Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sowing the Word of the Kingdom (Matt 13:1-23)

We have finally arrived at the center of Matthew's gospel: chapter thirteen. Chapter thirteen is the third extensive discourse of Matthew's gospel (as seen here and here), and it's most obvious attribute is it's emphasis on parables. It can also be divided into three large sections (as seen here). In the following series of posts on chapter thirteen, I will be using Layout #2 as presented in that post. In this post I will be commenting on the first section of that layout (Matt. 13:1-23; A1, B1, & C1).

In sections A1 & C1 of that layout, Jesus delivers and explains his famous "parable of the sower," and in that parable four types of soil have "seed" sown on them. The typical approach to that parable is to interpret Jesus' words as describing something entirely future. In other words, Christians today often interpret these parables as the time which began with the incarnation of Jesus and will end at the consummation of global human history. However, that will not be my approach to the text. Instead I will be treating the "field" and world of these parables as the field and world in which Israelites lived, scattered throughout the Roman empire of that day, and I will be treating the time-frame of these parables as describing the culmination of the end of the old covenant age. That is to say, instead of describing the entire future history of humanity on earth earth, Jesus instead seems to be describing the last days of the Old Covenant and that present age in which the word of his kingdom could be sown. 

Moreover, because the first three types of seed-embedded soil are often presumed by Christians today as describing pagans and "outsiders" of God's covenant family, and there doesn't seem to be any immediate indication of those factors, that also will not be my approach to interpreting these parables in context. 

As an example of what this might look like today, it would probably help to offer a sample of a modern typical approach to this parable. That might look like the following:

With the first seed sown "beside the road" (v. 4), creatures come and devour them. These could not possibly be covenant members of God's family because they are completely devoured, or so it is believed. With the second seed sown on "rocky places," there is little soil (v. 5). The sun scorches them after growing a little, but they, like those "beside the road," also wither away and die. Again, this seed is believed to be outside of the covenant people of God because they eventually wither away and die. The third seed is also similar, having been sown "among the thorns" (v. 7). That eventually gets choked and withers away. But the fourth seed is different. The fourth seed is a "believing" seed, a covenant-member-seed, which falls on good soil and yields a huge crop. It's a "regenerate" crop. Bottom line: the fourth seed is an "elect" crop and the first three are not, or so it has been treated.

I'm going to suggest an alternative to this. Given the progressing context of Matthew's gospel so far, it seems that all four seeds are sown among God's covenant people, the land and people where the people of Israel dwell as a whole, without further distinction or emphasis (especially not upon "regeneration" or "election"). Surely no honest theologian or historian believes that all of Israel who received God's word in the first century would endure to the end. First century history is abundantly clear that not all of Israel would follow Jesus and His apostles up to the point of old Jerusalem's destruction in 70 A.D.. And that actually helps clarify what the Apostles would expect to see in the last days of the old covenant. They would expect to see vast blessings of faith from sowing the word of Christ's kingdom on earth, but only a remnant of Israel would remain faithful to the end. A new Israel, an Israel of faith whose seed is of Abraham through faith in Christ (Gal. 3) would emerge from the rubble of the old creation. Just because some did not endure to the end does not mean all four seeds could not possibly be describing all of Israel, who all were generally recognized to be the covenant people of God. If Jesus was describing all of Israel, which generally is a description of all of God's covenant people, then the underlying principles of Jesus' parables could apply to the new covenant church as well. Just like Israel of old, the christian church today contains hypocrites and others with faith as frail as soap bubbles. But the only way to find out in time and history if someone is a hypocrite, or just plain weak in faith, or whatever, is if they are first identified among God's covenant people as God's covenant people. And that seems to be the kind of scenario Jesus is describing in his parables. He seems to be describing Israel. He seems to be describing seeds that are scattered across the land of God's covenant people as a whole.

This brings up an important factor worthy of a brief digression. God's people, in time and history, are identified by their inclusion in the covenant, not by their hypocrisy (or lack thereof). Hypocrisy is a measure of one's faithfulness to the covenant, not a boundary marker of the covenant itself. If two people are married and one of them is a hypocrite, i.e. an unfaithful spouse, there is still a covenant between the two. The same is true about God's covenant with Israel. So this parable of the sower should be thought of as describing, not only hypocrites with faith as stable as an upright toothpick, but also enemies of the faith outside the covenant. In Jesus' first century context, the hypocrites would be those of Israel who would follow Jesus for a time, but then revert back to the idolatries of Judaism and it's old covenant temple, priesthood, and sacrificial system. The main point of all this is that unfruitful seed-embedded-soils can be among those identified with God's covenant family.

In verses 18-23 (section C1) Jesus describes the "seed" as "the word of the kingdom." Notice carefully that he does not describe it as the word of God. There is a difference. The difference is obvious too. The difference is that the word of the kingdom is much more specific and pointed in its focus. In a previous post I described what the "kingdom of heaven" is (and no, the answer is not "heaven"). The kingdom of heaven is life in union with Christ under the new covenant. The kingdom of heaven is not a place called "heaven," therefore the "word of the kingdom" is not a word about a place called "heaven" either. Rather, the "word of the kingdom" is the word about the kingdom of heaven being very near in its arrival in the first century (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7), with only some of its hearers actually entering into it. The word of the kingdom is the proclamation of good news about entering the new covenant administration under King Jesus (Matt. 5:19-20; 7:21; 11:12).

This explains much of what Jesus was describing when he mentioned "the mystery of the kingdom of heaven" being given to his disciples, but not to the remainder of his audience, which only received parables of the kingdom of heaven (vv. 10-11). The eyes and ears of the apostles are blessed because they see and hear the King and His Kingdom coming. They also have the King of the kingdom of heaven revealing and explaining the mystery of His kingdom to them, but not to others. The unique privilege of having this mystery revealed to them is even more obvious when connected with the previous discourse of Jesus to his disciples in chapter ten. There Jesus revealed to them and commissioned them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel preaching that the kingdom of heaven was near (10:5-7), and that judgment upon the house of Israel was near as well (10:16-23). That judgment included the removal of Israel's landed inheritance, or, to speak in terms which Matthew records Jesus as saying,  "for whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away" (13:10-12). 

All of what Jesus was saying about having an losing makes perfect sense in this context of the kingdom coming near along with God's judgment upon unfaithful Israel. Perhaps the connections might be easier to understand if the translation was amplified a bit. By studying B1 together as one unit (13:10-17), it's easier to grasp a summary idea of what Jesus was describing in 13:10-12: 
"For whoever has [been granted to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven], to him more [knowledge] shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have [knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom granted], even what he has [been given] shall be taken away from him." 
For Jesus, "having" and "taking away" has to do with something near to that generation, which would most clearly refer to Israel's inheritance in the kingdom under the rule of King Jesus. Those who know that the Kingdom is near will strive to enter into it. Those who don't will lose their inheritance. Israel as a whole is addressed, and the word of the kingdom of heaven is scattered among them all, but not all of Israel will endure to the end and inherit the kingdom. At that point when the old covenant creation comes to an end, even what has been given to many Israelites shall be taken away, because knowing Jesus they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful. Whoever does not follow King Jesus, even what he has shall be taken away by 70 A.D. But the one who follows Jesus to the end, to him more shall be given.

In verse 14, Jesus says that in their case --that is, the case of Israel who would reject the word of the kingdom of heaven preached to them-- "the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled." The word used here by Jesus and translated as "fulfilled" is anapleroutai, which is quite different in its emphasis than other times the word "fulfill" pops up in Matthew's gospel. In Greek, anapleroutai describes the filling-full to the brim of that which is lacking. In brief it means to really fill full. Therefore Jesus, by quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 (cf. Matt. 13:15), was teaching his apostles that the promise of judgment inflicted upon Israel in the days of Isaiah was only a partial outpouring of God's wrath, and if they imagine for one second that God's wrath upon Israel back then (in the days of Isaiah) was great, the outpouring of God's wrath upon the generation of Jesus' apostles would be much greater; and the correlative deliverance for God's people, the new Jerusalem, at that time would be exceedingly great as well. The winepress of God's wrath would press upon old covenant Jerusalem and fill up all seven bowls to the fullest before the new Jerusalem would descend from heaven. This, of course, means that the new Jerusalem is analogous to the kingdom of heaven,1 but I'll save more conversations about that for another post, for another time.

1. Doug Wilson's comments in this regard are particularly insightful and worthy of further reflection. He writes: "The New Jerusalem is not the same thing as heaven, but it necessary to say a few things about it here. This is because much of the imagery we have of heaven comes, not from the biblical descriptions of heaven, but from the descriptions of the New Jerusalem—pearly gates, streets of gold, and so forth. This confusion is perpetuated principally through hymns and cartoons. The New Jerusalem is a biblical metaphor for the Christian church—both on earth and in heaven. This identification is not speculation—it is explicitly made in Scripture." -- Douglas Wilson, The Forgotten Heavens: Six Essays on Cosmology [Moscow, ID: Canon Press; 2010], p. 19

William Tyndale: "He is the satisfaction for our sins" (I John 2:2)

Commenting on I John 2:2, William Tyndale (Tyndall) writes: 

And he is the satisfaction for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for all the world’s. (1 John 2:2)

   That I call satisfaction, the Greek calleth Ilasmos, and the Hebrew Copar: and it is first taken for the suaging of wounds, sores, and swellings, and the taking away of pain and smart of them; and thence is borrowed for the pacifying and suaging of wrath and anger, and for an amends-making, a contenting, satisfaction, a ransom, and making at one, as it is to see abundantly in the bible. So that Christ is a full contenting, satisfaction and ransom for our sins: and not for ours only, which are apostles and disciples of Christ while he was yet here; or for ours which are Jews, or Israelites, and the seed of Abraham; or for ours that now believe at this present time, but for all men’s sins, both for their sins which went before and believed the promises to come, and for ours which have seen them fulfilled, and also for all them which shall afterward believe unto the world’s end, of whatsoever nation or degree they be. For Paul commandeth, 1 Tim. 2 “to pray for all men and all degrees,” saying that to be “acceptable unto our Saviour God, which will have all men saved and come to the knowledge of the truth;” that is, some of all nations and all degrees, and not the Jews only. “For,” saith he, “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, which gave himself a redemption” and full satisfaction “for all men.” David also said in the eighteenth Psalm: “Their sound is gone throughout all the earth, so that the benefit stretched on all men.”
   Let this therefore be an undoubted article of thy faith: not of a history faith, as thou believest a gest of Alexander, or of the old Romans, but of a lively faith and belief, to put thy trust and confidence in, and to buy and sell thereon, as we say; and to have thy sins taken away, and thy soul saved thereby, if thou hold it fast; and to continue ever in sin, and to have thy soul damned, if thou let it slip; that our Jesus, our Saviour, that saveth his people from their sins, and our Christ, that is our king over all sin, death and hell, anointed with fulness of all grace and with the Spirit of God, to distribute unto all men, hath, according unto the epistle to the Hebrews and all the scripture, in the days of his mortal flesh, with fasting, praying, suffering, and crying to God mightily for us, and with shedding his blood, made full satisfaction both a pœna et a culpa1 (with our holy father’s leave) for all the sins of the world; both of theirs that went before, and of theirs that come after in the faith; whether it be original sin or actual: and not only the sins committed with consent to evil in time of ignorance, before the knowledge of the truth, but also the sins done of frailty after we have forsaken evil and consented to the laws of God in our hearts, promising to follow Christ and walk in the light of his doctrine.
   He saveth his people from their sins, Matth. 1, and that he only: so that there is no other name to be saved by. Acts 4. And “unto him bear all the prophets record, that all that believe in him shall receive remission of their sins in his name.” Acts 10. And by him only we have an entering in unto the Father, and unto all grace. Eph. 2 and 3 and Rom. 5. And as many as come before him are thieves and murderers, John 10; that is, whosoever preacheth any other forgiveness of sin than through faith in his name, the same slayeth the soul.
   This to be true, not only of original but also of actual [sin], and as well of that we commit after our profession as before, mayest thou evidently see by the ensamples of the scripture. Christ forgave the woman taken in adultery, John 8 and another whom he healed, John 5. And he forgave publicans and open sinners, and put none to do penance, as they call it, for to make satisfaction for the sin which he forgave through repentance and faith; but enjoined them the life of penance, the profession of their baptism, to tame the flesh in keeping the commandments, and that they should sin no more. And those sinners were for the most part Jews, and had their original sin forgiven them before through faith in the testament of God. Christ forgave his apostles their actual sins after their profession, which they committed in denying him, and put none to do penance for satisfaction. Peter (Acts 2) absolveth the Jews, through repentance and faith, from their actual sins, which they did in consenting unto Christ’s death; and enjoined them no penance to make satisfaction. Paul also had his actual sins forgiven him freely, through repentance and faith, without mention of satisfaction. Acts 9. So that, according unto this present text of John, if it chance us to sin of frailty, let us not despair; for we have an advocate and intercessor, a true attorney with the Father, Jesus Christ, righteous towards God and man, and [he] is the reconciling and satisfaction for our sins.
   For Christ’s works are perfect; so that he hath obtained us all mercy, and hath set us in the full state of grace and favour of God, and hath made us as well beloved as the angels of heaven, though we be yet weak: as the young children, though they can do no good at all, are yet as tenderly beloved as the old. And God, for Christ’s sake, hath promised that whatsoever evil we shall do, yet if we turn and repent, he will never more think on our sins.2

1.  Latin for "from guilt and punishment"
2.  Tyndale, W. (1849). Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates. (H. Walter, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 153–156). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"But Amaziah would not listen" (II Kings 14)

In II Kings 14 Amaziah king of Judah is portrayed as a son of Yahweh who does what is "right in the eyes of Yahweh," his Heavenly Father (v. 3), even though, sadly, "yet not like David his father," for it says that under Amaziah "the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places" (v. 4).

Nevertheless Amaziah is a valiant warrior of Yahweh, and Yahweh gives him strength to defeat His enemies. Amaziah strikes down 10,000 Edomites, and even the Edomite stronghold of Sela "by storm" (v. 7). In his zeal he then turns to taunt his brother, northern Israel, "face to face" (v. 8). This leads to an interesting and unexpected turn of events, considering that not every southern king does what is right in the eyes of Yahweh, and Yahweh had clearly provided a great victory for Amaziah.

The northern king, Jehoash, reminds Amaziah that he is a "thistle" in Lebanon in comparison to the northern "cedar" kingdom, and therefore is outmatched (vv. 9-10). Then we read: "But Amaziah would not listen" (v. 11). Up next, a battle between brothers ensues and Yahweh does not defend Amaziah for covering up his ears. Judah gets defeated in battle, Amaziah is captured, 400 cubits of Jerusalem's wall are broken down, and all the gold, silver, and holy "vessels" of Yahweh's house are plundered (vv. 11-14). Amaziah did that which was right in the sight of Yahweh, until his heart was lifted up against his brother. His zeal lacked wisdom from above, and wisdom from below divided the kingdom even further.

At the very beginning of Yahweh's division of the kingdom He promised a faithful remnant in Judah for His name's sake, and even a future deliverer --Josiah by name-- to begin restoring unity (I Kng. 13:2). All throughout the books of Kings we find brother fighting against brother, and foolish zeal followed by even more foolish zeal, as the people await deliverance from God. Only the wise in heart await deliverance from Yahweh, for He is the only living and true God. As the people await deliverance from Yahweh, one of the dominant lessons to be learned is that brothers warring against brothers only divides the kingdom further and further. When Israel attacks Judah, he plunders Yahweh's house, thereby provoking brother Judah. When Judah minds his own business, Yahweh protects him, which provokes brother Israel to jealousy. But brother Judah isn't perfect either. He too never completely removes the "high places" in his midst, which we know displeases Yahweh time and time again (I Kng. 15:14; 22:43; II Kng. 12:3; 14:4). If not for Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant He established, even Judah would be toast. But Yahweh is faithful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression (Num. 14:18; Psa. 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13); therefore a faithful remnant will be preserved by Him as promised.

What we learn from II Kings 14 is that instead of presuming that Yahweh would defend his zealous and courageous taunts against his brother, Amaziah should have focused his energy on the high places in his own land, the land which Yahweh had given him. Instead of attempting to defend the name of Yahweh by attacking the idols of his brother's house, he should have listened to the practical advise of his brother and remained content with his glory, stay at home, and not provoke northern Israel any further (v. 10). Amaziah should have taken this very clear hint as being providential from Yahweh, and then turn his attention to his own house; but as we know from history, he didn't. Yahweh gave Amaziah a taste of glory when he struck down the stronghold of Edom "by storm," but not even a peep of thunder is directed at the idolatrous high places of his own house; therefore when Amaziah attacked the stronghold of his brother's house, Yahweh by no means cleared the guilty (Num. 14:18), and consequently the taste of Yahweh's glorious house went with him to the northern kingdom, where he was taken captive (vv. 11-14). Perhaps if Amaziah had dealt with the idols of his own house first, pulling the log out of his own eye first, he could have seen how much his zeal lacked wisdom; then Yahweh would have honored his zeal for His house.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jesus vs. Goliath (John 19:17-30)

John 19:17-30 parallels 18:13-27 in various ways, as seen also in John's neat chiastic arrangement (here). In 19:17-30 Jesus is taken from the Gentile "world" of Pilate's headquarters and back into the "land" near the city to be sacrificed on a cross, and eventually buried in a garden-tomb. Earlier in 18:13-27 Jesus was taken from the garden and sentenced to "die for the people" in that same land (v. 14). There in the land, Jesus declared that he had "spoken openly to the world" (v. 20), and in 19:17-30 Pilate writes an inscription above Jesus' cross for all to see, and he writes it in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, the three dominant languages of the world. Last of all, John the author is present in the background of both scenes, labeled as "the disciple" (18:15 & 19:26-27). In chapter 18, John is the disciple "known to the high priest" and allowed to enter his house (v. 15), whereas in chapter 19 John is known by Jesus, the true High Priest of God, and adopted into the "temple-house of Jesus' Father."

The literary structure of 19:17-30 carries some interesting parallels as well. 

A)  Jesus carries his own cross (19:17)
   B)  The soldiers crucify Jesus, dividing two others, one man crucified on each side of him (19:18)
      C)  Pilate writes: "Jesus the Nazarene,2 the King of the Jews" (19:19)
         D)  Many Jews read the inscription; the inscription was in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek (19:21)
      C')  Chief Priests of the Jews correct what Pilate wrote: "This man said, I am King of the Jews" (19:21-22)
   B')  When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his garments, one for each soldier (19:23-24)
A')  Jesus dies on the cross He carried (19:25-30)

In verse 17 (section A) Jesus is taken by soldiers, carrying his own cross to a place called Golgotha, which in Greek means "Place of the Skull." One Hebrew variant of Golgotha is gulgolet (גלגלת), which also means "skull," and is used throughout the old testament to describe "heads" of Israelites taken into the inventory of God's people. There are, however, a handful of other intriguing uses of gulgolet in the old testament which illuminate the significance of this name and place. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains lists three occurrences especially worth noting: Judges 9:53; II Kings 9:35; and I Chron. 10:10. 

In Judges 9:53, a woman crushes Abimelech's gulgolet with a millstone, both echoing and foreshadowing the seed of the woman (Christ) promised to crush the "skull" of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). In II Kings 9:35, Jehu storms into the courtyard of Jezreel to fulfill the word of Yahweh's curse against Jezebel, the king's daughter. In Hebew, Jezreel means "that which God planted." There, where Yahweh had planted a wicked queen over Israel to chasten His people, Jehu would come to uproot both the fruit and the root of Israel's idolatry. Where the house of Ahab sowed seeds of wickedness, Israel's Queen would be trampled down by Jehu, leaving behind only her gulgolet, feet, and hands. By coming to crush the skull of Jezebel, Jehu foreshadows one aspect of Christ's work, by crushing a type of seductive harlot-bride, the King's daughter and persecutor of Yahweh's covenant people, as unveiled by Jesus to John (Rev. 2:18-29). 

Finally, in I Chronicles 10:10 we find the Philistines taking the gulgolet of King Saul and bringing it to their central city of worship and into the temple of Dagon. That event echoed King David's triumph over the Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath, whose gulgolet was cut off and taken near the city of Jerusalem (I Sam. 17:51-54). There, where the skull of Goliath of Gath was placed, is where Jesus was crucified: Gol-Gath-a. In the place where King David brought the crushed skull of the giant, there Jesus, the son of David, King of Israel, crushed the skull of the serpent. But John tells the story of skull-crushing a bit different than one might expect. In first Samuel, David carries his victory trophy while Yahweh scatters his enemies. In John's gospel, this section (19:17-30) begins with Jesus carrying his own cross to Golgotha, the "Place of the Skull," and he ends with Jesus on the cross he carried. Like David, Jesus also carries his victory trophy as the Father scatters his enemies, but unlike David, Jesus becomes the trophy lifted up for all the world to see.  His cross is the means of becoming lifted up, drawing all nations unto himself. As Jesus told Nicodemus at night, the Son of man must be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life (John 3:14). Even during the day, within the temple, Jesus proclaimed the same message, saying "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me" (8:28). And in case John wasn't clear enough in that passage, describing the necessity of being lifted up on a cross, it was before Jesus' arrest in the garden that He cried out one last time: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." But then John adds, "He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die" (12:32-33). 

In John 19:17-30, Jesus is hung on a tree, cursed of God, crushed for our iniquities. But in dying, the sins of the world are crushed with Him.  When both the "Head" and "Body" are crushed, the Spirit of God raises up a new body, a glorified Body, and they --being one with Him-- crush the head of the serpent. It is through the work of the cross that Satan's head is crushed and Jesus achieves victory, as promised in Genesis 3:15. It is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our union with His resurrected life that new creation begins, light overcomes darkness, and the powers of evil are destroyed.

1.  Peter J. Leithart, "We Saw His Glory" Implications of the Sanctuary Christology in John's Gospel, (published in Christology Ancient & Modern: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics; Oliver D. Crisp and Fred Sanders, Editors) p. 128
2.  Peter Leithart makes this interesting remark about the inscription of Pilate: "Pilate's inscription on the cross identifies Jesus not as a but the Nazarene (John 19:19). In John, Nazareth is barely mentioned (cf. 1:45-46), and in John's view Pilate's titlon likely alludes not to Jesus' hometown but to Isaiah 11's prediction of a Messianic Branch (neser) from the stump of Jesse. Pilate's declaration means: "Jesus the Branch, King of the Jews." Qumran texts link Isaiah's Branch to the temple-building Branch (semah) of Zechariah 6:12: "Behold the man whose name is the Branch." Neser and semah are synonymous titles for the Messianic King who will build the eschatological temple. With his famous Ecce homo, Pilate quotes the first half of Zechariah 6:12 as he presents Jesus to the Jews, and then by putting "Nazarene" in the titlon he finishes the sentence and names Jesus as the Messianic temple-builder, a new Solomon." Ibid., p. 127. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

He saved us from alongside us

In The Person of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998; p. 180), Donald Macleod provides a fascinating description of divine personage concerning the Son of God:

For the Son of God, the incarnation meant a whole new set of relationships: with his father and mother; with his brothers and sisters; with his disciples; with the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees; with the Roman soldiers and with lepers and prostitutes. It was within these relationships that he lived his incarnate life, experiencing pain, poverty, and temptation; witnessing squalor and brutality; hearing obscenities and profanities and the hopeless cry of the oppressed. He lived not in sublime detachment or in ascetic isolation, but 'with us,' as 'the fellow-man of all men,' crowded, busy, harassed, stressed and molested. No large estate gave him space, no financial capital guaranteed his daily bread, no personal staff protected him from interruptions and no power or influence protected him from injustice. He saved us from alongside us.1

1.  Cited in a lecture contributed by Peter J. Leithart in the 2013 Lost Angeles Theology Conference, titled "WE SAW HIS GLORY: Implications of the Sanctuary Christology in John's Gospel," recently published in Oliver D. Crisp & Fred Sanders, Christology Ancient & Modern: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013] p. 132 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Virtue and Strength of the Covenant

More from the works of William Tyndale (Tindall):

The right way, yea, and the only way, to understand the scripture unto salvation, is that we earnestly and above all things search for the profession of our baptism, or covenants made between God and us. As, for an example, Christ saith, (Matt. 5.), “Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Lo, here God hath made a covenant with us, to be merciful unto us, if we will be merciful one to another …And, (Matt. 6) “If ye shall forgive men their faults, your heavenly Father shall forgive you; but and if ye shall not forgive men their faults, no more shall your Father forgive you your faults.” Here also, by the virtue and strength of this covenant, wherewith God of his mercy hath bound himself to us unworthy, he that forgiveth his neighbour, when he returneth and amendeth, may be bold to believe and trust in God for remission of whatsoever he hath done amiss. And contrariwise, he that will not forgive, cannot but despair of forgiveness in the end, and fear judgment without mercy.1

1.  Tyndale, W. (1848). Doctrinal Treatises and Introductions to Different Portions of the Holy Scriptures. (H. Walter, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 470). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Until we cast off the yoke of our profession

Commenting on the epistle of 1 John, chapter one, William Tyndale writes: 
When Christ is preached, how that God for his sake receiveth us to mercy, and forgiveth us all that is past, and henceforth reckoneth not unto us our corrupt and poisoned nature, and taketh us as his sons, and putteth us under grace and mercy, and promiseth that he will not judge us by the rigorousness of the law, but nurture us with all mercy and patience, as a father most merciful, only if we will submit ourselves unto his doctrine and learn to keep his laws; yea, and he will thereto consider our weakness, and, whatsoever chanceth, never taketh away his mercy, till we cast off the yoke of our profession first, and run away with utter defiance, that we will never come more at school; then our stubborn and hard hearts mollify and wax soft; and in the confidence and hope that we have in Christ, and his kindness, we go to God boldly as unto our father, and receive life, that is to say, love unto God and unto the law also.1

1.  Tyndale, W. (1849). Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures, Together with the Practice of Prelates. (H. Walter, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 147). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.