Paul's Passing Thoughts

God’s Choosing in Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 26, 2018

Originally Published January 26, 2017

Much is made over any number of verses in the Bible that people will point to as a proof text for election, or Calvin’s notion of “unconditional election”, the idea that God chooses who will be saved and who will be damned. One such verse is Matthew 22:14.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” ~ Matthew 22:14

To the casual reader (which unfortunately describes many “Christians” these days who are not good students of scripture but rather leave the heavy lifting of study and critical thought to some “authority”) it would appear that Jesus is indeed stating that people are chosen. For those of you who are like me and are not casual readers but actually do think critically, a simple observation of the context and grammar of the passage shows otherwise.

This verse comes at the end of the passage where Jesus gives the parable of the marriage feast. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a king who prepares a grand feast for his son’s wedding. In the passage, the king sends out invitations, but only a few accept the invitation. The king then offers the invitation to more and more so that the wedding feast will be full of guests. The ones who reject the invitation are cast into outer darkness.

Among other things this parable teaches, one is that the “church” is not the Bride of Christ, but rather the “church” are the guests at the wedding. But this passage also gives us a clear understanding about the real doctrine of “election.” There is a distinction made between those who are given the invitation to come to the wedding and those who accept the invitation. It should be noted that those who reject the invitation do so by their own choice, not because God pre-ordained them to damnation.

I think the reason the concluding verse of this passage is so confusing, aside from man’s attempt to use orthodoxy as a means to control, is because of the lack of clarity in the grammar in all English translations. The key to understanding Matthew 22:14 is that we must recognize something that is clear in the Greek but not so clear in English. The words “called” and “chosen” are adjectives and not verbs. This means that the words identify or describe a particular group and do not indicate an action.

If we assume, as the common assumption is, that “called” and “chosen” are verbs, that is not necessarily a problem with the first clause. It speaks to the sending out of an invitation. To say that many “are called” is to acknowledge that an invitation is indeed given out to men- men are called to the wedding feast; men are called to accept salvation. But if we project that same grammatical usage onto the second clause, then we would necessarily be forced to accept the idea that the ones who respond to the invitation do so not by personal choice but by God’s determination alone. But this conclusion presents us with two rationally inconsistent ideas. Why would God bother to invite all mankind if He was only going to choose a few?

Let’s take a look at the grammar of verse 14. Here I have taken an excerpt from my electronic interlinear Bible that shows the verse parallel with the Greek text. The notations below the Greek indicate the part of speech and usage.

matthew-22-14-grammar

The first thing I want you to notice in this verse is that there is only one verb. The word “are” in the second clause “few are chosen” does not appear in the Greek text. Your Bible probably indicates this by having “are” italicized. As you can see by the notes above, the verb used is equivalent to the English word “is” or “are”, and it is used here in this verse as a linking verb. When a verb is a linking verb, that means the subject and predicate can be switched, and the meaning of the clause remains the same.

This is especially important when you realize that with the exception of the two conjunctions “for” and “but”, all the other words are adjectives. Not only are they adjectives, but the notation “_Nom” that you see beneath them indicates that they are used in the nominative case. That means they can be used in either in the subject or as a predicate nominative. And since they are all nominative case, that means that the phrases:

“many are called, few are chosen”

means the same thing as

“called are many, chosen are few.”

So you can see by grammatical analysis, that the idea of “chosen” doesn’t specify an action upon a group but instead it identifies or labels a group. What you have in this verse is the identification of two sets, one named “The Called”, and another named “The Chosen”. In addition, we are given some indication as to the relative size of each group, many and few. Please keep this in mind as we move on, this is important: these are not actions, they are people groups!

Moreover, the second group is a subset of the first group. Let me give a more mundane example to help illustrate my point.

spotted and speckledFarmer Jones has 50 white goats. 30 of them are all white, but there are 20 of them that have spots and speckles. So while the larger set of all 50 goats are indeed white, a subset of them (20) have spots and speckles. So it would be accurate to say that:

“Of farmer Jones’ goats, many are white but few are spotted and speckled”

Notice that “white” and “spotted” are not verbs or actions that describe something happening to the goats, but rather they are labels given to identify the larger set (white) and the subset within that larger set (spotted/speckled). To say that a number of goats are white isn’t saying something “whited” them. Likewise to say that a number of goats are spotted isn’t saying something “spotted” them. They are not goats on which somebody performed the act of speckling and spotting. It is a label only.

In this same sense, in Matthew “called” and “chosen” are not verbs or actions that describe something happening to the subject, but rather they are labels given to identify the larger set (“The Called”) and the subset within that larger set (“The Chosen”). Said another way, they are not the subject on which someone performed the act of “choosing”. It is a label only.

Many are Legos, but few are green.Let me use another mundane example. This one is a little more personal to me, but if you have kids you can probably relate. My five children (even the almost 16-year-old!) love to build with Legos. In fact, you could probably say that we do our fair share in keeping the Lego company solvent. We have TONS of Legos.

Now, consider this pile of Legos you see pictured at right. Notice that there is a pile of green Legos surrounded by another pile of assorted colors. The assorted pile are Legos, but they are not green, and the pile of green ones are still Legos. By looking at this picture, one could say, “There are many Legos, but few are green.”

Let me use one more example. My son’s birthday is coming up soon. Let’s say I have decided that I am going to host a birthday party, so I am going to send out invitations to all his friends and our family. Let us also say that I decided two months ago that I was going to host this party. And when I decided to host this party, I also decided that everyone who comes to the party will receive a door prize; a small bag of candy and other treats.

Now let us assume that I send out 100 invitations, but only 20 guests show up. Those 20 guests will receive the door prize. Remember, I decided that two months ago. So it could be said, that many were invited to the party, but only a few showed up to receive the prize.

Now consider this. Did I choose who would show up? No, of course not. I chose what they would receive when they got here. While I did not actually choose who would show up, the ones who did received the prize. Whoever showed up was a result of those individuals who decided whether to come or not. Those to whom I sent the invitations could be referred to as “The Invited.” Those who showed up to receive the prize could be referred to as “The Prized”. So, many are Invited, but few are Prized.

Now consider this passage at the beginning of Ephesians.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” ~ Ephesians 1:3-7

This is another favorite passage that many use as a proof text for the doctrine of election and determinism. But look carefully at what the apostle Paul is saying. The scenario is the same as that of the birthday party example.

election-chart

Careful examination of the grammatical structure of this passage makes it clear that God did not choose who would be saved. God chose what those “in Christ” would receive.

“The Called” are those to whom God sent out the invitation to receive eternal life. “The Chosen” are the ones who accepted the invitation and received the gift that God chose to give to all those who accepted the invitation.

What is remarkable about these conclusions is they are rationally consistent with the rest of what scripture teaches about soteriology. There is no need to perform theological gymnastics in order to force together contradicting conclusions or simply dismiss one or the other altogether.

~ Andy

God’s Choosing In Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 26, 2017

Much is made over any number of verses in the Bible that people will point to as a proof text for election, or Calvin’s notion of “unconditional election”, the idea that God chooses who will be saved and who will be damned. One such verse is Matthew 22:14.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” ~ Matthew 22:14

To the casual reader (which unfortunately describes many “Christians” these days who are not good students of scripture but rather leave the heavy lifting of study and critical thought to some “authority”) it would appear that Jesus is indeed stating that people are chosen. For those of you who are like me and are not casual readers but actually do think critically, a simple observation of the context and grammar of the passage shows otherwise.

This verse comes at the end of the passage where Jesus gives the parable of the marriage feast. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a king who prepares a grand feast for his son’s wedding. In the passage, the king sends out invitations, but only a few accept the invitation. The king then offers the invitation to more and more so that the wedding feast will be full of guests. The ones who reject the invitation are cast into outer darkness.

Among other things this parable teaches, one is that the “church” is not the Bride of Christ, but rather the “church” are the guests at the wedding. But this passage also gives us a clear understanding about the real doctrine of “election.” There is a distinction made between those who are given the invitation to come to the wedding and those who accept the invitation. It should be noted that those who reject the invitation do so by their own choice, not because God pre-ordained them to damnation.

I think the reason the concluding verse of this passage is so confusing, aside from man’s attempt to use orthodoxy as a means to control, is because of the lack of clarity in the grammar in all English translations. The key to understanding Matthew 22:14 is that we must recognize something that is clear in the Greek but not so clear in English. The words “called” and “chosen” are adjectives and not verbs. This means that the words identify or describe a particular group and do not indicate an action.

If we assume, as the common assumption is, that “called” and “chosen” are verbs, that is not necessarily a problem with the first clause. It speaks to the sending out of an invitation. To say that many “are called” is to acknowledge that an invitation is indeed given out to men- men are called to the wedding feast; men are called to accept salvation. But if we project that same grammatical usage onto the second clause, then we would necessarily be forced to accept the idea that the ones who respond to the invitation do so not by personal choice but by God’s determination alone. But this conclusion presents us with two rationally inconsistent ideas. Why would God bother to invite all mankind if He was only going to choose a few?

Let’s take a look at the grammar of verse 14. Here I have taken an excerpt from my electronic interlinear Bible that shows the verse parallel with the Greek text. The notations below the Greek indicate the part of speech and usage.

matthew-22-14-grammar

The first thing I want you to notice in this verse is that there is only one verb. The word “are” in the second clause “few are chosen” does not appear in the Greek text. Your Bible probably indicates this by having “are” italicized. As you can see by the notes above, the verb used is equivalent to the English word “is” or “are”, and it is used here in this verse as a linking verb. When a verb is a linking verb, that means the subject and predicate can be switched, and the meaning of the clause remains the same.

This is especially important when you realize that with the exception of the two conjunctions “for” and “but”, all the other words are adjectives. Not only are they adjectives, but the notation “_Nom” that you see beneath them indicates that they are used in the nominative case. That means they can be used in either in the subject or as a predicate nominative. And since they are all nominative case, that means that the phrases:

“many are called, few are chosen”

means the same thing as

“called are many, chosen are few.”

So you can see by grammatical analysis, that the idea of “chosen” doesn’t specify an action upon a group but instead it identifies or labels a group. What you have in this verse is the identification of two sets, one named “The Called”, and another named “The Chosen”. In addition, we are given some indication as to the relative size of each group, many and few. Please keep this in mind as we move on, this is important: these are not actions, they are people groups!

Moreover, the second group is a subset of the first group. Let me give a more mundane example to help illustrate my point.

spotted and speckledFarmer Jones has 50 white goats. 30 of them are all white, but there are 20 of them that have spots and speckles. So while the larger set of all 50 goats are indeed white, a subset of them (20) have spots and speckles. So it would be accurate to say that:

“Of farmer Jones’ goats, many are white but few are spotted and speckled”

Notice that “white” and “spotted” are not verbs or actions that describe something happening to the goats, but rather they are labels given to identify the larger set (white) and the subset within that larger set (spotted/speckled). To say that a number of goats are white isn’t saying something “whited” them. Likewise to say that a number of goats are spotted isn’t saying something “spotted” them. They are not goats on which somebody performed the act of speckling and spotting. It is a label only.

In this same sense, in Matthew “called” and “chosen” are not verbs or actions that describe something happening to the subject, but rather they are labels given to identify the larger set (“The Called”) and the subset within that larger set (“The Chosen”). Said another way, they are not the subject on which someone performed the act of “choosing”. It is a label only.

Many are Legos, but few are green.Let me use another mundane example. This one is a little more personal to me, but if you have kids you can probably relate. My five children (even the almost16-year-old!) love to build with Legos. In fact, you could probably say that we do our fair share in keeping the Lego company solvent. We have TONS of Legos.

Now, consider this pile of Legos you see pictured at right. Notice that there is a pile of green Legos surrounded by another pile of assorted colors. The assorted pile are Legos, but they are not green, and the pile of green ones are still Legos. By looking at this picture, one could say, “There are many Legos, but few are green.”

Let me use one more example. My son’s birthday is coming up soon. I have decided that I am going to host a birthday party, so I am going to send out invitations to all his friends and our family. I decided two months ago that I was going to host this party. And when I decided to host this party, I also decided that everyone who comes to the party will receive a door prize, a small bag of candy and other treats.

Now let us assume that I send out 100 invitations, but only 20 guests show up. Those 20 guests will receive the door prize. Remember, I decided that two months ago. So it could be said, that many were invited to the party, but only a few showed up to receive the prize.

Now consider this. Did I choose who would show up? No, of course not. I chose what they would receive when they got here. While I did not actually choose who would show up, the ones who did received the prize. Whoever showed up was a result of the individuals who decided whether to come or not. Those to whom I sent the invitations could be referred to as “The Invited.” Those who showed up to receive the prize could be referred to as “The Prized”. So, many are Invited, but few are Prized.

Now consider this passage at the beginning of Ephesians.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” ~ Ephesians 1:3-7

This is another favorite passage that many use as a proof text for the doctrine of election and determinism. But look carefully at what the apostle Paul is saying. The scenario is the same as that of the birthday party example.

election-chart

Careful examination of the grammatical structure of this passage makes it clear that God did not choose who would be saved. God chose what those in Christ would receive.

“The Called” are those to whom God sent out the invitation to receive eternal life. “The Chosen” are the ones who accepted the invitation and received the gift that God chose to give to all those who accepted the invitation.

What is remarkable about these conclusions is they are rationally consistent with the rest of what scripture teaches about soteriology. There is no need to perform theological gymnastics in order to force together contradicting conclusions or simply dismiss one or the other altogether.

~ Andy

 

Second Epistle of Andy to “Trevor”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 17, 2016

Some time ago I relayed the account of a Facebook interaction I had with an individual I called “Trevor”.  Trevor is a young man in his early twenties.  I’ve had the privilege of having long conversations with him regarding theology and Biblical matters in general.  Trevor goes to a local church and has made a profession of faith, so giving him the benefit of the doubt (since it is not my place to make a judgment otherwise) I regard him as a brother in Christ.

Last Friday, Trevor and I got into another discussion, this time about the Law and how it pertains to believers.  Since he was pressed for time and our conversation was growing increasingly in depth, Trevor asked if he could pose some specific questions via a Facebook message to which I could then compose a more in-depth reply.  What follows is my response to Trevor.  His questions are included in the body of the response in bold italics.  I hope that you find it edifying!

Read the entire post here

Ephesians 5:22-33: The “Church” is NOT the Bride of Christ nor an Institution

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 9, 2016

We often hear references to the “institution of marriage.” However, evangelicals usually shy away from the idea of the “institutional church” because that detracts from the we are family motif that they want to portray. The church continually presents itself as a living body that has the market cornered on love while functioning as an institution.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, a passage often used to make the case that the church is the bride of Christ, the apostle Paul is making the following point: like the body of Christ is one body with many parts, the two married are also one body in the exact same way, like the body of Christ—like marriage.

The institutional churches and their marriages are train wrecks for the following reason: Christ’s body is not an institution, and marriage is not an institution, both are bodies. Evangelicals claim their local temples are bodies, but the smoking gun is authority versus love. Authority is the deal breaker. Consequently, almost every evangelical who reads this passage will interpret it as Christ having authority over His church, and in the same way, the husband has authority over the wife. And likewise, Christ has authority over the church because He is the husband of the bride, viz, the church. NOT.

Where does this passage say those things anywhere?

No, like a real body, Christ is the head of the body in the same way that the husband is the head in the one-body marriage relationship. Um, actually, I use “relationship” in a manner of speaking—marriage is a body. “Head” is not used in regard to someone having authority over someone or something, it refers to the actual head of a body. I mean, read the passage for yourself and note what the words mean. in context.

As the head of your body, if you are wise, you make good choices because, “ For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body.”

Get the picture? And look, if you want to say that you have authority over all of your body parts, like your heart, go ahead, but authority isn’t the point—love is. People submitting to your pseudo authority will not bring love to bear. Your heart will do what you want it to do if you, “nourish(es) and cherish(es) it, just as Christ does the church.” That means you eat heart-healthy foods etc.

And that is done with the word of God—the law of love—not condemnation.

Also husbands, if you want to know how to be one, merely study how Christ led his body. When did he ever demand submission? Where is it? Where are the verses? No, He persuaded, He led, He taught, He set the right example, He served need, He…“having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

That’s done by loving leadership, not being the boss.

Because of church orthodoxy, troubled Christian marriages usually come to you for advice with two things: the authority issue and two sets of condemnation lists. You know…“if she would just obey me,” or…“if he would just obey the elders,”…“we would have a good marriage.” Really? Well, that apes the words of every tyrant that ever lived.

Just stop it, and start living this way: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Husbands, leave your parents, and especially John Calvin, and cling to your wife. Wives, respect your husband—not the “under shepherds.”

Where are they in this passage?

paul

The Lamb’s Wife, Part 2 by Andy Young

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 21, 2015

andy-profile-1Originally published November 21, 2014

In part one of this series, we examined the notion of the “church” being the “bride of Christ” and how this is a false doctrine.  We examined from scripture that the “Lamb” does indeed have a “wife”, but the “wife” is actually the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, according to Revelation 21.  We also compared two parables which portrayed elements of a traditional Jewish wedding.  These parables reveal that the assembly, which is made up of converted Jews as well as Gentiles from every nation, is not the “bride”, but they are the “guests” at the wedding.

This would seem pretty straightforward.  Despite the fact that a simple search of scripture reveals that the expression “bride of Christ” is nowhere to be found, this doctrine continues to breathe life.  Contributing to this is the existence of several New Testament passages that seem to refer to the “church” in “spousal” terms.

I’ll tackle the easy one first. But this one also requires the most exegesis and so it will require the most space in this article.  It is probably also the most familiar and widely used to support the “bride of Christ” doctrine.

Ephesians 5:22-33

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Now, the first thing I want us to do is for us to read this passage with the correct terms.  So, read through that passage again, and in each place where you see the word “church”, replace it with “assembly”.  Believe me, this will have a tremendous impact on the way you understand this passage.  “Church” connotes building, place, institution.  “Assembly” connotes “body”, for that is the meaning of the word.  It is a “called out” body of individuals.  It is also a secular, political term.  A political body of individuals called together to accomplish a specific task.  Moreover, this assembly is the “Body of Christ”, and that is especially significant in this passage.

Paul reinforces this idea at the end of verse 23 when he says “and he is the saviour of the body.”  This is not a stand-alone statement.  And it is not a reference to your physical body or mine.  It is a parenthetical clause that further establishes the main clause just prior to it.  Notice the colon that appears at the end of the previous clause.

“Christ is the head of the [assembly, ‘called-out ones’]:”

 The very next clause modifies this statement.

 “- and he is the saviour of the body”

This is the actual Greek word for “body”, σωμα (“soma”).  The structure of the end of this verse is interesting.  The word “and” is the Greek word και (“kai”), and it is used as a joining word, just like a conjunction creates a list or connects words or clauses or ideas.  It is also used to show equivalence or parallel thought.  This kind of writing style is common in Hebrew writing, especially in poetry, this parallelism.  And you can see Paul’s Hebraic style of writing in the parallelism in this verse. Paul is stating that Christ is the head of the assembly, and furthermore, not only is He the head, He is the Savior of the whole body of the assembly.  In this one verse, Paul has established that the assembly is the body and Christ is the head.  Paul is not establishing a husband/wife relationship, he is establishing a head/body relationship.  Keep this relationship in your mind because I’ll say more on this in a bit.

Now, when someone wants to make the case that the “church” is the “bride of Christ”, they usually go right to verse 24 and pull this one particular phrase out of context:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,…” 

Their reasoning goes something like this:

“Husband” is to “wife” as “Christ” is to “church”

Therefore:

Christ = husband

church = wife

Therefore:

The church is the bride (wife) of Christ.

And while that may seem to be a reasonable logical conclusion, it fails because it is beginning with the wrong premise which results from failing to understand the context of the entire passage.  Paul is instructing men on how to love their wives, but he is not using a metaphor of a husband/wife relationship.  He is using the metaphor of a head/body relationship.  The reasoning of the metaphor is better understood like this:

Husbands are to love their wives

– How do they do that?

Well, no man hates his own body.

Man loves himself (i.e. his body).

Therefore, love your wife in the same way you love your own body.

This is the context of the entire passage.  Period.  Nothing more.  It’s that simple.  Now Paul goes on to elaborate on that point by giving examples of how one loves their own body.  He says that man shows that he loves his body because he feeds it and nourishes it and cherishes it.  Thus, men thus show love to their wives by treating them just as they would their own body, by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing.  Obviously he means from an emotional standpoint.

To further emphasize his point about loving one’s own body, Paul draws a comparison to Christ and the assembly.  Christ is the head, and the assembly is the body.  Just as a man loves his own body, Christ also loves His own body, which is the assembly.  Christ also shows his love towards His body/assembly by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing it.  And Paul is also quick to point out that Christ gave himself for His body/assembly.  More than that, He also sanctified and cleansed it.  How?  With the washing of water by the word.  These are the very same words that Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth!” once again showing that the believer is sanctified by the law.

This whole portion of the passage regarding Christ and the assembly is actually a parenthetical thought apart from the main thought.  The main thought of the passage, as already pointed out, is about how men are to love their wives.  But Paul digresses into this parenthetical aside as an illustration- man loves his own physical body; Christ also loves His body, the assembly of believers.  It appears that Paul even recognizes that he has digressed from his main point.  At the end of verse 32 there is one particular clause that sticks out,

“but I speak concerning Christ and the assembly,”

and in the very next verse we read,

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so [thus, in this manner] love his wife even as himself;”

Here in verse 33 Paul brings his readers back to his main point by offering a final summarizing statement: love your wife as you love your own body.  To take this passage and make it a treatise on how the assembly is the “bride of Christ” is reading more into the illustration (eisegesis) than Paul intended.

There are a few other passages in the New Testament that need to be dealt with where the writer seems to be addressing the assembly in “spousal” terms, such as Romans 7:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:2, but for the sake of time, I will deal with those in part 3.

Andy

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