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A Devotional Study on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

A Devotional Study on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15                                                  by Jack Kettler                                     

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2Corinthians 5:14-15 NKJV)

 An objective of this study will be to examine a favorite proof-text of those who promote the universal atonement of Christ that is limited in its efficacy as opposed to the specific effectual atonement of Christ. The conclusion of this study will end with a life application of the text.  

 A definition of universal atonement is:

 Jesus died as a propitiation for the sins of all humankind without exception but without the certainty of its benefits for any.

 According to this view, if the benefits were efficacious for all, then universal salvation for all would be inescapable. According to the universal atonement adherents, this is unacceptable since it would mean everyone, in the end, is saved. Universal salvation is un-biblical; therefore, the atonement is weakened of any efficacy. The atonement in this view is then merely hypothetical and dependent upon some action that the hypothetical recipient must perform.      

 A definition of the specific efficacious view of the atonement:

 Specific efficaciousatonement states that God the Father intended the work of salvation to provide a real substitutionary atonement for the elect of God. Consequently, Christ died for His sheep, those whom the Father had given to Him.

 Today in evangelicalism, the universal atonement doctrine is the majority viewpoint. The universal atonement has not always enjoyed this status. This study will take the contrary position or Reformed view that the atonement of Christ was specific and efficacious. The Reformed view limits the atonement to those for whom it is intended, Christ’s sheep.

 Both viewpoints limit the atonement. The universal view limits the atonement to those who respond in some way.  

 The commentary evidence will consist of two historical sources, along with two contemporary sources that argue for the specific view.

 Starting with Matthew Poole:

 Matthew Poole was born at York, England, in 1624, and educated at Emmanuel College, in Cambridge. He became minister of St. Michael-le-Quernes, London, in 1648, and devoted himself to the Presbyterian cause. He was one of the great Puritans theologians. Few names will stand so high as Poole’s in the Biblical scholarship of Great Britain.

 Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

“The love of Christ signifieth either that love towards the sons of men which was in Christ before the foundation of the world; for even then (as Solomon telleth us, Proverbs 8:31) he was rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth, and his delight was with the sons of men: which love showed itself in time, in his coming and assuming our natures, and dying upon the cross for us; John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Or else it signifieth that habit of love to Christ, which is in every believer; for it is true of either of these, that they constrain a believer’s soul.

Because (saith the apostle) we thus account, or reason, that if one died for all. All here is interpreted according to the various notions of men, about the extent of the death of Christ. Some by the term understanding all individuals; some, all the elect, or all those that should believe in Christ; others, some of all nations, Jews or Gentiles. Be it as it will, that point is not to be determined by this universal particle, which is as often in Scripture used in a restrained sense, as in a more general sense. The apostle here concludeth,

that if one died for all, then were all dead; which is to be understood of a spiritual death, as Ephesians 2:1. And the apostle’s argument dependeth upon this, that if all, for whom Christ died, had not been dead in sin, there then had been no need of his dying for to expiate their sin, and to redeem them from the guilt and power of it; but be they what they would, for whom Christ died, whether all individuals, or all the elect only, his dying for them was a manifest evidence that they were dead.

And he died for all those for whom he died, not only to redeem them from the guilt of sin, but also from their vain conversation; that they which live by his grace, might not make themselves the end of their life, and live to serve themselves, and gratify their own corrupt inclinations; but might make the service of Christ, the honour and glory of him who died for them, and also rose again from the dead, the end of their lives; arguing the reasonableness of a holy and Christian life, from the love and end of Christ in dying for them; according to that, Romans 14:7,8: For none of us, liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. This is one way by which a believer fetcheth strength from the death of Christ to die unto sin, and from his resurrection to live unto newness of life; he concluding: If Christ died, and rose again for him, that then he was once dead in trespasses and sins; and therefore he judgeth himself obliged, now that he is made spiritually alive, not to live to himself, or serve his own profit, honour, reputation, lusts, or passions, but to live in obedience to him, and to the honour and glory of him, who died to redeem him from the guilt and power of sin, and rose again to quicken him to newness of life and conversation, to the honour and glory of his Redeemer.” (1)

 The contemporary Simon J. Kistemaker:

 Simon J. Kistemaker was a New Testament scholar. He served as Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary. Kistemaker studied at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary before obtaining a Th.D. from the Free University in Amsterdam. – Wikipedia

 Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary:

“14. For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one died for all. Thus all died.

  The brevity of this verse need not diminish its pertinent message. These few words present the gospel that must be understood in the context of this chapter. Paul opposes the intruders and reminds the members of the Corinthian church of his faithfulness toward them as a minister of that gospel. Fully aware of the discord the intruders cause, he seeks to remove the conflict by reminding his readers of the gospel of Christ.

  a. “For the love of Christ controls us.” The connection between the preceding verse and this one is clear. Paul is in his right mind as he preaches the gospel of salvation. That gospel demonstrates the indescribable love of Christ toward his people.

  The New Testament employs the expression the love of Christ only three times: Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35); he refers to the dimensions of Christ’s love and states that it surpasses human knowledge (Eph. 3:18–19); and he notes that the love of Christ controls us (v. 14). God originates this love, for he sent his one and only Son to redeem sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). He elects his people in love and makes them more than conquerors through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:7; 8:37).

  Some translators supply an objective genitive in this sentence: “our love for Christ.” But most scholars understand the phrase as a subjective genitive: the love that Christ has for us. We are not saying that Christ’s love for us does not elicit our love for him, but the intent of this verse is to reveal Christ’s death as evidence of his love.

    The Greek verb synechei, which I have translated “controls,” reveals some variations. Here are a few representative versions:

       “The love of Christ impels us” “For Christ’s love compels us” “For the love of Christ urges us on” “For the love of Christ overwhelms us” “For the love of Christ lays hold of us.”

      The significance of this Greek verb is that Paul and all believers are completely dominated by the love of Christ, so that they live for him. As Paul writes elsewhere, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). As for Paul himself, he states that Christ controls him. And this claim his opponents can never utter, for they are governed not by Christ but by their own ambitions.

  b. “Because we are convinced that one died for all. Thus all died.” The clause one died for all, which eloquently expresses Christ’s love, is the gospel in summary—perhaps a creedal statement of the early church. We acclaim the truth of this statement, because all Scripture testifies to it (refer to 1 Cor. 15:3). It is by reading God’s Word that we come to this conclusion.

  That Christ died on Calvary’s cross is fact; that he died for all is gospel. But how do we explain the two terms for and all?

First, let us take the preposition for (Greek, hyper). It occurs in John 11:50, where the high priest Caiaphas suggests to the Sanhedrin that he would rather see one man die for the people than to see the whole nation perish. The preposition hyper with reference to Christ’s death means substitution, as for example in the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). Christ gave his body for his followers (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24; and see John 6:51). He suffered and died for sinners (1 Peter 2:21; 3:18); and he laid down his life for his own (1 John 3:16). In the statement, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3), the term hyper conveys the meaning that Jesus is both our representative and substitute. Christ represents us by pleading our cause before the Father (1 John 2:1), and he is our substitute by taking our place and being the bearer of our sins (v. 21). Similarly, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). When the preposition hyper occurs in the context of Christ’s death, it signifies substitution. Hence, the fact that Christ lifted the curse from humanity through his death is indeed a summary of the gospel.

  Next, the adjective all occurs twice in this verse and once in verse 15. Does Paul have in mind that Christ died for every human being? Or is he referring to every believer? We can say that the atoning death of Christ is sufficient for all people but efficient for all true believers. Jesus elected Judas Iscariot to be one of the twelve disciples, yet he calls him “a devil” and describes him as “the one doomed to destruction” (John 6:70; 17:12). Only those who appropriate Christ’s death in faith are included in the word all. We must examine, therefore, the usage of the word first in Paul’s epistles and then in verses 14 and 15. Thereafter we can fully appreciate the meaning of this passage.

  The use of “all” in Paul’s letters does not always mean universality. The apostle refuted the Corinthian motto “All things are permissible” (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23) in the contexts of sexual immorality and of food offered to idols. And Paul’s statement “For all things are yours” (1 Cor. 3:21) appears in his discussion about earthly and heavenly wisdom. As always, the context determines the sense of a given expression.

  If we look closely at the wording of verses 14 and 15, we notice that the expression all is modified by three persons or qualities: the governing love of Christ, the pronoun us, and those who live for him. Christ died for all who believe in him, for faith is an essential element in the believer’s redemption. To all true believers Christ extends his redeeming love. Although the pronoun us often refers to Paul and his co-workers, here it is broad enough to embrace all Christ’s followers.

  In addition, this text must be explained in harmony with similar passages (Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 15:22). Only those who have true faith in Christ Jesus receive eternal life, are reconciled to God, and are justified. Those who have died with Christ are recipients of eternal life (Rom. 6:8). They are the ones who are united with him in his death and resurrection and are alive to God.

  “Thus all died” is a brief statement that appears self-evident, if not superfluous. But the statement is a continuation of the preceding clause: “one died for all.” There the verb to die has a literal meaning that alludes to Christ’s physical death on the cross. Here that same verb may be taken in a figurative sense, namely, the removal of the curse of death (Gen. 2:17; 3:17–19; Gal. 3:13). Hence, the death of all who died points to the death that Christ, as both their representative and substitute, experienced for all his people. I make three observations: Paul draws a consequence from the previous clause by saying thus in “thus all died”; next, the Greek literally says “the all” to specify a particular group; and last, the verb died in this short clause shows the past tense and single action. The action occurred at Calvary but its significance is for the present.

  In other places, Paul pointedly states that God delivered his Son for us all (Rom. 8:32); now he also seems to say, “Christ died for us all.” All who have died metaphorically at the cross died with him, for Christ and his people are one body (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:18, 24). On the cross of Calvary, Christ Jesus delivered the deathblow to death and set his people free from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:6–7).

15. And he died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.

  a. “And he died for all.” With the conjunction and, Paul repeats the words of verse 14. He returns to the literal use of the verb to die to indicate the death of Christ at Golgotha. But the short clause that features the word all is explained by a lengthy sentence.

  b. “So that those who live might no longer live for themselves.” The purpose of Christ’s redemptive work is that his people, set free from the curse of sin, now enjoy life in fellowship with him. They are no longer spiritually dead but are the recipients of new life in Christ. Selfish goals and ambitions are set aside, because believers’ purpose now is to live for the One who died for them. Says Paul, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Rom. 14:7–8).

  c. “But for him who died for them and was raised.” In Greek, the stress is on the phrase for them, a phrase that is placed emphatically between “for him who” and “died and was raised.” Paul calls attention to this phrase and intends it as an explanation of the preceding clause (“and he died for all”). He states that Christ died and was raised for those people who now live for him and produce spiritual fruit (Rom. 6:11; 7:4). Through his death, Christ set them free from the power of this world. And through his resurrection, he places them under his dominion to have them serve him as citizens in his kingdom.

  Lastly, the two concepts died and raised are intimately related to the phrase for them and govern it. It is one thing to say that Christ died as our substitute, but to say that he was raised as our substitute is inexact. Accordingly, with respect to his resurrection, Christ is our forerunner (Phil. 3:21). God raised him from the dead with the intent that we too shall be like him. Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection harvest (1 Cor. 15:20, 49).” (2)

 John Murray:

 Professor John Murray (1898-1975) recognized in his lifetime as one of the leading Reformed theologians in the English-speaking world. In 1929, he was invited to teach Systematic Theology at Princeton, and did so for one year, before joining the Faculty of the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. There he shared with such scholars and Christian leaders as J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til in the great struggle to maintain the old Princeton tradition in theology, represented by the Hodges and B. B. Warfield. John Murray remained at Westminster until his retirement in 1966.

 John Murray’s Elucidation of 2Corinthians 5:14-15:

“The second biblical argument that we may adduce in support of the doctrine of definite atonement is that drawn from the fact that those for whom Christ died have themselves also died in Christ. In the New Testament, the more common way of representing the relation of believers to the death of Christ is to say that Christ died for them.

But there is also the strand of teaching to the effect that they died in Christ (cf. Rom 6:3-11; 2 Cor. 5:14; Eph. 2:4-7; Col 3:3). There can be no doubt respecting the proposition that all for whom Christ died also died in Christ. For Paul says explicitly, “one died for all: therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14) – there is denotative equation.

The significant feature of this teaching of the apostle for rest is, however, that all who died in Christ rose again with him. This also Paul states explicitly. “But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over him” (Rom. 6:8, 9).

Just as Christ died and rose again, so all who died in him rose again in him. And when we ask the question what this rising again in Christ involves, Paul leaves us in no doubt – it is a rising again to newness of life … (Rom 6:4, 5; 2 Cor. 5:14; Col 3:3).

To die with Christ is, therefore, to die to sin and to rise with him to the life of new obedience, to live not to ourselves but to him who died for us and rose again. The inference is inevitable that those for whom Christ died are those and those only who die to sin and live to righteousness. Now it is a plain fact that not all die to sin and live in newness of life. Hence, we cannot say that all men distributively died with Christ. And neither can we say that Christ died for all men, for the simple reason that all for whom Christ died also died in Christ. If we cannot say that Christ died for all men, neither can we say that the atonement is universal – it is the death of Christ for men that specifically constitutes the atonement…

In concluding our discussion of the extent of the atonement it may be well to reflect upon one or two passages which have frequently been appealed to as settling the debate in favour of universal atonement. 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 is one of these. On two occasions in this text, Paul says that Christ “died for all.” But that this expression is not to be understood as distributively universal can be shown by the terms of the passage itself when interpreted in the light of Paul’s teaching.

We have found already that according to Paul’s teaching all for whom Christ died also died in Christ. He states that truth emphatically – “one died for all: therefore all died.” But elsewhere he makes perfectly plain that those who died in Christ rise again with him (Rom 6:8). Although this latter truth is not stated in so many words in this passage, it is surely implied in the words, “he (Christ) died for all in order that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him who died for them and rose again.” …

Hence, those referred to as “those who live” must have the same extent as those embraced in the preceding clause, “he died for all.” And since “those who live” do not embrace the whole human race, neither can the “all” referred to in the clause, “he died for all” embrace the entire human family. Corroboration is derived from the concluding words of [2 Cor. 5:15], “but to him who died for them and rose again.” Here again the death and resurrection of Christ are conjoined and the analogy of Paul’s teaching in similar contexts is to the effect that those who are the beneficiaries of Christ’s death are also of his resurrection and therefore of his resurrection life.

So when Paul says here, “died for them and rose again” the implication is that those for whom he died are those for whom he rose, and those for whom he rose are those who live in newness of life. In terms of Paul’s teaching then and, specifically, in terms of the import of this passage we cannot interpret the “for all” of 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 as distributively universal. So far from lending support to the doctrine of universal atonement this text does the opposite.” (3)

 John Gill:

 John Gill (23 November 1697 – 14 October 1771) was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian who held to a firm Calvinistic soteriology. Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School, where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11. – Wikipedia

 John Gill, Exposition of the Old & New Testaments:

“The persons for whom Christ died are all; not every individual of mankind, but all his people, all his sheep, all the members of his church, or all the sons he, as the great Captain of salvation, brings to glory. Wherefore this text does not make for the doctrine of general redemption; for it should be observed, that it does not say that Christ died for “all men”, but for “all”; and so, agreeably to the Scriptures, may be understood of all the persons mentioned. Moreover, in the latter part of the text it is said, that those for whom Christ died, for them he rose again; he died for no more, nor for others, than those for whom he rose again: now those for whom he rose again, he rose for their justification; wherefore, if Christ rose for the justification of all men, all would be justified, or the end of Christ’s resurrection would not be answered; but all men are not, nor will they be justified, some will be condemned; hence it follows, that Christ did not rise from the dead for all men, and consequently did not die for all men: besides, the “all” for whom Christ died, died with him, and through his death are dead both to the law and sin; and he died for them, that they might live, not to themselves, but to him; neither of which are true of all the individuals of mankind: to which may be added, that the context explains the all of such who are in Christ, are new creatures, are reconciled to God, whose trespasses are not imputed to them, for whom Christ was made sin, and who are made the righteousness of God in him; which cannot be said of all men.” (4)

 The following Scriptures establish this restriction or limitation in greater precision: 

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

 Christ wounded for our transgressions, not everyone’s.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:11-12)

 We see explicit qualifiers in the above Isaiah passages that restrict Christ’s death, using words like many (not all) bare their (again, not all).

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

 Matthew could not be more explicit; Jesus “shall save his people.” Jesus effectively paid for the sins of His people.

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

 The Son of man came to be “a ransom for many” (not all).

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

“And he said unto them; this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.” (Mark 14:24)

 In these two passages, Christ says His blood is shed “for many” (not everyone). If Christ’s atonement was universal, this type of restrictive language makes no sense.

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)

 Christ lays down His life for “the sheep,” not the goats.

“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word….I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine….And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them….And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth….Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word….Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:6, 9-10, 19, 20, 24)

 Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer is for those (they) whom the Father had given Him. Not every person who has ever lived or will live.

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)

 Only those who were ordained to eternal life believed. Christ’s atoning sacrifice was intended for and effective for those who were ordained to eternal life.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

 The Church, not the world, is purchased with his own blood.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us [elect] all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

 God delivered up his Son for us all, the elect.

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” (1Corinthians 2:7)

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5:21)

 Christ bears the sins of His people by actually paying for our sins to the satisfaction of the Father.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

 Our redemption involves delivering us from our sins. Christ’s blood was the redemption price that paid for our salvation, according to the riches of his grace. This redemption is real and effective for those for whom it was intended.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ, also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25)

 Christ gave himself for the His Church, not everyone indiscriminately.

 In the above Scriptural passages, it is quite clear that the design of the atonement was limited. Christ died for His people, i.e., the Church. In John chapter seventeen, the intercessory prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ was restricted to His people. It was not a universal prayer for every person on earth.

 An objection to this understanding:

 The most common argument against the restriction seen in the above passages is verses that speak of Christ’s atoning death in a universal sense, such as 2Corinthians 5:14. In addition, the apostle says he is the propitiation for our: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world in 1John 2:2. The apostle also tells us that Jesus is called the Saviour of the world in John 4:42, and another passage; The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world John 1:29. The apostle Paul also appears to suggest a universal view of the atonement when he says, “Who gave himself a ransom for all” 1Timothy 2:6.

 It should be noted, that these verses are easily found to be in harmony with other passages that support the doctrine of limitation or a restriction in the extent of atonement by understanding that the Scriptures use the words; “world,” or “all” many times in a qualified sense. There is nothing in the broader context of Scripture that demands these passages have to mean every person in the whole world.

 Understanding this limitation is unmistakable, especially when other Scriptural passages are taken into account that act as qualifiers. For example, we see that; and it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed Luke 2:1, And all went to be taxed, every one into his city Luke 2:3. These passages could not be talking about every individual in the whole world. This decree of Caesar did not pertain to the indigenous Indians in the Americas and to those in Africa. To think so would be absurd.

 Moreover, when the Pharisees said, do you see how you can do nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him in John 12:19. Can anyone maintain that every person in the world went after or followed Christ? Clearly, there is a restriction or limit to the word “world.” The word “world” by the context has to be limited to what happening in the nation of Israel during the First-Century. It should be abundantly clear that the word or phrases “all” or “all the world” do not mean every person on the planet. These types of objections fail to mitigate against the limitation of the atonement because it takes certain words out of context by forcing an absolute universal meaning onto the words.

 In summary:

 Those arguing for a universal atonement when seeing the passage in 2Corinthians, “died for all” presume that “all” refers to all human beings or everyone.

 The Corinthian passage can be rendered “One died for all.” Thus, “all died.” If this translation is correct, the passage is saying the same thing as Paul teaches in Roman 5:15.

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” (Romans 5:15 NASB)

 In 2Corinthians 5:14-15, it should be noted that Paul does not say that Christ died for all that were dead, but that all were dead for whom He died.

 Those disagreeing with this specific atonement of Christ need to ask themselves if they somehow think this limitation is unfair. What is unfair about “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15)?


 Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

“(15) Should not henceforth live unto themselves.—St. Paul was not writing a theological treatise, and the statement was accordingly not meant to be an exhaustive presentment of all the purposes of God in the death of Christ. It was sufficient to give prominence to the thought that one purpose was that men should share at once His death and His life; should live not in selfishness, but in love; not to themselves, but to Him, as He lived to God. (Comp. Romans 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:5-7.) Now we see the full force of “the love of Christ constraineth us,” and “we love Him because He first loved us.” If He died for us, can we, without shame, frustrate the purpose of His death by not living to Him?” (5)

 The purpose of Christ’s death was that the people for which He died, the “all”, may no longer live for themselves, rather, live for Him and in Him who for their sake died and was raised.


  1. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, 2Corinthians, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 615.
  2. Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, 2Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1986), p. 186-190.
  3. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1996), pp. 69-72.
  4. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, 2Corinthians, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs, 2011), p. 520.
  5. Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 2Corinthians, Vol.7, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 281.

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

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Biblical considerations and other observations about the “Critical race Theory”

Biblical considerations and other observations about the “Critical race Theory”

“Critical race theory (CRT), the view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race itself, instead of being biologically grounded and natural, is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour. According to critical race theory (CRT), racial inequality emerges from the social, economic, and legal differences that white people create between “races” to maintain elite white interests in labour markets and politics, giving rise to poverty and criminality in many minority communities.” – Britannica.

The theory has been misnamed. It is anything but critical. The contradictory or confused race theory would be much more apropos.    

For example, how does this theory work, and who is the guilty race in Mexico, Africa, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and China?

The demographics of a country are a more natural explanation employment disparities than intentional racism.

A quick Scriptural refutation of the hypocrisy of the CRT:

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV)

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10 ESV)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 KJV)

Speaking with familiarity with how church discipline works in Presbyterian Churches if any member is caught spreading CRT, they should have the Matthew 18 process begun immediately. The process starts with the local session, then moves to the regional Presbytery, and if needed, then to the General Assembly.     

“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17 KJV)

The fruit of the CRT is sowing disunity in the Church of Christ and the body politic.   

The CRT is a sophisticated but sub intellectual insidious form of sin. It should be cast out the church and individuals promoting this sin, called to repentance. 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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A Devotional Study on Psalm 119:11

A Devotional Study on Psalm 119:11                                                              by Jack Kettler                                     

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11 KJV)

 Using the older King James Version, we have the use of “hid” in Psalm 119:11. What does this hiding mean? Does this contradict other passages in Scripture about not hiding our faith?

 For example, the gospel of Matthew tells us not to hide our light under a bushel, which means not to mask, conceal, or bury our talents and gifts given by God.  “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15-16 Berean Study Bible)

 In Matthew, we see Jesus unequivocally telling believers not to hide their faith.

 However, in Psalm 119:11, the hiding of God’s Word is a good thing. Lexical help will surely be profitable to understand this seeming ambiguity.

 From Strong’s Lexicon, we learn more about the Hebrew word צָפַ֣נְתִּי (hidden, hid) and its range of meaning:

 I have hidden

צָפַ֣נְתִּי (ṣā·p̄an·tî)

Verb – Qal – Perfect – first person common singular

Strong’s Hebrew 6845: 1) to hide, treasure, treasure or store up 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to hide, treasure, treasure up 1a2) to lie hidden, lurk 1b) (Niphal) to be hidden, be stored up 1c) (Hiphil) to hide, hide from discovery

 The lexicon is helpful, allowing us to see that hiding can be storing up or to treasure up, is a good thing.

 There is a wrong kind of hiding God’s Word, alluded to in Psalm 40:10:

“I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart…” (Psalm 40:10 KJV)

 The Psalmist declares in the first part of Psalm 40:10 that he has not hidden God’s righteousness. Hiding God’s Word would be analogous to putting the light of the gospel under a basket or bushel. 

 In the Psalm 40:10 passage, the Psalmist states that he has not concealed or hid God’s Word.

 As seen from these two passages from Psalms, there are two types of hiding, one good and one wrong. David did not conceal in his heart; God’s righteousness. He did not keep it to himself. On the contrary, he declared God’s righteousness.

 The next parallel passages from the New Testament gives a full understanding of the Psalmist’s use of “hid” in Psalm 119:11 by comparison with a similar New Testament word:

“But Mary treasured (συνετήρει) up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)

“But Mary kept (συνετήρει) all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 (KJV)

 From Strong’s Lexicon, we learn about the Greek word συνετήρει (treasured) and its similar range of meaning as the Hebrew צָפַ֣נְתִּי. (hidden). In fact, Psalm 119:11 is listed as a parallel passage to Luke 2:19:

 treasured up

συνετήρει (synetērei)

Verb – Imperfect Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 4933: From sun and tereo; to keep closely together, i.e. to conserve; mentally, to remember.

 The second part of Psalm 40:10 is positive and reads: “I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (KJV)

 Likewise, the second part of 119:11 reads: “that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11 KJV)

 Why did he hide it?

 The hiding or treasuring up in 119:11 is for a moral or righteous purpose, namely, “that I might not sin against thee.” Storing God’s Word in the heart is a protection against the enticement to sin.

 In closing:

 From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, Not only heard and read it, but received it into his affections; mixed it with faith, laid it up in his mind and memory for future use; preserved it in his heart as a choice treasure, where it might dwell richly, and be of service to him on many occasions; and particularly be of the following use:

that I might not sin against thee; the word of God is a most powerful antidote against sin, when it has a place in the heart; not only the precepts of it forbid sin, but the promises of it influence and engage to purity of heart and life, and to the perfecting of holiness in the fear of the Lord; and all the doctrines of grace in it effectually teach the saints to deny all sin and worldly lusts, and to live a holy life and conversation; see 2 Corinthians 7:1.” (1)

 An Exposition of Psalm 119:11 from the Treasury of David by C. H. Spurgeon:

“Verse 11. When a godly man sues for a favour from God he should carefully use every means for obtaining it, and accordingly, as the Psalmist had asked to be preserved from wandering, he here shows us the holy precaution which he had taken to prevent his falling into sin.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart. His heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart. All that he had of the word written, and all that had been revealed to him by the voice of God, — all, without exception, he had stored away in his affections, as a treasure to be preserved in a casket, or as a choice seed to be buried in a fruitful soil: what soil more fruitful than a renewed heart, wholly seeking the Lord? The word was God’s own, and therefore precious to God’s servant. He did not wear a text on his heart as a charm, but he hid it in his heart as a rule. He laid it up in the place of love and life, and it filled the chamber with sweetness and light. We must in this imitate David, copying his heart work as well as his outward character. First, we must mind that what we believe is truly God’s word; that being done, we must hide or treasure it each man for himself; and we must see that this is done, not as a mere feat of the memory, but as the joyful act of the affections.

That I might not sin against thee. Here was the object aimed at. As one has well said, — Here is the best thing — “thy word”; hidden in the best place, — “in my heart;” for the best of purposes, — “that I might not sin against thee.” This was done by the Psalmist with personal care, as a man carefully hides away his money when he fears thieves, — in this case the thief dreaded was sin. Sinning “against God” is the believer’s view of moral evil; other men care only when they offend against men. God’s word is the best preventive against offending God, for it tells us his mind and will, and tends to bring our spirit into conformity with the divine Spirit. No cure for sin in the life is equal to the word in the seat of life, which is the heart. There is no hiding from sin unless we hide the truth in our souls.

A very pleasant variety of meaning is obtained by laying stress upon the words “thy” and “thee.” He speaks to God, he loves the word because it is God’s word, and he hates sin because it is sin against God himself. If he vexed others, he minded not so long as he did not offend his God. If we would not cause God displeasure we must treasure up his own word.

The personal way in which the man of God did this is also noteworthy: “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” Whatever others might choose to do he had already made his choice and placed the Word in his innermost soul as his dearest delight, and however others might transgress, his aim was after holiness: “That I might not sin against thee.” This was not what he purposed to do, but what he had already done: many are great at promising, but the Psalmist had been true in performing: hence he hoped to see a sure result. When the word is hidden in the heart the life shall be hidden from sin.

The parallelism between the second octave and the first is still continued. Psalms 119:3 speaks of doing no iniquity, while this verse treats of the method of not sinning. When we form an idea of a blessedly holy man ( Psalms 119:3 ) it becomes us to make an earnest effort to attain unto the same sacred innocence and divine happiness, and this can only be through heart piety founded on the Scriptures.


Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. There laid up in the heart the word has effect. When young men only read the letter of the Book, the word of promise and instruction is deprived of much of its power. Neither will the laying of it up in the mere memory avail. The word must be known and prized, and laid up in the heart; it must occupy the affection as well as the understanding; the whole mind requires to be impregnated with the word of God. Revealed things require to be seen. Then the word of God in the heart — the threatenings, the promises, the excellencies of God’s word — and God himself realized, the young man would be inwardly fortified; the understanding enlightened, conscience quickened — he would not sin against his God. John Stephen.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. In proportion as the word of the King is present in the heart, “there is power” against sin (Ec 8:4). Let us use this means of absolute power more, and more life and more holiness will be ours. Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836-1879.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart. It is fit that the word, being “more precious than gold, yea, than much fine gold,” a peerless pearl, should not be laid up in the porter’s lodge only — the outward ear; but even in the cabinet of the mind. Dean Boys, quoted by James Ford.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart. There is great difference between Christians and worldlings. The worldling hath his treasures in jewels without him; the Christian hath them within. Neither indeed is there any receptacle wherein to receive and keep the word of consolation but the heart only. If thou have it in thy mouth only, it shall be taken from thee; if thou have it in thy book only, Thou shalt miss it when thou hast most to do with it; but if thou lay it up in thy heart, as Mary did the words of the angel, no enemy shall ever be able to take it from thee, and thou shalt find it’s comfortable treasure in time of thy need. William Cowper.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart. This saying, to hide, imports that David studied not to be ambitious to set forth himself and to make a glorious show before men; but that he had God for a witness of that secret desire which was within him. He never looked to worldly creatures; but being content that he had so great a treasure, he knew full well that God who had given it him would so surely and safely guard it, as that it should not be laid open to Satan to be taken away. Saint Paul also declareth unto us (1Ti 1:19) that the chest wherein this treasure must be hid is a good conscience. For it is said, that many being void of this good conscience have lost also their faith, and have been robbed thereof. As if a man should forsake his goods and put them in hazard, without shutting a door, it were an easy matter for thieves to come in and to rob and spoil him of all; even so, if we leave at random to Satan the treasures which God hath given us in his word, without it be hidden in this good conscience, and in the very bottom of, our heart as David here speaketh, we shall be spoiled thereof. John Calvin.

Verse 11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart. — Remembered, approved, delighted in it. William Nicholson on (1671), in “David’s Harp Strung and Tuned.”

Verse 11. Thy word. The saying, thy oracle; any communication from God to the soul, whether promise, or command, or answer. It means a direct and distinct message, while “word” is more general, and applies to the whole revelation. This is the ninth of the ten words referring to the revelation of God in this Psalm. James G. Murphy, 1875.

Verse 11. In my heart. Bernard observes, bodily bread in the cupboard may he eaten of mice, or moulder and waste: but when it is taken down into the body, it is free from such danger. If God enable thee to take thy soul food into thine heart, it is free from all hazards. George Swinnock, 1627-1673.

Verse 11. That I might not sin against thee. Among many excellent virtues of the word of God, this is one: that if we keep it in our heart, it keeps us from sin, which is against God and against ourselves. We may mark it by experience, that the word is first stolen either out of the mind of man, and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before that a man can be drawn to the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared. William Cowper.


Verse 11. — The best thing, in the best place, for the best of purposes.” (2)

The Bane and Antidote of Souls

I. THE BANE of souls. What is the bane? Sin. A little word, but a terrible thing. The Bible represents it as a slavery, a disease a pollution, a poison, etc. It is loathsome to the Creator; it is the curse of the creature. This is the bane.

II. The ANTIDOTE of souls. God’s Word contains the power, and the only power, to destroy sin. (Homilist.)” (3)


  1. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs, 2011), p. 1375.
  2. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 165-166.
  3. David Thomas, The Homilist; or, The pulpit for the people, (England, Wentworth Press), p. 383.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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An Exegetical Study of Romans 8:30

An Exegetical Study of Romans 8:30                                                                                  by Jack Kettler

Important context:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

“Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

In the following interlinear layout of the verse, there is the Strong’s number followed by the transliteration of the Greek word, then the Greek word itself, and finally the English words.

3739               161    4309                 3778        2532 2564         2532 3739 2564          3778      2532 1344             3739

hous                de      proōrisen         toutous    kai    ekalesen   kai    hous ekalesen     toutous  kai    edikaiōsen    hous

οὓς                  δὲ      προώρισεν    ,   τούτους   καὶ    ἐκάλεσεν ; καὶ   οὓς   ἐκάλεσεν  ,   τούτους  καὶ    ἐδικαίωσεν  ; οὓς

Those whom   then He predestined  these      also    He called  also  whom He called     these      also   He justified   whom

161     1344              3778       2532 1392

de        edikaiōsen    toutous   kai     edoxasen

δὲ        ἐδικαίωσεν  , τούτους  καὶ    ἐδόξασεν  .

then     He justified   these      also  He glorified

In Romans, 3:30 the Aorist Indicative Active verb tense used four times.

The Aorist Indicative Active tense is used for an action that has already been completed in the past with an expectancy of future certainty. Said another way, this tense uses the past tense for the present or future time.

It will be profitable to look at the four instances of the aorist indicative active tense in Romans 8:30 along with Reformed confessional definitions of predestination, calling, justification, and glorification along with a Scripture citation, and dictionary entries.

Strong’s Lexicon

He predestined

προώρισεν (proōrisen) 4309

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 4309: To foreordain, predetermine, mark out beforehand. From pro and horizo; to limit in advance, i.e. predetermine.


1. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

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

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

7. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Easton’s Bible Dictionary on Predestination:

“This word is properly used only with reference to God’s plan or purpose of salvation. The Greek word rendered “predestinate” is found only in these six passages, Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29 Romans 8:30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5 Ephesians 1:11; and in all of them it has the same meaning. They teach that the eternal, sovereign, immutable, and unconditional decree or “determinate purpose” of God governs all events.

This doctrine of predestination or election is beset with many difficulties. It belongs to the “secret things” of God. But if we take the revealed word of God as our guide, we must accept this doctrine with all its mysteriousness, and settle all our questionings in the humble, devout acknowledgment, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

For the teaching of Scripture on this subject let the following passages be examined in addition to those referred to above; Genesis 21:12; Exodus 9:16; 33:19; Deuteronomy 10:15; 32:8; Joshua 11:20; 1Samuel 12:22; 2Chronicles 6:6; Psalms 33:12; 65:4; 78:68; 135:4; Isaiah 41:1-10; Jeremiah 1:5; Mark 13:20; Luke 22:22; John 6:37; 15:16; John 17:2 John 17:6 John 17:9; Acts 2:28; 3:18; 4:28; 13:48; 17:26; Romans 9:11 Romans 9:18 Romans 9:21; 11:5; Ephesians 3:11; 1Thessalonians 1:4; 2Thessalonians 2:13; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:2. (See DECREES OF GOD; ELECTION.)

Hodge has well remarked that, ‘rightly understood, this doctrine (1) exalts the majesty and absolute sovereignty of God, while it illustrates the riches of his free grace and his just displeasure with sin.

It enforces upon us the essential truth that salvation is entirely of grace. That no one can either complain if passed over, or boast himself if saved.

It brings the inquirer to absolute self-despair and the cordial embrace of the free offer of Christ.

In the case of the believer who has the witness in himself, this doctrine at once deepens his humility and elevates his confidence to the full assurance of hope.’” (1)

Strong’s Lexicon

He called

ἐκάλεσεν (ekalesen) 2564

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 2564: (a) I call, summon, invite, (b) I call, name. Akin to the base of keleuo; to ‘call’.

Westminster Chapter X of Effectual Calling:

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

“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology on Calling:

“Election. “Call” is one of the biblical words associated with the theme of election. In both Hebrew and Greek, “call” can be used in the sense of “naming” (Gen 2:19; Luke 1:13), and in biblical thought to give a name to something or someone was to bestow an identity. Names often encapsulated a message about the person concerned (Ruth 1:20-21; John 1:42; cf. Matt 16:18). When God is the one who bestows names, the action is almost equivalent to creation: “Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isa 40:26).

This theme is developed particularly in Isaiah 40-55, which forms an important background to the New Testament use of the term. The creative “calling” of the stars is matched by the “calling” of Abraham, which meant both the summons to leave Ur and the call to be the father of Israel: “When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many” (51:2). Similarly Israel the nation has been called-“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you” (41:9; cf. 48:12)-and this means that they are “called by my name … created for my glory” (43:7; cf. Hos 1:10). God has bestowed his own name upon Israel as part of the creative act that made Israel his own elect people. Now also the Servant of the Lord has been “called” to be the Savior of the world (42:6; 49:1); and so has Cyrus, to be the instrument of judgment of Babylon (48:15).

Thus in Isaiah “call” brings together the ideas of naming, election, ownership, and appointment, as the word is used with different nuances in different contexts. It connotes the creative word of God, by which he Acts effectively within the world.” Stephen Miller (2)

Strong’s Lexicon

He [also] justified,

ἐδικαίωσεν (edikaiōsen) 1344

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 1344: From dikaioo, to render just or innocent.

Concerning justification, the Westminster Confession of Faith reads:

Those of whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

 “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16)

 Easton’s Bible Dictionary on Justification:


A forensic term, opposed to condemnation. As regards its nature, it is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon (q.v.) of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law (Romans 5:1-10).

It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3-9). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness which perfectly and forever satisfies the law, namely, Christ’s righteousness (2Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:6-8).

The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith in or on the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is called a “condition,” not because it possesses any merit, but only because it is the instrument, the only instrument by which the soul appropriates or apprehends Christ and his righteousness (Romans 1:17; Romans 3:25 Romans 3:26; Romans 4:20 Romans 4:22; Philippians 3:8-11; Galatians 2:16).

The act of faith, which thus secures our justification, secures also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to licentiousness (Romans 6:2-7). Good works, while not the ground, are the certain consequence of justification (6:14; 7:6). (See GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO.)” (3)

 Strong’s Lexicon

He also glorified.

ἐδόξασεν (edoxasen) 1392

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 1392: To glorify, honor, to bestow glory on. From doxa, to render glorious.

 The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 38 states:

 Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God, to all eternity.

 “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39, 40)

 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

 Glorify from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:


glo’-ri-fi: The English word is the equivalent of a number of Hebrew and Greek words whose essential significance is discussed more fully under the word GLORY (which see). The word “glorious” in the phrases “make or render glorious” is used most frequently as a translation of verbs in the original, rather than of genuine adjectives. In dealing with the verb, it will be sufficient to indicate the following most important uses.

(1) Men may glorify God, that is, give to Him the worship and reverence which are His due (Isa 24:15; 25:3; Ps 22:23; Da 5:23; Sirach 43:30; Mt 5:16, and generally in the Synoptic Gospels and in some other passages of the New Testament).

(2) God, Yahweh (Yahweh), glorifies His people, His house, and in the New Testament, His Son, manifesting His approval of them and His interest in them, by His interposition on their behalf (Isa 55:5; Jer 30:19; The Wisdom of Solomon 18:8; Sirach 45:3; Joh 7:39, and often in the Fourth Gospel).

(3) By a usage which is practically confined to the Old Testament, Yahweh glorifies Himself, that is, secures the recognition of His honor and majesty, by His direction of the course of history, or by His interposition in history, either the history of His own people or of the world at large (Le 10:3; Isa 26:15; Eze 28:22; Hag 1:8). Walter R. Betteridge” Walter R. Betteridge (4)

 A sample of cross-references to illustrate additional usages of the Aorist Indicative Active tense:

 Matthew 3:17:

“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

Strong’s Lexicon

I am well pleased !

εὐδόκησα (eudokēsa)

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 1st Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 2106: To be well-pleased, think it good, be resolved. From eu and dokeo, to think well of, i.e. Approve, specially, to approbate.

 Matthew 12:28:

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Strong’s Lexicon

has come

ἔφθασεν (ephthasen)

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 5348: Apparently a primary verb; to be beforehand, i.e. Anticipate or precede; by extension, to have arrived at.

 Romans 9:23:

“And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”

Strong’s Lexicon

He prepared in advance

προητοίμασεν (proētoimasen)

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 4282: To prepare or appoint beforehand, predestine. From pro and hetoimazo; to fit up in advance.

 1Corinthians 2:7:

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,”

Strong’s Lexicon

Destined [ordained]

προώρισεν (proōrisen)

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 4309: To foreordain, predetermine, mark out beforehand. From pro and horizo, to limit in advance, i.e. predetermine.

 Ephesians 2:6:

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

[God] raised [us] up with [Christ]

συνήγειρεν (synēgeiren)

Verb – Aorist Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 4891: To raise along with. From sun and egeiro, to rouse in company with, i.e. to revivify in resemblance to.

 Paul’s argument in Romans 8:30 is distinctive. This argument has been referred to as the golden-chain-of- salvation and has a long tradition. What is meant by this?

 William Hendriksen explains this concerning Paul’s argument in the Romans passage calling it The Salvation Chain:

 “The Salvation Chain

When Paul states that to those who love God and are called according to his purpose all things work together for good, he is not thinking only of those things that can be seen round about us now, or those events that are taking place now; no, he includes even time and eternity. The chain of salvation he is discussing reaches back to that which, considered from a human standpoint, could be called the dim past, “the quiet recess of eternity,” and forward into the boundless future.

One very important fact must be mentioned: every link in this chain of salvation represents a divine action. To be sure, human responsibility and action is not thereby ruled out, but here (Rom. 8:29, 30) it is never specifically mentioned.

There are five links in this chain. Note that the predicate of the first clause becomes the subject of the next one, a construction called sorites.” * (5)

 *Note: The Sorites is an argument made of arguments that involve premises and a conclusion. The premises are arranged so that the consequent of one premise becomes the antecedent of the next. The repeating of information and connection of the premises in the argument is why the Sorites is known as a chain-argument.

 Consider Oshea Davis in his excellent analysis of Romans 8:28-30 – Logical Chain Argument makes pertinent comments:

“The logical deduction Paul uses here is called a Sorites…I see examples of other people mentioning this sorites in Romans 8:30, however, they are prone to leave out verse 29, and thus only make this a 4-premise syllogism. This is a mistake, because the first premise comes from verse 29; and thus, the syllogism is in fact 5 premises.

At any rate, the first premise starts with, Those whom God foreloved are those He predestined.” The rest of the verse gives us extra insight as to what this predestination results in for both Jesus and for the ones predestined; however, this is not relevant for the immediate syllogism being made by Paul, because the next verse simply picks up at the category of, “whom He predestined … .” The predicate of premise is the subject of the starting premise in verse 30.  Paul does not give the conclusion of this syllogism.  However, in my experience of reading Paul he normally does gives the conclusion. I suspect that he does not here simply because he so exactly spells out the rest of this enthymeme sorites that the conclusion it is not needed, for it is obvious.”

 Mr. Davis continues and then lays out the sorites argument in the logical form:

 “Foreloved would be in decree 2. Predestination would be decree 3. Called would be 8. Justification would be 9. And Glorification would be point 10.

(A) Those whom God foreloved are (B) those whom God predestined.

(B) Those whom God predestined are (C) those whom God called.

(C) Those whom God called are (D) those whom God justified.

(D) Those whom God justified are (E) those whom God glorified.

Therefore, (A) those whom God foreloved are (E) those whom God glorified.” (6)

 Commentary on Romans 8:28–30 by the renowned professor of Westminster Theological Seminary, John Murray B. 1898 – D. 1975:

“28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:

30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

This is the third ground of encouragement for the support of the children of God in the sufferings they are called upon to endure in this life. It consists in the consolation and assurance to be derived from the fact that all things work together for their good.

28 The version is probably correct in introducing these verses by the conjunction “and” rather than by “but”. The thought is not apparently adversative but transitional. When the apostle says “we know”, he is again intimating that the truth asserted is not one to be gainsaid. “To them that love God” is placed in the position of emphasis and characterizes those to whom the assurance belongs. They are described in terms of their subjective attitude. In such terms no criterion could be more discriminating, for love to God is both the most elementary and the highest mark of being in the favour of God. “All things” may not be restricted, though undoubtedly the things contemplated are particularly those that fall within the compass of believers’ experience, especially suffering and adversity. Some of the ablest expositors maintain that “work together” does not mean that all things work in concert and cooperation with one another but that all things work in concert with the believer or with God.50 But it is unnecessary and perhaps arbitrary to depart from the more natural sense, namely, that in the benign and all-embracing plan of God the discrete elements all work together for good to them that love God. It is not to be supposed that they have any virtue or efficacy in themselves to work in concert for this end. Though not expressed, the ruling thought is that in the sovereign love and wisdom of God they are all made to converge upon and contribute to that goal. Many of the things comprised are evil in themselves and it is the marvel of God’s wisdom and grace that they, when taken in concert with the whole, are made to work for good. Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot. “To them that are called according to purpose” is a further definition of those to whom this assurance belongs. But the difference is significant. The former characterized them in terms of their subjective attitude, the latter in terms of God’s action exclusively. In the latter, therefore, there is an intimation of the reason why all things work for good—the action of God involved in their call is the guarantee that such will be the result.51 The call is the effectual call (cf. 1:7; vs. 30) which ushers into the fellowship of Christ (1Cor. 1:9) and is indissolubly linked with predestination, on the one hand, and glorification, on the other. “According to purpose” refers without question to God’s determinate and eternal purpose (cf. 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; 2Tim. 1:9). The last cited text is Paul’s own expansion of the thought summed up in the word “purpose”: “who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal”. Determinate efficacy characterizes the call because it is given in accordance with eternal purpose.

29 This verse unfolds in greater detail the elements included in the “purpose” of verse 28, and verses 29, 30 are a “continued confirmation”52 of the truth that all things work for good to those who are the called of God. There is no question but the apostle here introduces us to the eternal counsel of God as it pertains to the people of God and delineates for us its various aspects.

“Whom he foreknew”—few questions have provoked more difference of interpretation than that concerned with the meaning of God’s foreknowledge as referred to here. It is, of course, true that the word is used in the sense of “to know beforehand” (cf. Acts 26:5; 2Pet. 3:17). As applied to God it could, therefore, refer to his eternal prevision, his foresight of all that would come to pass. It has been maintained by many expositors that this sense will have to be adopted here. Since, however, those whom God is said to have foreknown are distinguished from others and identified with those whom God also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, and since the expression “whom he foreknew” does not, on this view of its meaning, intimate any distinction by which the people of God could be differentiated, various ways of supplying this distinguishing element have been proposed. The most common is to suppose that what is in view is God’s foresight of faith.53 God foreknew who would believe; he foreknew them as his by faith. On this interpretation predestination is conceived of as conditioned upon this prevision of faith. Frequently, though not necessarily in all instances, this view of foreknowledge is considered to obviate the doctrine of unconditional election, and so dogmatic interest is often apparent in those who espouse it.

It needs to be emphasized that the rejection of this interpretation is not dictated by a predestinarian interest. Even if it were granted that “foreknew” means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true, that God foresees faith; he foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith he himself creates (cf. John 3:3–8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet. 1:2). Hence his eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by his decree to generate this faith in those whom he foresees as believing, and we are thrown back upon the differentiation which proceeds from God’s own eternal and sovereign election to faith and its consequents. The interest, therefore, is simply one of interpretation as it should be applied to this passage. On exegetical grounds we shall have to reject, the view that “foreknew” refers to the foresight of faith.

It should be observed that the text says, “whom he foreknew”; whom is the object of the verb and there is no qualifying addition. This, of itself, shows that, unless there is some other compelling reason, the expression “whom he foreknew” contains within itself the differentiation which is presupposed. If the apostle had in mind some “qualifying adjunct”54 it would have been simple to supply it. Since he adds none we are forced to inquire if the actual terms he uses can express the differentiation implied. The usage of Scripture provides an affirmative

answer. Although the term “foreknow” is used seldom in the New Testament, it is altogether indefensible to ignore the meaning so frequently given to the word “know” in the usage of Scripture; “foreknow” merely adds the thought of “beforehand” to the word “know”. Many times in Scripture “know” has a pregnant meaning which goes beyond that of mere cognition.55 It is used in a sense practically synonymous with “love”, to set regard upon, to know with peculiar interest, delight, affection, and action (cf. Gen. 18:19; Exod. 2:25; Psalm 1:6; 144:3; Jer. 1:5; Amos 3:2; Hosea 13:5; Matt. 7:23; 1 Cor. 8:3; Gal. 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 3:1). There is no reason why this import of the word “know” should not be applied to “foreknow” in this passage, as also in 11:2 where it also occurs in the same kind of construction and where the thought of election is patently present (cf. 11:5, 6.)56 When this import is appreciated, then there is no reason for adding any qualifying notion and “whom he foreknew” is seen to contain within itself the differentiating element required. It means “whom he set regard upon” or “whom he knew from eternity with distinguishing affection and delight” and is virtually equivalent to “whom he foreloved”. This interpretation, furthermore, is in agreement with the efficient and determining action which is so conspicuous in every other link of the chain—it is God who predestinates, it is God who calls, it is God who justifies, and it is he who glorifies. Foresight of faith would be out of accord with the determinative action which is predicated of God in these other instances and would constitute a weakening of the total emphasis at the point where we should least expect it. Foresight has too little of the active to do justice to the divine monergism upon which so much of the emphasis falls. It is not the foresight of difference but the foreknowledge that makes difference to exist, not a foresight that recognizes existence but the foreknowledge that determines existence. It is sovereign distinguishing love.

“He also foreordained.” One of the main objections urged against the foregoing view of “whom he foreknew” is that it would obliterate the distinction between foreknowledge and predestination.57 There is ostensible progression of thought expressed in “he also foreordained”. But there is no need to suppose that this progression is disturbed if “foreknew” is interpreted in the way propounded. “Foreknew” focuses attention upon the distinguishing love of God whereby the sons of God were elected. But it does not inform us of the destination to which those thus chosen are appointed. It is precisely that information that “he also foreordained” supplies, and it is by no means superfluous. When we consider the high destiny defined, “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, there is exhibited not only the dignity of this ordination but also the greatness of the love from which the appointment flows. God’s love is not passive emotion; it is active volition and it moves determinatively to nothing less than the highest goal conceivable for his adopted children, conformity to the image of the only-begotten Son. To allege that the pregnant force of “foreknew” does not leave room for the distinct enunciation of this high destiny is palpably without warrant or reason.58

“Conformed to the image of his Son” defines the destination to which the elect of God are appointed. The apostle has in view the conformity to Christ that will be realized when they will be glorified with Christ (vs. 17; cf. vss. 18, 19, 21, 23, 30), the final and complete conformity of resurrection glory (cf. 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). It is noteworthy that this should be described as conformity to the image of the Son; it enhances the marvel of the destination. The title “Son” has reference to Christ as the only-begotten (cf.vss. 3, 32) and therefore the unique and eternal Sonship is contemplated. The conformity cannot, of course, have in view conformity to him in that relation or capacity; the conformity embraces the transformation of the body of our humiliation to the likeness of the body of Christ’s glory (Phil. 3:21) and must therefore be conceived of as conformity to the image of the incarnate Son as glorified by his exaltation. Nevertheless, the glorified Christ does not cease to be the eternal Son and it is the eternal Son who is the glorified incarnate Son. Conformity to his image as incarnate and glorified, therefore, is conformity to the image of him who is the eternal and only-begotten Son.

“That he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” This specifies the final aim of the conformity just spoken of. We might well ask: What can be more final than the complete conformity of the sons of God to the image of Christ? It is this question that brings to the forefront the significance of this concluding clause. There is a final end that is more ultimate than the glorification of the people of God; it is that which is concerned with the preeminence of Christ. As Meyer correctly notes: “Paul contemplates Christ as the One, to whom the divine decree referred as to its final aim”.59 The term “firstborn” reflects on the priority and the supremacy of Christ (cf. Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6;Rev. 1:5).60 It is all the more striking that, when the unique and eternal Sonship is contemplated in the title “Son” and the priority and supremacy of Christ in the designation “firstborn”, the people of God should be classified with Christ as “brethren” (cf. Heb. 2:11, 12). His unique sonship and the fact that he is the firstborn guard Christ’s distinctiveness and preeminence, but it is among many brethren that his preeminence appears. This is another example of the intimacy of the relation existing between Christ and the people of God. The union means also community and this community is here expressed as that of “brethren”. The fraternal relationship is subsumed under the ultimate end of the predestinating decree, and this means that the preeminence of Christ carries with it the eminence that belongs to the children of God. In other words, the unique dignity of the Son in his essential relation to the Father and in his messianic investiture enhances the marvel of the dignity bestowed upon the people of God. The Son is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:11).

30 The two preceding verses deal with the eternal and pre-temporal counsel of God; the “purpose” of verse 28 is explicated in verse 29in terms of foreknowledge and predestination, the latter defining the ultimate goal of the counsel of salvation. Verse 30 introduces us to the realm of the temporal and indicates the actions by which the eternal counsel is brought to actual fruition in the children of God. Three actions are mentioned, calling, justification, and glorification. There is an unbreakable bond between these three actions themselves, on the one hand, and the two elements of the eternal counsel, on the other. All five elements are co-extensive. The sustained use of “also” and the repetition of the terms “foreordained”, “called”, “justified” in the three relative clauses in verse 30 signalize the denotative equation. Thus it is made abundantly evident that there cannot be one element without the others and that the three elements which are temporal flow by way of consequence from the eternal counsel, particularly from predestination because it stands in the closest logical relation to calling as the first in the sequence of temporal events.61

It is to be observed that calling, justification, and glorification are set forth as acts of God—“he called”, “he justified”, “he glorified”. The same divine monergism appears as in “he foreknew” and “he foreordained”. It is contrary to this emphasis to define any of these elements of the application of redemption in any other terms than those of divine action. It is true that all three affect us men, they draw our persons within their scope, and are of the deepest practical moment to us in the actual experience of salvation. But God alone is active in those events which are here mentioned and no activity on the part of men supplies any ingredient of their definition or contributes to their efficacy.62 For reasons which are rather obvious but which need not be developed we should infer that the sequence which the apostle follows represents the order in the application of redemption. The apostle enumerates only three elements. These, however, as the pivotal events in our actual salvation, serve the apostle’s purpose in delineating the divine plan of salvation from its fount in the love of God to its consummation in the glorification of the sons of God. Glorification, unlike calling and justification, belongs to the future. It would not be feasible in this context (cf. 5:2; vss. 17, 18, 21, 24, 25, 29) to regard it as other than the completion of the process of salvation and, though “glorified” is in the past tense, this is proleptic, intimating the certainty of its accomplishment.63

In extending encouragement and support to the people of God in their sufferings and adversities, groanings and infirmities, the apostle has reached this triumphant conclusion. He has shown how the present pilgrimage of the people of God falls into its place in that determinate and undefeatable plan of God that is bounded by two foci, the sovereign love of God in his eternal counsel and glorification with Christ in the age to come. It is when they apprehend by faith this panorama that stretches from the love of God before times eternal to the grand finale of the redemptive process that the sufferings of this present time are viewed in their true perspective and are seen, sub specie aeternitatis, to be but the circumstances of pilgrimage to, and preconditions of, a glory to be revealed so great in its weight that the tribulations are not worthy of comparison.” * (7)

*Professor Murray’s footnotes are found at


He did predestinate:

 There are those who argue otherwise, nevertheless, without doing violence to the Romans 8:30 text of this passage, by denying that it represents the salvation of individuals. To predestine means to determine a destination beforehand.

He also justified:

 God justifies the sinner, by declaring him righteous the instant the sinner trusts in Christ. Justification happens even though the individual is still a sinner (simul et peccator, just and at the same time, sinner). This declaration happens because of the finished work of Christ.

He also called:

 This calling is inward, and it is effective. It is certain.

He also glorified:

When considering the already not yet motif, our glorification has already happened. As seen, it is so certain that God speaks of it in the past tense.

Scriptural conclusions:

“Salvation belongeth unto the Lord.” (Psalm 3:8)

“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39, 40)

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:15, 16)

“A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16)


1.       Matthew George Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (online source, no page numbering).

2.       Walter A. Elwell, Editor, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House), p. 80.

3.       Matthew George Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (online source, no page numbering)

4.       Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘GLORIFY,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 1235.

5.       William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), p. 281-282.

6.       Oshea Davis, Romans 8:28-30 – Logical Chain Argument, (Systematic Philosophy & Theology. Logic. Faith. Scripture. Jesus Christ.),

7.       John Murray, The New International Commentary On The New Testament, The Epistle To The Romans, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1982) pp. 314-322. 

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Habakkuk 3:1-3, a Prayer/Hymn about God’s Reign

Habakkuk 3:1-3, a Prayer/Hymn about God’s Reign                                       by Jack Kettler

Habakkuk is a minor prophet and the eighth of the twelve prophets. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His prophecy dates from about 612 BC, erstwhile to the Babylonian or Chaldean destruction Jerusalem. Habakkuk would be contemporaneous with Jeremiah. Of the three chapters in the book, the first two are a dialog between God and Habakkuk.

A Brief Overview:

The first two chapters are a discourse between Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk questions God for his delay in judgment, and God responds.

Habakkuk asks God why He is allowing this sinful behavior of the people to go unchecked:

“Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.” (Habakkuk 1:3 KJV)

God answers:

“For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs.” (Habakkuk 1:6)

God responds and instructs in Habakkuk in 2:2 to write:

 “And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” (Habakkuk 2:2 KJV)

God tells Habakkuk to write that:

The Chaldeans are God’s instrument of judgment against His rebellious people.

In verses 4-20, God answers Habakkuk at length, and in particular, in verse 20 tells him:

“But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

Even in light of the judgment coming, there remains real hope for Israel. The hope is seen in the prayer/hymn of chapter three.

Chapter 3, a Prayer and a Hymn:

Now for the enigmatic yet edifying first three verses of Habakkuk chapter 3:

1.      “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.” (Habakkuk 3:1 NASB)

2.      “LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2 NASB)

3.      “God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.” (Habakkuk 1:3 NASB)

These verses introduce us to a beautiful Hymn or prayer about God’s Reign:

In this study, we will answer the fowling questions that come up in chapter three:

1.      What is Shigionoth?

2.      Where are Teman and Paran?

3.      What does God’s coming from Teman and Mount Paran mean?

Locations and meaning:

The Shigionoth spoken of in Habakkuk 3:1 may be an allusion to a poem, or an accompanying instrument, or to a song’s rhythm. Shigionoth is the plural of the Hebrew Shiggaion (שִׁגָּיוֹן). See Psalm 7:1:

Verse one:

“A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite. O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me.” (Habakkuk 3:1 NASB)

From Strong’ Concordance:

Shiggayon or Shiggayonah: perhaps a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm

Original Word: שִׁגָּיוֹן
Part of Speech: Proper Name Masculine
Transliteration: Shiggayon or Shiggayonah
Phonetic Spelling: (shig-gaw-yone’)
Definition: perhaps a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers make this clear about the prayer being a hymn in verse one:

“(1-15) A hymn describing a future self-manifestation of Jehovah on Israel’s behalf, accompanied by the signs and wonders of the early history. It is impossible to give the English reader an idea of the rhythmical structure of this beautiful composition. We will only observe that it is independent of the arrangement in verses, and that the poem (except in Habakkuk 3:7-8; Habakkuk 3:13, fin.) consists of lines each containing exactly three words.

(1) Upon Shigionoth. — This term points, not to the contents of the composition, but either to its metrical structure or its musical setting. See on the Inscription of Psalms 7. Inasmuch as this ode is throughout an account of the deliverance anticipated by prayerful faith, it is called not a Psalm, mizmôr, but a Prayer, t’philtâh.” (1)

The Geneva Study Bible offers a nice summary of verse one:

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet {a} upon Shigionoth.

(a) Upon Shigionoth or for the ignorance. The prophet instructs his people to pray to God, not only because of their great sins, but also for those they had committed in ignorance.

Verse two:

“LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2 NASB)

From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on verse two we learn:

“2. I have heard thy speech—Thy revelation to me concerning the coming chastisement of the Jews [Calvin], and the destruction of their oppressors. This is Habakkuk’s reply to God’s communication [Grotius]. Maurer translates, “the report of Thy coming,” literally, “Thy report.”

And was afraid—reverential fear of God’s judgments (Hab. 3:16).

Revive thy work—Perfect the work of delivering Thy people, and do not let Thy promise lie as if it were dead, but give it new life by performing it [Menochius]. Calvin explains “thy work” to be Israel; called “the work of My hands” (Isa 45:11). God’s elect people are peculiarly His work (Isa 43:1), pre-eminently illustrating His power, wisdom, and goodness. “Though we seem, as it were, dead nationally, revive us” (Ps 85:6). However (Ps 64:9), where “the work of God” refers to His judgment on their enemies, favors the former view (Ps 90:16, 17; Isa 51:9, 10).

In the midst of the years—namely, of calamity in which we live. Now that our calamities are at their height, during our seventy years’ captivity. Calvin more fancifully explains it, in the midst of the years of Thy people, extending from Abraham to Messiah; if they be cut off before His coming, they will be cut off as it were in the midst of their years, before attaining their maturity. So Bengel makes the midst of the years to be the middle point of the years of the world. There is a strikingly similar phrase (Da 9:27), In the midst of the week. The parallel clause, “in wrath” (that is, in the midst of wrath), however, shows that “in the midst of the years” means “in the years of our present exile and calamity.”

Make known—Made it (Thy work) known by experimental proof; show in very deed, that this is Thy work.” (3)

The Geneva Study Bible outlines verse two nicely:

{b} O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy {c} work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

(b) Thus, the people were afraid when they heard God’s threatenings, and prayed.

(c) That is, the state of your Church which is now ready to perish, before it comes to half a perfect age, which would be under Christ.

Verse three:

“God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise,” (Habakkuk 1:3 NASB)


Teman means “right hand” or “south” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament, this is the name of a grandson of Esau for whom the town of Teman in Edom was named.

Mount Paran is often connected with Mount Sinai in Egypt, and there is some evidence that it may originally have referred to the southern portion of the Sinai Peninsula. The minor prophet Habakkuk references that “God is coming from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran” in Habakkuk 3:3.

The next two commentary entries will confirm this. Notice how God is coming is suggestive of an Old Testament theophany.

First, from Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Habakkuk 3:3:

“God came – literally, shall come

From Teman – “God shall come,” as He came of old, clothed with majesty and power; but it was not mere power. The center of the whole picture is, as Micah and Isaiah had prophesied that it was to be, a new revelation Isa 2:3; Micah 4:2: “The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Isaiah 44:5, “I will give Thee for a covenant to the people (Israel), for a light of the Gentiles.” So now, speaking of the new work in store, Habakkuk renews the imagery in the Song of Moses Deuteronomy 33:2, in Deborah’s Song Judges 5:5, and in David; Psalm 68:7 but there the manifestation of His glory is spoken of wholly in time past, and Mount Sinai is named. Habakkuk speaks of that coming as yet to be, and omits the express mention of Mount Sinai, which was the emblem of the law. And so he directs us to another Lawgiver, whom God should raise up like unto Moses Deuteronomy 18:15-18, yet with a law of life, and tells how He who spake the law, God, shall come in likeness of our flesh. And the Holy One from Mount Paran In the earliest passage three places are mentioned, in which or from which the glory of God was manifested; with this difference however, that it is said Deuteronomy 33:2, The Lord came from Sinai, but His glory arose, as we should say “dawned” unto them from Seir, and flashed forth from Mount Paran Seir and Mount Paran are joined together by the symbol of the light which dawned or shone forth from them. In the second passage, the Song of Deborah, Seir and the field of Edom are the place whence God came forth; Sinai melted Judges 5:4-5 at His presence.

In Psalm 68 the mention of Edom is dropped; and the march through the wilderness under the leading of God, is alone mentioned, together with the shaking of Sinai. In Habakkuk, the contrast is the same as in Moses; only Tehran stands in place of Seir. Theman and Mount Paran are named probably, as the two opposed boundaries of the journeyings of Israel through the desert. They came to Mount Sinai through the valley, now called Wady Feiran or Paran; Edom was the bound of their wanderings to their promised land Numbers 20:14-20; Deuteronomy 2. God who guided, fed, protected them from the beginning, led them to the end. Between Paran also and Edom or Teman was the gift of the Spirit to the seventy, which was the shadow of the day of Pentecost; there, was the brass serpent lifted up, the picture of the healing of the Cross . If Mount Paran is near Kadesh, then Moses in the opening of his song describes the glory of God as manifested from that first revelation of His Law on Mount Sinai; then in that long period of Israel’s waiting there to its final departure for the promised land, when Mount Hor was consecrated and God’s awful Holiness declared in the death of Aaron.

He who “shall come,” is God, “the Holy One” (a proper name of gods). Perfect in Holiness, as God, the Son of God, and as Man also all-holy, with a human will, always exactly accompanying the Divine Will, which was:

“The passion of His Heart

Those Three-and-thirty years.”

On this there follows a pause denoted by “Selah” (which occurs thrice according to the mystery of that number,) that the soul may dwell on the greatness of the majesty and mercy of God.

Selah – There is no doubt as to the general purport of the word, that it is a musical direction, that there should be a pause, the music probably continuing alone, while the mind rested upon the thought, which had just been presented to it; our “interlude”. It is always placed at some pause of thought, even when not at the end of a strophe, or, as twice in this hymn, at the end of the verse.

Gregory of Nyssa modifies this thought, supposing “Selah” to express a pause made by the writer, that “while the psalmody, with which David’s prophesying was accompanied, went on in its course, another illumining of the Holy Spirit, and an addition to the gift according to knowledge, came for the benefit of those who received the prophecy, he, holding in his verse, gave time for his mind to receive the knowledge of the thought, which took place in him from the divine illumining.” He defines it to be “a sudden silence in the midst of the Psalmody for the reception of the illumining.”

His Glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise – This is plainly no created glory, but anticipates the Angelic Hymn Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men,” or, as the Seraphim sing first glory to God in Heaven Isaiah 6:3, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth,” and then, the whole earth is full of His glory; and Uncreated Wisdom saith (Ecclesiasticus 24:5), “I alone compassed the circuit of Heaven, and walked in the bottom of the deep.” Nor are they our material heavens, much less this lowest heaven over our earth nor is “His glory” any of God, which rules, encompasses, fills, penetrates the orbs of heaven and all its inhabitants, and yet is not enclosed nor bounded thereby. Those who are made as the heavens by the indwelling of God He spiritually “covers,” filling them with the light of glory and splendor of grace and brightness of wisdom, as it saith, “Is there any number of His armies, and upon whom doth not His light arise? Job 25:3 and so the earth was full of His praise,” i. e., the Church militant spread throughout the world, as in the Psalm 112:3, “The Lord’s name is praised from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same, and, Psalm 8:1, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, who hast set Thy glory above the heavens.”” (3)

Second, from Matthew Poole’s Commentary further elaborates on Habakkuk 3:3:

“God, the God of our fathers, our God, came; appeared, discovered himself, for that is his coming, who, since he fills all places at all times, cannot be said to come by any change of place.

Teman, either appellatively, the south, or else as a proper name of a mountain or country. So called from Teman, son of Eliphaz, and grandson of Esau. It is also called Seir, or is one particular hill among those many, which make up Mount Seir. It was not far from Mount Sinai, where the law was given, and the prophet hath respect to that Deu 33:2, where God appeared in a manner equally glorious and terrible,

The Holy One of Israel.

Mount Paran, which was a name to wilderness, plains, and a mountain, of which the prophet here speaketh, and in Deu. 33:2 it is said God shined thence. This the prophet mentions as a support of his faith, as an encouragement to others, as a motive why God should renew his work among them, since he so gloriously appeared among their fathers, and made a covenant with them.

Selah, to the argument, he addeth this to awaken us to attention.

His glory; lightnings and thunders, and fire and smoke, tokens of the power, majesty, and greatness of God, at the sight whereof Moses himself trembled. Covered, overspread, intercepted, and obscured, the heavens that part of the visible heavens under which Israel then encamped.

The earth, that part of the earth where this was done.

Was full of his praise; of works, which deserved then, and still do deserve, to be had in remembrance, with praise to God who did them.” (4)

The Geneva Study Bible captures the meaning of verse three perfectly:

“God came from {d} Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.

(D) Teman and Paran were near Sinai, where the Law was given: by which is signified that his deliverance was as present now as it was then.”

Concluding Hymn about God’s Reign Continues from 3:14-19:

4.      his splendor spread like the light. He raised his horns high, he rejoiced on the day of his strength.

5.      Before him went pestilence, and plague followed in his steps.

6.      He stood and shook the earth; he looked and made the nations tremble. Ancient mountains were shattered, the age-old hills bowed low, age-old orbits collapsed.

7.      The tents of Cushan trembled, the pavilions of the land of Midian.

8.      Was your anger against the rivers, O Lord? Your wrath against the rivers, your rage against the sea, that you mounted your steeds, your victorious chariot?

9.      You readied your bow; you filled your bowstring with arrows.                                 Selah You split the earth with rivers;

10.  at the sight of you the mountains writhed. The clouds poured down water; the deep roared loudly. The sun forgot to rise,

11.  the moon left its lofty station, at the light of your flying arrows, at the gleam of your flashing spear.

12.  In wrath you marched on the earth, in fury you trampled the nations.

13.  You came forth to save your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the back of the wicked, you laid him bare, bottom to neck. Selah

14.  You pierced his head with your shafts; his princes you scattered with your stormwind, as food for the poor in unknown places.

15.  You trampled the sea with your horses amid the churning of the deep waters.

16.  I hear, and my body trembles; at the sound, my lips quiver. Decay invades my bones, my legs tremble beneath me. I await the day of distress that will come upon the people who attack us.

17.  For though the fig tree does not  lossom, and no fruit appears on the vine, Though the yield of the olive fails and the terraces produce no nourishment, Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls,

18.  Yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God.

19.  God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of deer and enables me to tread upon the heights. For the leader; with stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 4:19 NASV)

Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise) a devotional on chapter 3 is appropriate:

“The prophet beseeches God for his people. (1-2) He calls to mind former deliverances. (3-15) His firm trust in the Divine mercy. (16-19)

Commentary on Habakkuk 3:1, 2

The word prayer seems used here for an act of devotion. The Lord would revive his work among the people in the midst of the years of adversity. This may be applied to every season when the church, or believers, suffer under afflictions and trials. Mercy is what we must flee to for refuge, and rely upon as our only plea. We must not say, remember our merit, but, Lord, remember thy own mercy.

Commentary on Habakkuk 3:3-15

God’s people, when in distress, and ready to despair, seek help by considering the days of old, and the years of ancient times, and by pleading them with God in prayer. The resemblance between the Babylonish and Egyptian captivities, naturally presents itself to the mind, as well as the possibility of a like deliverance through the power of Jehovah. God appeared in his glory. All the powers of nature are shaken, and the course of nature changed, but all is for the salvation of God’s own people. Even what seems least likely, shall be made to work for their salvation. Hereby is given a type and figure of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. It is for salvation with thine anointed. Joshua who led the armies of Israel, was a figure of Him whose name he bare, even Jesus, our Joshua. In all the salvations wrought for them, God looked upon Christ the Anointed, and brought deliverances to pass by him. All the wonders done for Israel of old, were nothing to that which was done when the Son of God suffered on the cross for the sins of his people. How glorious his resurrection and ascension! And how much more glorious will be his second coming, to put an end to all that opposes him, and all that causes suffering to his people!

Commentary on Habakkuk 3:16-19

When we see a day of trouble approach, it concerns us to prepare. A good hope through grace is founded in holy fear. The prophet looked back upon the experiences of the church in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them, and so was not only recovered, but filled with holy joy. He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone. Destroy the vines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a carnal heart to cease. But those who, when full, enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature-comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when provisions are cut off, to make it appear that man lives not by bread alone, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of his commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph. And thus faith in Christ prepares for every event. The name of Jesus, when we can speak of Him as ours, is balm for every wound, a cordial for every care. It is as ointment poured forth, shedding fragrance through the whole soul. In the hope of a heavenly crown, let us sit loose to earthly possessions and comforts, and cheerfully bear up under crosses. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and where he is, we shall be also.” (5)

In conclusion:

Habakkuk, as a minor prophet, is somewhat obscure. Hopefully, the reader will be blessed reading this study on this often forgotten prophet. There is nothing obscure about his message. As seen in chapter three, the prose is beautiful, and the message to Israel and the larger Church is edifying and full of hope.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:27).


1.            Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Habakkuk, Vol.14, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 50.

2.            Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 831.

3.            Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Habakkuk, Vol. 5 p.353-355.

4.            Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Matthew, Vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 972-973.

5.            Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Habakkuk, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 1421-1422.   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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Does a Christian owe allegiance to a gang of robbers who call themselves the government?

Does a Christian owe allegiance to a gang of robbers who call themselves the government? By Jack Kettler

The aim of this essay is how an individual can opt-out of a social contract. First, this can be done by repudiating one’s citizenship. Second, if the administrators of the contract, i.e., the federal governing authorities, break the contract. The essay will not directly address the question regarding submission to the state, city, and county authorities. The essay will touch on the ineffectiveness of voting when the system becomes corrupted. Also addressed will be the right of the people to lawfully resist a corrupt government.   

Re: The Nov. 3rd election and prima facie evidence of voting fraud by election officials in six battleground states:

Approximately 75 million or more voters have become disenfranchised as a result of not one court in the land agreeing to an evidentiary hearing in which evidence can be presented by the Trump legal team to prove the case of massive election official’s voter fraud. This leaves the aggrieved party, the voters, without recourse. Hence, the following proposition.

A Logical Proposition:

·         Our government contract is built upon the consent of the governed.

·         The election process is how the continuation of this process of reaffirming the contract continues.

·         If the governing bodies cannot ensure a fair election, the consent of the governed is null and void.

·         If the elected politicians no longer keep their oath of office, the contract is likewise nullified.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” 10th Amendment

Joe Biden said his team has created:

“the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”

 With this election stolen, how can any future election be trusted? With criminals running the government, is it even possible to root out and fix election processes?

 The American system of government is different from a Monarchy, Parliamentary, or some other type of government that has an ongoing transition of power. It is a constitutional social contract. The Bible does not directly reference this form of government.

 The Social Contract in history:

“One of the most powerful ideas in the modern world is the social contract doctrine. According to this theory, at one time, in the early history of mankind, society did not exist. All men lived in a state of anarchism. Every man was his own law and state, and men lived in a world without any ties between men other than of their own choosing. This state of nature proved to be limiting, inconvenient, and dangerous, and so men came together to subscribe to a social contract whereby all would be governed. Every man would surrender some freedom in return for mutual protection and a great security under a coercive contract which would give civil freedom to replace anarchic freedom.

All modern political systems are now in crisis. Humanism has triumphed the world over. In some areas, ancient forms of paganism have eroded, with resulting political instability. In the West, the age of revolution is being followed by an era of dissolution.” (1)

 Objections to the Social contract theory:

 1.      It is based on a historical fiction.

2.      The social contract is not worth the paper it’s not written on.

3.      How can a group of idiots voting for a moron or law bind another person who did not vote for it?

4.      How can people hundreds of years ago bind people today into a contract they did not approve?

 The American system is contractual:

 A contract can be broken or reaffirmed by the parties to the contract. If the contract is reaffirmed, biblically speaking, the citizen is to show allegiance. If the contract is not renewed, the former governing authorities are not owed allegiance.

 The political contract is similar to a Church membership covenant. Both are voluntary. There are provisions to opt-out of both.

 What if an outlaw motorcycle gang overthrows the existing government and now calls itself the government? Just because a group of individuals call themselves the government does not make it so.

 We do not owe allegiance to the gang of criminals who claim they are the government any more than one owes allegiance to a highwayman robber. It may be prudent to pay taxes just like one would pay a highwayman money so as to not get shot. In the recent theft of the Nov. 3rd election, the new alleged rulers are imposters, in essence, a gang of robbers.

 The conclusion of this proposition is that individuals are free from the contract if voting is corrupted to the point of citizens can no longer trust the process. Voting reaffirms the contract.

 Consider an insight into not voting when the system can no longer guarantee a fair election process:

“Voting is not an act of political freedom. It is an act of political conformity. Those who refuse to vote are not expressing silence. They are screaming in the politician’s ear: ‘You do not represent me. This is not a process in which my voice matters. I do not believe you.’” – Wendy McElroy

 Common sense analysis of voting and politicians:

1. “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

3. A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

6. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

7. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

8. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

9. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

10. For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

11. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

12. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H.L. Mencken, Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, and contemporary movements. Wikipedia

 What can be said about the usurpers to the Constitution?  

“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” – Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, Lysander Spooner was an American individualist anarchist. He was also an abolitionist, entrepreneur, essayist, legal theorist, pamphletist, political philosopher, Unitarian, writer and a member of the First International. Wikipedia

 This quote by Spooner does not necessarily speak to the Constitution per se. It can speak of the administrators of the contract who have failed to ensure those who are governed by their guarantee.   

 The most well-known expression of a people’s right to “dissolve the political bands” written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….” – Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second vice president of the United States between 1797 and 1801. Wikipedia

 As stated by the Constitutional Law Foundation in more detail. Intergenerational Justice in the United States Constitution, The Stewardship Doctrine:

“Perhaps the most fundamental of the several inalienable rights recognized by the founders was the right of re-constitution. That right was understood to rest at the foundation of consensual government; its recognition was deemed essential to the security of all other rights. The Declaration of Independence contains the most famous formulation of the right:

“[T]o secure [inalienable] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . .  [W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government . . ..” f175

Operating for the most part out of a contractarian tradition of political philosophy, the founders believed that the legitimacy of a government derived from the consent of its citizens. f176 If and when such consent should no longer be forthcoming, a legitimate political system must allow for its own expiration.

The founders often characterized this right to “alter or abolish” government in generational terms; a legitimate government must earn the consent of every generation subject to its jurisdiction. Some governmental forms were thought to be irredeemably incompatible with the principle of intergenerational consent – hereditary monarchies for example. In Common Sense, Tom Paine argued that “hereditary succession as a matter of right is an insult and an imposition on posterity.” f177

Democratic republics, while somewhat more protective of posterity’s sovereignty, could also pose threats. The drafters of the early state constitutions, recognizing the possibility that the political systems they created might one day be perverted, repeatedly and emphatically reminded their descendants of their right to begin anew:

“whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.” f178

The idea was sometimes formulated, per Sidney, in terms of the need for a “frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”f179 Some states also took notice of a form of re-constitution explicitly endorsed by Locke: f180 the right to repatriate and “form a new state in vacant countries.” f181

References to the right of re-constitution cropped up repeatedly during the ratification debates. In the Federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton affirmed the right of re-constitution as originally articulated in the Declaration. f182 While antifederalist agitators complained that the lack of a bill of rights left no institutional safeguard for future generations’ unalienable rights, federalists such as Noah Webster warned that a Bill of Rights would itself violate posterity’s sovereign right of re-constitution.” (2) f183

The excerpts from the following book are relevant when the governing power breaks the contract with the people. This book was popular during the time of the War for Independence. The insights of this book are valid today; just insert federal officials in place of King. Much of what is said in the book provide grounds to sever a relationship with governing authorities that have gone bad. The case is made in this work why Christians can lawfully resist and fight against political tyrants.

 Commenting on Vindiciae contra Tyrannos:  

“Despite its brevity, the Vindiciae’s sharp defense of the right of subjects to resist unjust or ungodly rulers even to the point of armed rebellion helped shape the political theories of John Locke in England and the American Founding Fathers.

Its arguments on the rights and responsibilities of rulers and subjects continue to be relevant today as we consider the limits of the power of the government and the rights of citizens to oppose governmental overreach.” – Dr. Glenn Sunshine, (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison), the founder and president of Every Square Inch Ministries, is professor of history at the Central Connecticut State University, a Research Fellow of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, and a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

 Vindiciae contra Tyrannos: A Defence of Liberty against Tyrants Or of the lawful power of the prince over the people and of the people over the prince.

 Being a treatise written in Latin and French by Junius Brutus, and translated out of both into English. 1648  “…But here presents itself another question the which deserves to be considered, and amply debated in regard of the circumstance of time. Let us put the case that a king seeking to abolish the law of God or ruin the church, that all the people or the greatest part yield their consents, that all the princes or the greatest number of them make no reckoning; and notwithstanding, a small handful of people, to wit some of the princes and magistrates, desire to preserve the law of God entirely and inviolably and to serve the Lord purely: what may it be lawful for them to do? if the king seek to compel those men to be idolaters, or will take from them the exercise of true religion? We speak not here of private and particular persons considered one by one, and which in that manner are not held as parts of the entire body; as the planks, the nails, the pegs are no part of the ship, neither the stones, the rafters, nor the rubbish are any part of the house: but we speak of some town or province which makes a portion of the kingdom, as the prow, the poop, the keel and other parts make a ship; the foundation, the roof and the walls make a house. We speak also of the magistrate which governs such a city or province. …

… In these days there is no rhetoric more common in the courts of rules, than of those who say all is the king’s. Whereby it follows, that in exacting anything from his subjects, he takes but his own, and in that which he leaves them, he expresseth the care he hath that they should not be altogether destitute of means to maintain themselves. This opinion has gained so much power in the minds of some rulers, that they are not ashamed to say that the pains, sweat and industry of their subjects is the proper revenue, as if their miserable subjects only kept beasts to till the earth for their insolent master’s profit and luxury. And indeed, the practice at this day is just in this manner, although in all right and equity it ought to be contrary. Now we must always remember that kings were created for the good and profit of the people, and that those (as Aristotle says) who endeavor and seek the welfare of the people are trusty kings; whereas those that make their own private ends and pleasures the only butt and aim of their desires, are truly tyrants.

It being then so that every one loves that which is his own, yea that many covet that which belongs to other men, is it anything probable that men should seek a master to give him frankly all that they had long labored for, and gained with the sweat of their brows? May we not rather imagine that they chose such a man on whose integrity they relied for the administering of justice equally both to the poor and rich, and which would not assume all to himself, but rather maintain every one in the fruition of his own goods? Or who, like an unprofitable drone, should suck the fruit of other men’s labors, but rather preserve the house for those whose industry justly deserved it? Briefly, who, instead of extorting from the true owners their goods, would see them defended from all ravening oppressors? What I pray you skills it, says the poor country man, whether the king or the enemy make havoc of my goods, since through the spoil thereof I and my poor family die for hunger? What imports it whether a stranger or home-bred caterpillar ruin my estate, and bring my poor fortune to extreme beggary; whether a foreign soldier, or a sycophant courtier, by force or fraud, make me alike miserable? Why shall he be accounted a barbarous enemy, if thou be a friendly patriot? Why he a tyrant if thou be a king? Yea, certainly by how much parricide is greater than manslaughter, by so much the wickedness of a king exceeds in mischief the violence of an enemy.

If then therefore, in the creation of kings, men gave not their own proper goods to them, but only recommended them to their protection; by what other right then, but that of freebooters, can they challenge the property of other men’s goods to themselves?…

First, the law of nature teacheth and commandeth us to maintain and defend our lives and liberties, without which life is scant worth the enjoying, against all injury and violence. Nature hath imprinted this by instinct in dogs against wolves, in bulls against lions, betwixt pigeons and sparrow-hawks, betwixt pullen and kites, and yet much more in man against man himself, if man become a beast: and therefore he who questions the lawfulness of defending oneself, doth as much as in him lies question the law of nature. To this must be added the law of nations, which distinguisheth possessions and dominions, fixes limits, and makes out confines, which every man is bound to defend against all invaders. And, therefore, it is no less lawful to resist Alexander the Great, if without any right or being justly provoked, he invades a country with a mighty navy, as well as Diomedes the pirate which scours the seas in a small vessel. For in this case Alexander’s right is no more than Diomedes his, but only he hath more power to do wrong, and not so easily to be compelled to reason as the other. Briefly, one may as well oppose Alexander in pillaging a country, as a thief in purloining a cloak; as well him when he seeks to batter down the walls of a city, as a robber that offers to break into a private house. There is, besides this, the civil law, or municipal laws of several countries which governs the societies of men by certain rules, some in one manner, some in another; some submit themselves to the government of one man, some to more; others are ruled by a whole communalty; some absolutely exclude women from the royal throne, others admit them; these here choose their king descended of such a family, those there make election of whom they please, besides other customs practiced amongst several nations. If therefore, any offer either by fraud or force to violate this law, we are all bound to resist him, because he wrongs that society to which we owe all that we have, and would ruin our country, to the preservation whereof all men by nature, by law and by solemn oath, are strictly obliged: insomuch that fear or negligence, or bad purposes, make us omit this duty, we may justly be accounted breakers of the laws, betrayers of our country, and contemners of religion.  Now as the laws of nature, of nations, and the civil commands us to take arms against such tyrants; so, is there not any manner of reason that should persuade us to the contrary; neither is there any oath, covenant, or obligation, public or private, of power justly to restrain us; therefore the meanest private man may resist and lawfully oppose such an intruding tyrant. …

… This, of which we have spoken, is to be understood of a tyranny not yet firmly rooted, to wit, whilst a tyrant conspires, machinates, and lays his plots and practices. But if he be once so possessed of the state, and that the people, being subdued, promise and swear obedience; the commonwealth being oppressed, resign their authority into his hands; and that the kingdom in some formal manner consent to the changing of their laws; for so much certainty as then, he hath gained a title which before he wanted and seems to be as well a legal as actual possessor thereof, although this yoke were laid on the people’s neck by compulsion, yet must they quietly and peaceably rest in the will of the Almighty, who, at his pleasure transfers kingdoms from one nation to another. Otherways there should be no kingdom, whose jurisdiction might not be disputed. And it may well chance, that he who before was a tyrant without title, having obtained the title of a king, may free himself from any tyrannous imputation, by governing those under him with equity and moderation. … For after promise of performance, it is too late to repent. And, as in battles every one ought to give testimony of his velour, but, being once taken prisoner, must faithfully observe covenants, so it is requisite, that the people maintain their rights by all possible means; but, if it chance that they be brought into the subjection of another’s will, they must then patiently support the dominion of the victor. So did Pompey, Cato, and Cicero and others, perform the parts of good patriots then when they took arms against Caesar, seeking to alter the government of the state; neither can those be justly excused, whose base fear hindered the happy success of Pompey and his partakers’ noble designs. Augustus himself is said to have reproved one who railed on Cato, affirming that he carried himself worthily and exceedingly affected to the greatness of his country, in courageously opposing the alteration which his contraries sought to introduce in the government of the state, seeing all innovations of that nature are ever authors of much trouble and confusion.

Furthermore, no man can justly reprehend Brutus, Cassius, and the rest who killed Caesar before his tyrannical authority had taken any firm rooting. And so there were statues of brass erected in honour of them by public decree at Athens, and placed by those of Harmodius and Aristogiton, then when, after the dispatching of Caesar, they retired from Rome, to avoid Mark Anthony and Augustus their revenge. But Cinna was certainly guilty of sedition, who, after a legal transferring of the people’s power into the hands of Augustus, is said to have conspired against him. …

… if a prince outrageously over-pass the bounds of piety and justice, a neighbor prince may justly and religiously leave his own country, not to invade and usurp another’s, but to contain the other within the limits of justice and equity; and if he neglect or omit his duty herein, he shows himself a wicked and unworthy magistrate. If a prince tyrannize over the people, a neighbor prince ought to yield succour as freely and willingly to the people, as he would do to the prince his brother, if the people mutinied against him. Yea, he should so much the more readily succour the people, by how much there is more just cause of pity to see many afflicted, than one alone?”

 In closing:

 The contract has been broken! There is no human contract that is binding. The current contract is null and void.  “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson

 Jefferson was most certainly thinking and referencing Vindiciae contra Tyrannos.

 How to trust in government can be restored:

“The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.” – H.L. Mencken

 Politicians must be added to this list. By far, this is the only proposed solution to fed gov corruption that could possibly work short of a national spiritual revival.

 In the meantime, the doctrine of the local magistrate can provide relief. How does this work? For example, in Colorado, the Weld commissioners and the sheriff have said they will not enforce unconstitutional tyrannical laws imposed on the state by a wicked unrepentant, people of faith hating governor. The lower magistrates stand between the people and a higher wicked magistrate, thus giving the people relief. The lower magistrate doctrine is happening already on a county basis and even at the state level, for example, South Dakota.

 Furthermore, see the pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women. John Knox was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country’s Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Wikipedia

 Does a Christian owe allegiance to a gang of robbers who call themselves the government? No, unless you want to legitimize criminals.

As an aside, Presbyterians were known as the “fighting Protestants” historically. Not so much today. Misinterpretations of Romans 13:1-7 have neutralized many people of faith.

 “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)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


 1.      R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology in Two Volumes (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), p. 403.

2.      The Constitutional Law Foundation,

 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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at:

 For more research:

 See this author’s:

 Romans 13 and the Limits of submission to the Church or State

 Does Romans 13:1, 3-5 contradict Isaiah 5:20?

 @ The Religion That Started in a Hat Use the search bar to find these titles.

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A sample Bible study on Romans 1:1

A sample Bible study on Romans 1:1                                                               By Jack Kettler

Exegeting a text using the Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method:

What is the Grammatico-Historical-Hermeneutical Method?

This method of interpretation focuses attention not only on literary forms but also on grammatical constructions and historical contexts, out of which the Scriptures were written. It is solidly in the ‘literal schools’ of interpretation and is the hermeneutical methodology embraced by virtually all conservative evangelical Protestant exegetes and scholars.

Exegesis, the interpretive Norm:

Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι’ to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term is used principally for an exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage, it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term “Biblical exegesis” is used for greater specificity. The goal of Biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may involve the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds for the author, the text, and the original audience. Other analysis includes classification of the type of literary genres present in the text and an analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

Approaching the text with hermeneutic concerns:

Greek hermeneuo, “to explain, interpret,” the science of Bible interpretation. Paul stated the aim of all true hermeneutics in 2Timothy 2:15 as “rightly dividing the word of truth.” That means correctly or accurately teaching the Word of truth. This is the goal of this study.

The passage to study:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1 ESV)

What is the genre of the passage?

The Pauline letters or epistles like Romans, Ephesians, and James and are Didactic.

Biblical didacticism is a type of literature that educates the reader in soteriology, ethics, ecclesiology, and eschatology teachings. The letter was originally written in Koine Greek.

What are the time and place references in the passage?

From the book of Acts and the Corinthian letters by Paul provides evidence that the book Romans was written in Corinth on Paul’s third missionary journey. The most common date of the book is 60 A.D. At this time in history, Israel was under the political domination of Rome.

Translating the entire passage from the Greek and analyzing keywords is optional and depends on questions the Christian disciple has about the text. In this study, the whole verse will be examined in its interlinear form, and then each word and phrase will be examined in more detail using the Strong’s Concordance.

Using the Nestle Greek New Testament 1904 with “Strong’s numbers” included in yellow:

Paul     A servant   of Christ   Jesus     a called     apostle     having been set apart   for   [the] gospel   of God

Παῦλος  δοῦλος    Χριστοῦ    Ἰησοῦ,     κλητὸς     ἀπόστολος    ἀφωρισμένος            εἰς     εὐαγγέλιον    Θεοῦ,

3972      1401        5547         2424        2822          652                873                      1519      2098          2316

Paulos   doulos   Christou     Iēsou        klētos       apostolos    aphōrismenos          eis      euangelion   Theou

From the Strong’s concordance on Paul

Paulos: (Sergius) Paulus (a Roman proconsul), also Paul (an apostle)

Original Word: Παῦλος, ου, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: Paulos

Phonetic Spelling: (pow’-los)

Definition: (Sergius) Paulus (a Roman proconsul), also Paul (an apostle)

Usage: Paul, Paulus.

Strong’s Concordance on servant

doulos: a slave

Original Word: δοῦλος, ου, ὁ

Part of Speech: Adjective; Noun, Feminine; Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: doulos

Phonetic Spelling: (doo’-los)

Definition: a slave

Usage: (a) (as adj.) enslaved, (b) (as noun) a (male) slave.

Strong’s Concordance on Christ

Christos: the Anointed One, Messiah, Christ

Original Word: Χριστός, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: Christos

Phonetic Spelling: (khris-tos’)

Definition: the Anointed One, Messiah, Christ

Usage: Anointed One; the Messiah, the Christ.

Strong’s Concordance on Jesus

Iésous: Jesus or Joshua, the name of the Messiah, also three other Isr.

Original Word: Ἰησοῦς, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: Iésous

Phonetic Spelling: (ee-ay-sooce’)

Definition: Jesus or Joshua, the name of the Messiah, also three other Isr

Usage: Jesus; the Greek form of Joshua; Jesus, son of Eliezer; Jesus, surnamed Justus.

Strong’s Concordance on called

klétos: called

Original Word: κλητός, ή, όν

Part of Speech: Adjective

Transliteration: klétos

Phonetic Spelling: (klay-tos’)

Definition: called

Usage: called, invited, summoned by God to an office or to salvation.

Strong’s Concordance on apostle

apostolos: a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle

Original Word: ἀπόστολος, ου, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: apostolos

Phonetic Spelling: (ap-os’-tol-os)

Definition: a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle

Strong’s Concordance on set apart

aphorizó: to mark off by boundaries from, i.e. set apart

Original Word: ἀφορίζω

Part of Speech: Verb

Transliteration: aphorizó

Phonetic Spelling: (af-or-id’-zo)

Definition: to mark off by boundaries from, set apart

Usage: I rail off, separate, and place apart.

Usage: a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him in some way, especially a man sent out by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel; an apostle.

Strong’s Concordance on for

eis: to or into (indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, fig. purpose, result)

Original Word: εἰς

Part of Speech: Preposition

Transliteration: eis

Phonetic Spelling: (ice)

Definition: to or into (indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, purpose, result)

Usage: into, in, unto, to, upon, towards, for, among.

Strong’s Concordance on gospel

euaggelion: good news

Original Word: εὐαγγέλιον, ου, τό

Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter

Transliteration: euaggelion

Phonetic Spelling: (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on)

Definition: good news

Usage: the good news of the coming of the Messiah, the gospel; the gen. after it expresses sometimes the giver (God), sometimes the subject (the Messiah, etc.), sometimes the human transmitter (an apostle).

Strong’s Concordance on God

theos: God, a god

Original Word: θεός, οῦ, ὁ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine; Noun, Masculine

Transliteration: theos

Phonetic Spelling: (theh’-os)

Definition: God, a god

Usage: (a) God, (b) a god, generally.

Commentary Evidence:

Is there a keyword in the text that needs a better explanation? If so, this is where commentary help can be valuable. In this passage from Paul, two items were of interest. These two issues were (1.) Paul was calling himself a bondservant (δοῦλος). What does this mean? In addition, (2.) What does set apart mean?

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Romans 1:1:

“Paul – The original name of the author of this Epistle was “Saul.” Acts 7:58; Acts 7:1; Acts 8:1, etc. This was changed to Paul (see the note at Acts 13:9), and by this name he is generally known in the New Testament. The reason why he assumed this name is not certainly known. It was, however, in accordance with the custom of the times; see the note at Acts 13:9. The name Saul was Hebrew; the name Paul was Roman. In addressing a letter to the Romans, he would naturally make use of the name to which they were accustomed, and which would excite no prejudice among them. The ancient custom was to begin an epistle with the name of the writer, as Cicero to Varro, etc. We record the name at the end. It may be remarked, however, that the placing the name of the writer at the beginning of an epistle was always done, and is still, when the letter was one of authority, or when it conferred any special privileges. Thus, in the proclamation of Cyrus Ezra 1:2, “Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia,” etc.; see also Ezra 4:11; Ezra 7:12. “Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest,” etc. Daniel 4:1. The commencement of a letter by an apostle to a Christian church in this manner was especially proper as indicating authority.

A servant – This name was what the Lord Jesus himself directed His disciples to use, as their general appellation; Matthew 10:25; Matthew 20:27; Mark 10:44. And it was the customary name which they assumed; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Acts 4:29; Titus 1:1; James 1:1. The proper meaning of this word servant, δοῦλος doulos, is slave, one who is not free. It expresses the condition of one who has a master, or who is at the control of another. It is often, however, applied to courtiers, or the officers that serve under a king: because in an eastern monarchy the relation of an absolute king to his courtiers corresponded nearly to that of a master and a slave. Thus, the word is expressive of dignity and honor; and the servants of a king denote officers of a high rank and station. It is applied to the prophets as those who were honored by God, or especially entrusted by him with office; Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 1:2; Jeremiah 25:4. The name is also given to the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1, “Behold my servant in whom my soul delighteth,” etc., Isaiah 53:11, “shall my righteous servant justify many.” The apostle uses it here evidently to denote his acknowledging Jesus Christ as his master; as indicating his dignity, as especially appointed by him to his great work; and as showing that in this Epistle he intended to assume no authority of his own, but simply to declare the will of his master, and theirs.

Called to be an apostle – This word called means here not merely to be invited, but has the sense of appointed. It indicates that he had not assumed the office himself, but that he was set apart to it by the authority of Christ himself. It was important for Paul to state this,

(1) Because the other apostles had been called or chosen to this work John 15:16, John 15:19; Matthew 10:1; Luke 6:13; and,

(2) Because Paul was not one of those originally appointed.

It was of consequence for him therefore, to affirm that he had not taken this high office to himself, but that he had been called to it by the authority of Jesus Christ. His appointment to this office he not infrequently takes occasion to vindicate; 1Corinthians 9:1, etc.: Galatians 1:12-24; 2Corinthians 12:12; 1Timothy 2:7; 2Timothy 1:11; Romans 11:13.

An apostle – One sent to execute a commission. It is applied because the apostles were sent out by Jesus Christ to preach his gospel, and to establish his church; Matthew 10:2 note; Luke 6:13 note.

Separated – The word translated “separated unto,” ἀφορίζω aphorizō, means to designate, to mark out by fixed limits, to bound as a field, etc. It denotes those who are “separated,” or called out from the common mass; Acts 19:9; 2Corinthians 6:17. The meaning here does not materially differ from the expression, “called to be an apostle,” except that perhaps this includes the notion of the purpose or designation of God to this work. Thus, Paul uses the same word respecting himself; Galatians 1:15, “God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” that is, God designated me; marked me out; or designed that I should be an apostle from my infancy. In the same way, Jeremiah was designated to be a prophet, Jeremiah 1:5.

Unto the gospel of God – Designated or designed by God that I should make it “my business” to preach the gospel. Set apart to this, as the special, great work of my life, as having no other object for which I should live. For the meaning of the word “gospel,” see the note at Matthew 1:1. It is called the gospel of God because it is his appointment; it has been originated by him, and has his authority. The function of an apostle was to preach the gospel Paul regarded himself as separated to this work. It was not to live in splendor, wealth, and ease, but to devote himself to this great business of proclaiming good news, that God was reconciled to people in his Son. This is the sole business of all ministers of “religion.” (1)

Barn’s Commentary explains adequately about Paul calling himself a bondservant. Likewise, Vincent’s Word Studies thoroughly explains the meaning of being set apart.

From Vincent’s Word Studies on Romans 1:1:

“Superscription (Romans 1:1, Romans 1:2)

Dr. Morison observes that the superscription is peerless for its wealth of theological idea.

Paul (Παῦλος)

A transcript for the Latin paulus or paullus, meaning little. It was a favorite name among the Cilicians, and the nearest approach in sound to the Hebrew Saul. According to some, both names were borne by him in his childhood, Paulus being the one by which he was known among the Gentiles, and which was subsequently assumed by him to the exclusion of the other, in order to indicate his position as the friend and teacher of the Gentiles. The practice of adopting Gentile names may be traced through all the periods of Hebrew history. Double names also, national and foreign, often occur in combination, as Belteshazzar-Daniel; Esther-Hadasa; thus Saul-Paulus.

Others find in the name an expression of humility, according to Paul’s declaration that he was “the least of the apostles” (1Corinthians 15:9). Others, an allusion to his diminutive stature, and others again think that he assumed the name out of compliment to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Cyprus. Dean Howson, while rejecting this explanation, remarks: “We cannot believe it accidental that the words ‘who is also called Paul,’ occur at this particular point of the inspired narrative. The heathen name rises to the surface at the moment when St. Paul visibly enters on his office as the apostle of the heathen. The Roman name is stereotyped at the moment when he converts the Roman governor.”

A servant (δοῦλος)

Lit., bondservant or slave. Paul applies the term to himself, Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1, and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideas of belonging to a master, and of service as a slave. The former is emphasized in Paul’s use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this standpoint, the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship. Compare 1Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 6:6; Philemon 1:16.

On the other hand, believers belong to Christ by purchase (1Corinthians 6:20; 1Peter 1:18; Ephesians 1:7), and own Him as absolute Master. It is a question whether the word contains any reference to official position. In favor of this, it may be said that when employed in connection with the names of individuals, it is always applied to those who have some special work as teachers or ministers, and that most of such instances occur in the opening salutations of the apostolic letters. The meaning, in any case, must not be limited to the official sense.

Called to be an apostle (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος)

As the previous phrase describes generally Paul’s relation to Christ, this expression indicates it specifically. “Called to be an apostle” (A.V. and Rev.), signifies called to the office of an apostle. Yet, as Dr. Morison observes, there is an ambiguity in the rendering, since he who is simply called to be an apostle may have his apostleship as yet only in the future. The Greek indicates that the writer was actually in the apostolate – a called apostle. Godet, “an apostle by way of call.”

Separated unto the gospel of God (ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ)

Characterizing the preceding phrase more precisely: definitely separated from the rest of mankind. Compare Galatians 1:15, and “chosen vessel,” Acts 9:15. The verb means “to mark off (ἀπό) from others by a boundary (ὅρος).” It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Matthew 13:49; Matthew 25:32); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Luke 6:22), and of the setting apart of apostles to special functions (Acts 13:2). Gospel is an exception to the almost invariable usage, in being without the article (compare Revelation 14:6); since Paul considers the Gospel rather as to its quality – good news from God – than as the definite proclamation of Jesus Christ as a Savior. The defining elements are added subsequently in Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4. Not the preaching of the Gospel, but the message itself is meant. For Gospel, see on superscription of Matthew.” (2)

In conclusion:

The notes from the Geneva Study Bible provides an excellent summary review of Romans 1:1:

“Paul, {1} a {2} {a} servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an {b} apostle, {c} separated unto the gospel of God,

(1) The first part of the epistle contains a most profitable preface down to verse six.

(2) Paul, exhorting the Romans to give diligent heed to him, in that he shows that he comes not in his own name, but as God’s messenger to the Gentiles, entreats them with the weightiest matter that exists, promised long ago by God, by many good witnesses, and now at length indeed performed.

(a) Minister, for this word servant is not taken in this place as set against the word freeman, but rather refers to and declares his ministry and office.

(b) Whereas he said before in a general term that he was a minister, now he comes to a more special name, and says that he is an apostle, and that he did not take this office upon himself by his own doing, but that he was called by God, and therefore in this letter of his to the Romans he is doing nothing but his duty.

(c) Appointed by God to preach the gospel.”

A final step in researching a passage is to find a sermon on the verse.

For example:

Greetings from an Apostle Romans SermonRomans 1:1-7 by J. Ligon Duncan

Romans: The Man and the Message Sermons Romans 1:1 by John MacArthur

Introduction Sermon Text: Romans 1:1-7 by R.C. Sproul

Dr. Sproul discusses the use of “bondservant” by Paul and the meaning of the phrase “gospel of God” and its relationship to the scriptures. Dr. Sproul discusses Paul’s use of the trinity. The introduction starts the discussion of being called and what that calling is. See link below for this free sermon series.*

A notable quote:

John Calvin said of Romans, “When any one understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Romans, Vol. 2 p. 1982-1984.

2.      Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies In The New Testament, (Mclean, Virginia, Macdonald Publishing Company), p. 1-3.

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Are Christians supposed to live communally?

Are Christians supposed to live communally?                           By Jack Kettler

As a young Christian, my wife and I lived in a Christian communal ministry for seven years that worked with street people. We practiced food, clothing sharing (to a degree), transportation, all income, and jobs were communally shared. On the job situation, not everyone could do the same tasks for various reasons, like physical strength requirements. The ministry was not dependent on outside donations; it was self-funding by the work of everyone’s hands. The income was put into a common pot and distributed accordingly. Sometimes the accordingly was not so accordingly.    

At the time in the early 1970s, most of the participants in this street people ministry thought to some degree they were fulfilling the description of the Christians in the book of Acts 2:44 by having “all things in common.” If it was good enough for the early church, it should be good enough for us today was the thinking.

In this study, we will look at three texts from the book of Acts. From a cursory reading of the texts, there appears to be some level of communal sharing. Was this practice the norm for the church of all ages? How extensive was having all things in common? Was it an unusual time in history based on a soon to be prophetic fulfillment that necessitated such practice?

Two crucial texts from the book of Acts:

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44 ESV)

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32 ESV)

Matthew Poole’s Commentary provides helpful information on the Act 2:44 text:

“All that believed were together; not that they lived together in one house or street, but that they met (and that frequently) together in the holy exercises of their religion; and that manner of some, which St. Paul speaks of, Hebrews 10:25, to forsake the assembling of themselves together, was a sin not yet known in the church. (Text highlighting mine)

And had all things common; this was only at that place, Jerusalem, and at that time, when the wants of some, and the charity of others, may well be presumed to be extraordinary; and there is no such thing as community of goods here required or practised. Christ’s gospel does not destroy the law; and the eighth commandment is still in force, which it could not be, if there were no propriety, or meum and tuum, now; nay, after this, the possession which Ananias sold is adjudged by this apostle to have been Ananias’s own, and so was the money too which he had received for it, Acts 5:4. And these all things which they had in common, must either be restrained to such things as everyone freely laid aside for the poor; or that it speaks the extraordinary charitable disposition of those new converts, that they would rather have parted with anything, nay, with their all, than that any of their poor brethren should have wanted.” (1)

Pool notes that it was only in Jerusalem that individual communal sharing was practiced. It was not church-wide. Many people traveled to Jerusalem for the various feasts and temple rights. Often Jerusalem was filled to overflowing with countless numbers of people. When the events at Pentecost occurred, it was manifest that extraordinary. This Pentecost was a unique event in God’s plan of salvation. Upon the startling conversion of so many on a single day, there was confusion on what to do. God was doing something remarkable. Many of the new converts chose to stay and be part of this extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Those that stayed watched as the numbers of new believers increased daily. Those that remained looked for directions from the apostles. New Christians were added to the church each day. Many of the new converts did not have a place to stay and were running out of food. This background of events explains the instructions of the apostles on sharing were given at this time.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers likewise provides some additional historical context of Acts 4:32:  

“(32) And the multitude of them that believed.—literally, and the heart and the soul of the multitude of those that believed were one. Of the two words used to describe the unity of the Church, “heart” represented, as in Hebrew usage, rather the intellectual side of character (Mark 2:6; Mark 2:8; Mark 11:23; Luke 2:35; Luke 3:15; Luke 6:45, et al.), and “soul,” the emotional (Luke 2:35; Luke 12:22; John 12:27, et al.). As with most like words, however, they often overlap each other, and are used together to express the totality of character without minute analysis. The description stands parallel with that of Acts 2:42-47, as though the historian delighted to dwell on the continuance, as long as it lasted, of that ideal of a common life of equality and fraternity after which philosophers had yearned, in which the rights of property, though not abolished, were, by the spontaneous action of its owners, made subservient to the law of love, and benevolence was free and full, without the “nicely calculated less or more” of a later and less happy time. The very form of expression implies that the community of goods was not compulsory. The goods still belonged to men, but they did not speak of them as their own. They had learned, as from our Lord’s teaching (Luke 16:10-14), to think of themselves, not as possessors, but as stewards.” (2)


The book of Acts and its particular genera of literature. The Bible uses many literary forms. For instance, the Bible uses genera’s such as; law, historical narrative, wisdom, poetical, gospel, didactic letters, or epistles, predictive, and apocalyptic literature to reveal the Word of God. The book of Acts has been classified as a historical narrative. This use of the genera of a historical narrative does not mean that we do not learn essential things about doctrine, but as a rule, it is different from the Pauline Epistles that are classified as didactic or instructional. Because the disciples met in an upper room in the book of Acts, it does not follow that all Christians must meet in upper rooms.

The point of this concern about genera is vital to the way Acts is understood in the three texts under consideration. The communal sharing we see in Acts is a historical, descriptive narrative, not a didactic or instructional dogmatic moral teaching binding on all Christians. The situation in the early church was unique. It was not the norm or pattern for all of the church. The model seen in Acts may very well have some applications in later church history.

For example:

1.      In times of war and famine.

2.      For Reformed Churches, there are synods, presbyteries, and general assemblies. Every church, at times, gets to host elders in their homes and supply food for the event. These types of events are not the norm for everyday church life.

3.      In addition, just like the book of Acts, sharing housing and supplying food for church-wide events is not permeant, and it is voluntary.

4.      Church ministries can run food and clothing banks to assist the poor among us.

5.      Other church support ministries such as overnight missions where food, beds, showers, and gospel preaching happens.

6.      There are hundreds of more applications for the church to serve that good be added to the above list. 

From the texts in Acts in this study, it can be gleaned as a principle that Christians are to love each other. Why is that? The apostle John tells us: 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)

More textual support and a closer look at Acts 4:34:

The text itself provides clues to how to understand the passage. It should be noted that the verb tenses in Acts 2 and 4 do not teach that all the property of the early Christians was sold by way of a permanent contractual sale. If someone had an extra house or a field not in use, the owners could voluntarily bring the proceeds of their sale to the apostles for distribution to the destitute believers. 

Consider the NIV translation of Acts 4:34:

“From time to time, those who owned land or houses sold them, and brought money from the sale, and brought it to the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:34 NIV)

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.” (Acts 4:34 ESV)

The NIV on Acts 4:34b-35 states, “From time to time, those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

Craig L. Blomberg comments on the verb tenses:

“Again we have a rash of imperfect verbs here, this time explicitly reflected in the NIV’s “from time to time.” The periodic selling of property confirms our interpretation of Acts 2:44 above. This was not a one-time divesture of all one’s possessions. The theme “according to need,” reappears, too. Interestingly, what does not appear in this paragraph is any statement of complete equality among believers.” (3)

The Church in Jerusalem was not one big commune. There was an overflow of new believers creating logistical problems. It is evident in the text, “from time to time,” as there was need; people sold what they had to provide for others.

The passages in Acts does not say that all of your property must be sold and shared with everyone. Some people sold all or part of their property as they could. This sharing was voluntary. The apostles made the needs known to the growing early church congregation. Church members responded as the Holy Spirit moved them.

If so, it would contradict other teachings of Christ. Four examples will be cited that are contrary to the idea that the church is supposed to be communal.

The first two examples:

1. In the parable of the talents, we are told how the first servant receives five talents, and the second servant received two, and a third servant gets one. The faithful servants increased their talents and met the master’s approval.

2. Also, Paul, who said, “and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” (Acts 18:3 ESV)

What about Ananias and Sapphira?

“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:1-4 KJV)

A third example:

3. Rather than support the idea of communal living, it is a persuasive case against it. Verse 4 supplies the answer, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” Ananias and Sapphira were under no command to sell their property and give it away. The judgment that fell upon them was because of their deceptive lying. Much like modern politicians, they were boasters, a type of pharisaism, doing things to be seen of men.

A fourth example, inheritance and corporation laws:

4. If this alleged early church communal sharing was now the church norm, this new doctrine has virtually repudiated Old Covenant inheritance laws and the subsequent development in the area of corporations and corporate law. The modern corporation is where income and housing, farms, buildings can be passed on to inheritors, and corporate business partners and the church can pass on its wealth to the future. Like inheritance laws, corporate law is connected to Christ; these laws did not just spring out of thin air. The Advent of Christ, Corpus Christi, is earth-shattering by its implications for doctrinal development.

A more in-depth look at corporations and their ability like inheritance laws to pass on wealth:

“What the corporation doctrine has enabled men to do is to transcend the limitations of their time and life-span. . . . Granted that corporations are not necessarily good (nor necessarily bad), it still remains true that the concept of the corporation has been important in history by giving continuity to the works of men.” – R.J. Rushdoony

Is there a contradiction in Scripture?

If the distribution and sharing in the books of Acts were mandatory, this would be a violation of the Eighth Commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Forced redistribution at the hands of the fed or state government and even the church is theft. Inheritance laws, corporate laws that enable men to transcend the limitations of time and life span are good. The limited communal sharing in the book of Acts does not set aside or contradict the previous laws.       

Engel’s Gnomen provides a reasonable explanation of what was going on in the book of Acts church at this time:”

“Acts 4:34. Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεής τις, for neither was there any in need) so it ought to be in our days, even without goods being; in common,—a state of things which is suited only to the highest perfection (flower) of faith and love.—πωλοῦντες, selling) they laid out their wealth to good account, before that the Romans devastated the city. As the Israelites made gain from the Egyptians, so did the Christians from the Jews. [38]

[38] Viz. by selling their lands, which the Roman invasion would soon make worthless to the Jews.—E. and T.” (4)

Historical context and the coming Roman judgment on Jerusalem: 

This section enters into the genera of apocalyptic and is speculative.

Could there be a Scriptural reason for the unique situation in Jerusalem during the 1st Century that led to the particular kind of sharing of goods and the selling of property because specific prophecies were nearing fulfillment?

Consider Matthew’s instructions:

“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 24:16-20 KJV)

If the interpreter takes a partial preterist approach to Scripture, the Matthew text is a warning the early church to prepare to flee from Judea and Jerusalem because of the coming tribulation.

Luke warned the early church:

“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, and then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-22 KJV)

Early Church father commentary:

“The members of the Jerusalem church by means of an oracle, given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the city before the war began and settle in a town in Peraea called Pella.” (5)

If the Christians in Jerusalem followed the prophetic advice from Matthew and Luke, they were spared from the great tribulation of 70AD that came upon the Jews. This Christian exodus from Jerusalem probably numbered in the thousands. 

The Christians did flee and were saved:

“[As] Vespasian was approaching with his army, all who believed in Christ left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, and other places beyond the river Jordan; and so they all marvellously escaped the general shipwreck of their country: not one of them perished.” (6)

The seemingly communal mindset and individual sharing may have been set against the coming military invasion by the Roman armies and impending destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Therefore, the situation we see described in the three texts from Acts may have had additional special prophetical and historical considerations from Matthew and Luke, for example.

In regards to the initial question about Christians living communally, the answer is no. Certain things, like the voluntary sharing that happened, have been continued in ministries for the poor and other exceptional cases like war, famines, and floods.   

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


1.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, Acts, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 391.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Acts, Vol. 7, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 25.

3.      Craig L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty nor Riches, (Downers Grove, IL, Intervarsity Press, 1999), p. 162, 165.

4.      Johann Bengel, The Gnomon of the New Testament, (Edinburg, T &. T Clark). p. 555.

5.      Eusebius, (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, reprint 1979), Book III, 5:4, p. 138.

6.      The New Testament with a Commentary and Critical Notes, 6 vols. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, n.d.), 5:228–29.

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

For more study:

 “What the corporation doctrine has enabled men to do is to transcend the limitations of their time and life-span. . . . Granted that corporations are not necessarily good (nor necessarily bad), it still remains true that the concept of the corporation has been important in history by giving continuity to the works of men.” – R.J. Rushdoony

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Studies vis-à-vis God’s covenantal promises

Studies vis-à-vis God’s covenantal promises                        By Jack Kettler

This study will focus on the promises God gave in His covenants. In addition, this study will touch on how some of the covenants were conditional while others were unconditional. This study is an introductory overview.

What is a promise?

Definition of promise from the King James Dictionary:


1. In a general sense, a declaration, written or verbal, made by one person to another, which binds the person who makes it, either in honor, conscience or law, to do or forbear a certain act specified; a declaration which gives to the person to whom it is made, a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of the act. The promise of a visit to my neighbor, gives him a right to expect it, and I am bound in honor and civility to perform the promise. Of such a promise, human laws have no cognizance; but the fulfillment of it is one of the minor moralities, which civility, kindness and strict integrity require to be observed.” (1)

We can say the promises of God in Scripture are explicit pledges that God Himself made. God is the guarantor that the promises will be fulfilled.

Conditional and Unconditional covenants defined in simple terms:

A conditional covenant is an agreement between two or more parties that involves obligations to be satisfied.

An unconditional covenant is an agreement between two or more parties that involves no obligations to be satisfied.

The Scriptural basis for the Adamic Covenant is in Genesis 2:16-17:

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “you may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Genesis 2:17 explains this covenant:

“17. thou shalt not eat of it … thou shalt surely die—no reason assigned for the prohibition, but death was to be the punishment of disobedience. A positive command like this was not only the simplest and easiest, but the only trial to which their fidelity could be exposed.” (2)

This covenant with Adam was conditional. Adam was required to obey the terms of the covenant, which involved a promise and a penalty. This covenant effected all of Adam’s posterity. See Romans 5:12-21.

God’s promise in the Adamic covenant is in Genesis 3:15:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

In Genesis, 3:15, we have what is known as the Proto-Evangelium or the first gospel, in which God promises that the seed of the woman (Christ) would destroy Satan.

The Scriptural basis for the Noahic Covenant is in Genesis 9:8-17:

“8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-17 ESV)

The Pulpit Commentary explains Genesis 9 verse 11 regarding God’s covenant:

“Verse 11. – And I will establish my covenant with you. Not form it for the first time, as if no such covenant had existed in antediluvian times (Knobel); but cause it to stand or permanently establish it, so that it shall no more be-in danger of being overthrown, as it recently has been. The word “my” points to a covenant already in existence, though not formally mentioned until the time of Noah (Genesis 6:18). The promise of the woman’s seed, which formed the substance of the covenant during the interval from Adam to Noah, was from Noah’s time downwards to be enlarged by a specific pledge of the stability of the earth and the safety of man (cf. Genesis 8:22). Neither shall all flesh – including the human race and animal creation. Cf. כָּל־בָּשָׂר mankind (Genesis vi 12), the lower creatures (Genesis 7:21) – be cut off any more by the waters of a flood. Literally, the flood just passed, which would no more return. Neither shall there anymore be a flood (of any kind) to destroy the earth. Regions might be devastated and tribes of animals and men swept away, but never again, would there be a universal destruction of the earth or of man.” (3)

God’s Covenant with Noah is an unconditional covenant.

God’s promise of the Noahic covenant is in Genesis 9:11: 

“I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11 ESV)

The promise to Noah was that never again would God judge the world by flood. Moreover, God would keep His promise made in Genesis 3:15 regarding the coming Messiah.

The Scriptural basis for the Abrahamic Covenant is in Genesis 15:7-21:

“And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:7-21 ESV)

The Pulpit Commentary explains how in verse 17, the burning lamp, coming from the smoking stove is an emblem of Divine presence: 

“Verse 17. – And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, – literally, and it was (i.e. this took place), the sun went down; less accurately, ἐπεὶ δὲ ὁ ἤλιιος ἐγένετο πρὸς δυσμὰς (LXX.), which was the state of matters in Ver. 12. Here the sun, which was then setting, is described as having set – and it was dark, – literally, and darkness was, i.e. a darkness that might be felt, as in Ver. 12; certainly not φλὸξ ἐγένετο (LXX.), as if there were another flame besides the one specified in the description – behold a smoking furnace, – the תַּנּוּר, or Oriental furnace, had the form of a cylindrical fire-pot (cf. Gesenius, p. 869; Keil in loco) – and a burning lamp – a lamp of fire, or fiery torch, emerging from the smoking stove: an emblem of the Divine presence (cf. Exodus 19:18) – that passed between those pieces – in ratification of the covenant.” (4)

Additional Scriptures regarding the Abrahamic covenant:

“Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” (Genesis 13:14-15 ESV)

“And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” (Genesis 13:16 ESV)

“I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Genesis 17:7 ESV)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on Genesis 17:7:

“Next, the spiritual part of the covenant comes into view.” “To be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” Here we find God, in the progress of human development, for the third time laying the foundations of a covenant of grace with man. He dealt with Adam and with Noah and now be deals with Abraham. “A perpetual covenant.” This covenant will not fail, since God has originated it, notwithstanding the moral instability of man. Though we cannot as yet see the possibility of fulfilling the condition on man’s side, yet we may be assured that what God purposes will somehow be accomplished. The seed of Abraham will eventually embrace the whole human family in fellowship with God.” (5)

The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God’s promise to make Abraham’s seed into a nation and bless all of the nations of the earth through his ancestry is an unconditional promise from God. See Genesis 22:15-18. The requirement of circumcision came after the promises were made to Abraham and were not dependent upon this obligation.

God’s guarantee that His promises to Abraham would come true was based upon His own honor.

The writer of Hebrews explains:  

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” (Hebrews 6:13-14 ESV)

God’s promise found in the Abrahamic covenant is in Genesis 22:18:

“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18 ESV)

The Scriptural basis for the Mosaic Covenant is in Leviticus and Deuteronomy:

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:3-4 ESV)

From Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Leviticus 26:3:

“Le 26:3-13. A Blessing to the Obedient.

3. If ye walk in my statutes—In that covenant into which God graciously entered with the people of Israel, He promised to bestow upon them a variety of blessings, so long as they continued obedient to Him as their Almighty Ruler; and in their subsequent history that people found every promise amply fulfilled, in the enjoyment of plenty, peace, a populous country, and victory over all enemies.” (6)

In addition, God says:

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your barns and zin all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. And call the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” (Deuteronomy 28:1-14 ESV)

God gives these covenant promises with conditions attached, namely, obedience. The Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant.

For example:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6 ESV)

God’s promise of the Mosaic covenant is in Leviticus 26:5:

“Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:4 KJV)

The conditional aspect of this covenant does not mean that the Mosaic covenant was not gracious on God’s part. Without the law, it would be impossible to identify sin. “…Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7 ESV)

The Scriptural basis for the Davidic Covenant is in 2Samuel:

“Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2Samuel 7:8-16 ESV)

The comments from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 2Samuel 7:16 are helpful:

“(16) Established. — Two different Hebrew words are so translated in this verse. The first is the same word as that used in 2Samuel 7:12-13, while the second is translated sure in 1Samuel 2:35; Isaiah 55:3, and would be better rendered here also made sure.

Before thee.—The LXX has unnecessarily changed this to before me. The thought is, that David is now made the head of the line in which shall be fulfilled the primeval promise “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” This was originally given simply to the human race (Genesis 3:15); then restricted to the nation descended from Abraham (Genesis 22:18, &c); then limited to the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10, comp. Ezekiel 21:27), and now its fulfilment is promised in the family of David.” (7)

This covenant with David is unconditional.

God’s promise of the Davidic covenant is in 2Samuel 7:16:

Your throne shall be established forever.” (2Samuel 7:16 ESV)

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary correctly points out that verse 16 points to a greater son of David:

“13. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever—this declaration referred, in its primary application, to Solomon, and to the temporal kingdom of David’s family. But in a larger and sublimer sense, it was meant of David’s Son of another nature (Heb. 1:8). [See on [270]1Ch 17:14.]” (8)

All of the previous covenants find their fulfillment in the New Covenant.

The Scriptural basis for the New Covenant:

Old Testament predictions:

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV)

New Testament fulfillment:

“And this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:27 ESV)

“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 ESV)

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15 ESV)

The promises of the New Covenant are based on Christ’s perfect obedience. Therefore, these promises are secure, not for anything accomplished by the believer, but because of what Christ has accomplished. Therefore, the New Covenant is unconditional.

The covenants in the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the New Covenant. For that reason, a comprehensive overview of the New Covenant is in order.

The New Covenant from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

“Covenant, the New

(berith chadhashah, Jer. 31:31; he diatheke kaine, Heb. 8:8,13, etc., or nea, Heb. 12:24: the former Greek adjective has the sense of the “new” primarily Heb. 1:1-14y in reference to quality, the latter the sense of “young,” the “new,” primarily in reference to time):

1. Contrast of “New” and “Old”–the Term “Covenant”:

The term “New” Covenant necessarily implies an “Old” Covenant, and we are reminded that God’s dealings with His people in the various dispensations of the world’s history have been in terms of covenant. The Holy Scriptures by their most familiar title keep this thought before us, the Old Testament and the New Testament or Covenant; the writings produced within the Jewish “church” being the writings or Scriptures of the Old Covenant, those within the Christian church, the Scriptures of the New Covenant. The alternative name “Testament”– adopted into our English description through the Latin, as the equivalent of the Hebrew berith, and the Greek diatheke, which both mean a solemn disposition, compact or contract–suggests the disposition of property in a last will or testament, but although the word diatheke may bear that meaning, the Hebrew berith does not, and as the Greek usage in the New Testament seems especially governed by the Old Testament usage and the thought moves in a similar plane, it is better to keep to the term “covenant.” The one passage which seems to favor the “testament” idea is Heb. 9:16-17 (the Revisers who have changed the King James Version “testament” into “covenant” in every other place have left it in these two verses), but it is questionable whether even here the better rendering would not be “covenant” (see below). Certainly, in the immediate context “covenant” is the correct translation and, confessedly, “testament,” if allowed to stand, is an application by transition from the original thought of a solemn compact to the secondary one of testamentary disposition. The theological terms “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” do not occur in Scripture, though the ideas covered by the terms, especially the latter, may easily be found there. The “New Covenant” here spoken of is practically equivalent to the Covenant of Grace established between God and His redeemed people, that again resting upon the eternal Covenant of Redemption made between the Father and the Son, which, though not so expressly designated, is not obscurely indicated by many passages of Scripture.

2. Christ’s Use at Last Supper:

Looking at the matter more particularly, we have to note the words of Christ at the institution of the Supper. In all the three Synoptists, as also in Paul’s account (Mt 26:28; Mark14:24; Lu 22:20; 1Co 11:25) “covenant” occurs. Matthew and Mark, “my blood of the (new) covenant”; Lk and Paul, “the new covenant in my blood.” The Revisers following the critical text have omitted “new” in Matthew and Mark, but even if it does not belong to the original MS, it is implied, and there need be little doubt that Jesus used it. The old covenant was so well known to these Jewish disciples, that to speak of the covenant in this emphatic way, referring manifestly to something other than the old Mosaic covenant was in effect to call it a “new” covenant. The expression, in any case, looks back to the old and points the contrast; but in the contrast, there are points of resemblance.

3. Relation to Exodus 24:

It is most significant that Christ here connects the “new” covenant with His “blood.” We at once think, as doubtless the disciples would think, of the transaction described in Ex 24:7, when Moses “took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people” those “words,” indicating God’s undertaking on behalf of His people and what He required of them; “and they said, All that Yahweh hath spoken will we do, and be obedient,” thus taking up their part of the contract. Then comes the ratification. “Moses took the blood (half of which had already been sprinkled on the altar), and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which Yahweh hath made with you concerning all these words” (verse 8). The blood was sacrificial blood, the blood of the animals sacrificed as burnt offerings and peace offerings (Ex 24:5-6). The one half of the blood sprinkled on the altar tells of the sacrifice offered to God, the other half sprinkled on the people, of the virtue of the same sacrifice applied to the people, and so the covenant relation is fully brought about. Christ, by speaking of His blood in this connection, plainly indicates that His death was a sacrifice and that through that sacrifice His people would be brought into a new covenant relationship with God. His sacrifice is acceptable to God and the virtue of it is to be applied to believers–so all the blessings of the new covenant are secured to them; the blood “is poured out for you” (Lu 22:20). He specifically mentions one great blessing of the new covenant, the forgiveness of sins—“which is poured out for many unto remission of sins” (Mt 26:28).

4. Use in Epistle to the Hebrews:

This great thought is taken up in Hebrews and fully expounded. The writer draws out fully the contrast between the new covenant and the old by laying stress upon the perfection of Christ’s atonement in contrast to the material and typical sacrifices (Heb. 9:11-23). He was “a high priest of the good things to come,” connected with “the greater and more perfect tabernacle.” He entered the heavenly holy place “through his own blood,” not that of “goats and calves,” and by that perfect offering He has secured “eternal redemption” in contrast to the temporal deliverance of the old dispensation. The blood of those typical offerings procured ceremonial cleansing; much more, therefore, shall the blood of Christ avail to cleanse the conscience “from dead works to serve the living God”– that blood which is so superior in value to the blood of the temporal sacrifices, yet resembles it in being sacrificial blood. It is the blood of Him “who, through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God.” It is the fashion in certain quarters nowadays to say that it is not the blood of Christ, but His spirit of self-sacrifice for others, that invests the cross with its saving power, and this verse is sometimes cited to show that the virtue lies in the surrender of the perfect will, the shedding of the blood being a mere accident. But this is not the view of the New Testament writers. The blood-shedding is to them a necessity. Of course, it is not the natural, material blood, or the mere act of shedding it, that saves. The blood is the life. The blood is the symbol of life; the blood shed is the symbol of life outpoured–of the penalty borne; and while great emphasis must be laid, as in this verse it is laid, upon Christ’s perfect surrender of His holy will to God, yet the essence of the matter is found in the fact that He willingly endured the dread consequences of sin, and as a veritable expiatory sacrifice shed His precious blood for the remission of sins.

5. The Mediator of the New Covenant:

On the ground of that shed blood, as the writer goes on to assert, “He is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). Thus, Christ fulfils the type in a twofold way: He is the sacrifice upon which the covenant is based, whose blood ratifies it, and He is also, like Moses, the Mediator of the covenant. The death of Christ not only secures the forgiveness of those who are brought under the new covenant, but it was also for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, implying that all the sacrifices gained their value by being types of Christ, and the forgiveness enjoyed by the people of God in former days was bestowed in virtue of the great Sacrifice to be offered in the fullness of time.

6. “Inheritance” and “Testament”:

Not only does the blessing of perfect forgiveness come through the new covenant, but also the promise of the “eternal inheritance” in contrast to the earthly inheritance, which, under the old covenant, Israel obtained. The mention of the inheritance is held to justify the taking of the word in the next verse as “testament,” the writer passing to the thought of a testamentary disposition, which is only of force after the death of the testator. Undoubtedly, there is good ground for the analogy, and all the blessings of salvation, which come to the believer, may be considered as bequeathed by the Saviour in His death, and accruing to us because He has died. It has, in that sense, tacitly to be assumed that the testator lives again to be His own executor and to put us in possession of the blessings. Still, we think there is much to be said in favor of keeping to the sense of “covenant” even here, and taking the clause, which, rendered literally, is: “a covenant is of force (or firm) over the dead,” as meaning that the covenant is established on the ground of sacrifice, that sacrifice representing the death of the maker of the covenant. The allusion may be further explained by a reference to Ge 15:9-10,17, which has generally been considered as illustrating the ancient Semitic method of making a covenant: the sacrificial animals being divided, and the parties passing between the pieces, implying that they deserved death if they broke the engagement. The technical Hebrew phrase for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant.”

There is an interesting passage in Herodotus iii. 8, concerning an Arabian custom which seems akin to the old Hebrew practice. “The Arabians observe pledges as religiously as any people; and they make them in the following manner; when any wish to pledge their faith, a third person standing between the two parties makes an incision with a sharp stone in the palm of the hand, nearest the longest fingers of both the contractors; then taking some of the nap from the garments of each, he smears seven stones placed between him and the blood; and as he does this he invokes Bacchus and Urania. When this ceremony is completed, the person who pledges his faith binds his friends as sureties to the stranger, or the citizen, if the contract is made with a citizen; and the friends also hold themselves obliged to observe the engagement”– Cary’s translation.

Whatever the particular application of the word in Ge 15:17, the central idea in the passage is that death, blood-shedding, is necessary to the establishment of the covenant, and so he affirms that the first covenant was not dedicated without blood, and in proof quotes the passage already cited from Ex 24:1-18, and concludes that “apart from shedding of blood there is no remission” (Ex 24:18).

7. Relation to Jeremiah 31:31-34:

This new covenant established by Christ was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, who uses the very word “new covenant” in describing it, and very likely Christ had that description in mind when He used the term, and meant His disciples to understand that the prophetic interpretation would in Him be realized. There is no doubt that the author of He had the passage in mind, for he has led up to the previous statement by definitely quoting the whole statement of Jer. 31:31-34. He had in Jer. 7:1-34 spoken of the contrast between Christ s priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” (verse 11) and the imperfect Aaronic priesthood, and he designates Jesus as “the surety of a better covenant” (verse 22). Then in Jer. 8:1-22, emphasizing the thought of the superiority of Christ’s heavenly high-priesthood, he declares that Christ is the “mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises” (verse 6). The first covenant, he says, was not faultless, otherwise there would have been no need for a second; but the fault was not in the covenant but in the people who failed to keep it, though perhaps there is also the suggestion that the external imposition of laws could not suffice to secure true obedience. “For finding fault with them he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” The whole passage (Jer. 8:1-22 through Jer. 12:1-17) would repay careful study, but we need only note that not only is there prominence given to the great blessings of the covenant, perfect forgiveness and fullness of knowledge, but, as the very essence of the covenant — that which serves to distinguish it from the old covenant and at once to show its superiority and guarantee its permanence–there is this wonderful provision: “I will put my laws into their mind, and on their heart also will I write them: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” This at once shows the spirituality of the new covenant. Its requirements are not simply given in the form of external rules, but the living Spirit possesses the heart; the law becomes an internal dominating principle, and so true obedience is secured.

8. To Ezekiel:

Ezekiel had spoken to the same effect, though the word “new covenant” is not used in the passage, chapter 36:27: “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.” In chapter 37 Ezekiel again speaks of the great blessings to be enjoyed by the people of God, including cleansing, walking in God’s statutes, recognition as God’s people, etc., and he distinctly says of this era of blessing: “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them” (verse 26). Other important foreshadowings of the new covenant are found in Isa 54:10; 55:3; 59:21; 61:8; Ho 2:18-23; Mal 3:1-4. We may well marvel at the spiritual insight of these prophets, and it is impossible to attribute their forecasts to natural genius; they can only be accounted for by Divine inspiration.

The writer to the Hebrews recurs again and again to this theme of the “New Covenant”; in 10:16, 17 he cites the words of Jeremiah already quoted about writing the law on their minds, and remembering their sins no more. In Heb. 12:24, he speaks of “Jesus the mediator of a new covenant,” and “the blood of sprinkling,” again connecting the “blood” with the “covenant,” and finally, in Heb. 13:20, he prays for the perfection of the saints through the “blood of an eternal covenant.”

9. Contrast of Old and New in 2Corinthians 3:

In 2Cor. 3 Paul has an interesting and instructive contrast between the old covenant and the new. He begins it by saying that “our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (3:5, 6). The “letter” is the letter of the law, of the old covenant, which could only bring condemnation, but the spirit, which characterizes the new covenant, gives life, writes the law upon the heart. He goes on to speak of the old as that “ministration of death” which nevertheless “came with glory” (3:7), and he refers especially to the law, but the new covenant is “the ministration of the spirit,” the “ministration of righteousness” (3:8, 9), and has a far greater glory than the old. The message of this “new covenant” is “the gospel of Christ.” The glory of the new covenant is focused in Christ; rays forth from Him. The glory of the old dispensation was reflected upon the face of Moses, but that glory was transitory and so was the physical manifestation (3:13). The sight of the shining face of Moses awed the people of Israel and they revered him as leader specially favored of God (3:7-13). When he had delivered his message he veiled his face and thus the people could not see that the glow did not last; every time that he went into the Divine presence he took off the veil and afresh his face was lit up with the glory, and coming out with the traces of that glory lingering on his countenance he delivered his message to the people and again veiled his face (compare Ex 34:29-35), and thus the transitoriness and obscurity of the old dispensation were symbolized. In glorious contrast to that symbolical obscurity, the ministers of the gospel, of the new covenant, use great boldness of speech; the veil is done away in Christ (Ex 3:12 ff). The glory which comes through Him is perpetual, and fears no vanishing away.” Archibald McCaig (9)


In the Adamic Covenant Genesis 3:15, Noahic Covenant Genesis 9:11, Abrahamic Covenant Genesis 15:17, Davidic Covenant 2Samuel 7:16, and the New Covenant Ezekiel 36:26-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 11:27; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15, God makes promises, and takes the responsibility to fulfill the requirements and provisions for these covenantal promises. God fulfills the conditions of the covenant on behalf of His people through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)


1.      The King James Dictionary, (Published by followers of Jesus Christ for the promotion of the knowledge of God), p.144.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 19.

3.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Genesis, Vol.1., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 143.

4.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, Genesis, Vol.1., (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 221-222.

5.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Genesis, Vol. 1, p. 304.

6.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 107.

7.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 2Samuel, Vol. 2, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 463.

8.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 233.

9.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘COVENANT, ‘” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 731-733.

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 the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: THERELIGIONTHATSTARTEDINAHAT.COM

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Devotional Ideas for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Devotional Ideas for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

A Theological Test relevant to a traditional Christmas song and Isaiah’s teaching in 9:6:

What would you say to a heretical theological modalist who says in regards to Isaiah 9:6, when referring to Jesus as the “Everlasting Father,” do you really believe that Jesus is the Everlasting Father? Fellow Christian, do you believe that Jesus is the Everlasting Father? We sing this in our Christmas carols. I am quite certain many Christians would be at a loss to answer this question. The following article will help the believer to answer this challenging question.

Isaiah 9:6 a devotional apologetic Re: “Everlasting Father”

With family and friends read Christmas Poems

The Journey of The Magi by T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

The Cultivation of Christmas Trees by T.S. Eliot

There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish – which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.

The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,

So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert
Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children
(And here I remember also with gratitude
St. Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):

So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
(By “eightieth” meaning whichever is last)
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.

A Song for Simeon by T.S. Eliot

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and

The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;

The stubborn season has made stand.

My life is light, waiting for the death wind,

Like a feather on the back of my hand.

Dust in sunlight and memory in corners

Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.

I have walked many years in this city,

Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,

Have taken and given honour and ease.

There went never any rejected from my door.

Who shall remember my house,

where shall live my children’s children

When the time of sorrow is come?

They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,

Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation

Grant us thy peace.

Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,

Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,

Now at this birth season of decease,

Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,

Grant Israel’s consolation

To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word,

They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation

With glory and derision,

Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.

Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,

Not for me the ultimate vision.

Grant me thy peace.

(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,

Thine also).

I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,

I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.

Let thy servant depart,

Having seen thy salvation.

Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah has been described by the early-music scholar Richard Luckett as “a commentary on [Jesus Christ’s] Nativity, Passion, Resurrection and Ascension”, beginning with God’s promises as spoken by the prophets and ending with Christ’s glorification in heaven.

For adults and teenagers, watch and listen to Handel’s Messiah by London Philharmonic (Complete Concerto/Full)

With your family and friends read Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. (Luke 2:20 NASV 1995)

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