an example of knowing things, rather than people.  It's certainly a different usage, but it shows that the object of foreknowledge can be things, rather than people, even though it is always people in Paul's usage.

These are, of course, the five uses of proginosko (Strong's number 4267) as distinct from prognosis (4268).

Prognosis (4268) is used twice, both times by Peter, once as reported by Luke in Acts: 

Act 2:23
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

In this instance, Christ is said to have been delivered by God's counsel and foreknowledge.  The object of the foreknowledge is not explicit in this verse. Nevertheless, it is grammatically parallel with God's counsel.  Thus, it logically precedes the events to which it relates, rather than logically following them.

And prognosis is used once in Peter's first epistle:

1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

This incredibly Trinitarian passage, provides a triple action of God: election according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ.

Once again, in this passage, foreknowledge cannot refer to foreknowledge of the actions of the people, because the foreknowledge leads to the election, which leads to the other things, including obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ.

Returning to the golden chain passage, we see this progression:

(1) For whom he did foreknow, (ὅτι οὓς προέγνω )
(2) he also did predestinate (καὶ προώρισεν)
(3a) to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς·)
(2) Moreover whom he did predestinate, (οὓς δὲ προώρισεν)
(3b) them he also called: and whom he called, (τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν· καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν)
(4) them he also justified: and whom he justified, (τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν· οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν)
(5) them he also glorified. (τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν)

The discussion hinges largely on the question of foreknowledge.  In this text itself, it seems clear that the object of foreknowledge is people.  After all, it is not foreseen actions that are glorified, nor foreseen actions that are justified, nor foreseen actions that are called.  It is not foreseen actions that are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son.  Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that foreknowledge is a knowledge of the person in advance, not a vision of their future action.

After all, vision of their future actions runs into immediate conflict with link (3a) of the chain.  Their actions are predestinated.  In particular, they are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son.

Notice as well that even in this passage designed to comfort the Romans, Paul points to the adoption of sons (something he had mentioned earlier in the passage) as having the objection of providing many brethren for Jesus.  The purpose is not to reward those who are foreseen as being more deserving (or less deserving) or to reward good and punish evil (though God certainly does do such things).  Instead, the purpose is God-centered, like everything else in salvation for Paul.

Returning to the point about foreknowledge, notice a point that is often overlooked in these discussions.  The same group that is mentioned in link (5) has to be the same group in link (4) and so on.  That extends all the way back to link (1).  God foreknows certain people, and not others.  This is one defeater for the argument that foreknowledge is foresight of faith, works, or anything else.  After all, those who God foreknows, he predestinates, but we do not claim God predestinates all. Universalism is wrong.

Moreover, this interpretation of the golden chain is confirmed by the verses that immediately follow:

Rom 8:31-39

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The point of the golden chain is the love of God.  Moreover, the use of the term "know" to mean "love" or the like is well within the semantic range of the word.  Paul's own usage in Acts 26, in a completely different context, confirms this kind of usage as reasonable for foreknow.  It's not controversial that Paul is talking about people who were close to him in that passage.  Likewise, it should not be controversial to accept that Paul is talking about God having an intimate love and connection with people that extends back.  

If Romans 8:31-39 is an explanation of the passage that precedes it, then the most logical understanding of foreknowledge in Romans 8:29 is of God loving certain particular people.  After all, if we were merely speaking of God's prescience, surely God's prescience extends to all creation, not just some people.  Furthermore, while much of Romans is about faith, Paul's point in this passage is not about the triumph of faith over works, but rather about the triumph of the love of God against everything.

Look back over Romans 8:1-27.  The theme there is one of comfort.  There is no condemnation (vs. 1), the Spirit makes free from sin and death (vs. 2), God condemned sin (vs. 3) and we should walk in righteousness (vss. 3-6).  The flesh can do nothing (vss. 7-8) but if you have the Spirit and Christ you have life (vss. 9-11), we are debtors to the Spirit not the flesh and are sons of God (vss. 12-16), as children we will get all the benefits children get including glory after the present sufferings which we endure in hope (vss. 17-25), the Spirit helps us and intercedes to the Father for us (vss. 26-27).

Notice that within these words of comfort we have another important point, the contrast between what God accomplishes and what we would be apart from God.  That point is brought forth in vss. 4-10:

Romans 8:4-10 

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh,
-- but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;
-- but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death;
-- but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
-- But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
-- And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

The startling contrast in this text demonstrates the important difference between the "foreknown" group that Paul is about to discuss and the others.  The difference is the Spirit and Christ.  After all, those who do not have the Spirit have just the flesh, they are carnally minded, and most critically are not just not subject to the law of God, but they cannot be.  They cannot please God.

By contrast, the elect are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son.  The elect are debtors to live in righteousness, not in order to obtain a reward from God, but because they have been blessed beyond their ability to repay.

Thus, once again, it would be impossible for those who are "foreknown" logically prior to predestination to be "foreknown" as anything other than displeasing to God.  Without the Spirit, they are in the flesh, carnally minded, and so forth.

On the other hand, if God foreknows us, we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son.  We will be called, justified, and glorified.

Because of the linking among the links of the chain, the justification that the called receive will inevitably follow.  After all, if Christ died for us, God will give us all things.  It would make no sense for God to sacrifice Christ for us and then give us a calling, but not justification, or justification but not glorification.  Yet again, all things work together for good to those who are the called according to the purpose of God.  

The called are the same group that are ultimately glorified.  That's why we sometimes refer to this as effectual calling. We could call it other names instead, but the point is that the call leads inevitably to justification and ultimately glorification.  It's part of God's predestination.  Moreover, God's predestination is founded on God's foreknowledge of particular people.  More could be said on this point, but the main thing to be said is that this is, in context, love for those people, not foresight of their deeds. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Trinitarian Harmony in Romans 8

There is a Trinitarian harmony that shines forth in Romans 8. This can be seen if we highlight the references to each of the person of the Trinity:

8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In particular, notice that the Spirit intercedes for us (vs. 26) and so does the Son (vs. 34), moreover the Spirit is the Spirit of God (vs. 14) and the Spirit of Christ (vs. 9).  Moreover, the mission of the Son and the Spirit, while it includes intercesssion with the Father is not at odds with the father.  Instead God sent his Son (vs. 3) and the Spirit makes intercession according to God's will (vs. 27). We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (v. 17) via adoption brought about through the Spirit (vs. 15).

Romans 8 - Textual Issues

In preparation for tomorrow's exegetical debate, I reviewed the text to compare for textual issues. As you know, I mostly prefer using the KJV. On the other hand, some folks will point out that the ESV is based on a better Greek text. As it turns out, there are few translatable differences between the texts. In one place the KJV omits "Jesus," while in another place the ESV omits "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." For the debate about Romans 8:29-30, these differences are not particularly significant. 8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ESV omits "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" here although it has it in verse 4 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. ESV has "you" being freed instead of "me" and the ESV makes "in Christ Jesus" modify "free" rather than "life" 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. ESV has the longer reading "Christ Jesus" instead of the shorter reading "Christ" 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope ESV connects "in hope" to the next verse, though the meaning seems to be approximately the same 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Here the ESV makes explicit that the one who makes intercession is the Spirit 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. The ESV footnotes point out that some manuscripts make explicit that God is the one working all things together for good 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.