Why is the valley of Achor said to be a door of hope in Hosea 2:15?

Why is the valley of Achor said to be a door of hope in Hosea 2:15?             By Jack Kettler        

“And I will give her, her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:15)

Introduction:

Hosea prophesied during the latter half of the eighth century B.C. (753–722). The time period was a very difficult time in Israel’s history. The setting is right before the Northern Kingdom went into exile.

Hosea’s addressees were the Northern Kingdom. Israel is mentioned numerous times in the book. The burden of Hosea’s prophecy was to see Israel repent and turn back to God.

The reader learns about Hosea’s family in chapter 1:1-3:5. God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife. It is recorded that his wife Gomer was a “whore” in Hosea 1:3. Hosea’s children were each given a symbolic name representative of the ominous prophetic message. Warnings and promises for Israel are covered in chapters 4:1-14:9.

Hosea describes Israel’s unfaithfulness. God uses this symbolism to say that Israel is like a licentious wife. However, Israel’s unfaithfulness is not enough to deplete God’s redeeming love. Israel remained God’s chosen people. 

In Hosea 2:15, the valley of Achor is mentioned and historically means trouble. So how can Hosea now say it is a door of hope?

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges answers this question:

“15. I will give her, her vineyards from thence] So soon as she has left the wilderness (‘from thence’), Jehovah will restore to her the vineyards which he had taken away (Hosea 2:12).”

“the valley of Achor for a door of hope] Whereas the first Israelites had to call their first encampment after crossing the Jordan the valley of Achor or ‘Troubling’ (Joshua 7:26), their descendants shall find the same spot a starting point for a career of success. Another prophet praises the same valley for its fertility (Isaiah 65:10).”

“she shall sing there] Or, ‘thereupon’. Alluding to the songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15:1 (see Hosea 2:21, where, as St Jerome with Jewish writers points out, the same verb is used of Miriam’s ‘answering’ the song of Moses). But antiphonal singing is not suitable here, and much less in Hosea 2:23-23 (where A. V. arbitrarily alters the rendering of the verb). Render, she shall respond there Theod. ἀποκριθήσεται, Aq. ὑπακούσει, which however St Jerome explains, ‘præcinentibus respondebit concinens’. The heart of Israel shall be softened, and she shall be responsive to the divine call, as in ‘the days of her youth’ (comp. Jeremiah 2:2), when she came out of Egypt.” (1)

Isaiah describes the blessings God will bestow upon Israel in the valley of Achor.

“And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:10)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary agrees and further elaborates:

“And I, reconciled to her, will give her, her vineyards; will both settle her, and abundantly enrich her with blessings, as the phrase implieth.

“From thence; either from the place of their exile and sufferings, or from the time of their hearkening to the Lord speaking to them in their distresses and sorrows; or if it refer to Hosea 2:12, it is a promise to comfort them under that threat which swept away the blessings of vines mid fig trees in their own land, and here is a promise of vineyards to them from the time of their repentance, and from the place where they are captives.”

“The valley of Achor; which was a large, fruitful, and pleasant valley near Jericho, and on the very entrance into the land of Canaan, where after forty years’ travels and sorrows Israel first set foot on a country such as they expected.”

“For a door of hope: as that valley was a door of hope to Israel then, by that Israel saw that he should enjoy the Promised Land; so, would God deal with repenting Israel in the times here pointed at.”

“She shall sing praises to their God for his mercies, and sing forth their own joys too, and answer each other, sing in responses, as the word signifieth.”

“As in the days of her youth: as that age is most jocund, and expresseth it by singing, so shall it be as renewed youth to Israel, full of blessings from God, and full of praises to God.”

“When she came up out of the land of Egypt: this passage explains the former; their youth is a time somewhat like the time of their coming out of Egypt, their mercies now like the mercies of that time, and their joys and songs shall be like too. However, these things were fulfilled to the type, whose repentance and return to God is not very eminent, they are all fully made good to antitype Israel, the church of Christ, in spiritual blessings, chiefly here intended.” (2)

In conclusion:

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible in greater detail explains the Messianic blessings that will be poured out upon the faithful of Israel:   

“And I will give her, her vineyards from thence – God’s mercies are not only in word, but indeed. He not only speaks to her heart, but he restores to her what He had taken from her. He promises, not only to reverse His sentence, but that He would make the sorrow itself the source of the joy. He says, I will give her back her vineyards “thence,” i. e., from the wilderness itself; as elsewhere, He says, “The wilderness shall be a fruitful field” Isaiah 32:15. Desolation shall be the means of her restored inheritance and joy in God. Through fire and drought are the new flagons dried and prepared, into which the new wine of the Gospel is poured.”

“And the valley of Achor for a door of hope – (Literally, “troubling”). As, at the first taking possession of the promised land, Israel learned through the transgression and punishment of Achan, to stand in awe of God, and thenceforth, all went well with them, when they had wholly freed themselves from the accursed thing, so to them shall “sorrow be turned into joy, and hope dawn there, where there had been despair.” “Therefore, only had they to endure chastisements, that through them they might attain blessings.” It was through the punishment of those who “troubled” the true “Israel,” the destruction of Jerusalem, that to the Apostles and the rest who believed, the hope of victory over the whole world was opened. “Hope.” The word more fully means, a “patient, enduring longing.” To each returning soul, “the valley of trouble,” or the lowliness of repentance, becometh a door of patient longing, not in itself, but because “God giveth” it to be so; a longing which “reacheth on, awaiteth on,” entering within the veil, and bound first to the Throne of God. But then only, when none of the “accursed thing” Joshua 7:11-15 cleaveth to it, when it has no reserves with God, and retains nothing for itself, which God hath condemned.”

“And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth – The song is a responsive song, choir answering choir, each stirring up the other to praise, and praise echoing praise, as Israel did after the deliverance at the Red Sea. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord. I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously. And Miriam the prophetess the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel, and all the women went out after her. And Miriam answered them, sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously” Exodus 15:1, Exodus 15:20-21. So the Seraphim sing one to another, holy, holy, holy Isaiah 6:3; so Paul exhorts Christians “to admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord” Colossians 3:16; so the Jewish psalmody passed into the Christian Church, and the blessed in heaven, having on the Cross passed the troublesome sea of this world, “sing the new song of Moses and of the Lamb” Revelation 15:3.”

“She shall sing there – Where? There, where he “allureth” her, where He leadeth her, where He “speaketh to her heart,” where He in worketh in her that hope. There, shall she sing, there, give praise and thanks.”

“As in the days of her youth – Her “youth” is explained, in what follows, to be “the days when she came up out of the land of Egypt,” when she was first born to the knowledge of her God, when the past idolatries had been forgiven and cut off; and she had all the freshness of new life, and had not yet wasted it by rebellion and sin. Then God first called “Israel, My firstborn son. My son, My firstborn” Exodus 4:22. “She came up” into the land which God chose, out of Egypt, since we “go up” to God and to things above; as, on the other hand, the prophet says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt” Isaiah 31:1, for the aids of this world; and the man who was wounded, the picture of the human race, was “going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30; see the note above at Hosea 1:11).” (3)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by, by T. K. Cheyne, Hosea, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy BibleHosea, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 855-856.

3.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Hosea, Vol. 10 p. 52.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Jack-Kettler/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJack+Kettler

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Unicorns and KJV-Onlyism an introductory fact sheet

Unicorns and KJV-Onlyism an introductory fact sheet                                 By Jack Kettler        

The writer of this fact sheet has written 15 books on theology and uses the KJV. Nevertheless, this writer does not subscribe to KJV-Onlysim. Just because someone prefers the KJV does not make them a KJV-Onlyist.   

What is KJV-Onlyism?

King James Onlyism refers to a dogma that demands that all Christians must use the King James Version of the Bible solely. Some adherents go so far as to say that the KJV translators were divinely inspired. For those, it is asked how they know this. Did they pray about it and get an answer like the Mormons?

After interacting with some onlyists, there is confusion about where the authority lies. Is it in the Greek (Textus Receptus) and Hebrew (Masoretic) manuscripts or in the KJV? This writer had one onlyist say the KJV was better than the Textus Receptus end of the debate.   

Without using the pejorative “conspiracy theorist.” nevertheless, KJV-Onlyism tends to operate in terms of a sinister plot of wicked people that are evil people changing the Bible. In addition, these same unnamed individuals intentionally mistranslate the Bible in order to insert false teachings into the sacred text.

It is readily admitted that there are many horrendous translations, but it does not follow that because some are bad, and all are bad. To believe this is to believe a non-sequitur.

Questions that arise:

If KJV-Onlyism is true, why did God wait for 1600 hundred years to reveal this translation? In striking similarity with the Mormon claim that God could not find anyone to restore the church for 1800 years.

What about all of the non-English speaking people around the world? One onlyist said they could use the Internet to solve this problem. But, unfortunately, for many, this would not have helped in light of the short time the Internet has existed. Also, what about the Indians living in the jungles of South America with no electricity?

A textual issue:

Is one manuscript text better than many manuscripts? At first, one manuscript a person may think that one is better. However, this is not the case. For Islam and Mormons, the true copy of their ex-biblical revelations, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon are in heaven, conveniently where these alleged texts cannot be analyzed. In Islam, there is only one approved text of the Koran; all other versions were destroyed.

Why multiple manuscript sources are better than one:

“If one has few manuscripts of a work from antiquity, textual variations can be a real problem. But the more manuscripts you have from a wide range of locations and from early on in the text’s transmission, the better off you are. And all scholars agree that of all ancient documents, without doubt the single earliest, best, and most widely attested document is the New Testament.” Comparison of the New Testament to other documents of that age does not even seem fair. While the average work of antiquity has no witnesses until five hundred years after its production, the New Testament boasts numerous witnesses within the first hundred years, and many more within two hundred more years, from a wide geographical area. As noted, we have entire copies of the complete New Testament from as early as the start of the fourth century, and papyri fragments of individual books have been dated to the earliest years of the second century, an unheard-of treasure trove, historically speaking. As these earlier and earlier manuscripts have been found, they have shown that the text popular in the medieval period is not radically altered but is the very same primitive text of the New Testament.[ 183] No evidence exists of major alterations seeking to remove doctrines, insert beliefs, and the like.[ 184] Any fair analysis of the text’s transmission reveals that its scribes sought to the very best of their ability to transmit it accurately.[ 185] – White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an (p. 231). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Assuming what needs to be proved:

In the more extreme varieties of KJV-Onlyism, one encounters circular reasoning when the topic of other translations comes up. For example, if another translation reads differently than the KJV, the promoters will say the newer translation is in error. The fallacy of this is assuming what they need to prove. This is otherwise known as the fallacy of begging the question, which occurs when an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion instead of supporting or proving it.

Were the KJV translators KJV-Onlyists?

The original KJV translators in 1611 did not hold their translation as inerrant or inspired. For example, the Preface of the original KJV- entitled The Translators to the Reader – explains:

 “As Saint Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.” Documents of the English Reformation, Edited by Gerald Bray p. 434.

Some onlyists think the KJV translators were inspired to do a perfect translation, which would be “God’s preserved word for the English-speaking people.” There is no hint that the KJV translators thought they were the only inspired group of translators. Instead, they saw themselves as imperfect human translators trying to do their best. They said:

“Neither did we think much to consult the Translators or Commentators…neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered.” Excerpted from an article by Dr. Robert Joyner titled “Is the King James Version the Only Divinely Inspired Version?”

The KJV translators certainly were not “King James Onlyists.” For example, they wrote:

 “Variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures…” “Using other versions is one of the best ways to study the Bible because different translations reveal the different shades of meaning found in the original texts.” Excerpted from an article by Dr. Robert Joyner titled “Is the King James Version the Only Divinely Inspired Version?”

If there is one error in the translation of the KJV, how can this be explained by the onlyists?

“His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deuteronomy 33:17 KJV)

“His glory is like a firstborn bull, And his horns like the horns of the wild ox; Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth; They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deuteronomy 33:17 NKJV)

The word unicorn is a poor translation. Unicorns do not exist! What would an onlyist say to this?

Strong’s Concordance gets it correct, and the NKJV uses the better translation of רְאֵם (reem), a wild ox:

reem: a wild ox

Original word: רְאֵם

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: reem

Phonetic Spelling: (reh-ame’)

Definition: a wild ox.”

Many more examples like this can be shown. Putting two translations side by side, highlighting a difference, does not prove anything. All this shows that the translation of certain words is different. Exegetical work must be done.

Most people have heard of the Wycliffe Bible translators. It may come as a shock to the onlyists, but today the Wycliffe translators, as a rule, use the Westcott-Hort or United Bible Societies Greek text. In the past, many of the Wycliffe translators favored the Majority Text.

In conclusion:

This writer is not accusing the onlyists of being a cult. However, when interacting with some onlyists, they certainly appear to have cult like traits by not seriously interacting with non-onlyists. Furthermore, in light of the fact that for most of church history, the KJV Bible did not exist, to now maintain a KJV-Onlyist position is preposterous. 

It is freely admitted that there are bad translations. Nevertheless, the Bible does not command the use of any specific translation or prohibit the production of other translations. The existence of multiple manuscripts has always been considered an apologetic strength. Consulting a variety of translations in Bible study seems prudent. Trying to box fellow Christians into using one translation that is 400 years old is misguided and exhibits the spirit of sectarianism. Onlyism must be lonely, or as Roy Orbison sang, “only the lonely.”   

An attempted response:

Some of the readers may have followed a recent thread where several individuals engaged an individual who is promoting a highly sectarian and divisive theory about the only translation that is supposedly approved by God for believers, namely, KJV-Onlyism. Upon reflection, this individual’s approach can be described as non or subpar scholarship coupled with an unending series of logical fallacies. The most common was the fallacy of begging the question. This occurred repeatedly when the individual’s argument’s premises assumed the truth of the conclusion, instead of proving it.

Other fallacies that occurred in this thread were hasty generalizations, or an appeal to authority, the individual claimed an authority figure’s expertise to support a claim despite this expertise being irrelevant or overstated. Circular arguments were used and is one that uses the same statement as both the premise and the conclusions, in which no new information or justification is introduced. Non-sequiturs were used repeatedly.

Tragically, the individual had no idea how to exegete a word appearing in the Biblical Hebrew or Greek text. For example:

“His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them, he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deuteronomy 33:17 KJV)

“His glory is like a firstborn bull, And his horns like the horns of the wild ox; Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth; They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deuteronomy 33:17 NKJV)

The word unicorn is a poor translation. 

Strong’s Concordance gets it correct, and the NKJV uses the better translation of רְאֵם (reem), a wild ox:

“reem: a wild ox

Original word: רְאֵם

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: reem

Phonetic Spelling: (reh-ame’)

Definition: a wild ox.”

The individual said that there are creatures that exist with only one horn. This response did not show exegetically how the Hebrew reem: a wild ox is better-translated unicorn.

And finally, this individual’s arguments did not show how those that use the NKJV or the ESV, or the NASB would put one who believes the gospel into danger of hellfire and thus can be dismissed as a schismatic practice and those advocating it should be avoided.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Jack-Kettler/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJack+Kettler

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In Lamentations 2:15, what is a lament, and what is signified by wagging the head?

In Lamentations 2:15, what is a lament, and what is signified by wagging the head?                        By Jack Kettler        

“All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” (Lamentations 2:15)

What is a lament? A lament is a fervent emotional expression of grief or sorrow.

Background

In 586 B.C., the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed Jerusalem. Jeremiah did not perish in the destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian King. Instead, God spared Jeremiah and had him record his sorrow for the utter ruin of Jerusalem.

Modern-day prosperity teachers would no doubt have difficulty with a lament. Nevertheless, a lament is not unique to Jeremiah and other Old Testament prophets.

What would be prophetic about Jeremiah’s lament as a weeping prophet?

“Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1) (emphasis mine)

Jesus has been described as the weeping Savior because, on many occasions, His sorrow was visible.

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.” (Luke 19:41)

Jesus laments the future destruction of Jerusalem and especially His sufferings in Matthew 23:37-38.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38)

“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)

In the above passages from Matthew, the reader sees Jesus lamenting Jerusalem’s coming destruction by the Romans in 70A.D. and His suffering on the cross.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers pictures the enemies of Jerusalem:

“(15) All that pass by. – The triumphant exultation of the enemies of Zion came to add bitterness to her sorrows. They reminded her of what she had been in the past and contrasted it with her present desolation.

The perfection of beauty . . . – Like phrases are used of Zion in Psalm 48:2; Psalm 50:2; of Tyre in Ezekiel 27:3. Now that beauty was turned into squalor and desolation.” (1)

At the start, it was asked what does wagging head convey.

“All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” (Lamentations 2:15)

In particular, note Matthew 23:39:

“And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads.” (Matthew 23:39)

To “wag” the head is a typical gesture of mockery or derision. 

In closing:

In light of God’s love for Israel, His righteous judgment and sorry are seen in Jeremiah’s lament. Jeremiah’s lament stands out as a type of Christ sharing the pains of believers.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Lamentations, Vol.11, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 18.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Why the difficulty in identifying the preacher in Ecclesiastes 1:1?

Why the difficulty in identifying the preacher in Ecclesiastes 1:1?              By Jack Kettler        

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)

Who is the preacher (Qoheleth) or teacher in Ecclesiastes 1:1? Taking the text in plain sight, it seems unusual not to identify the preacher as David’s son, which would be Solomon. 

Strong’s Lexicon:

“of the Teacher,

קֹהֶ֣לֶת (qō·he·leṯ)

Noun – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 6953: 1) collector (of sentences), preacher, public speaker, speaker in an assembly, Qoheleth

Strong’s Concordance:

Qoheleth: “a collector (of sentences),” “a preacher,” a son of David

“Original Word: קֹהֶלֶת

Part of Speech: Noun Masculine

Transliteration: Qoheleth

Phonetic Spelling: (ko-heh’-leth)

Definition: “a collector (of sentences)”, “a preacher”, a son of David”

The Strong’s Lexicon and Concordance seemingly do not prohibit that interpretation either.

Nevertheless, there is scholarly hesitation on the identity of the preacher.

For example:

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says:

“Preacher – literally, Convener. No one English word represents the Hebrew קהלת qôheleth adequately. Though capable, according to Hebrew usage, of being applied to men in office, it is strictly a feminine participle, and describes a person in the act of calling together an assembly of people as if with the intention of addressing them. The word thus understood refers us to the action of Wisdom personified Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 8:8. In Proverbs and here, Solomon seems to support two characters, speaking sometimes in the third person as Wisdom instructing the assembled people, at other times in the first person. So, our Lord speaks of Himself (compare Luke 11:49 with Matthew 23:34) as Wisdom, and as desiring Luke 13:34 to gather the people together for instruction; It is unfortunate that the word “Preacher” does not bring this personification before English minds, but a different idea.” (1) (Underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

As Barnes notes, the feminine participle is a cause for uncertainty in understanding text.

In addition, the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges says:

1.      “The words of the Preacher] For the title of the Book and the meaning of the word translated “Preacher” (better, Debater, or, perhaps, as the Hebrew noun has no article, Koheleth, as a proper name, carrying with it the meaning of Debater), see Introduction. The description “king in Jerusalem” is in apposition with “the Preacher” not with “David.” It is noticeable that the name of Solomon is not mentioned as it is in the titles of the other two books ascribed to him (Proverbs 1:1; Song of Solomon 1:1).” (2)

As E. H. Plumptre notes the Hebrew noun “Koheleth” has no article, thus adding a little uncertainty to the identity of the “king in Jerusalem.” In addition, as Plumptre notes, the description “king in Jerusalem” is in apposition with “the Preacher” not with “David.”

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has relevant information on the identity of the king in Jerusalem:

Qoheleth:

“The speaker in Ecclesiastes calls himself Qoheleth (1:1,2,12 and other places), rendered “the Preacher” in the English Versions. The word does not occur elsewhere, although it is from a stem that is in common use. Apparently, it has been coined for a purpose by the author of Ecclesiastes. In form it is a feminine participle, though it denotes a man. This is best explained as a case of the using of an abstract expression for a concrete, as when in English we say “Your Honor,” “Your Majesty.” The other words of the stem are used of people gathering in assemblies, and the current explanation is to the effect that Qoheleth is a person who draws an audience whom he may address. To this there are two objections: First, the participle is intransitive; its natural implication is that of a person who participates in an assembly, not of one who causes the participants to assemble. Second, the assembly distinctively indicated by the words of this stem is the official assembly for the transaction of public business. Worked out on this basis Qoheleth seems to mean citizenship, or concretely, a citizen–a citizen of such respectability that he is entitled to participate in public assemblies. It is in the character of citizen-king that the speaker in Ecclesiastes relates his experiences and presents his ideas.”

“This word for “assembly” and its cognates are in the Greek often translated by ekklesia and its cognates (e.g. De 4:10; 9:10; Jg 20:2; 21:5,8). So, we are not surprised to find Qoheleth rendered by the Greek Ekklesiastes, and this Latinized into Ecclesiastes.”

“King in Jerusalem”:

“The speaker in Eccl speaks not only in the character of Qoheleth, but in that of “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1). So far as this clause is concerned the king in question might be either Solomon or any other king of the dynasty, or might be a composite or an ideal king. He is represented (1:12 through 2:11) as “king over Israel,” and as distinguished for wisdom, for his luxuries, for his great enterprises in building and in business. These marks fit Solomon better than any other king of the dynasty, unless possibly Uzziah. Possibly it is not absurd to apply to Solomon even the phrase “all that were before me over Jerusalem,” or “in Jerusalem” (1:16; 2:7,9; compare 1Ch 29:25; 1Ki 3:12; 2Ch 1:12). It is safer, however, to use an alternative statement. The speaker in Eccl is either Solomon or some other actual or composite or ideal king of the dynasty of David.” – Willis J. Beecher (3)

In light of the grammatical sentence construction, and as Beecher notes:

“It is safer, however, to use an alternative statement. The speaker in Eccl is either Solomon or some other actual or composite or ideal king of the dynasty of David.”  

The Pulpit Commentary reviews the grammatical difficulties not readily apparent to English readers and reaches a satisfactory conclusion:

“Verse 1. – The words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem; Septuagint, “King of Israel in Jerusalem” (comp. ver. 12). The word rendered “Preacher” is Koheleth, a feminine noun formed from a verb kalal, “to call” (see Introduction, § 1), and perhaps better rendered” Convener” or “Debater.” It is found nowhere else but, in this book, where it occurs three times in this chapter (vers. 1, 2, 12), three times in Ecclesiastes 12:8, 9, 10, and once in Ecclesiastes 7:27. In all but one instance (viz. Ecclesiastes 12:8) it is used without the article, as a proper name. Jerome, in his commentary, translates it, ‘Continuator,’ in his version ‘Ecclesiastes.’ It would seem to denote one who gathered around him a congregation in order to instruct them in Divine lore. The feminine form is explained in various ways. Either it is used abstractedly, as the designation of an office, which it seems not to be; or it is formed as some other words which are found with a feminine termination, though denoting the names of men, indicating, as Gesenius notes (§ 107, 3. 100.), a high degree of activity in the possessor of the particular quality signified by the stem; e.g. Alemeth, Azmaveth (1 Chronicles 8:36; 1 Chronicles 9:42), Pochereth (Ezra 2:57), Sophereth (Nehemiah 7:57); or, as is most probable, the writer desired to identify Koheleth with Wisdom, though it must be observed that the personality of the author often appears, as in Ecclesiastes 1:16-18; Ecclesiastes 7:23, etc.; the role of Wisdom being for the nonce forgotten. The word “king” in the title is shown by the accentuation to be in apposition to “Koheleth” not to “David;” and there can be no doubt that the description is intended to denote Solomon, though his name is nowhere actually given, as it is in the two other works ascribed to him (Proverbs 1:1; Song of Solomon 1:1). Other intimations of the assumption of Solomon’s personality are found in Ecclesiastes 1:12, “I Koheleth was king,” etc.; so, in describing his consummate wisdom (Ecclesiastes 1:13, 16; Ecclesiastes 2:15; comp. 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 5:12), and in his being the author of many proverbs (Ecclesiastes 12:9; comp. 1 Kings 4:32) – accomplishments which are not noted in the case of any other of David’s descendants. Also, the picture of luxury and magnificence presented in Ecclesiastes 2. suits no Jewish monarch but Solomon. The origin of the name applied to him may probably be traced to the historical fact mentioned in 1 Kings 8:55, etc., where Solomon gathers all Israel together to the dedication of the temple, and utters the remarkable prayer which contained blessing and teaching and exhortation. As we have shown in the Introduction (§ 2), the assumption of the name is a mere literary device to give weight and importance to the treatise to which it appertains. The term, “King in Jerusalem,” or, as in ver. 12, “King over Israel in Jerusalem,” is unique, and occurs nowhere else in Scripture. David is said to have reigned in Jerusalem, when this seat of government is spoken of in contrast with that at Hebron (2 Samuel 5:5), and the same expression is used of Solomon, Rehoboam, and others (1 Kings 11:42; 1 Kings 14:21; 1 Kings 15:2, 10); and the phrase probably denotes a time when the government had become divided, and Israel had a different capital from Judah. Ecclesiastes 1:1” (4)

In conclusion, the notes of the Geneva Bible bests answer the question of who is the “preacher:”

“The words of the {a} Preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem.”

“The Argument – Solomon as a preacher and one that desired to instruct all in the way of salvation, describes the deceivable vanities of this world: that man should not be addicted to anything under the sun, but rather inflamed with the desire of the heavenly life: therefore he confutes their opinions, which set their happiness either in knowledge or in pleasures, or in dignity and riches, wishing that man’s true happiness consists in that he is united with God and will enjoy his presence: so that all other things must be rejected, save in as much as they further us to attain to this heavenly treasure, which is sure and permanent, and cannot be found in any other save in God alone.”

“(a) Solomon is here called a preacher, or one who assembles the people, because he teaches the true knowledge of God, and how men ought to pass their life in this transitory world.”

The Geneva Bible is the English translation of the Bible published in Geneva (New Testament, 1557; Old Testament, 1560). The Geneva Bible was brought to America by the Puritan Pilgrims.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Ecclesiastes, Vol. 6 p. 124.

2.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, by E. H. Plumptre, Ecclesiastes, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

3.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘Ecclesiastes,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 896.

4.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Ecclesiastes, Vol.9., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 1.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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What does the phrase “who were once enlightened” in Hebrew 6:4 mean?

What does the phrase “who were once enlightened” in Hebrew 6:4 mean? By Jack Kettler        

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

Those of the Semi-Pelagian (early church heresy) or Arminianism (of the post-reformation church) persuasion would say the Hebrew passage is talking about someone who is born again or is truly saved and subsequently can lose their salvation. *

Does this doctrine hold up? Is this Biblical? In seeking to answer this question, one must consult the original language to see if “once enlightened” indicates a genuinely regenerated person.       

Consulting the Strong’s Concordance, one finds:

phótizó: to shine, give light

Original Word: φωτίζω

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: phótizó

Phonetic Spelling: (fo-tid’-zo)

Definition: to shine, give light

Usage: (a) I light up, illumine, (b) I bring to light, make evident, reveal.” (underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

The definition to “shine, and give light” does not require that this is talking about someone whom the Holy Spirit had enlightened in a salvific sense. It is entirely possible for a non-believer to see the truth of the gospel without being born again. “The devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19).

Additionally, can someone taste the Word of God and not be regenerated? 

Did the people in the following verse taste the Word of God?

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19)

What about these people?

“Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30)

Are the individuals in Acts 20:30 the same as those in 1 John 2:19?

See the Gospel of John:

“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9)

Who would argue that “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” are regenerated?   

From the New Testament Commentary on Hebrews by Simon J. Kistemaker:

      6:4–6

    In chapters 3 and 4 the author of Hebrews discussed the sin of unbelief that resulted in apostasy. Now in one lengthy sentence (6:4–6) he develops that teaching in greater detail. The emphasis in this sentence falls on the main verb to be brought back to repentance (v. 6), which is introduced negatively by the phrase it is impossible.

     4. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5. who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6. if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

  Throughout the epistle the writer has admonished his readers to accept the Word of God in faith and not to fall into the sin of unbelief that results in eternal judgment (2:1–3; 3:12–14; 4:1, 6, 11; 10:25, 27, 31; 12:16–17, 25, 29). In 6:4–6 he does not address the recipients of his letter, but instead he states a truth that emerges from an earlier reference to the Israelites’ perishing in the desert because of their unbelief. This truth also applies to the Hebrews, even though the author omits the personal reference in 6:4–6.

  Before we discuss the details of the passage, we need to look at the major points that divide the text. We ask three questions.

  a. Who are the people mentioned in 6:4–6? They are those characterized by four participles that in the original Greek display poetic rhythm: enlightened, tasted, shared, tasted. There is no particular connection among these participles, although some commentators like to see a sequence of baptism, Lord’s Supper, ordination, and perhaps even proclamation in this verse.

  Those who have once been enlightened. From the second century to the present, writers have associated the verb enlightened with baptism. Added weight is given to this interpretation by the restrictive word once. And in the broader context of the passage, the term baptisms does appear in 6:2. We can point out many similarities between baptism and enlightenment. For example, the early Christian practice of scheduling baptisms at daybreak utilizes the symbolism of the receding night of sin and the rising sun that illumines the baptismal candidate, who enters a new life.

  But the verb enlightened also has other meanings. The author uses the word again in 10:32, where the expression seems to be synonymous with “knowledge of the truth” (Heb. 10:26). Besides the two occurrences in Hebrews, the verb appears nine times in the New Testament and has a broader meaning than a reference to baptism (Luke 11:36; John 1:9; 1 Cor. 4:5; Eph. 1:18; 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 18:1; 21:23; 22:5).

  Who have tasted the heavenly gift. Suppose that someone has attended the worship services of the church, has made profession of faith, has been baptized, and has taken part in the active life of the church; he has tasted the broken bread and taken the cup offered to him at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Then this new convert has indeed tasted the heavenly gift.

  To limit the interpretation of this phrase (“tasted the heavenly gift”) however, is decidedly narrow. The New Testament itself provides a broader explanation. Jesus identifies himself as the “gift of God” when he talks to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:10). Peter designates the Holy Spirit the gift of God (Acts 2:38; 8:20; 10:45; 11:17). And in his epistles, Paul mentions “the gift of grace” and “the gift of righteousness.” He associates these gifts with Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:15, 17; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 3:7; 4:7).

  Who have shared in the Holy Spirit. The original Greek indicates the close connection between the preceding clause and this one. In the general context of 6:4, we may see a link between the phrase the laying on of hands (Heb. 6:2) and the sharing in the Holy Spirit, especially if we understand the heavenly gift to be the Holy Spirit.

  Sharing in the Holy Spirit implies that this is done in fellowship with other believers. And the Spirit of God manifests himself in various spiritual gifts given to the members of the church (1 Cor. 12:7–11).

  Who have tasted the goodness of the word of God. The writer of Hebrews does not specify the extent of the Word, only that the Word is good. When God speaks, man receives a good gift. Once more the writer of Hebrews uses the verb to taste to indicate the enjoyment of receiving this gift. This enjoyment consists in hearing the Scriptures proclaimed and in obtaining spiritual nourishment from that Word.

  And the powers of the coming age. The continuation of tasting the Word of God is experiencing the powers of the age to come. First, note that the author uses the plural form powers. That is, they are part of the “signs, wonders and various miracles” that he has mentioned earlier (2:4). These powers belong to the coming age, but already in this age they are evident. The writer does not say what these powers are, although we note that they are directed toward the advancement of the church throughout the world.

  The phrase the coming age (with slight variations) occurs only six times in the New Testament: three times in the Gospels (Matt. 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30) and three times in the Epistles (Eph. 1:21; 2:7; Heb. 6:5). Because the New Testament writers use this phrase rather infrequently, we ought to exercise prudence in interpreting it. In principle we are able to experience in the present age the powers that belong to the future age. When the coming age dawns, we shall fully realize the supernatural powers we now are allowed to observe.

  The author of Hebrews has described a number of experiences some persons have had. In a sense he is deliberatively vague, for he merely lists phenomena but does not clarify who experiences them. He continues, however, and relates what happens to these people.

  b. What happens to the people mentioned in 6:4–6? The author adds a participle that many translators preface with the conditional particle if.

  If they fall away. I am not sure that the author intends to say that the Hebrews will never be apostate. In the preceding chapters he spoke of apostasy and illustrated this by quoting from Psalm 95. The Israelites who in the desert fell away had put blood on the doorpost in Egypt and eaten the Passover lamb; they had left Egypt, consecrated their first-born males to the Lord, and crossed the Red Sea; they could see the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night; they had tasted the waters of Marah and Elim and daily ate the manna God provided; they had heard the voice of God from Mount Sinai when God gave them the Ten Commandments (see Exod. 12–20). Yet these same Israelites hardened their hearts in unbelief, and because of their disobedience they fell away from the living God (Heb. 3:12, 18; 4:6, 11). The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches that apostasy that rises from unbelief results in a hardening of the heart and an inability to repent (3:13; 4:2; 6:6; 10:26; 12:15).

  On the other hand, the writer speaks encouraging words to the recipients of his epistle. In the extended context he writes: “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation” (6:9).

  What does the passage (6:4–6) mean for the original readers of Hebrews? Does the author merely sound a warning or does he think that the Israelites’ example would be imitated by the people he addresses in his letter? The constant, repetitive, and heartfelt warnings of the author prove conclusively that apostasy can occur (3:12–13; 4:1, 11; 12:15). Repeatedly he places before the readers the responsibility of guarding the spiritual well-being of each other, “so that no one will fall by following their [the Israelites’] example of disobedience” (4:11).

    A distinction must be made at this point. The author speaks about falling away, not about falling into sin. For example, Judas fell away from Jesus and never returned to him; Peter fell into sin but soon afterward saw the resurrected Jesus. The two concepts (apostasy and backsliding) may never be confused. In 6:6, the author refers to apostasy; he has in mind the person who deliberately and completely abandons the Christian faith.

  Apostasy does not take place suddenly and unexpectedly. Rather it is part of a gradual process, a decline that leads from unbelief to disobedience to apostasy. And when the falling away from the faith happens, it leads to hardening of the heart and the impossibility of repentance. The author, using the example of the Israelites, has shown the process that results in apostasy (3:18; 4:6, 11).

  If the Israelites in the days of Moses deliberately disobeyed the law of God and “received its just punishment” (2:2; and see 10:28), “how much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot” (10:29)?

  Where do the recipients of the epistle fit into this process? The author chides them for being slow to learn (5:11), lazy (6:12), and feeble (12:12). Constantly he exhorts them to strengthen their faith (4:2; 10:22–23; 12:2). If their faith continues to weaken, they will fall prey to unbelief that leads to disobedience and apostasy.

  It is impossible … to be brought back to repentance. We notice at least two items in this passage that are purposely vague. First, in the preceding verses (5:11–6:3) and the following verses (6:9–12), the writer uses the first and second person plural pronouns we and you, but in verses 6:4–6 the third person plural pronouns those and they occur. Second, the subject of the verb to be brought back is missing. The writer does not reveal the identity of the implied agent. Is he saying that God does not permit (6:3) a second repentance? Or does he mean that a person who has fallen away from the living God cannot be restored to repentance because of the sinner’s hardened heart? Although the writer does not provide the answer, we assume that both questions could receive an affirmative response.

    The use of the pronoun we in the broader context of 6:4–6 demonstrates that God never fails the believer who in faith trusts in him. God makes “the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised” (6:17), and he does so by swearing an oath. And the heirs of the promise are the author and readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

  Is the Christian church unable to bring a hardened sinner back to the grace of God? Again the writer does not provide an answer in the context of the passage. In another connection, however, he repeats the general sentiment of 6:4–6 and writes: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” (10:26). The author does not say anything about restoring a hardened sinner; what he refers to is the impossibility of removing sin because the person sins deliberately. The word deliberately received all the emphasis in the original Greek because it stands first in the sentence. If a person who is familiar with “the elementary teaching about Christ” sins deliberately, restoration by way of repentance is an impossibility.

  c. Why is this so? The writer of the epistle gives two reasons: “to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again” and they are “subjecting him to public disgrace.”

  Of course the author obviously is using a metaphor; those who have fallen away do not literally crucify the Son of God and put him to open shame. Note that the writer uses not the personal name Jesus or the official name Christ, but rather the appellation Son of God to express on the one hand the divine exaltation of the Son and on the other hand the utter depravity of the sinner who has turned away from, as well as against, the Son of God.

  The one who has fallen away declares that Jesus ought to be eliminated. As the Jews wanted Jesus removed from this earth and thus lifted him up from the ground on a cross, so the apostate denies Jesus a place, banishes him from this earth, and metaphorically crucifies the Son of God again. Thus he treats Jesus with continuous contempt and derision and knowingly commits the sin for which, says the author of the epistle, there is no repentance (6:6) and no sacrifice (10:26). The sinner can expect God’s judgment that will come to him as a “raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (10:27).

                Doctrinal Considerations in 6:4–6

  The connection between verses 3 and 4 should not be overlooked. The words God permitting must be seen in relation to the phrase it is impossible. Of course, Jesus said in regard to salvation that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27). The context here, however, differs. God changes the heart of sinful man to make him receptive to the gospel. But God does not permit willful sin to go unpunished. Thus it is impossible to bring such a person to repentance.

  The Old Testament, at various places, speaks about the consequences of sinning willfully against God. For example, in Numbers 15:30–31, God says, “Anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.”

  Acquainted with the teachings of the Old Testament on this subject, the writer of Hebrews compares the man who sinned by rejecting the law of Moses with someone “who has trampled the Son of God under foot” and “has insulted the Spirit of grace” (10:29). He poses a rhetorical question: Will not the person who has offended the Son of God and the Holy Spirit receive more severe punishment than the one who rejected the law of Moses? The answer is: Of course.

  God does not permit anyone to despise willfully his Son, his Word, and his Spirit. Deliberately sinning against God in full awareness and knowledge of God’s divine revelation constitutes sin against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10). This sin God does not forgive.

    Theological questions about the genuineness of repentance and faith of people who fall away from Christ remain unanswered. The writer refuses to judge people; instead he warns them not to fall into the same error that the Israelites in the desert committed. He encourages his readers to grow spiritually and continue to obey God’s Word.

  We face a mystery when we see God leading the chosen nation of Israel out of Egypt and then destroying the people who were twenty years old and more in the desert (Num. 14:29); when we see Jesus spending a night in prayer before he appointed Judas as one of his disciples (Luke 6:12, 16) and later declaring that Judas was “doomed to destruction” (John 17:12); and when we see Paul accepting Demas as a fellow evangelist who years later deserted Paul because Demas “loved this world” (2 Tim. 4:10).

  The writer of Hebrews observes that disobedient Israelites died in the desert because of unbelief. By analogy, the possibility that individuals who have professed the name of Christ will fall away is real (Matt. 7:21–23). Is it possible for true believers to turn away from Christ? Constantly the author exhorts the recipients of his epistle to remain faithful, for God is faithful. God does not break his good promises to his people. “God is not unjust” (6:10). Therefore, says the writer, “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (6:12).

              Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 6:4–6

      Verse 4

  ἀδύνατον—this adjective in the neuter singular appears four times in Hebrews (6:4, 18; 10:4; 11:6). As the first word in a lengthy sentence, it receives great emphasis. Note that ἀδύνατον is far removed from its complement ἀνακαινίζειν in 6:6.

  ἅπαξ—the word occurs fourteen times in the New Testament, eight of which are in Hebrews. Its placement in 6:4 is significant: between the definite article (those) and the participle (have been enlightened). The word is contrasted with πάλιν (6:6).

  φωτισθέντας—it is noteworthy that the first five participles, excluding μέλλοντος (6:5) in 6:4–6 are in the aorist tense and that the last two participles (6:6) are in the present tense. φωτισθένταςis used twice in Hebrews (6:4; 10:32).

    γευσαμένους—closely connected to the preceding participial phrase with the adjunct τε is the clause “who have tasted the heavenly gift.” The aorist middle participle from the verb γεύομαι (I taste) governs the noun gift in the genitive case. In 6:5 the same participle takes the accusative case of the noun word. To maintain that the use of the genitive is partitive and that of the accusative holistic in these two instances is not without difficulty. For example, the accusative case is also used in John 2:9 for “the water that had been turned into wine.” A holistic interpretation in that verse is impossible. Therefore, I suggest that the variation in Hebrews 6:4, 5 is stylistic.

  γενηθέντας—the aorist passive participle is deponent and is therefore translated in the active voice.

      Verse 5

  ῥῆμα—the word is described as καλόν (good). Generally the translation goodness of the word is given to indicate that “the gospel and its promises [are] full of consolation.” See the Septuagint reading of Joshua 21:45; 23:15; Zechariah 1:13.

      Verse 6

  παραπεσόντας—this compound in the aorist active participial form occurs once in the New Testament; it appears in the Septuagint reading of Ezekiel 14:13; 15:8. It is synonymous with the verb ἀποστῆναι (to fall away) in Hebrews 3:12.

  ἀνακαινίζειν—not the aorist tense but the present tense is used in this active infinitive to express the progressive idea of the verb. It is introduced by the adjective ἀδύνατον (6:4) and signifies the impossibility of renewing the fallen sinner. The verb occurs in early Christian literature “in connection with regeneration and baptism.”

  ἀνασταυροῦντας—this active participle, as well as the one that follows, is in the present tense. The tense of the participles reflects the reason why repentance is impossible. Consequently the translation of the participles expresses cause. The prefix ἀνά signifies “again.”

  παραδειγματίζοντας—the word is a compound from the preposition παρά (beside) and δείκνυμι (I show). It can have a favorable connotation in the sense of “to set forth as an example” and a negative connotation of “to subject to public disgrace.” Like the preceding participle, the word appears only once in the New Testament (with the exception of the variant reading in Matthew 1:19). (1)

Consider Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology and his observations about the believer’s perseverance:

General consideration regarding the security of the believer.

A. The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints in History.

“The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is to the effect that they whom God has regenerated and effectually called to a state of grace, can neither totally nor finally fall away from that state, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved. This doctrine was first explicitly taught by Augustine, though he was not as consistent on this point as might have been expected of him as a strict predestinarian. With him the doctrine did not assume the form just stated. He held that the elect could not so fall away as to be finally lost, but at the same time considered it possible that some who were endowed with new life and true faith could fall from grace completely and at last suffer eternal damnation. The Church of Rome with its Semi-Pelagianism, including the doctrine of free will, denied the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and made their perseverance dependent on the uncertain obedience of man. The Reformers restored this doctrine to its rightful place. The Lutheran Church, however, makes it uncertain again by making it contingent on man’s continued activity of faith, and by assuming that true believers can fall completely from grace. It is only in the Calvinistic Churches that the doctrine is maintained in a form in which it affords absolute assurance. The Canons of Dort, after calling attention to the many weaknesses and failures of the children of God, declare: “But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people even in their grievous falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit; nor does He permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction,” (V, Art. 6). The Arminians rejected this view and made the perseverance of believers’ dependent on their will to believe and on their good works. Arminius himself avoided that extreme, but his followers did not hesitate to maintain their synergistic position with all its consequences. The Wesleyan Arminians followed suit as did several of the sects. The Reformed or Calvinistic Churches stand practically alone in giving a negative answer to the question, whether a Christian can completely fall from the state of grace and be finally lost.

B. Statement of the Doctrine of Perseverance.

The doctrine of perseverance requires careful statement, especially in view of the fact that the term “perseverance of the saints” is liable to misunderstanding. It should be noted first of all that the doctrine is not merely to the effect that the elect will certainly be saved in the end, though Augustine has given it that form, but teaches very specifically that they who have once been re­generated and effectually called by God to a state of grace, can never completely fall from that state and thus fail to attain to eternal salvation, though they may sometimes be overcome by evil and fall in sin. It is maintained that the life of regeneration and the habits that develop out of it in the way of sanctifi­cation can never entirely disappear. Moreover, we should guard against the possible misunderstanding that this perseverance is regarded as an inherent property of the believer or as a continuous activity of man, by means of which he perseveres in the way of salvation. When Strong speaks of it as “the volun­tary continuance, on the part of the Christian, in faith and well-doing,” and as “the human side or aspect of that spiritual process which, as viewed from the divine side, we call sanctification,” — this is certainly liable to create the impression that perseverance depends on man. The Reformed, however, do not consider the perseverance of the saints as being, first of all, a disposition or activity of the believer, though they certainly believe that man cooperates in it just as he does in sanctification. They even stress the fact that the believer would fall away, if he were left to himself. It is, strictly speaking, not man but God who perseveres. Perseverance may be defined as that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart, is continued and brought to completion. It is because God never forsakes His work that believers continue to stand to the very end.

C. Proof for the Doctrine of Perseverance.

The doctrine of perseverance may be proved by certain statements of Scripture and by inference from other doctrines.

1. Direct Statements of Scripture. There are some important passages of Scripture that come into consideration here. In John 10:27-29 we read: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Paul says in Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.” This means that the grace of God revealed in His calling is never withdrawn, as though He repented of it. This is a general statement, though in the con­nection in which it is found it refers to the calling of Israel. The apostle comforts the believing Philippians with the words: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Jesus Christ,” (Phil. 1:6). In 2 Thessalonians 3:3 he says: “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil one.” In 2 Timothy 1:12 he sounds a note of rejoicing: “For I know Him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” And in 4:18 of the same Epistle he glories in the fact that the Lord will deliver him from every evil work and will gave him unto His heavenly kingdom.

2. Inferential Proofs. The doctrine of perseverance may also be proved in an inferential way.

a. From the doctrine of election. Election does not merely mean that some will be favored with certain external privileges and may be saved, if they do their duty, but that they who belong to the number of the elect shall finally be saved and can never fall short of perfect salvation. It is an election unto an end, that is, unto salvation. In working it out God endows believers with such influences of the Holy Spirit as to lead them, not only to accept Christ but to persevere unto the end and to be saved unto the uttermost.

b. From the doctrine of the covenant of redemption. In the covenant of redemption God gave His people to His Son as the reward for the latter’s obedience and suffering. This reward was fixed from eternity and was not left contingent on any uncertain faithfulness of man. God does not go back on His promise, and therefore it is impossible that they who are reckoned as being in Christ, and as forming a part of His reward, can be separated from Him (Rom. 8:38-39), and that they who have entered the covenant as a communion of life should fall out.

c. From the efficacy of the merits and intercession of Christ. In His atoning work Christ paid the price to purchase the sinner’s pardon and acceptance. His righteousness constitutes the perfect ground for the justification of the sinner, and it is impossible that one who is justified by the payment of such a perfect and efficacious price should again fall under condemnation. Moreover, Christ makes constant intercession for those who are given Him of the Father, and His intercessory prayer for His people is always efficacious, (John 11:42; Heb. 7:25).

d. From the mystical union with Christ. They who are united to Christ by faith become partakers of His Spirit, and thus become one body with Him, pulsating with the life of the Spirit. They share in the life of Christ, and because He lives they live also. It is impossible that they should again be removed from the body, thus frustrating the divine ideal. The union is per­manent, since it originates in a permanent and unchangeable cause, the free and eternal love of God.

e. From the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Dabney correctly says: “It is a low and unworthy estimate of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and of His work in the heart, to suppose that He will begin the work now, and presently desert it; that the vital spark of heavenly birth is an ignis fatuus, burning for a short season, and then expiring in utter darkness; that the spiritual life communicated in the new birth, is a sort of spasmodic or galvanic vitality, giving the outward appearance of life in the dead soul, and then dying,” (Syst. and Polem. Theol., p. 692). According to Scripture the believer is already in this life in possession of salvation and eternal life, (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:54). Can we proceed on the assumption that eternal life will not be everlasting?

f. From the assurance of salvation. It is quite evident from Scripture that believers can in this life attain to the assurance of salvation, (Heb. 3:14; 6:11; 10:22; 2 Pet. 1:10). This would seem to be entirely out of the question, if it were possible for believers to fall from grace at any moment. It can be enjoyed only by those who stand in the firm conviction that God will perfect the work which He has begun.

D. Objections to the Doctrine of Perseverance.

1. It is Inconsistent with Human Freedom. It is said that the doctrine of perseverance is inconsistent with human freedom. But this ob­jection proceeds on the false assumption that real freedom consists in the liberty of indifference, or the power of contrary choice in moral and spiritual matters. This is erroneous, however. True liberty consists exactly in self-determination in the direction of holiness. Man is never more free than when he moves consciously in the direction of God. And the Christian stands in that liberty through the grace of God.

2. It Leads to Indolence and Immorality. It is confidently asserted that the doctrine of perseverance leads to indolence, license, and even immorality. A false security is said to result from it. This is a mistaken notion, however, for, although the Bible tells us that we are kept by the grace of God, it does not encourage the idea that God keeps us without constant watchfulness, diligence, and prayer on our part. It is hard to see how a doctrine which assures the believer of a perseverance in holiness can be an incentive for sin. It would seem that the certainty of success in the active striving for sanctification would be the best possible stimulus to ever greater exertion.

3. It is Contrary to Scripture. The doctrine is frequently declared to be contrary to Scripture. The passages adduced to prove this contention can be reduced to three classes.

a. There are warnings against apostasy which would seem to be quite uncalled for, if the believer could not fall away, (Matt. 24:12; Col. 1:23; Heb. 2:1; 3:14; 6:11; I John 2:6). But these warnings regard the whole matter from the side of man and are seriously meant. They prompt self-examination, and are instrumental in keeping believers in the way of perseverance. They do not prove that any of those addressed will apostatize, but simply that the use of means is necessary to prevent them from committing this sin. Compare Acts 27:22-25 with verse 31 for an illustration of this principle.

b. There are also exhortations, urging believers to continue in the way of sanctification, which would appear to be unnecessary if there is no doubt about it that they will continue to the end. But these are usually found in connection with such warnings as those referred to under (a), and serve exactly the same purpose. They do not prove that any of the believers exhorted will not persevere, but only that God uses moral means for the accomplishment of moral ends.

c. Again, it is said that Scripture records several cases of actual apostasy, (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1,2; cf. also Heb. 6:4-6). But these instances do not prove the contention that real believers, in possession of true saving faith, can fall from grace, unless it be shown first that the persons indicated in these passages had true faith in Christ, and not a mere temporal faith, which is not rooted in regeneration. The Bible teaches us that there are persons who profess the true faith, and yet are not of the faith, (Rom. 9-6; 1 John 2:19; Rev. 3:1). John says of some of them, “They went out from us,” and adds by way of explanation, “but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us,” (1 John 2:19).

E. The Denial of this Doctrine Makes Salvation Dependent on Man’s Will.

The denial of the doctrine of perseverance virtually makes the salvation of man dependent on the human will rather than on the grace of God. This consideration will, of course, have no effect on those who share the Pelagian conception of salvation as autosoteric—and their numbers are great—but certainly ought to cause those to pause who glory in being saved by grace. The idea is that, after man is brought to a state of grace by the operation of the Holy Spirit alone, or by the joint operation of the Holy Spirit and the will of man, it rests solely with man to continue in faith or to forsake the faith, just as he sees fit. This renders the cause of man very precarious and makes it impossible for him to attain to the blessed assurance of faith. Consequently, it is of the utmost importance to maintain the doctrine of perseverance. In the words of Hovey, “It may be a source of great comfort and power, —an incentive to gratitude, a motive to self-sacrifice, and a pillar of fire in the hour of danger.”

Questions for Further Study: What is the real question concerning perseverance: is it whether the elect, or whether the regenerate persevere? Do Augustine and the Lutherans also teach that the elect may finally be lost? How does the analogy of the natural life favor the doctrine of perseverance? Do not such passages as Hebrews 6:4.6; 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1 prove the possibility of falling away? How about John 15:1-6? Is the grace of perseverance something innate, necessarily given with the new nature, or is it the fruit of a special, gracious, and preserving activity of God? Does the doctrine imply that one may be living in habitual and intentional sin, and yet be in a justified state? Does it preclude the idea of lapses into sin?” (2)

From the Westminster Confession of Faith on Perseverance:  

Section 1.) They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (1)

(1) Php 1:6; 2Pe 1:10; Jn 10:28,29; 1Jn 3:9; 1Pe 1:5,9.

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Section 2.) This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father;(1) upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ;(2) the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them;(3) and the nature of the covenant of grace:(4) from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.(5)

(1) 2Ti 2:18,19; Jer 31:3. (2) Heb 10:10,14; Heb 13:20,21; Heb 9:12-15; Ro 8:33-39; Jn 17:11,24; Lk 22:32; Heb 7:25. (3) Jn 14:16,17; 1Jn 2:27; 1Jn 3:9. (4) Jer 32:40. (5) Jn 10:28; 2Th 3:3; 1Jn 2:19.

————————————

Section 3.) Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins;(1) and, for a time, continue therein:(2) whereby they incur God’s displeasure,(3) and grieve His Holy Spirit,(4) come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts;(5) have their hearts hardened,(6) and their consciences wounded;(7) hurt and scandalize others,(8) and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.(9)

(1) Mt 26:70,72,74. (2) Ps 51:(title), 14. (3) Isa 64:5,7,9; 2Sa 11:27. (4) Eph 4:30. (5) Ps 51:8,10.12; Rev 2:4; SS 5:2,3,4,6. (6) Isa 63:17; Mk 6:52; Mk 16:14. (7) Ps 32:3,4; Ps 51:8. (8) 2Sa 12:14. (9) Ps 89:31,32; 1Co 11:32.

In closing:

God is able to keep us from falling and more than able to present believers before the presence of His glory. Our eternal salvation rests upon God’s power, not ours! If anyone still maintains that God will respect our so-called free will and allow us to depart from Christ. Hopefully, the following thoughts in the next paragraph will be of value.

When a person chooses Christ, one must ask, why did the person do this? Was it his decision, his own, apart from God’s action? Alternatively, does man act or choose Christ because God changed his heart with the power of the Holy Spirit? The Scripture declares that unbelievers are dead (not just sick) and have hearts of stone.

Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. As said, unbelievers are dead spiritually, and Christ quickens or makes us alive. We have risen from the dead when Christ regenerates us. Regeneration happens before we can exercise faith.

Therefore, Christ gets the credit for our decision to believe in Him. Unbelievers do not choose Christ because they, in their fallen state, hate him and are spiritually dead. Furthermore, it should be noted that fallen man’s nature is corrupt and fallen man freely chooses to reject Christ in harmony with his fallen nature. So, when fallen man is regenerated and exercises faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s atoning work at Calvary, what credit does God get for this decision? “All” is the only possible correct answer.

Remember, we were the servants or slaves of sin. We yielded ourselves to sin because this was the inclination of our fallen nature. We are now the servants of righteousness and no longer the slaves of sin. Our sinful natures have been changed. As the apostle Peter tells us that “ye might be partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:4). The believer now has a new nature. We still make choices or decisions. However, since we have a new nature, our desires have been changed through the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Believers are now slaves of righteousness (not perfectly) by His grace.

In conclusion, both the non-believer and the believer make choices, but they are determined by either a corrupt nature or a changed, redeemed nature. The will can be said to be free if it is understood that this freedom is always in accord with the desires of man’s nature. It can be said that the will is bound yet free. The believer is now a new creation in Christ. We follow Christ because we love Him and want to please Him. The Holy Spirit lives in the believer and guides us and convicts us to do what is right according to the Scriptures.

One of the characteristics of a fallen man is to hide his sin, like Adam in the garden in Genesis 3:7. The Pharisees were prime examples of very outwardly religious men. What did Christ say about them? However, when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them:

“O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7)

People can act religiously outwardly for nefarious motives and be dead in their sins.

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21, 22-23).

Here we have individuals mentioned who did things in Christ’s name, and yet Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Outward religious works may be done in order to hide one’s rebellion against God in an attempt to remain respectable in the community. If one has a Protestant view of Justification and the Imputation of Christ’s righteousness, the semi-Pelagian or Arminian view cannot be maintained.

In fact, the semi-Pelagian or Arminian view of Hebrews 6:4-6 does violence to the text; it embraces false doctrine in regards to Justification and Imputation.

The Westminster Confession on Justification WC Chapter 11:3:  

“iii. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf.  Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace might be glorified in the justification of sinners.”

“Imputed righteousness is the Protestant Christian doctrine that a sinner is declared righteous by God purely by God’s grace through faith in Christ, and thus all depends on Christ’s merit and worthiness, rather than on one’s own merit and worthiness.” – Wikipedia

Therefore, the interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6 in this study by postulating the case of false believers does not do violence to the text, and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints stands unrefuted.     

·         See https://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/03d/1819-1893,_Schaff._Philip,_2_Vol_05_Anti-Pelagian_Writings,_EN.pdf

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, Hebrews, (Grand Rapids, MI, Baker), pp. 157-164.

2.      Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans), pp. 545-547.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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The extent of the atonement and its implications. An exercise in Biblical analysis and logical deduction:

The extent of the atonement and its implications. An exercise in Biblical analysis and logical deduction:

The Westminster Confession on Justification without which, it is impossible to have a correct understanding of Christ’s atonement.  Justification and atonement are inseparable. WC Chapter 11:3:   

“iii. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf.  Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace might be glorified in the justification of sinners.”

Who was John Owen?

“John Owen was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford. He was briefly a member of parliament for the University’s constituency, sitting in the First Protectorate Parliament of 1654 to 1655. Wikipedia”

Can you or how would you answer a question from the Puritan John Owen?

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

  1. All the sins of all men.
  2. All the sins of some men, or
  3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

  • That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
  • That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
  • But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

  • I ask, is this unbelief a sin, or is it not?
  • If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not.
  • If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died?
  • If He did not, He did not die for all their sins! (1)
  • John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth), pp. 173, 174.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Who is the Shulamite mentioned in the Song of Solomon 6:13? 

Who is the Shulamite mentioned in the Song of Solomon 6:13?                      By Jack Kettler        

“Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.” (Song of Solomon 6:13)

In addition, what does “As it were the company of two armies” Mean?

To start, how is the reader to approach the Song of Solomon? There are four approaches to the book. Two of the most popular will be briefly considered.  

The Jews used the metaphorical method as a symbolic picture of the affection of God for Israel. The metaphorical approach is used by Christians but picturing Christ and the Church.   

Another approach is literal and says the “Song” is a romantic poem to exalt human love and marriage.

With this introduction, consulting some commentary sources will be prudent.

From the Benson Commentary on the first part of the passage:

“Song of Solomon 6:13. Return — Christ recalls his spouse, who, as when Christ was gone, she pursued after him, so now, when Christ was coming to her, she was ready to wander from him. Return — This word is repeated four times, to signify both Christ’s passionate love to her, and her backwardness. O Shulamite — This title signifies the wife of Solomon, thus called after her husband’s name; see Isaiah 4:1; and as Christ is called by the name of Solomon, (Song of Solomon 3:7,) so the church is fitly described by the title of Solomon’s wife. That we may look upon thee — That I and my companions may contemplate thy beauty. What will you see — But what do you, my friends, expect to discover in her? Christ proposes the question, that they might take special notice of this as a very remarkable thing in her.” (1)

In the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, on the second part of the passage regarding the “two armies,” Andrew Harper, the commentator, says:

“13.As it were the company of two armies] The R.V. gives as upon the dance of Mahanaim? and probably this is the right translation. As she endeavours to escape, the Shulammite asks, would they stare at her as at a public spectacle. Some have thought that there is a reference here to the angel hosts from which Jacob is said to have named the place (Genesis 32:2). But there is no hint that there was anything resembling a dance in their movements. The probability, therefore, is that after Jacob’s vision Mahanaim became a holy place, if it was not one before, and that God was there praised in the dance (cp. Jdg 21:21), and that these dances had become famous either for their gracefulness or for their splendour. That Mahanaim was a place of importance, whether for political or for religious reasons or for both, is clear from the fact that Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, set up his kingdom there, and that David fled thither when he was driven away from Jerusalem by Absalom. It was also a Levitical city. It lay to the N. of the Jabbok not far from the valley of the Jordan, on the heights above that valley. Its exact site is unknown, as it can hardly have been

el- Michne as Robinson supposes, for that is too far both from the Jabbok and from the Jordan. That places were famed for dances is shewn by the name Abel-Mecholah = ‘Dance meadow.’ The R.V. has in the margin, “a dance of two companies.” This might be supposed to be a dance specially worth seeing. Such a dance is described by Wetzstein, who says that in the Gof, or as Palgrave writes it, the Djowf, a region of N. Arabia, there is a variety of the dance called Sahqa, which is danced by two companies of men standing opposite each other, as in our country dances. But these Bedouin and Arab customs have no known connexion with the people west of the Jordan. Budde would change the dual into the plural and would read machanim and translate “as upon a camp dance,” i.e. ‘a sword dance,’ which forms part of the marriage customs Wetzstein describes. But a camp dance would be a very odd name for the sword dance, and though it is true that the place-name Mahanaim does not occur with the article, the article here may quite well define the dance, not Mahanaim.” (2)

In closing:

To answer the starting question, the Shulamite can be understood to be the wife of Solomon, and spiritually is a type of Christ’s Church. So, therefore, Solomon would be a type of Christ.

Answering the second question, Andrew Harper, the commentator, says:

 “As it were the company of two armies,” “the R.V. gives as upon the dance of Mahanaim? And probably this is the right translation.”

Many additional commentators agree with this.

Speaking metamorphically, the Shulamite girl is taken as a form or type of the Church, and the phrases stated by her lover (Solomon) are understood to be Christ speaking to His bride.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Benson, Joseph, “Commentary on Song of Solomon,” Benson’s Commentary, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/song-of-solomon-1.html. 1857.

2.      The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: Song of Solomon, by Andrew Harper, Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 1902.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Gender as Calling: The Gospel & Gender Identity

Gender as Calling: The Gospel & Gender Identity                                        

A Testimony of North America, Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Published by Crown & Covenant Publications and The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America First Printing, 2017

62 pages, Kindle Edition July 9, 2018, by Crown & Covenant Publications

A review by Jack Kettler

Historical sketch:

 “The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) is a Presbyterian church with congregations and missions throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Chile, and China. Its beliefs—held in common with other members of the Reformed Presbyterian Global Alliance—place it in the conservative wing of the Reformed family of Protestant churches. Below the Bible—which is held as divinely inspired and without error—the church is committed to several “subordinate standards,” together considered with its constitution: the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms, along with its Testimony, Directory for Church Government, the Book of Discipline, and Directory for Worship.”

“Primary doctrinal distinctions which separate the RPCNA from other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations in North America are: its continued adherence to the historical practice of Reformed Christianity, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, of practicing exclusive psalmody, and its continuing affirmation of Jesus as mediatorial king, ruling over all nations. Prior to the 1960s, the RPCNA refused to vote in elections or participate in government in the United States due to it not directly acknowledging Christ’s authority over it, and since has continued (at some times more heavily than others), to lobby the federal government to expressly submit to the authority of Jesus Christ in the United States Constitution.”

“The RPCNA has a long history, having been a separate denomination in the United States since the Colonial era. In Scotland, where the denomination originated, Reformed Presbyterians have been a separate branch since the late 17th century, and prior to that, a part of the original Presbyterian Church of Scotland that came out of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.” Wikipedia

A review:

For the last few years, the transgender movement has been the latest rage among left-wing liberals and progressives. Transgenderism as a movement seemingly exploded out of nowhere. This small book under review provides an overview of the transgender movement, its terminology, an evaluation of the philosophies that it rests upon, and a Biblical rejoinder.

The chapters of the book are well laid out:  

1.      Key Concepts and Terminology

2.      Philosophical Presuppositions

3.      The Theology of Sex as Gender and Gender as Calling

4.      Anatomical Ambiguity (Intersex)

5.      Conclusions and Pastoral Guidance

Particularly beneficial is chapter one on key concepts and terminology, which are well documented with endnotes. In addition, the book is pastoral throughout. 

For example:

“Clearly, the transgender movement is as complicated as the varied experiences of those who are part of it. We must be careful not to presume that there is a stereotypical transgender-identified individual, or that the frustrations and excitements which this movement represents are monolithic. The varied vocabulary of the movement captures its complexity.26” (Kindle Locations 178-181)

“26. For a helpful glossary of these and other terms used in the transgender movement, see Yarhouse, Gender Dysphoria, 20–1.” (Kindle Locations 758-760)

In chapter two of “Philosophical Presuppositions,” the reader learns:

“Even though the mainstream acceptance of transgenderism is quite recent, there are longstanding philosophical influences in western society that undergird this acceptance. Two of these philosophies are existentialism and Cartesian mind-body dualism (cf., gnosticism).” (Kindle Locations 183-185)

Chapter three delves into the “Theology of Sex as Gender, and Gender as Calling” and explores the following:

“Humans are created by God with one or the other anatomical sex, and that sexual identity marks the person’s gender calling.” (Kindle Locations 292-293)

Chapter four evaluates such issues as Anatomical Ambiguity (Intersex) or ambiguous genitalia:

“In such circumstances, the individual should be affirmed as a person with dignity made in the image of God. Where anatomical gender can be discerned (often through examination of the internal reproductive organs),72 the malformed features should in no wise be regarded as lessening his or her full masculinity or femininity. Where anatomical gender is impossible to determine, the church ought to fully support and respect the best efforts of the individual (with support from family and medical professionals) to adopt the gender calling that seems correct.” (Kindle Locations 500-504)

Chapter five concludes with a message of pastoral guidance in accordance with Scripture. The booklet under review should be read by all church counselors, deacons, and elders. Additionally, the book has a high view of Scripture and does not allow outside emotions or political faddism to influence its Biblical fidelity. End of Review

Supplemental material The Westminster Larger Catechism Question 139:

Question139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

“Answer. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required,1 are, adultery, fornication,2 rape, incest,3 sodomy, and all unnatural lusts;4 all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections;5 all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto;6 wanton looks,7 impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel;8 prohibiting of lawful,9 and dispensing with unlawful marriages;10 allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them;11 entangling vows of single life,12 undue delay of marriage,13 having more wives or husbands than one at the same time;14 unjust divorce,15 or desertion;16 idleness, gluttony, drunkenness,17 unchaste company;18 lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays;19 and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.20”

Scriptural proofs:

“1 Proverbs 5:7: And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.

2 Hebrews 13:4: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Galatians 5:19: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality.

3 2 Samuel 13:14: But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. 1 Corinthians 5:1: It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

4 Romans 1:24, 26-27: Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. … For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. Leviticus 20:15-16: If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

5 Matthew 5:28: But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 15:19: For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Colossians 3:5: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

6 Ephesians 5:3-4: But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Proverbs 7:5, 21-22: To keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. … With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast.

7 Isaiah 3:16: The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet. 2 Peter 2:14: They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

8 Proverbs 7:10, 13: And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. … She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him.

9 1 Timothy 4:3: Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

10 Leviticus 18:1-21: Click to read passage. Mark 6:18: For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife. Malachi 2:11-12: Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!

11 1 Kings 15:12: He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 2 Kings 23:7: And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah. Deuteronomy 23:17-18: None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:29: Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. Jeremiah 5:7: How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of whores. Proverbs 7:24-27: And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

12 Matthew 19:10-11: The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.”

13 1 Corinthians 7:7-9: I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. Genesis 38:26: Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.

14 Malachi 2:14-15: But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So, guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. Matthew 19:5: And said, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?

15 Malachi 2:16: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So, guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Matthew 5:32: But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

16 1 Corinthians 7:12-13: To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

17 Ezekiel 16:49: Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. Proverbs 23:30-33: Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

18 Genesis 39:19: As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. Proverbs 5:8: Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.

19 Ephesians 5:4: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ezekiel 23:14-16: But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Isaiah 23:15-17: In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, like the days of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute: “Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered.” At the end of seventy years, the LORD will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Isaiah 3:16: The LORD said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet. Mark 6:22: For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 1 Peter 4:3: For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

20 2 Kings 9:30: When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window. Jeremiah 4:30: And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life. Ezekiel 23:40: They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and behold, they came. For them you bathed yourself, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments.”

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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John Knox: Fearless Faith

John Knox: Fearless Faith

John Knox: Fearless Faith

By Steven J. Lawson

Christian Focus Publications 2014

Reviewed by Jack Kettler

Author’s Bio:

“Dr. Steven J. Lawson is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip and energize a new generation of Bible expositors. The focus of

Dr. Lawson’s ministry is the verse-by-verse exposition of God’s Word and training

other men to do the same. He is the author of twenty-eight books, including The

Moment of Truth, The Cost: What It Takes to Follow Jesus, Foundations of Grace,

Pillars of Grace, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, The Expository

Genius of John Calvin, and many others.”

“Dr. Lawson is a Teaching Fellow with Ligonier Ministries, Professor of Preaching

and Dean of the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, and

Executive Editor for Expositor magazine. He is also on the board of The Master’s

University and Seminary, Ligonier Ministries, and Reformation Bible College. Dr.

Lawson is a graduate of Texas Tech University (B.B.A.), Dallas Theological

Seminary (Th.M.), and Reformed Theological Seminary (D. Min.), served as a

pastor in Arkansas and Alabama for thirty-four years, and presently lives in

Dallas, Texas. He and his wife Anne have three sons and a daughter.”

What others are saying about this book:

“…this story may leave you breathless; but you will almost certainly feel spiritually fitter by the end!” – Sinclair B. Ferguson, from the front cover.

“John Knox preached with such courage that we might well say the Spirit of Christ gave him a face harder than flint (Ezek. 3: 8-9). Steven Lawson, himself a bold preacher, has given us a biography of Knox that inspires similar courage. In this day of jellyfish, may God use this book to raise up more Christians like Knox!” – Joel R. Beeke, President Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Dr Steven Lawson is exactly the church history writer the church needs today. John Knox is exactly the church history figure the church needs today. And here we have them both together. Read this book, and pray for a measure of the passion for the gospel you will read about in these pages.” – Stephen J. Nichols, President Reformation Bible College CAO, Ligonier Ministries Sanford, Florida.

A review:

While Dr. Lawson’s book is not large, the inspiration gained from reading it is enormous.

In Chapter One, the reader will learn about John Knox’s place among the Protestant reformers:

“If Martin Luther was the hammer of the Reformation and John Calvin the pen, John Knox was the trumpet.” (1)

The ministry of John Knox spanned the reign of Mary Tudor, or bloody Mary Queen of England, B. 1516 – D. 1558, the French Mary of Guise, B. 1515 – D. 1560, and Mary Stuart or Mary Queen of Scots, B. 1542 – D. 1587.

In Chapter Six, the reader learns about Knox’s sermons and confrontation with Mary Queen of Scots:

First Confrontation with Mary (4 September 1561)

“In the presence of Lord James Stewart, the Queen accused Knox of several things. He had stirred up the people against her mother, the late Queen Regent, and against herself. In addition, he had written a book against her lawful authority, a reference to Knox’s The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Moreover, he was the fomenter of rebellion and bloodshed in England. Knox patiently listened to Mary and then proceeded to give a lengthy rebuttal of her charges.”

The Queen also questioned him about his views regarding the obedience due to rulers. Knox responded:

“If their princes exceed their bounds, Madam, no doubt they may be resisted, even by power. For there is neither greater honour, nor greater obedience, to be given unto father or mother. But the father may be stricken with a frenzy, in which he would slay his children. If the children arise, join themselves together, apprehend the father, take the sword from him, bind his hands, and keep him in prison till his frenzy be overpast— think ye, Madam, that the children do any wrong? It is even so, Madam, with princes that would murder the children of God that are subjects unto them.” (2)

In the “Third Confrontation with Mary Queen of Scots” (11 April 1563), Knox said this:

“The Sword of Justice, Madam, is God’s, and is given to princes and rulers for one end, which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked and oppressing innocents, their subjects, who in the fear of God execute judgment, where God hath commanded, offend not God, neither do they sin that bridle Kings from striking innocent men in their rage… It shall be profitable to Your Majesty to consider what is the thing Your Grace’s subjects look to receive of Your Majesty, and what it is that ye ought to do unto them by mutual contract. They are bound to obey you, and that not but in God: ye are bound to keep laws unto them. Ye crave of them service; they crave of you protection and defence against wicked doers. Now, Madam, if ye shall deny your duty unto them, who especially crave that ye punish malefactors, think ye to receive full obedience from them? I fear, Madam, ye shall not.”

 (3) (Underlining emphasis mine)

It can be argued that Knox’s five confrontations with Mary Queen of Scots should be a model for Christian ministers in their confrontations with civil magistrates, which included the bridling or restraining of Kings. Historically following Knox, perhaps this is why the Calvinists were known as the fighting Protestants. Without a doubt, Knox’s doctrine of confronting and opposing wicked magistrates cut right to the root or heart of the doctrine, the “Divine Right of Kings.”

A confession penned by the Scottish Churches under the direction of John Knox. Chapter 24:

Therefore, we confess and avow that those who resist the supreme powers, so long as they are acting in their own spheres, are resisting God’s ordinance and cannot be held guiltless. We further state that so long as princes and rulers vigilantly fulfill their office, anyone who denies them aid, counsel, or service, denies it to God, who by his lieutenant craves it of them.”

In Knox’s third confrontation with Mary Queen of Scots, Knox affirmed the right to restrain or bridle Kings. Knox’s doctrine was not an anomaly, as seen by the underlined qualification seen right in the Scottish confession.

John Knox’s “fearless faith” aroused many thoughts about the reformer and how his theology changed the world.

For example:

Knox’s view of bridling a King is in harmony with the apostle Paul. He essentially says in Romans 13 that because the magistrate does good to a person and is a terror towards evil-doers, believers owe them obedience. However, like Knox, obedience is conditioned upon three things that are inescapable in the text of Romans 13:1-4.

1. For [or because] rulers are not a terror to good works, but the evil. (verse 1)

2. For [or because] he is the minister of God to thee for good. (verse 3)

3. For [or because] he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (verse 4)  

The saying attributed to Knox, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” came to this reviewer’s mind repeatedly when reading his letters and confrontations with Mary. Dr. Lawson’s citation of these encounters is invaluable to the modern Church. 

Every Church leader should read Dr. Lawson’s citations and comments regarding Knox’s confrontations with Mary Stuart should be read today:

“Throughout Knox’s tempestuous life, this rugged Scot was never any bolder than when he stood before Mary, Queen of Scots. Whenever summoned to appear in her royal presence, Knox asserted that he spoke to her in God’s presence. He never once backed down from her, nor did he ever hesitate to speak frankly. By these confrontations, Knox proved to be a man who was not a mere people-pleaser. Mary once commented, ‘I am more afraid of his [Knox’s] prayers than an army of ten thousand men.’”21 John Howie, The Scots Worthies (1870, repr.; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2001), p. 57. (4)

Some of Dr. Lawson’s concluding thoughts about the great reformer are: 

“The life of John Knox is an example for all who love God and desire to see His name exalted. The urgent need of this present hour is for John Knox’s gospel to rumble in pulpits and resound throughout the church. Both preachers and laypeople alike can join Knox in the courageous, bold, and persistent proclamation of the truths of God’s Word. John Knox was a leader in his time. In this present hour, the church of God remains in dire need of such leaders who are firmly committed to the exclusivity and sufficiency of Scripture. If the kingdom of God is to advance, it will require fearless men like John Knox to step forward and blow their Master’s trumpet.” (5)

At the end of this review, it is fitting to conclude with the following endorsement of Lawson’s book:

“John Knox was an international Christian, shaped under God by events both in his own native Scotland and in continental Europe. He would lay the basis for the Reformation of the Scottish Church through restoring its biblical foundation and roots. In Scotland and beyond we are building on Knox’s work, and he deserves recognition and study for that reason alone. But more than that, his story is needed because such reformation is needed continuously. Knox’s life is a model of Bible-based and God-focussed religion; his legacy to instil in us that there is no substitute for the Word of God in the life of the people of God. This is a great story, told well; it is the biography of one spiritual giant written by another, and is a reminder of what God can do with one human life dedicated to his service.” – Iain D Campbell Senior Minister Point Free Church of Scotland Isle of Lewis.

Dr. Lawson has written many books about leaders of the Reformation. For the reader that wants to obtain spiritual inspiration, start with a visit to https://onepassion.org/dr-steven-j-lawson/.

Many fine videos of Dr. Lawson’s sermons posted on the Internet. These online sermons can be described as powerful and edifying.  

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Steven J. Lawson, John Knox: Fearless Faith, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), p. 15.

2.      Steven J. Lawson, John Knox: Fearless Faith, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), p. 77-78.

3.      Steven J. Lawson, John Knox: Fearless Faith, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), p. 81-82.

4.      Steven J. Lawson, John Knox: Fearless Faith, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), p. 85-86.

5.      Steven J. Lawson, John Knox: Fearless Faith, (Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, U.K.), p. 125.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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Should Christians be involved in politics?

Should Christians be involved in politics?                                                      By Jack Kettler

Should Christians be involved in politics? Sometimes one hears the question what would Jesus do? In seeking to answer the first question, the second question is a non-starter. In what way? It is hard to see Jesus running for the U.S. Senate. Just because Jesus would not does not necessarily mean He might not call one of His disciples to this duty.

What is a simple definition of politics?

“Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, ‘affairs of the cities’) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. Politics – Wikipedia”

Even the Church is not free from politics. In the Church, one finds ecclesiastical politics. The present study is not examining the question of the Church engaging in politics, but rather, can or should individual Christians participate. Many Christians vote. Voting is a minimal form of political action. Do Christians sign legal contracts? Legal contracts are the result of politics. To escape politics, one would have to be a lone hermit on an island.

A Biblical basis for political involvement:  

The greatest commandment is to “love thy neighbor,” (Luke 10:27) and is a command to be involved in culture via political action.

For example:

“When the righteous thrive, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” (Proverbs 11:10)

All laws legislate morality, and in the case noted above in Proverbs, it is better to have righteous rule rather than criminals. Laws are in harmony with Scripture or opposition. Western societies have implemented the law code of the Old Testament, which was and is Biblically applied to political action.

Consider, for example:

Alfred, known as Alfred the Great (born 849—died 899), was King of Wessex (871–99) in southwestern England. King Alfred drew up an important code of laws that incorporated many of the Old Testament’s first and most basic expressions of Mosaic law, namely the decalogue.

Next, consider the following: 

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

In the above passage, Mordecai appeals to Esther and risks her life in Esther 4:16 when she says: “I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

It is indisputable that a tax collector is a government or a political job. Zacchaeus was a tax collector whom Jesus commended in Luke 19:9-10 and said nothing to him about quitting his political job. In addition, showing respect for governing authorities that protect good and punish evil doers in Romans 13:1-7 is a political act.

An example of the positive benefits of political involvement:

Roe V Wade (1973) is a case in point. It took 50 years of Biblically motivated political involvement to overturn the wicked law, which was done by electing the right candidates who appointed the right judges. 

Theologian Abraham Kuyper had this to say about God’s plan for government or the state:

“In order that the influence of Calvinism on our political development may be felt, it must be shown for what fundamental political conceptions Calvinism has opened the door, and how these political conceptions sprang from its root principle. This dominating principle was not, soteriologically, justification by faith, but, in the widest sense cosmologically, the Sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. A primordial Sovereignty which eradicates in mankind in a threefold deduced supremacy, viz., The Sovereignty in the State; The Sovereignty in Society; The Sovereignty in the Church.” (1)

American theologian Francis A. Schaeffer introduces another concept, namely dominion and its relevance:

“Fallen man has dominion over nature, but he uses it wrongly. The Christian is called upon to exhibit this dominion, but exhibit it rightly: treating the thing as having value itself, exercising dominion without being destructive.” (2)

As noted in the above quotes, this would be Biblical Godly dominion or faithful stewardship under God’s directions.

How is dominion defined? Does dominion include the concept of governance?

KJV Dictionary definition of dominion:

DOMINION, n. L. See Dominant.

1. “Sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling.

The dominion of the Highest is an everlasting dominion. Daniel 4.

2. Power to direct, control, use and dispose of at pleasure; right of possession and use without being accountable; as the private dominion of individuals.

3. Territory under a government; region; country; district governed, or within the limits of the authority of a prince or state; as the British dominions.

4. Government; right of governing. Jamaica is under the dominion of Great Britain.

5. Predominance; ascendant.

6. An order of angels.

7. Whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.

8. Persons governed.

9. Judah was his sanctuary; Israel his dominion.” (Psalm 114”

From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

“DOMINION”

“do-min’-yun: In Ephesians 1:21 Colossians 1:16 the word so translated (kuriotes) appears to denote a rank or order of angels. The same word is probably to be so interpreted in Jude 1:8 (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) “dominion”), and in 2 Peter 2:10 (the King James Version “government,” the Revised Version (British and American) “dominion”). See ANGEL.” (3)

As seen above, dominion includes the idea of government or governance, which means men and things are to be governed. Therefore, Christians must opt for Biblical government.

The dominion mandate is set forth right at the beginning of Scripture:

“And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

Dominion is stewardship and is Godly stewardship, not a license to rape and pillage the planet.

Godly dominion happens when:

“When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.” (Proverbs 11:10) 

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)

It can be asserted at this point that man is inherently religious and political. Therefore, the rest of this study will look at believers who participated in politics.

Historical examples of Christians who engage in politics:

War is the last resort when political negotiations have failed. War itself is a political action. Resistance to illegitimate government is a political action. The Old Testament book of Judges is a history of tyrants and their despotic reign, who are deposed by righteous Judges raised up by God to deliver His people.    

Individual Christians who have been active in politics:

John Knox was a Scottish minister, a Reformed theologian, and a writer who was a leader of the country’s Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland – Wikipedia.

The following title was against Mary Tudor, the Queen of England, whom Knox called “Bloody MARY”in The First Blast of the Trumpet against the monstrous regiment of Women.

By John Knox in 1558 can be read online at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/9660/9660-h/9660-h.htm.

During this time of conflict, which spanned the reign of Mary Tudor, the French Mary of Guise, and Mary Queen of Scots, Knox wrote:

“The faithful, if afflicted by a female sovereign, ‘ought to remove from honor and authority that monster in nature.’ Furthermore, if any support her, Christians ought to “execute against them the sentence of death.” Further still, not to revolt against an idolatrous ruler was ‘plain rebellion against God.’” (4)

In the “Third Confrontation with Mary Queen of Scots” (April 11, 1563), Knox said this:

“The Sword of Justice, Madam, is God’s and is given to princes and ruler for one end, which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked and oppressing innocents, their subjects, who in the fear of God execute judgment, where God hath commanded, offend not God, neither do they sin that bridle Kings from striking innocent men in their rage…” (5)

It can be argued that Knox’s five confrontations with Mary Queen of Scots should be a model for Christian ministers in their confrontations with civil magistrates. Historically following Knox, perhaps this is why the Calvinists were known as the fighting Protestants.

 The History of Calvinism – By Loraine Boettner explains:

“In Scotland and in England, and wherever Protestantism has had to establish itself at the point of the sword, it was Calvinism that gained the day. However, the fact is to be explained it is true that the Calvinists were the only fighting Protestants.” (6)

Knox’s theology laid the groundwork for the War of Independence from the tyrannical British Parliament that had no authority in the Colonies and the King who did not restrain them.   

John Witherspoon was a Scottish-American Presbyterian minister, educator, farmer, and Founding Father of the United States, president of Princeton Seminary, now the University. He was the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. The British considered his college to be a “seminary of sedition” (quoted in Morrison 2005: 13).

Born: February 5, 1723, Beith, United Kingdom

Died: November 15, 1794, Princeton, NJ

Resting place: Princeton Cemetery

Education: The University of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews

Organization founded: Princeton University – Wikipedia.

William Wilberforce was a British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming an independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire. Wikipedia

He was also a member of the Clapham Sect, a group of evangelical Anglican Christians.

Abraham Kuyper (born Oct. 29, 1837, Maassluis, Neth.—died Nov. 8, 1920, The Hague) was a Dutch theologian, statesman, and journalist who led the Anti-Revolutionary Party, an orthodox Calvinist group, to a position of political power and served as prime minister of the Netherlands from 1901 to 1905 – Britannica.

Theological Books by Kuyper

The Work of the Holy Spirit; Rooted & Grounded: The Church as Organism and Institution;

Our Program: A Christian Political Manifesto (Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology); Common Grace (Volume 1): God’s Gifts for a Fallen World; Calvinism: Six Stone Lectures, and On the Church, to name a few titles. While arguably the most powerful conservative theologian in the Netherlands, Kuyper became prime minister.   

Contemporary examples of Christians engaging in Biblical politics:

Dr. James Dobson

Evangelist, author, and psychologist Dr. James Dobson earned much fame when he founded Family Talk, the Christian conservation organization. Using the radio to spread his evangelical ideology, Dobson gained international fame, and his radio show, “Focus on Family,” was broadcast to more than 164 countries. Dobson remains a major presence in the conservative movement and is often seen as a successor to evangelical powerhouses Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Though he has proven to be incredibly controversial amongst even those who describe themselves as Conservative Christians, there is no denying Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a leading figure of the religious right. In 2007, Falwell took over the role of president of Liberty University from his father, the equally controversial Jerry Falwell, Sr. Since then, Falwell has dabbled in national politics. He endorsed Donald J. Trump for president. While he turned down the position of U.S. Secretary of Education, he was appointed to chair a task force on reforms for the Department of Education.

Mike Huckabee

Former pastor Mike Huckabee got his political start as governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007. Huckabee became well-known during the 2008 presidential election, during which he campaigned heavily for the Republican nomination. Huckabee landed a role of a different kind, a television host. His popular Fox News talk show ran from 2008 to 2015. Huckabee remains a frequent contributor to a variety of media outlets and has written a number of best-selling books dealing with the topic of politics and religion.

In closing:

Political issues are Biblical issues, i.e., abortion, sex education and education in general, taxation, going to war, et cetera. It is impossible to escape politics without escaping the teachings of Scripture.    

The following citation is from Francis A. Schaeffer, in which he identifies the heresy that undergirds withdrawal from society or politics.

An excerpt from chapter one, The Abolition of Truth and Morality by Francis A. Schaeffer, on false piety and its defective view of Christianity:

“There are various reasons but the central one is a defective view of Christianity. This has its roots in the Pietist movement under the leadership of P. J. Spener in the seventeenth century. Pietism began as a healthy protest against formalism and a too abstract Christianity. But it had a deficient, “platonic” spirituality. It was platonic in the sense that Pietism made a sharp division between the “spiritual” and the “material” world — giving little, or no, importance to the “material” world. The totality of human existence was not afforded a proper place. In particular, it neglected the intellectual dimension of Christianity.”

“Christianity and spirituality were shut up to a small, isolated part of life. The totality of reality was ignored by the pietistic thinking. Let me quickly say that in one sense Christians should be pietists in that Christianity is not just a set of doctrines, even the right doctrines. Every doctrine is in some way to have an effect upon our lives. But the poor side of Pietism and its resulting platonic outlook has really been a tragedy not only in many people’s individual lives, but in our total culture.”

“True spirituality covers all of reality. There are things the Bible tells us as absolutes which are sinful — which do not conform to the character of God. But aside from these the Lordship of Christ covers all of life and all of life equally. It is not only that true spirituality covers all of life, but it covers all parts of the spectrum of life equally. In this sense there is nothing concerning reality that is not spiritual.” (7)

Man is inescapably religious in the totality of his being, which includes politics. The question to ask is a person’s religion and politics righteous in line with God’s Word or evil in opposition to God’s Word. Politics is an inescapable concept. The Christian must determine what ethical system or whose morality undergirds the discussions of political ideas.

Even the ancient Greeks had enough sense to see:

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!” – Pericles

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato

Christians are stewards of God over the earth. The Christian is to be a good steward. An application of this is voting, which helps control the direction of the nation. Non-involvement is turning the culture over politically to wickedness. Pietistic quietism has nothing in common with the Reformation that culturally and Biblically changed many nations.     

Ultimately, all political issues are spoken of directly in Scripture or by implication. According to an irrefutable principle of Scripture, there is no neutrality. The issue of neutrality covers every area of life. Therefore, every issue must be decided Biblically; therefore, involvement in politics is spiritually inescapable.

Quotes:

The Geneva Bible Notes, 1557-1644, Here is a summary by Lewis Lupton of the notes against tyranny, including Gen. 6:4; Gen. 10:9; Deut. 17:20; Esth. 10:3; 1 Sam. 11:2; Jud. 9:54; 1 Sam. 26:9; 2 Kings 9:33.

“When Kings reign perfidiously, and against the rule of Christ, they may according to the word of God be deposed.” – Tom. I. article. 42. – Ulrich Zwingli

On Daniel 6:22:

“Earthly Princes depose themselves while they rise against God, yea they are unworthy to be numbered among men: rather it behooves us to spit upon their heads than to obey them.” – John Calvin

Commentary on Rom. 13:1:

“Understand further that powers are from God, not as pestilence and famine, and wars, and other visitations for sin are said to be from Him, but because He has appointed them for the legitimate and just government of the world.  For though tyrannies and unjust exercise of power, as they are full of disorder (ἀταξίαςare not an ordained government, yet the right of government is ordained by God for the well-being of mankind.” – John Calvin

Rutherford, Samuel – Lex Rex: The Law and the Prince, Buy 1644 318 pp. see especially Questions 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30, 40.  See Questions 20 & 36 for the Doctrine of Interposition.  See Questions 28, 31, 32, & 33 regarding the Doctrine of the Lawfulness of Armed Resistance Against Tyrants.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1.      Abraham Kuyper, Lectures On Calvinism, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1981), 79.

2.      Francis A. Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man, Complete Works of Francis A. Schaffer, A Christian Worldview Vol. 5, (Westchester, Illinois, Crossway Book), p. 42.

3.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘DOMINION,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 869.

4.      John Knox as quoted in Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #46 in 1995 by Richard G. Kyle and is professor of history and religion at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas. He is author of The Mind of John Knox (Coronado, 1984).

5.      John Knox, The History of the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of Scotland, p. 317.

6.      Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (The Presbyterian And Reformed Publishing Company, Phillipsburg, New Jersey), p. 381.

7.      Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, (Westchester, Illinois, Crossway Books (1991) p. 213.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. Jack Kettler .com

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