Author: Chris Engelsma

Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Syllabus Greek I

Meeting times:  online

Credit hours:  three

Lecturer:  Prof. G. Bilkes; jerry.bilkes@prts.edu

Instructor:  Chris Engelsma; chris.engelsma@prts.edu, (616) 259-0172

Mission Statement:  Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary is an educational institution whose mission is to prepare students to serve Christ, His church, and the academy worldwide through biblical, Reformed, experiential, and practical ministry.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Our Master of Divinity (MDiv) student learning outcomes (SLOs) are for graduates to:

  1. Exegete Scripture accurately, employing understanding of the original languages, historical contexts, and literary genres.
  2. Articulate the system and history of doctrine of confessional Reformed theology and integrate it into the disciplines of biblical, systematic, and practical theology, as well as into life and ministry of the church.
  3. Apply a sound Christian worldview and biblical principles to both life in the church and the contemporary cultures of our changing world.
  4. Cultivate and demonstrate spiritual and personal qualities that evidence the biblical principles of leadership necessary for church ministry.

Our Master of Arts SLOs are for graduates to:

  1. Exegete Scripture accurately, employing understanding of the original languages, historical contexts, and literary genres.
  2. Articulate the system and history of doctrine of confessional Reformed theology.
  3. Evidence foundational knowledge in the principal theological disciplines of Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, and Church History.
  4. Articulate a proficient understanding in the student’s focused discipline.

Course Purpose:  Learning Greek is requisite to achieving principal goals in your entire seminary training. Each of degrees offered in PRTS has the goals of teaching students to “exegete individual passages of Scripture accurately, employing understanding of the original languages, historical circumstances, and literary and theological relationships,” and to “articulate confessional Reformed theology on exegetical, biblical, and theological grounds.”

Using Greek for exegesis requires knowing Greek, which in turn requires learning Greek. So even though the study of elementary grammar may not provide the same level of “internal satisfaction” you may experience in many of your other courses, it is a foundational study that is integral to almost every other course you will take.

The two courses of elementary Greek will prepare the student for the Greek exegesis courses. If you finish your elementary Greek courses well, you will find that the proceeding courses will come much easier to you!

Course Description:  The course will entail the study of the foundations of Greek grammar (orthography, morphology,and basic syntax patterns). Attention will also be given to common vocabulary used throughout the NT. Selected readings from both biblical and non- biblical sentences will reinforce and illustrate the basic grammatical principles.

Had you been born in the first century in a home where Greek was spoken, learning Greek wouldhave come naturally as you listened to those around you. But here you are now doing something “unnatural,” so our approach will be somewhat artificial but necessary. The nature of learning a new language requires some necessary memorization rather than just assimilation. This is especially true when learning a dead language. Since Greek is a highly inflected language, both in terms of the verb and noun systems, so much of understanding the syntax (the way the words are put together to communicate) depends on recognizing forms.

In this course, you will be required to memorize much. Memorization requires time and repetition. This may seem overwhelming at first, but it will benefit you on the road ahead. Repetition is the key in this course.

Course Objectives:  The ultimate objective of the course is to provide students the foundation for using Greek as a tool in the exegetical process. Since PRTS desires to train students for ministry in various forms, the ultimate goal of language study is to gain a tool that can be used over and again in Bible study and sermon preparation and your own spiritual advance. This course is the first step to that ultimate objective. So by the end of this course you will have:

  1. Learned common Greek words that occur in the NT. (Supports SLOs MDiv 1; MA 1).
  2. Learned to recognize and distinguish the basic morphology of nouns and verbs. (Supports SLOs MDiv 1; MA 1).
  3. Become familiar with the basic patterns of Greek syntax. (Supports SLOs MDiv 1; MA 1).
  4. Began learning to read Greek with a view to developing exegetical skills. (Supports SLOs MDiv 2; MA 2, 3).
  5. Trained to use technical commentaries and other literature as aids for exegesis. (Supports SLOs MDiv 2; MA 2, 3).
  6. Developed a sense of awe for being able to read the NT in the language in which it was first written. (Supports SLOs MDiv

Course Assignments: 

  1. Quizzes – Each class will contain a quiz, testing the knowledge of the lecture material. This quiz is due at the beginning of each next lesson. Each quiz is closed book.
  2. Midterm Exam – There is a midterm exam that covers the lectures until that point. Each exam is closed book.
  3. Final Exam – A final exam will cover all the lecture content of the course. The final exam is like each other assignment closed book

Course Required Reading:  Distance students are encouraged to ask the librarian regarding eBooks and access to other digital databases of the library. Other resources and New Testament editions are allowed for this course, but might vary from the one used in the videos.

There are multiple beginning Greek grammars out there. You may use them to reinforce or to find other examples or illustrations of the material in the videos. However, when explanations or definitions may differ from those given in the videos, you will be accountable for what is taught in the videos.

Though there are many online tools to help you read Greek, do without them for now as it will impede your understanding of the language. We will use these tools in your exegesis classes down the road.

Rodney J. Decker, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014).

Greek edition of the Bible, preferably the Scrivener text. Logos, TheWord, and other Bible software have this available digitally. So as not to get distracted with textual issues or discrepancies in this class, we will work in this class on the basis of one text, namely the Scrivener text.

F. Danker, W. Bauer, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago).  Digital versions are acceptable.

Course Policies and Writing Assistance:  Do note the policies for drop/addattendancewithdrawingplagiarismgrade scalelate work/extensions, and incompletes.

In this course, you do very little writing.  Do know, however, that writing support is available at writingcenter@prts.edu.

 

 

 

61. What does the conversion of Israel mean?

Despite the judgments on the Jews for their rejection of Christ, and the breaking down of the wall between Jew and Gentile, both the Old and New Testaments indicate that, towards the end, large numbers of Jews will repent and believe resulting in blessing for the worldwide Church.

 

Notes:

Despite the judgments on the Jews for their rejection of Christ…

God has placed a heavy sentence of judgment upon the Jews for their rejection of Christ (Matt. 8:11-12; 21:28-46, esp. Matt. 21:31, Matt. 21:43; 22:1-14; Luke 13:6-9, esp. Luke 13:7).

Matt 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Matt 21:28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. 33 Hear another parable: There was a certain- householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged- it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become- the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore- say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever- it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. 

Matt 21:31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 

Matt 21:43 Therefore- say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 

Matt 22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one- to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways-, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways-, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen. 

Luke 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon-, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung- it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after- that thou shalt cut it down. 7Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 

…and the breaking down of the wall between Jew and Gentile…

Regarding the privileges of the Gospel, there is now no Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). All have equal access and entitlement.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

…both the Old Testament…

The Old Testament did not predict Israel being substituted with the Church but that through Israel the whole world would be blessed. It also holds out hope that though Israel would reject the Messiah and be judged for that, the day would come when Israel as a people would turn back to the Lord in unprecedented numbers (Ezek. 36:33; Zech. 12:10; 13:1).

Ezekiel 36:33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom- they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

…and the New Testament indicate that…

Luke 21:24 and 2 Cor. 3:15-16 hint at a day when Israel will turn back to the Messiah they rejected. But it’s Romans 11 that really focuses on this. And we will look at this in more detail next.

Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

…towards the end, large numbers of Jews will repent and believe…

Premillennialists maintain that there will be a national restoration and conversion of Israel. They say that the Jewish nation will be re-established in the Holy Land immediately before or during the millennial reign. The argument for this follows the following steps:

Step 1: Ethnic Israel is in view

I and many other commentators who believe in a turning of the Jews to Christ do not necessarily tie it to a national restoration of Israel as a political or national entity. We prefer to speak of ethnic Israel rather than national Israel. The key verses for this view are Romans 11:12, 15, 25-32. Paul introduces the section dealing with the role of the Jews by speaking of his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3). In Romans 11:11-12, he contrasts Israel with the Gentiles.

Rom 11:12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? 

Rom 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 

Rom 11:25 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 fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 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: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Rom 9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 

Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God- forbid-: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? 

Step 2: Israel’s casting away is paralleled with its restoration

The casting away of Israel is the rejection of Israel as a people collectively. The rhetorical questions of Rom 11:12, 15 imply that there is to be a reception of them again. The same collective aspect must apply to the restoration to make the contrast meaningful. The parallelism of Rom 11:12, 15 guide us to the meaning of Israel’s “fullness” in v12.

Romans 11:12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Step 3: One tree and three types of branches (Rom. 11:17-24)

Natural branches are the Israelites living at the time of Christ who had been saved by grace in the old dispensation. They passed into the new dispensation as true members of the church. The cut off branches were the Israelites who rejected the Messiah. The wild olive branches are the Gentiles that had been called into the fellowship of Christ and His church. There is only one tree, representing the one family of God in all generations. The cut off branches could be grafted back into the tree if they believed, and their grafting would feel more “natural” (Rom 11:24) in contrast to the Gentiles who were grafted “contrary to nature.”

Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest- of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural- branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural- branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

Step 4: “All Israel” means a vast number of Israelites

“And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). “And so” means “and then” or “after that.” After the fullness of the Gentiles (most of the Gentiles) have been saved, there will be a widespread acceptance of Christ by the Jews. Just as most but not all of the Jews rejected Christ, so most though not all Jews will accept Christ.

Some say that “all Israel” means “spiritual Israel” a body made up of the remnant of believing Jews plus the believing Gentiles in all ages. They take “And so” to mean “in this manner.” However, throughout this chapter when Paul speaks of Israel he has been speaking of Jews as opposed to Gentiles. See the immediate context of Rom. 11:25 and Rom. 11:27 and following for Israel being used of the ethnic body rather than a spiritual body.

Some say that “all Israel” means the elect remnant of ethnic Israel in all ages. Again “And so” is taken as an adverb of manner rather than of time. “And so in this way…” However this seems to be anticlimactic and irrelevant to Paul’s concern in Romans 9-11. The fullness of Israel will come to salvation (Rom. 11:12) – this is the same as the acceptance of Israel (Rom. 11:15), the grafting in of Israel (Rom. 11:23-24), all Israel (Rom. 11:26).

“And so” does refer primarily to the manner in which all Israel will be saved – as Israel is provoked to jealousy by the conversion of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11,14). However the temporal aspect cannot be ignored as in Rom. 9-11 Paul is describing a sequence of events in redemptive history which concludes with “and so…” The main point of Rom. 11:25 is that the hardening of Israel will come to an end and Israel will be restored.

…resulting in blessing for the worldwide church.

The Jews will be brought into the church producing one worldwide Church of Christ. This will result in life from the dead for the church (Romans 11:15). This does not necessarily mean numerical blessing.

I. Introduction and Definition

A. Relationship between the Pactum Salutis and the Covenant of Grace (CoG)

B. The CoG is the covenant in which God elects His people, secures their salvation, and applies that salvation to them.

1. Since Fall, man has labored under double burden; subject to both the curse and the terms of the Covenant of Works (CoW)

2. In the CoP, the Triune God eternally has made provision for this need.

a. The Father had given the Son a people

b. For that people, the Son would pay the curse and fulfill the terms of the CoG.

c. The Spirit would apply both the forgiveness and the righteousness won by the Son to the people given Him by the Father.

3. This eternal CoP was manifested and moved forward through specific covenants that God made with individual men or groups of men in history.

II. Overall Structure of the CoG

A. Contains both the pre-temporal, intra-Trinitarian CoP and the outworking of that Counsel in history. Both part of one covenant; neither makes sense without the other.

B. Differ in how covenantal reward is dispensed.

1. The rewards of the CoG are all of those things necessary to move men from being ‘sinners’ to being ‘righteous’; the ‘every spiritual blessing’ of Ephesians 1.3; the ‘Golden Chain’ of Romans 8.29-30.

2. In the CoP, rewards given in accordance with merit.

a. Very ‘contractual’

b. Federal/covenantal administration of the CoG

3. In the historical outworking of the CoG, given without regard to merit. Given, not earned.

a. More like a ‘testament’ than a strict ‘covenant’

b. Testamentary administration of the CoG

C. CoG is both a covenant and a testament

1. Nuanced and rich meaning of διαθηκη

a. Francis Turretin: ‘it [διαθηκη] peculiarly denotes a testamentary disposition with a federal agreement.’ (Institutes, II.170)

b. An expansive view of the CoG

2. διαθηκη is not ‘ambiguous’; it is ‘complex’. Fits the expansive CoG described in the Scriptures.

3. Brings clarity to debated occurrences of διαθηκη; e.g. Matthew 26.28; I Corinthians 11.25.

III. Parties to the COG

A. Two primary options

1. God and the elect; or Christ and the elect

2. God the Father and God the Son

B. Bearing on conditionality of the COG

C. Best option – the parties are God the Father and Jesus Christ, with all of the elect being in Christ.

1. WLC #31

2. Christ and Adam; Romans 5, I Corinthians 15

3. Ephesians 1.3-4

4. Psalm 89.3-4

D. Role and importance of Christ as Mediator

IV. Are There Conditions in the COG?

A. Some nuancing – both conditional and unconditional

1. In COP, with Christ as the Head of the elect, is conditional.

a. There were conditions placed upon Christ;

b. Romans 5.18; Philippians 3.8-9

2. In the historical outworking of the COP, is unconditional.

a. Christ freely bestows the blessings of the covenant.

b. Blessings bestowed not ‘because of merit’, but ‘in spite of demerit’.

B. An important caveat – in the historical outworking of the COG, there is a very specific kind of conditionality. See Turretin, Institutes, II.185

1. Antecedent conditions.

a. These have a causal force; when they are performed, they necessarily compel a specific result.

b. The result depends on the condition.

c. Since the condition comes before the reward, it is an ‘antecedent’ condition.

2. Consequent conditions.

a. These are means to ends.

b. These come after a party has determined to do something.

c. These do not find their purpose in what they procure, but in their role in bringing to pass something that had been determined beforehand.

3. Even in the historical outworking of the COG, there is a ‘consequent conditionality’.

4. Most especially, the blessings of the covenant are given to those who possess faith.

a. John 3.16

b. John 3.36

c. Romans 10.9

d. Hebrews 11.6

5. Faith is a means; an instrument.

a. Ephesians 2.8

b. Ezekiel 36.24-28

6. All of this is the work of the Holy Spirit within the COG; see WLC #32

7. This specific form of consequent conditionality leads to greater certainty within the COG; e.g. Romans 4.16.

C. A complex answer

1. COG is conditional in regard to Christ’s work in the COP; unconditional in regard to the elect within the historical outworking of the COP.

2. Within Christ’s unconditional giving of the blessings of the covenant to the elect, there is a conditionality of order.

I. What is Covenant Theology?

A. One of core assumptions is that God has approached His people through covenant

B. One example of a definition, from Donald Macleod: covenant theology is ‘the use of the covenant concept as an architectonic principle for the systematizing of Christian truth.’ (DSCHT, 214)

C. Our definition: ‘Covenant theology is the study of God’s eternal, unchanging purpose to bring a people to Himself through covenantal relationship.’

1. Importance of ‘Immanuel Principle’

2. God is pursuing this through covenant; Deuteronomy 29.12-13 II. What is a Covenant? A. Complex yet coherent idea

B. A proposed definition – Francis Turretin: ‘a pact and agreement entered into…consisting partly in a stipulation of duty…and partly in the promise of a reward.’ (Institutes, 12.1.8; II.172) 1. Two key ideas a. Binding obligation. b. A relationship. c. Together, give the idea of a relationship within parameters. C. Biblical terminology of covenant 1. Old Testament a. ברית. i. Relationships between men a) Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31.44) b) David and Jonathan (I Samuel 18.3) ii. Relationships between nations (Joshua 9.15) iii. Relationship between God and men a) Noah (Genesis 6.18) b) Abraham (Genesis 15.18) c) David (Psalm 89.3-4) d) Phineas (Numbers 25.12) e) Corporate people Israel (Exodus 19.5) f) These have the distinctive feature of being both sovereignly and graciously administered. b. Variety of verbs paired with ברית. i. כרת ברית. To ‘cut’ a covenant. a) To make or inaugurate a covenant. b) Jeremiah 34.18 ii. הקים ברית. ‘To arise; to stand’ a) The perpetuation or maintenance of a covenant. b) Genesis 6.18 iii. נתן ברית. To ‘give’ a covenant. a) Emphasis on one party ‘giving’ the blessings of that covenant to the other party. b) Genesis 17.2 2. Septuagint a. ברית almost uniformly rendered as διαθηκη b. Uniformity striking given the option of συνθηκη c. Nuances of meaning between the two 3. New Testament a. Uniform usage of διαθηκη continues, most importantly in New Testament quotations of Old Testament texts. E.g. quotation of Jeremiah 31.31-34 in Hebrews 8.8-12.

Douglas F. Kelly, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 555–562.

Practical application of Trinitarian doctrine

We shall consider, among many possible applications, how the reality of the Holy Trinity makes possible: (a) our sharing in the Trinitarian life, and (b) a fruitful approach to the ancient (and modern) problem of ‘the one and the many.’

(a) Our sharing in the Trinitarian life

We have noted from the start of this work that God is known in community. This is not least because God is community within Himself; for Him to be is to be in relationship within His own Being from eternity to eternity. And God has created us from the beginning to be in a community of relationship to Himself and to one another. Another way to state this would be the words of Jesus: ‘And this is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3).

In Matthew 11:27, we are told that ‘only the Son knows the Father’ and that ‘the Son reveals the Father to whom he will’. In John 14:9, Jesus says to Philip, ‘He who hath seen me hath seen the Father.’ That is, the Son has come down to earth to do all that was necessary to lift us up to a true knowledge of the Father, so that we share in the Son’s knowledge of the Father.

Saint Irenaeus in the late second century taught that we know God through sharing in the knowledge He has of Himself.129 Hilary said the same: ‘To the Son only is he known, for no one knows the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son wills to reveal him, nor yet the Son except the Father. Each has perfect and complete knowledge of the Other. Therefore, since no one knows the Father except the Son, let our thoughts of the Father be at one with the only faithful witness who reveals him.’130

Athanasius saw that our true knowledge of God must conform to Jesus Christ since He is the perfect image of God, the one Form or Eidos of Godhead.131 He stated that ‘The Form of the Godhead of the Father is the Being of the Son.’132 T. F. Torrance comments on Athanasius’ and Hilary’s expression of this truth:

Careful examination [i.e. of passages such as Luke 10:22 and Matthew 11:27] disclosed that the mutual relation of knowing between the Father and the Son … involved a mutual relation of being between them as well, and not only between the eternal Son and the Father but between the incarnate Son and the Father. This implies that we are given access to the closed circle of divine knowing between the Father and the Son only through cognitive union with Christ, that is only through an interrelation of knowing and being between us and the incarnate Son, although in our case this union is one of participation through grace and not one of nature.133

To make this sharing (in a way appropriate to creatures) in the divine Being and knowing, the Son of God took on our flesh, lived the holy life of obedience to the Father that we should have lived, atoned for our sins on the cross, raised us with Him in His bodily resurrection, ‘seated us in heavenly places’ (Eph. 2:6) with Him, and thus prepared the way for us to share in His true knowledge and love of the heavenly Father. From His glorious seat on high with the Father, He and the Father sent down to us the Holy Spirit to baptize us into this union with incarnate deity in being and knowledge. Torrance describes this movement clearly: ‘It is the Holy Spirit who actualises the self-giving of God in Jesus Christ and so enables us to receive and apprehend what is beyond ourselves altogether, the self-knowledge of God himself incarnate among us in Christ. This is what is actualised in the faith and worship and obedient devotion of the Church to God’s self-communication through the Son and in the Spirit.’134

Cyril of Alexandria wrote in his Dialogues on the Trinity, ‘Sanctified by its union with the Spirit, the flesh is raised to the divine Word, and through Him to the Father … It is the Spirit who unites us and so to speak, makes us sympathize with God; His reception makes us partakers of the divine nature, and we receive this from the Son, and, through the Son from the Father.’135 In other words, the stupendous grace of the generous God is such that He gives us knowledge—thus, saving relationship—with Himself, as He comes to us in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Stăniloae explains:

In Christ the divine hypostasis is accessible to us on our own human level for the sake of full communion. Christ overcame in himself the interval between divinity and humanity, and between himself as God and ourselves … The Son of God became man in order that, through our own movement, he might help us overcome the temporal interval that separates us from full communion with God. In some fashion he performs this movement together with us and because of this he finds himself within this interval still, although on the other hand he is above it.136

This saving knowledge in which we are given to share by divine and immeasurable grace is brought down from God and takes us up to God. To refer again to Stăniloae:

Within the reciprocal knowledge of the Trinitarian persons as infinite subjects there is given in God, simultaneously with eternity, the basis for the possibility of the knowledge of other subjects, and hence also of the creation of subjects who are limited in themselves. Through this love which gives him knowledge, God comes down to the interiority found in created limited subjects, yet by means of his love God raises them up at the same time to their inferiority in him, thus opening up for them the road towards his knowledge.137

John Calvin on our true knowledge of God in Christ

The Reformer John Calvin was in line with the best of the Church Fathers, and with Holy Scripture, in teaching that we truly know God through Christ and in the Holy Spirit. He states that although we are separated from God by space and time, the Holy Spirit overcomes those barriers to grant us true union with Christ, whom to know is to know God in His innermost Being.

Ronald S. Wallace in his Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life has summarized correctly Calvin’s teaching on this important application of Trinitarian doctrine. I shall summarize what he brings out, with copious references to the statements of Calvin. He shows that the Holy Spirit as the omnipresence of God unites us believing humans to the humanity of the Lord, so that to know him is to know the Father:

Calvin teaches that our knowledge of the Father is possible only through union with Christ:

Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. For this reason, he is called ‘our Head’ (Eph. 4:15), and ‘the first-born among many brethren’ (Rom. 8:29). We also, in turn, are said to be ‘engrafted into him’ (Rom. 11:17) and to ‘put on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27): for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him.138

It is true that we obtain this by faith. We know, moreover, that he benefits only those whose ‘Head’ he is, for … we ‘have put him on’ (Gal. 3:27). This union alone ensures that, as far as we are concerned, he has not unprofitably come with the name of Savior. The same purpose is served by that sacred wedlock through which we are made flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, and thus one with him. But he unites us to himself by the Spirit alone.139

Calvin is clear that our union with Christ occurs through the supernatural operation in us of the Holy Spirit, who thus united us to Christ, and through him brings us to the Father. Again, he is close to Cyril of Alexandria in this teaching: ‘The fullness given in us by the Father and the Son is realized (as one fullness) … by the Holy Spirit who fills us with divine charisms through Himself, and makes us partakers of the ineffable nature.’140

In Calvin’s words: ‘It is therefore the Holy Spirit alone who can effect this union [i.e. between God and mankind], for it is the Holy Spirit alone who can so join things in Heaven and things on earth that heavenly things can be grasped by human minds and that the life and virtue of what is in Heaven can be shared by those who are yet on earth. It is the Holy Spirit alone who can bring into real being that wonderful relation of mystery between Christ’s heavenly body and His Church on earth which is so clearly depicted in the act of participation in the Lord’s Supper and in Baptism …’141

Here, Calvin is very close to Cyril of Alexandria who influenced him considerably. Cyril wrote: ‘If, perchance, we were to be deprived of the Spirit, we would not even recognize that God might be in us; and had we not been enriched by the Spirit who places us among the children of God, we would in no way be children of God. For it is the Spirit who joins us together and so to speak, unites us to God; once He is received, we become partakers of the divine nature. And thus, through the Son and in the Son, we receive the Father Himself.’142

Calvin then shows that this participation through union with Christ is never apart from personal faith:

Faith enables us to partake of the life made available through the death of Christ. But all this is possible only because faith actually unites us to Christ and inserts us into His body, creating the bond that enables us to receive, possess and enjoy Christ Himself—for the blessings which are His gifts cannot be received and enjoyed by us apart from communion with Himself by faith.143

Faith is thus an entirely supernatural gift—a new capacity created within man whereby what is in Heaven is really possessed and enjoyed by him. It effects such a secret and wonderful communion with Christ that even though Jesus Christ remains entire in Heaven, He is nevertheless grasped so firmly and possessed so completely that He may be said actually to dwell in our hearts.144

Faith has the power to reach through the humanity of Jesus even God Himself. Faith is able to rise from the flesh of Christ to His divinity, and to penetrate above all the heavens, even to those mysteries which the angels behold and adore. Faith unites man to God and makes God to dwell in man.145

We can summarize this teaching of Calvin on our experience of the whole Trinity in Christian salvation by referring once more to Cyril of Alexandria, whom Calvin so often followed. Cyril expresses the Christian experience of communion with God in terms of beauty: ‘To this beauty, we too have been conformed, by receiving a filial imprint through the Son in the Spirit.’146

(b) A fruitful approach to the one and many problem

One of the most ancient questions in philosophy and in the ordering of human society is the question of the one and the many; which is more basic: the one (the overarching structure) or the many (the individual)? Far from remaining a merely philosophical problem, it has always been—and still is—a major problem for the political, governmental ordering of human society.

More than one Trinitarian theologian has seen that there is a fruitful approach to this question in the eternal existence of the Creator, who is at the same time both One (one Monarchy) and Many (three Persons). Colin Gunton in his 1992 Bampton Lectures to the University of Oxford has seen the right answer to this question as lying in the reality of God as one and many at the same time.147

He argues that in Western society since the Nominalist movement of the fourteenth century, God has been displaced by other universals.148 This movement is destructive for human society,149 for it leaves society without a balance between individual freedom and governmental structure. When the many are reduced to one, totalitarianism inevitably ensues.150 As early as the fourteenth century, William of Occam was denying creational balance between the one and the many for the ordering of human life in society.151 By excluding relationship to God within His creational orders, mankind was left with a sort of individualism that required collectivism.152 Thus, modernism tended to suppress the particular (or the many).153 This has led to our present malaise of soul-less homogeneity in Western consumer society.154 Out of this ‘knee-jerk’ homogeneity has come the late twentieth-century ‘Political Correctness’ movement, which—not unlike the medieval Spanish Inquisition—sternly forbids, and frequently punishes, the expression of an alternative point of view to the reigning secularist, pluralistic orthodoxy of jaded Western society.

In displacing the true one and the many—the Triune God—modern society has ‘liberated’ society from Christianity into a depressing bondage of the shifting consensus of the secularist elite, who control to some degree the Western media. This is a bondage to the one, which brooks no rivals. In displacing the reality of God and eternity, it has focused all attention and all hopes on our brief life in this world. It has led to the widespread belief in the omnicompetence of politics,155 which has produced massive intolerance by those who preach tolerance, or—in effect—a selective tolerance.156

Gunton shows that there is no way out of this horrid morass except a return to faith and obedience in the Holy Trinity: the One and the Many, whose presence and Word gives a fruitful and wholesome balance between liberty (of the many) and ordered structure (of the one moral reality).

From a rather different cultural and political point of view, though with some important theological commonalities, R. J. Rushdoony several years earlier had also seen the Trinity as the answer to the inescapable answer to the one and many problem that always confronts all humans. In his study, The One and the Many, he writes:

Since both the one and the many are equally ultimate in God, it immediately becomes apparent that these two seemingly contradictory aspects of being do not cancel one another but are equally basic to the ontological trinity, one God, three persons. Again, since temporal unity and plurality are the products and creation of this triune God, neither the unity nor the plurality can demand the sacrifice of the other to itself. Thus, man and government are equally aspects of created reality. The locus of Christianity is both the believer and the church; they are not independent of or prior to one another. The wishes of husband and wife do not take priority over marriage, nor does the institution of marriage have primacy over the partners to it; marriage indeed is a type of eternal reality (Eph. 5:22), but man is himself created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27). Education must be geared both to the individual and to society, but, above all, to God.157

Rushdoony explains the details of what this balance means in practical terms:

In orthodox Trinitarian Christianity, the problem of the one and the many is resolved. Unity and plurality are equally ultimate in the Godhead. The temporal unity and plurality is on a basis of equal validity. There is thus no basic conflict between individual and community. The individual lives in community, and the community flourishes as the individual finds himself and grows in terms of consistently Christian faith. Instead of a basic philosophical hostility between government, believer and church, person and family, there is a necessary coexistence. Neither the one nor the many is reducible to the other. They cannot seek the obliteration of the other, for it involves self-obliteration. The Augustinian and Calvinistic faith, with its hostility to subordinationism, holds, if developed, the possibilities for true social order, and to the extent that Augustinianism and Calvinism have been followed, Western culture has developed both freedom and order.158

Elsewhere, Rushdoony suggests some of the products of this kind of Trinitarian balance between the one and the many as: parliaments, universities and constitutions.159 In his The Nature of the American System, he traces the constitutional balance between structure (the one) and local and personal liberties (the many) that took deep root in the American colonies back to the faith of most of the founding fathers in the Holy Trinity. He argues with considerable persuasiveness that insofar as faith in the Trinity is eclipsed in society, an imbalance towards the one (eventually resulting in various forms of political totalitarianism) is bound to follow.

Although not of the same theological persuasion in various respects, Colin Gunton’s assessment of our contemporary dilemma is not essentially different—at least as to the origin of our current problem: formerly, perhaps, totalitarian Marxism in the East, but now a sort of soulless consumerist materialism (as equally hostile to the reality of the Holy Trinity as were the communists)—which is equally destructive of God-given human values—in the West, as Del Noce has shown us.160

A return to living faith in and cordial obedience to the Holy Trinity is the only hope for our sick society of both East and West. The high mission of God’s Church is to point the way to restoration for every nation and culture; not as its main goal (which is always the glorification of God in the eternal salvation and sanctification of sinners into the body of Christ), but as a fruitful by-product or perhaps a certain temporal foretaste of a future cosmic renewal (which is not unrelated to final manifestation of ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’—Rom. 8:21). But until that great breaking of eternity into time, many different periods of history in many different cultures have shown that God-centered lives tend towards mercy and justice, beauty and truth. Thus, when large minorities (even when far less than a majority) in a land are ‘walking in the Spirit’, reformed and healthy societies (imperfect as they always are before the final ‘manifestation of the sons of God’) follow, as the day follows the night.

Of course, restoration within human cultures over the centuries of Christian influence has its ebbs and flows. But even when the tide of vital faith and godly practice seems to be at a low point in some nations, it may be rapidly rising in others (as seems to be the case today with the declining Western world, which has largely jettisoned its Christian belief—and is losing population—and the rising Christian spirituality in the African, Asian and Southern American spheres—which are growing in population). Yet through all these varied conditions which are constantly changing from time to time and land to land, one majestic reality overarches them all, and makes life worth living in any of them at any time. It is a glorious reality open to all who wish it: the communion of holy love that constitutes the very life of the Triune God is available to those who recognize that they are unworthy and cannot save themselves from sin and death, and are willing to cry out to God for mercy. In a word, eternal life, lasting pardon and true liberation from the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit are gifts of the gospel that may still be received by simple faith.

Isaiah says that living waters can be purchased ‘without money and without price’ (Isa. 55:1). The Puritan biblical commentator, Matthew Henry, beautifully expounds this free invitation to those who can offer nothing in return:

… Though we be never so miserable and empty—empty of knowledge, empty of grace (tohu and wohu, Gen. 1:2 [i.e. transliterations of two Hebrew words—‘without form and void’]) yet we have received from Christ, without money and without price (Isa. 55:1). The poor and the maimed are fetched in to the feast. Former barrenness and badness is no bar to this grace if we be truly penitent and come for grace. Poor and blind and naked are invited to Christ (Rev. 3:17, 18). Paul that had been a blasphemer yet received this grace. There’s gifts received even for the rebellious (Ps. 68:18).161

Jesus says in the Gospel of John: ‘And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full’ (John 16:22–24).

And above a changing world, the unchanging promise of our Lord still stands: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved’ (John 3:16, 17).

Douglas F. Kelly, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2008), 555–562.

 

 

 

Common Figures of Speech

I. Figures emphasizing comparisons

A. Simile

B. Metaphor

II. Figures involving association

A. Metonymy

B. Synecdoche

III. Figures stressing personal dimension

A. Personification

B. Apostrophe

IV. Figures demanding additions

A. Ellipsis (various specific categories)

B. Zeugma

C. Constructio prægnans

D. Aposiopesis

V. Figures involving understatement

A. Euphemism

B. Litotes or Meiosis

VI. Figures involving intensification or reversal

A. Hyperbole

B. Irony

C. Hendiadys

VII. Figures involving fullness

A. Epizeuxis

B. Pleonasm

C. Paronomasia

I. Subjective Analysisattention to thought patterns

II. Objective Analysisattention to form patterns

1. Repetition of words or groups of words

Ecclesiastes – “vanity and chasing after wind” (phrase does not occur after Eccl. 6:9); “find out” (common in 6:10-8:17); “not know” or “no knowledge” (common in 9-11)

2. Inclusions

Ecclesiastes begins with independent poem on labor (1:2-11) and ends with independent poem on youth and old age (11:7-12:8); the hymn pattern (Ps. 103)

3. Chiasm

Jeremiah 1:44ff; Job (whole book)

4. Symmetry

Jonah 1 and 3; 2 and 4

5. Refrains

Psalm 49; Ps. 80:3, 7, 19

6. Anaphora—deliberate repetition of word, phrase, etc., at beginning of verse, paragraph, etc.

Zechariah 7:4, 8; 8:1, 18

7. Changes in genre, person, mood, etc., may indicate new sections

Psalm 2

Introduction to the Old Testament

Semester: 2017 Fall
Credit hours: Two
Lecturer: David Murray
email: david.murray@prts.edu
Office hours: Book a time here.
Facilitator: Chris Engelsma


Course Description:

This course will analyze each Old Testament book in terms of author, date, historical analysis, literary analysis, thematic analysis, New Testament analysis, and original message.


Course Objectives:

The student will be able:

  1. To identify the author and date of each Old Testament book;
  2. To supply arguments to rebut common attacks on the text and theology of the Old Testament;
  3. To analyze each Old Testament book from historical, literary and theological perspectives;
  4. To show the Christ-centered nature of each Old Testament book;
  5. To connect each Old Testament Book to the New Testament;
  6. To highlight the original message to the original audience of each book;
  7. To discover and apply the present message of each book to ourselves and our present audiences;
  8. To use the tools for exegeting and preaching the Old Testament.

Course Requirements:

The course will proceed week by week starting Aug. 28. At this time (a Monday), the first lesson will become available to you. Complete each lesson by starting at the top and working your way down through the list of assignments. The very first item listed in every lesson is the time allotment. For your own time management, they are all listed here:

Week 1: Pentateuch & Genesis

Time allotment: 6 hours

Assignments:

Pentateuch quiz

Genesis quiz

Lecture Response – Genesis 1-3

Lecture Response – Genesis 4-11

Lecture Response – Genesis 12-25

Lecture Response – Genesis 26-50

Week 2: Exodus

Time allotment: 4 hours

Assignments:

Exodus quiz

Lecture Response – Exodus 1-18

Lecture Response – Exodus 19-24

Lecture Response – Exodus 25-40

Week 3: Leviticus

Time allotment: 3 hours

Assignments:

Leviticus Quiz

Lecture Response – Leviticus 1-10

Lecture Response – Leviticus 11-27

Week 4: Numbers

Time allotment: 3 hours

Assignments:

Numbers quiz

Lecture Response – Numbers 1-21

Lecture Response – Numbers 23-36

Week 5: Deuteronomy

Time allotment: 4 hours

Assignments:

Deuteronomy quiz

Lecture Response – Deuteronomy 1-4

Lecture Response – Deuteronomy 5-26

Lecture Response – Deuteronomy 27-34

Week 6: Historical books, Ruth, Judges, & Samuel

Time allotment: 6 hours

Assignments:

Historical Books quiz

Ruth quiz

Judges quiz

Samuel quiz

Lecture Response – Judges 1-21

Lecture Response – 1Samuel 1-15

Lecture Response – 1Samuel 16 – 2Samuel 24

Week 7: Kings, Chronicles

Time allotment: 6 hours

Assignments:

Kings quiz

Chronicles quiz

Lecture Response – 1Kings 1-11

Lecture Response – 1Kings 12 – 2Kings 25

Lecture Response – 1Chronicles 1 – 2Chronicles 9

Lecture Response – 2Chronicles 10-36

Week 8: Poetic Books, Job, Psalms

Time allotment: 2 hours

Assignments:

Poetic Books quiz

Job quiz

Psalms quiz

Week 9: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

Time allotment: 3 hours

Assignments:

Proverbs quiz

Ecclesiastes quiz

Song of Solomon quiz

Week 10: Prophetic books, Isaiah

Time allotment: 3 hours

Assignments:

Lecture on prophetic books

Lecture on Isaiah

Lecture Response – Isaiah 1-39

Lecture Response – Isaiah 40-66

Week 11: Pre-exilic prophets

Time allotment: 4 hours

Assignments:

Lecture on Obadiah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk

Week 12: The exilic prophets

Time allotment: 3 hours

Assignments:

Lecture on Ezekiel and Daniel

Lecture Response – Ezekiel 1-32

Lecture Response – Ezekiel 33-48

Week 13: The post-exilic books

Time allotment: 5 hours

Assignments:

Lecture on Esther, Ezra/Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Week 14: Final Exam

Time allotment: 7 hours

Assignments:

Final Exam


Use this list to plan your path forward. All the assignments are laid out on Populi. The next lesson will become available each Friday but only if you have completed all the assignments in the previous lesson.

  1. Participation: There will be no class meetings. Instead, you will interact with the professor and your fellow students on Populi. Most of the lessons will have a forum in which your participation is graded.
  2. Joshua & Jeremiah: Following the same format as the lecture overviews, research and write your own overview for Joshua and Jeremiah.
  3. Final Exam: This exam will cover the material in the lectures on the prophets. It will be closed-book. A proctor will be required of all students who are not on campus (we can also proctor exams remotely). Contact the facilitator to make these arrangements.

Grade Breakdown:” style=”soft” box_color=”#f6f6f6″ title_color=”#000000″]

Exam 25%
Lesson Discussions 25%
Lesson Quizzes 25%
Joshua & Jeremiah 25%
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Schedule:

Week 1:

Lecture – Introduction to Church History

Discussion – Noll, Clean Sea Breezes
Discussion – Singer, Biblical View of History

Lecture – Old & New Test. Background

Readings
Discussion – Old & New Testament Background

Lecture – The Canon of Scripture

Readings

Lecture – The Roman Empire and the Context of the Early Church

Readings


Week 2:

Lecture – Apostles

Lecture – Apostolic Fathers

Readings
Discussion – The Apostles & Apostolic Fathers

Lecture – Persecution

Readings
Discussion – Persecution


Week 3:

Lecture – Second Cent. Apologists

Readings
Discussion – Justin & Biblical Theology

Lecture – Gnosticism

Readings
Discussion – Gnosticism

Lecture – Montanism

Discussion – Montanist


Week 4:

Lecture – Second Cent. Polity

Readings

Lecture – Second Cent. Worship

Lecture – A Second Cent. Worship Service

Readings
Four Discussions


Week 5:

Lecture – Clement

Discussion – Plato’s wisdom
Readings

Lecture – Origen

Discussion – Origen & Scripture
Readings

Lecture – Tertullian

Readings

Lecture – Cyprian

Discussion – Cyprian
Readings


Week 6: Midterm Exam


Week 7:

Lecture – Third Century Worship Service

Readings

Lecture – Baptism

Readings


Week 8:

Lecture – Hermeneutics & Preaching

Discussion – Allegorizing in Diodore
Discussion – Theodore & the Allegorizers


Week 9:

Lecture – Empires & Religion

Reading

Lecture – Final Wave of Persecution

Discussion – Lactantius & the Persecutors

Lecture – Constantine

Readings


Week 10:

Lecture – Arius

Reading

Lecture – Athanasius

Reading

Lecture – The Lives of the Cappadocians

Reading

Lecture – The Theology of the Cappadocians

Reading

Lecture – Chrysostom

Reading


Week 11:

Lecture – Ambrose

Reading

Lecture – Jerome

Lecture – The Growth of Hierarchy & Ceremony

Reading

Lecture – The Rise of Ritual & Ceremony in Worship

Reading


Week 12:

Lecture – Fourth & Fifth Cent. Controversies

Readings


Week 13:

Lecture – Biography

Discussion – Augustine, City of God
Readings

Lecture – Donatism

Lecture – Pelagianism

Discussion – Augustine’s Confessions

Bibliography on Augustine


Week 14:  No further assignments


Week 15:  Final exam

6. Why do believers have to die?

Believers do not have to die, but do die to have communion with Christ’s sufferings, to experience Christ’s grace, to be made like Christ’s image, to witness for Christ’s glory, and to bring them into Christ’s presence.

     

Believers do not have to die but do die to have communion with Christ’s sufferings…

Actually believers do not have to die (remember Moses, Elijah, and also think of the believers who will be alive at Christ’s coming). Christ took the full penalty of their death upon him. However, Christ has seen it fit and wise to allow most believers to pass through death because of the spiritual benefits involved. He has chosen to delay the application of all the benefits of our salvation he earned for us.  The Christian’s death may look exactly like that of the non-Christian but is essentially different.  Our experience of death completes our union with Christ (Phil. 3:10).  Through death we imitate Christ in what he did and so experience closer communion with Him.

…to experience Christ’s grace…

Bodily death is still a painful evil to the believer. He will fear it and feel it. As the last moments approach, there is often great physical pain, spiritual fear, and emotional distress at seeing loved ones’ weeping, etc. At such times the believer can often experience tremendous help from Christ. His grace is found to be more than sufficient to help everyone through it.

…to be made like Christ’s image…

One of the blessings of death is the rapid ripening of the believer’s character and the acceleration of his sanctification. The outer person is growing weaker, but the inner grows stronger and stronger. Though death can take an ugly toll on the body of a believer, yet his soul is being beautified.

…to witness for Christ’s glory…

Death, in many ways, is the supreme test of faith. The victory of faith is seen by the world and by other believers. This brings great glory to Christ, especially if the believer is able to speak of and commend Christ in these last moments (Phil. 1:20).  The dying witness of Christians is celebrated in heaven (Rev. 12:11).

…to bring them into God’s presence.

Death hastens us into the presence of God and our coronation as His precious people. It is a temporary separation from our bodies, but it unites us to Christ in a new and wonderful way (Rom. 8:38-39).