I always say at the onset to those who make the incorrect uninformed assertion regarding the triquetra symbol being derived from Wicca, paganism, etc. that that calendar in your office and/or house and/or in the rooms of your children, — are filled with symbols of pagan gods (all days and names of months were named after pagan gods). Thus, any objection to the triquetra as use by Christians would be inconsistent and historically ignorant lacking any meaningful basic research on the triquetra and its origins in religious and non-religious usage.  

In terms of the triquetra (Trinitarian symbol), you should not base an argument on ignorance, and unaccredited internet articles. Primarily, KJV Onlyists and anti-Trinitarian groups (esp. JWs, and unstudied Oneness advocates) chiefly utilize the pagan-triquetra arguments against it. So Christians should strive to do the objective research, in order that they not provide bad untruthful arguments and appear unread. In point of fact, The triquetra is a very old symbol and dates back perhaps to around 500 BC. But its actual origins are unknown. Some scholars believe it to be Celtic in origin, and it is sometimes called the Irish Trinity Knot.

The triquetra symbol is also found in Norse Viking artifacts such as combs and saddles; found on a Norwegian coin from around the 11th cent.; and there is a Japanese form, again with no religious significance. Further, the triquetra has been found on Indian heritage sites that are over 5,000 years old; found on carved stones in Northern Europe dating from A.D. 8th cent. as well as found on early Germanic coins-with no religious significance at all. It is certainly possible that various cultures developed the basic design arrangement independently. But in spite of where or when it first appeared, it has been associated to a vast number of meanings through time.

However, to early Christians (and many today), the triquetra symbolized the Trinity (one God, three persons). For example in the late 8th cent. Book of Kells was an exemplified manuscript book in Latin containing all four Gospels together with various prefatory texts contained also figures of triquetras. The triquetra symbol has been found in Norwegian churches dating to the 11th century.

In conclusion, the triquetra has been used historically by all kinds of groups to mean different things. As with other Christian symbols and Christian holidays (e.g., Christmas, Easter, cross, etc.), we embrace the Christian significance—not its origin. In spite of the (unclear) origins, the triquetra has a rich meaning that has been used by the early church to signify the Trinity. No Christian used it as a pagan symbol, in the same way no Christian uses a calendar today on their wall to exalt the pagan gods of the days and months it represents—thus, calendars were factually derived from pagan in origins.

Historically, for Christians, the Triquetra represents the Trinity, not its supposedly pagan origins. And those who object (due to a mass of misinformation) to this Trinitarian symbol, since they do not have a problem with pagan-origins calendars in their homes, do they have a problem with the Apostle Paul’s quotations of pagans writers to make a biblical point, viz., Epimenides of Crete in Titus 1:12 and Acts 17:28 (referring to Zeus); Aratus of Cilicia in Acts 17:28 (also referring to Zeus); and Menander in 1 Cor. 15:33?  

In point of fact, for hundreds of years Christians have been using the triquetra a symbol that proclaims the doctrine of the Trinity.

       

 

 

 

If a Jehovah’s Witness were to come to your door and emphatically state that they alone are the only true religion, which alone, honors “Jehovah” as the only true God. Similarly, if two rosy-cheek LDS (Mormon) missionaries sincerely tell you that that Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and the LDS Church is the only true Church on earth today, how are you going to respond? How are you going to respond to their advice for you to “pray about it?” Will you think about joining one of these groups due to their relentless love bombing? The fact is, only by having an accurate understanding of the truth of Scripture and the gospel will you be able to answer correctly. Biblical truth not only guards you, but it enables you to faithfully affirm the basic truths of who God is, and the gospel of the Son.

Truth both saves us and protects us. Paul directly tells the pastors in Ephesus through Timothy: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:6).

In Ephesian 6:10-17, Paul’s places TRUTH first in his list of pieces of the armor of God—Truth, is foundational to the subsequent pieces. Without a biblically true understanding of the following pieces of armor —namely, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, we will not “be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (v. 11). It would be a plastic armor and a sword of straw, which cannot defend against anything nor can it properly affirm the gospel; leaving one wide open for “all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v. 16).[1]

Although there are many biblically false views of demonic warfare posited in both charismatic and conservative circles—from a denial of demonic warfare altogether, to the notion that there is a demon under every rock and in every computer. Not surprising, some even see the devil as the sole cause of any moral failure one may have removing any personal accountability!

Paul starts the context of spiritual warfare in verse 10: “Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power”. Then Paul provides the means of accomplishing this—by putting on the armor of God. In verses 10-18, Paul’s idea of the full armor of God consists of six pieces in the armor. All but one, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” are defensive pieces.

Eph. 6:11 “Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” The word translated “put on” is from the Greek verb, enduō, which denotes clothing oneself with or sinking into a garment.

Same word is used in Colossians 3:12: “Put on [enduō],” that is, sink into “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (NASB). The particular tense of the verb, aorist imperative, denotes urgency, literally, “Put on right now! the full armor of God.”[2] The “full armor” is from panoplia—a compound word from the Greek adjective pas (“all, every”) and hoplon (“weapon”). Thus, the term signifies every piece, or a complete set of defensive and offensive armor or weapons. Same term in 2 Cor. 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.”

12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” The term “struggle” is palē, carries the meaning of a “hand-to-hand fight.”

13 “For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.” The phrase, “take up” is also in the aorist imperative—namely, an urgent commandment: Do it now!

14 “Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness.” Paul commands his readers to “stand firm.” Again, to express the gravity of this situation, Paul uses the same tense of urgency (aorist imperative): Stand firm Now! In the following verses, he instructs his readers as to how to do this in the midst of spiritual conflict. Note the three aorist imperative verbs: “Clothe yourselves” (v. 11), “take Up” (v. 13), and here, “stand firm” (v. 14). Why such urgency? Verse 11 contains the Greek conjunction, hina (“in order that, so that”). This is a “purpose and result” clause. Hence, the purpose of putting on the full armor of God is for the result of being “able to stand firm against the methods or schemes of the devil.”

Secondly, note the four participles in Paul’s list (vv. 14-17), which are semantically, “participles of means,” indicating the very means that God has provided to stand firm against the devil’s methods or schemes against believers: “by fastening,” “by putting on,” by fitting on,” and “by taking up”:

Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news [gospel] of peace, 16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In verse 17, the aorist imperative (again) “take” expresses an additional means by which to accomplish the standing firm—namely, by the word of God. Peter also speaks of our warfare against devil in 1 Peter 5:8-9. Notice the repetition of the aorist imperative commandments:

Be sober and alert [aorist imperative]. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking [zētōn, present participle, ‘always actively looking or seeking’] for someone to devour [katapinō, lit., ‘drink down’]. 9 Resist [aorist imperative]. him, strong in your faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kinds of suffering (cf. James 4:7).

God has provided six pieces of armor that equip the believer for spiritual battle:

  • Belt of truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Gospel of peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit, the word of God

As mentioned, of the six pieces, Paul provides truth as the first foundational piece: “By fastening the belt of truth around your waist.” As with justification, truth is objective—and sometimes it is in opposition to our feelings. So Solomon says, “The one who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26).

 

Biblical truth is foundational to our faith, salvation, and our sanctification.

 Biblical truth:

  • Guards and protects us against false teachings. 
  • Reveals that God is triune and Jesus is God in the flesh. 
  • Reveals the gospel of the Son. 
  • Teaches us that we are saved, justified through faith alone, not by works. 
  • Transforms our life. 
  • Resides in us and encourages us. 
  • Ensures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

 

In fact, truth is predicated of each person in the Trinity. The Father (John 7:28; 17:3), the Son (John 1:14 14:6; 1 John 5:20), and the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). 

Paul stresses to the pastors in Ephesus through Timothy to “Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately” (1 Tim. 2:15). The term translated “accurately,” is from orthotomeō, which compound word is from orthos (“straight”) and temnō, (“to cut”), literally, “to cut straight.” Thus, it carries the meaning of precision. An accurate truthful hermeneutic will protect the true intended meaning of the biblical text (2 Pet. 3:16).

Thus, truth starts with the veracity of Scripture (Sola Scriptura). In the Temptation narrative (Matt. 4:1-11), Jesus combated the devil and his false words with Scripture. Paul states that, “all Scripture is theopneustos [‘God breathed out’].” Truth seekers bow and submit to Scripture as their sole infallible authority. Unlike those who only see parts of Scripture they like as “truth,” while the ones they do not like, they see as false. They do not believe in Scripture, but in themselves (Augustine). We worship a God who calls Himself Truth (John 14:6), so we have a higher obligation to be truthful in our life and our handling the word of truth. Those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In light of this, Christians should exhort one another as “fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 1:18).

Without this biblical truth, we have no protection against the schemes of the devil. So Jesus says, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). According to Jesus, Satan “does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Since Satan uses falsities to attack Christians, biblically unread Christians are easy targets for him. So it is vital, therefore, for the believer, “Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist.” 

  • Error and falsehood (ignorance or purposeful) will not extinguish temptation.
  • Untruth will not bring God’s favor in your life.
  • Falsities do not glorify God—it dishonors Him, no matter how many “good works” one performs (Prov. 15:8).
  • The devil has been using false doctrine since the beginning of time (Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3).

Therefore, “Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. . . . 14Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist” (Eph. 6:11, 13-14).

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Notes

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all biblical citations in this article are taken from the NET.

[2] Prominent Greek scholar Dan Wallace defines the tense as a “Do it now” verb (cf. GGBB).

 

JWs (as well as other unitarian groups)[1] deny that Jesus’ Ἐγώ εἰμι (egō eimi, “I am”)[2] were claims of being equal with God. Typically they appeal to John 9:9: “Some were saying: ‘This is he.’ others were saying: ‘No, but he looks like him.’ The man kept saying: ‘I am he’” (egō eimi, “I am”). In other words, because the syntactically (not contextually) unpredicated Greek phrase egō eimi was used of the blind man, JWs argue that Jesus’ claim of being the egō eimi, that is, the “I am,” cannot be a claim of deity.  

What quickly refutes this blank argument is simply the CONTEXT. Meanings of words (and phrases) are determined by context, not merely by lexical meaning. If this vital point is not considered, then, meanings become a mere pretext.     

In the Septuagint (LXX), the unpredicated egō eimi was an exclusive title for YHWH (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12, translated from the Hebrew, ani hu). In these places, the context clearly indicates that the unpredicated “I am” was a title of YHWH denoting His eternal existence, which He alone claimed of Himself. Further, in Isaiah 41:4 and 48:12, YHWH’s claim of being the “I am” is joined with the claim, “I am the first, and with the last,” and “I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last.” In the NT, only Jesus Christ claimed to be “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17, 2:8; 22:13). So incontrovertibly, the unpredicated “I am” in the OT (LXX) was a clear claim of deity, that is, eternal existence, exclusively used of YHWH.

Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the unpredicated “I am,” esp. sandwiched between other divine implications and syntactical features,[3] the Jews, against the backdrop of the LXX, clearly recognized the semantic force of what Christ was claiming: “They picked up stones to kill Him” (John 8:59). This was a legal stoning according to Jewish law (Lev. 24:16). In fact, the Jews understood and responded in the same way (wanting to kill Christ), when Jesus made other unique claims of deity. For example, Mark 14:61-64- claim: Son of God and Son of Man, “coming with the clouds of heaven”; John 5:17-18- claim: Son of God, “making Himself equal with God”; John 10:30-33- claim: giving eternal life to the His sheep, being essentially one (hen) with the Father, and being the Son of God.

Christ’s claims of being the “I am” were not isolated. In John 8, in which most of Jesus’ “I am” claims were recorded, there are many additional claims of Christ as to His preexistence and deity (cf. 8:12, 19 [esp. the “I am” clams in vv. 24, 28, 58], 40, 51), which led up to His crowning claim of being the absolute, “I am,” that is, I am the Eternal One who spoke to Moses in the burning bush.[4]

Thus, contextually, Jesus’ “I am” claims were unambiguous claims of being the eternal God, the YHWH of Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10 et al. And the Jews knew this—for they wanted to kill Him for blasphemy (John 8:59)! The contextual dissimilarity cannot be missed. When Jesus stated, “I am,” it was a startling claim to be God incarnate, whereas when the blind man stated, “I am,” it was in mere response to the question of who it was that Christ healed. Note verses 8-9:

 So the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” The man himself kept saying, “I am the one [egō eimi].” 

The blind man simply explained, Yes, “I am” the man who Christ healed! Clearly, the “I am” has an implied predicate. Note the significantly different responses of the Jews to Jesus’ absolute “I am” statements in John 8:58; 18:5, 6, and verse 8 compared to the blind man’s “I am” statement in John 9:9:   

 

  1. John 9:9, when the blind said, “I am,” the Jews did not attempt to stone him, as they attempted to do to Christ in response to His claim of being “I am” (John 8:58-59).

 

  1. There was no adverse reaction by the Jews to the blind man saying “I am,” nor did one person fall back, contra the guards in response to Jesus’ “I am” claims in John 18. 

 

  1. In the entire content of John 9, there were no divine implications made by the blind man. Whereas, Christ made abounding divine implications all throughout John 8 leading up to verse 58, as pointed out above. 

 

  1. As also mentioned above, John 8:58 contains a verbal contrast between Abraham’s beginning (denoted by the aorist genesthai, “was”) and Jesus’ eternality, that is, being the eternal One (denoted by the present eimi, “am”): “Before Abraham was born” vs. “I am.”   

 

Therefore, there is absolutely no contextual similarity between Jesus’ multiple unambiguous claims to be the unpredicated “I am,” God incarnate, and the blind man’s response of being the man that Jesus healed.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

NOTES

[1]. A distinction, though, needs to be made between religious groups that are theologically “unitarian” (or unipersonal, i.e., seeing God as one person, thus rejecting the Trinity) and the official Unitarian religion itself. The former would include such religious systems as post-first century Judaism, Islam, Oneness Pentecostals, JWs, etc., while the latter is applied exclusively to the Unitarian Church as a religious denomination. Thus, “unitarian” refers to the unipersonal theology of the JWs as well as all other theological unitarian groups. Technically, a unitarian belief of God is synonymous with a unipersonal belief of God.

[2]. Appearing mostly in, but not limited to, the Gospel of John (8:24, 28. 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, 8; cf. Mark 6:50).

[3] To laser light His eternal existence as God, in John 8:58 for example, Jesus asserted a sharp verbal contrast between Abraham, who had a beginning denoted by the aorist verb, genesthai (“was born.” from ginomai, “to come to be”), and His eternal existence denoted by the present indicative verb, eimi (“am,” as in egō eimi, “I am”). Thus, a “came to be” vs. “I am always being” contrast. The same verbal contrast can be seen in the prologue of John, where the imperfect verb ēn (“was,” from eimi) denoting the Word’s unoriginate eternal existence, which is exclusively applied to the Word in verses 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10. This verb is contrasted with the aorist egeneto (“became”) which is also from ginomai, which refers to all things that came into existence or had a starting point (e.g., the creation, vv. 3, and 10; John the Baptist, in v. 6). It is not until verse 14 that egeneto is applied to the Word (pertaining to His incarnation): Kai ho Logos sarx egeneto, “And the Word became [ginomai] flesh.” The same verbal contrast (Christ as eternal vs. created things) is found in Hebrews  1:3-4, where the present tense participle ōn (“always being”) is set in contrast with the aorist epoiēsen (“He made”) in verse 2 and participle ōn being in contrast with the aorist genomenos (“having become”—referring to the incarnation) in verse 4. And the same in Philippians 2:6-7 where the present participle huparchōn (“existing/always subsisting”) in verse 6 is set in contrast with the aorist verbs, ekenōsen (“emptied”) labōn (“by taking”), genomenos (“having been made”) and heuretheis (“having been found”) verses 7 and 8. In each case, there is an outstanding contrast between the eternal preincarnate Son and all things created. See also 2 Corinthians 8:9 where we find a syntactical parallel with Philippians 2:6-7—viz., participle vs. aorist. Participles— ōn, “rich being” (2 Cor. 8:9) – huparchōn, “in the nature of God being (Phil. 2:6). Aorist indicatives— eptōcheusen,He became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9) – ekenōsen,emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7). Hence, Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “that You, through His poverty [i.e., His incarnation], might become rich” (in glory and righteousness). Also, the same linguistic contrast is found in the LXX of Psalm 90:2 (89:2)—namely, the aorist ginomai is set in contrast with present indicative eimi:

Before the mountains existed [or “were born,” genēthēnai, the aorist of ginomai], and [before] the earth and the world were formed [plasthēnai, the aorist infinitive of plassō], even from age to age, You are [ei, the second person present indicative of eimi].            

[4]. In Exodus 3, the angel of the LORD (viz., the preincarnate Son) appeared to Moses and spoke to him from the burning bush (v. 2). He had identified Himself to Moses as YHWH and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 4, 6). In verse 13, in response to Moses’s question regarding His “name,” the LXX records the angel of the LORD declaring, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (egō eimi ho ōn, “I am the One”). Although the phrase is not an exact syntactical parallel to the unpredicated egō eimi in John 8:58 et al., the semantic consequence is the same—namely, expressing eternal existence. Note the articular (or adjectival) participle ho ōn following egō eimi. This present tense participle ōn is from eimi (“I am, exist”)—linguistically, existing, being, subsisting (context and grammatical features determine its durational aspect). In particular contexts, the articular participle can denote timeless, eternal existence. It is used of God the Father in Revelation 1:4 and either Father or Son in 1:8 and 4:8. However, in the articular participle is applied to Christ at John 1:18 (ho ōn, “the One who is always, timelessly existing, in the bosom of the Farther”); 3:13 (M, TR); 6:46; and Romans 9:5 (Rev. 1:8). In these passages, the articular participle denotes the Son’s timeless existence. Regarding John 1:18, Robert Reymond remarks, “The present participle ὁ ὢν . . . indicates a continuing state of being: ‘who is continually in the bosom of the Father’” (Systematic Theology, 1998, 303). So Vincent sees the articular participle in John 1:18 as “a ‘timeless present’ expressing the inherent and eternal relation of the Son to the Father.” The anarthrous participle ōn can also carry this linguistic force. Robertson observes the participle in Hebrews 1:3 [hos ōn, “who is”] as denoting “Absolute and timeless existence (present active participle of εiμί) in contrast [as pointed out above] with γενόμενος in verse 4 like ἦν in Joh 1:1 (in contrast with ἐγένετο in 1:14) and like ὑπάρχων and γενόμενος in Php 2:6f” (Robertson, Word Pictures). Therefore, although the LXX of Exodus 3:14 (egō eimi ho ōn) is not an exact syntactical parallel to John 8:58 et al., it is a semantic equivalent of eternal preexistence and thus, deity. Whereas the exact syntactical parallel (i.e., the unpredicated egō eimi) would be found in in the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; and 48:12—, which are exclusively applied to YHWH.

 

“In Him”

1 Cor. 1:30: “But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”  

Rom. 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Cor. 5:17, 21: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Eph. 1:4: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”

 

The ἐν (“in”) + the dative construction was a favorite linguistic formula of the Apostle Paul. For example (NA28th), ἐν αὐτῷ (“in Him”) appears 23 times and ἐν Χριστῷ (“in Christ”) appears 73 times in his literature.[1]

As with all prepositions, the meaning of preposition ἐν is determined by its object, which in Paul’s formula is either singular dative nouns such as Ἀδὰμ (“Adam”), σαρκὶ (“flesh”), νόμῳ (“law”), πνεύματι (“Spirit”), Κυρίῳ (“Lord”), or the singular dative pronoun, αὐτῷ (“Him”). Note that when Christ is the object of ἐν (“in Him,” “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” etc.),[2] a few views have been suggested among standard scholarship as to the semantic of the dative in the prepositional phrase.   

For example, dative of sphere (i.e., locative, “in the realm/sphere of”); instrumental dative (i.e., dative of means/instrument, “by means [instrumentally] of”), and a couple other semantic views have also been posited. Wallace (GGBB) points out, that the dative expressing sphere is a frequent usage especially with ἐν + the dative, as in Eph. 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him [ἐν Κυρίῳ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love.”

However, it seems that the predominant meaning (i.e., of scholarly opinion, e.g., Lightfoot, TDNT, NIGTC et al.) of Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula, when referring to Christ (or other persons in the Trinity) denotes “in union with Christ,” that is, being identified and unified with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. Consistent to Paul’s Adam-Christ antithesis, which is well exampled in such passages as 1 Cor. 15:22, where Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula denotes “in union with”: “For as in [union with] ADAM [ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ] all die, so also in [union with] CHRIST [ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ] all will be made alive.” Turner sees that “Adam is a representative man ‘in’ whom all mankind was viewed. . . . But the instances with en are predicated of Christ or the Gospel and mean ‘in the sphere of’” (cf. Matt. 3:11; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13). 

Many other passages in Paul’s literature, which involve the ἐν + the dative formula, denote union or identification with Christ in contrast to condemnation, sin, law, flesh, etc. For example, Romans 6:11: “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God IN CHRIST [ἐν Χριστῷ]; 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST [ἐν Χριστῷ] Jesus.”

In this sense, men walk to two territories, either “in Christ” or “in Adam, in the flesh.” Union and identification with one or the other. Being “in Christ,” therefore, is tantamount to being in union with Him. So Lightfoot observes, “ἐν Χριστῷ, i.e. ‘by virtue of our incorporation in, our union with, Christ.’” It is in that sense, then, that as the old man is ἐν ‘Αδάμ and the Jew ἐν νόμῳ, the believer are ἐν Χριστῷ. So Eadie rightly says, “Believers were looked upon as being in Christ their federal Head, when they were elected.”

Further, note the contrast of being ἐν σαρκὶ (“in [the] flesh”) and being “in Christ/“in the Spirit” with emphasis on the indwelling of the Spirit in Rom. 8:9: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Thus, being ἐν Χριστῷ is set in contrast to being ἐν ‘Αδάμ (“in Adam”) in 1 Cor. 15:22 and being found ἐν Χριστῷ is set in contrast to being ἐν νόμῳ (“in the Law”) in Phil. 3:6-9.

 Conclusion

The ἐν + the dative formula (esp. Paul’s near exclusive use of ἐν Χριστῷ) undeniably expresses the love that God the Father has for believers, which is shown by His electing them to the adoption of sons placing them in union with His Son (Eph. 1:4-5). Paul’s ἐν + the dative formula linguistically denotes “in union with Christ,” that is, being identified and unified with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. Hence, Paul can say, “Therefore I, the prisoner ἐν κυρίῳ [‘in the Lord,’ not, ‘of the Lord’]” (Eph. 4:1). Paul also uses this signifying formula to denote the unbreakable union believers have with the Father and the Spirit—viz. union and identification with the triune God.    

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-Notes 

[1] Aside for three places in Peter, ἐν Χριστῷ appears only in Paul.

[2] Ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐν Κυρίῳ.

Restoration & Healing: 
Jairus and the bleeding woman   

                                                                     

Deut. 32:39:

“See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can save anyone from My hand.”

 1 Pet. 2:24-25:

“And He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

 
Mark 5:22-43 presents two examples of extraordinary faith, Jairus (a synagogue official) and the bleeding woman. Verse 22 starts the context with Jairus, but the narrative abruptly switches in verse 25ff.

25-26 “A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years [lit., ‘with a flow of blood’; most likely, vaginal bleeding, which would make her ceremonially unclean]. 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse.”

There were several specific Jewish cures for this problem mentioned in the Talmud. For example, carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth around one’s neck in the summer and in a cotton cloth in the winter and/or carrying barley corn from the excrement of a white female donkey. But for her, nothing worked!

27-28 “after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she had been saying to herself, ‘If I just touch His garments, I will get well.’ When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak.” “She had been saying” (lit. “she kept saying”) – Greek, elegen, which is an imperfect tense, indicating a past ongoing or repeated action, thus, she “kept saying, thinking.”

So, in this context the woman seems to have been trying (kept trying) to obtain the bravery to touch Jesus’ cloak: “If I just touch His garments, I will be healed.” Mark uses sōthēsomai from sōzō (“to save, heal, deliver”). The term would have had a strong Old Testament spiritual significance to his readers—Matthew uses the same term in the parallel (9:21). Some have suggested that since in other places, Mark uses other terms that merely mean “heal” (such as therapeuō[1]) the meaning here for the readers may be: “If only you would “touch” Jesus, you would be “saved!”

However, this would prompt the question: When did she have faith? In the same chapter, the faith of the demoniac is realized after he was healed, not before.

29 “And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” Here the girl was immediately healed even though she was willing to make Jesus, a Rabbi, ritually unclean by touching His garments. So, when did her motives turn to real faith in Christ? She had an enormous amount of faith in Christ healing her. Similar to the great faith of the centurion who in Luke 7:7, 9, said to Jesus:

“For I am not worthy for You to come under my roof . . . but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. . . . Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.’”

30-31 “And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My garments?’ 31 And His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”  

Note the next verse in the ESV, “And he looked around to see who had done it.” Along with Mark 13:32, this is a classic objection to the deity of Christ made by Jehovah’s Witnesses and other unitarians: “If He is God, why did He not know who touched Him?” (and/or, “Why did He not know the day of hour of His return in Mark 13:32?”) Many Christians give the popular canned response appealing to the Son’s incarnation—He did not know as man (incarnation, emptied status – cf. Phil. 2:6-8) veiling [but not divesting] His divine prerogatives. However, the Greek provides clarity and removes any implied ignorance of Jesus here.

The verb in verse 32, translated “He kept looking around” is from the one Greek verb periblepō, which in the imperfect tense (a repeated action). This verb is used only six other times in the New Testament. Except for one place (Luke 6:10), only Mark uses this term (Mark 3:5, 34; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23; and 11:11). This verb seems to be a favorite term of Mark; it is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (except in Mark. 9:8).

Consider this: Every time the verb periblepō (“looked around”) is used (in any form), it is used to denote “a looking around in observation,” and not in ignorance or discovery (unless one asserts Mark 5:32 as the exception). Since the verb is only used of Jesus, obviously this is a very important term for Mark and has special relevance. Furthermore, every time the verb appears (including Mark 5:32) it is in the middle voice indicating the personal interest or concern for the thing of person(s) denoting Jesus “intently gazing” (which again, is the lexical semantic of the term).

Again, the verb is only used of Jesus in the New Testament (except in Mark. 9:8) and used to denote “a looking around in observation,” and not in ignorance or a mere vague or arbitrary “look to see what’s going on” kind of a thing removes any notion that the Son was ignorant of who touched Him. Some translations correspond well with the Greek rendering (e.g., NASB, Amplified). While others do not (e.g., ESV, Holman). However, note Matthew’s redaction in 9:20-22 (NASB; NET, ESV reads similarly):

And behold, a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Him, and touched the border of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will get well.” 22 But Jesus, turning and seeing her, said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” And at once the woman was made well.”

Although some translations, on the surface, present Jesus seemingly ignorant as to who touched Him in the Mark account, this notion is completely eliminated by 1) the lexical significance of the verb periblepō, 2) Matthew’s explicated version wherein Jesus immediately identifies the woman, and 3) the rendering of several clear translations: “He looked around to see the woman who had done this” (5:32, NASB).

 

33-34 “But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease.”

It was not the touching of Jesus’ garment that made her well; rather it was her great faith! Not faith in faith, but faith in Jesus. The phrase “has healed” (“Daughter, your faith has healed you”), is from sesōken. The verb here is in the perfect tense implying that the healing remained and continued.[2]

 

Jairus’ Daughter

 35 “While He was still speaking, people [messengers] came from the house of the synagogue official [Jairus], saying, ‘Your daughter has died; why bother the Teacher further?’” Note the tense here (aorist indicative), literally, “has died” was spoken by the messengers—implying that Jairus was very impatient.

36 “But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, ‘Do not be afraid, only believe.’” “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Two commandments here. The contrast can not be missed: faith is the opposite of fear. Same phrase (“Do not fear/be afraid”) is used in Mark 6:50 (the walking on the water incident):

For they all saw Him and were terrified [“great fear”!]. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid” (lit., tharseite, egō eimi, mē phobeisthe: “Take courage, I am, Do not be afraid!”).

Why be afraid? Jesus is the “I am,” that is, the eternal One, the YHWH “who stills the roaring of the seas” (Ps. 65:7; cf. 89:9).


37-39:
“And He allowed no one to accompany Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the synagogue official, and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And after entering, He said to them, ‘Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child has not died, but is asleep.’”

“Sleep” (katheudō) was an Old Testament (and NT) synonym for death as Jesus used it of Lazarus in John 11:11 and Paul in 1 Cor. 11:30: “For this reason [not recognizing the Lord’s sacrifice] many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [dead].” Paul here speaks of partaking in the Lord’s Supper appropriately.

40-41 “And they began laughing at Him. But putting them all outside, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was in bed. 41 And taking the child by the hand, He said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’).” “Talitha, kum!” is Aramaic, which seems to be the native tongue of the Jews of this time and thus of Jesus.[3] Hence, it seems to indicate that the audience to which Mark wrote was Gentile.

 

Points to remember:

  • Healings (spiritual and physical) are subject to God’s timing and sovereign will (Deut. 32:29; Acts 16:6-7; 1 John 5:14).  
  • Healings are not always physical (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24-25).  
  • Healings were with faith (as here in this narrative, cf. also Luke 7:7-8) and without faith (cf. Mark 9:24). 
  • God is sovereign over all life, death, sickness and healings (cf. Exod. 4:11; Deut. 32:39; Job. 13:14; 42:11; John 9:1ff—cf. Exod. 4:11).

 

“Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3).

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Notes

[1] Cf. Mark 1:34; 3:2, 10; 6:5, 13.

[2] Cf. Eph. 2:8, where sesōsmenoi, (“saved”) is the perfect participle from the same base verb, sōzō (“to save, deliver, heal, preserve, rescue”).

[3] There are many places in Mark (and few places in the other Gospels) where Aramaic phrases are recorded. For example, Sabbata in Mark 3:4; Boanerges in Mark 3:17; Satan in Mark 3:23, 26; 8:33; Talitha cumi (or kum) in Mark 5:41; Ephphatha in Mark 7:35; Gehanna in Mark 9:43,45,47; pasca in Mark 14:14; Abba in Mark 14:36; Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani in Mark 15:34 (contra Matt. 27:46) et al.   

 

Jesus the Son of God, claimed that He was truly God (cf. John 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 10:30; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8) and possesses the very attributes of God:

 

  • He is the monogenēs theos, “unique/one and only God” that was sent from the Father and came down rom heaven (John 1:18; 3:16; 6:38)
  • He is truly God and truly man, God the Son (John 1:1; 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:9; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:4; Heb. 1:3, 8-13; 1 John 5:20)  
  • He is the Son, a distinct person from the Father and not the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; John 1:1; 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:13). 
  • He is the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10)
  • He was worshiped as God (Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14)
  • He preexisted with and shared glory with the Father before time (Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 13:3; 6:38; 17:5)
  • He is immutable (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8)
  • He has the power to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6)
  • He is greater than the temple (Matt. 12:6)
  • He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8)
  • He is the King of a kingdom and the angels are His and they will gather His elect (Matt. 13:41; Mark 13:27)
  • He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:13-17)
  • He died and was raised from the dead (Matt. 17:9, 22-23; 19;26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33; John 2:19ff.)
  • He is omnipresent (Matt. 28:20; John 14:23)
  • He is omniscient (John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17)
  • His is omnipotent (Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25)
  • He gave His life as a ransom for many (Isa. 53:11; Mark. 10:45)
  • He gives eternal life (Luke 10:21-22; John 10:27-28)

 

Virtually every NT book teaches the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, explicitly or implicitly. Jesus Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity. The Son is truly God and truly man coexisting with the Father; sent by the Father to redeem the elect of God by His sacrificial death on the cross (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:9-11; 8:32), which He is the only mediator between the Father and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5).

Thus, the Christ of biblical revelation is the divine Son, a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is the Christ that saves; this is the Christ that Paul and the other NT authors preached—thus, this is the Christ we must proclaim! – – Blessed Trinity. 

 

 

 

NASB: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born I am’” (as in most trans.)  

Greek: εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί (eipen autois Iēsous: amēn amēn legō humin, prin Abraam genesthai egō eimi).

 

The unambiguous claims of Christ to be equal with God, God Himself, God in the flesh, and yet distinct from the Father are abounding both in the OT (as the angel of the Lord) and in the NT are abounding (e.g., Exod. 3:6, 14; Matt. 12:6; Mark 6:50; John 8:24 et al., 5:17-18; 10:26-30; 17:5; Rev. 1:8, 17; 2:8; 22:13 et al.)    

In John 8:24, Jesus declared, “For if you should not believe that I am [egō eimi] you will perish in your sins” (lit. trans.)[1] Although most translations add either a predicated clause or the pronoun “he” after “I am”[2], the fact is there is no pronoun (i.e., no supplied predicate) contained after egō eimi (“I am”) in any Greek manuscript of John 8:24 or after Jesus’ other affirmations of being the “I am” as in Mark 6:50; John 8:28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. An added predicate is a decision made by the translator.[3].           

Hence, these particular occurrences in John of Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” are not the same as statements in which contain a clear and stated predicate, such as, for example, “I am the door, the shepherd, the bread,” etc. Whereas the several “I am” statements exampled in John 8, 13:19, and 18:5, 6, 8 (and Mark 6:50) have no stated predicate in the Greek, but rather the “I am” stands alone–which would be an absolute claim to deity. Thus, the burden of proof would rest on the one attempting to  show otherwise.

As shown below, John 8:58 contextually and syntactically (esp. in light of the verb contrast) asserts an absolute unequivocal claim of deity made by Christ, which was clearly understood by the Jews in the next verse. However, whether or not the “I am” statements in the other passages are contextually unpredicated, that is, “I am the eternal God” claims, the deity of the Son is well established in the entire content of John’s literature (John 1:18; 5:17-18; 10:30; 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:7-8, 17; 22:13 et al.).        

To understand the full theological significance of the phrase egō eimi, the OT background must first be considered. The Hebrew phrase, ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was translated egō eimi in the Septuagint (LXX), was an exclusive and recurring title for YHWH alone (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4 et al..[4])—which the Jews clearly understood (cf. John 8:59).[4]

Again, Jesus’ claim to be the “I am” was not only seen in John 8:58 (as many assume), but note the marked progression starting in 8:24, then, vv. 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6, and 8. It is when we examine all the “I am” statements do we see the consequence of His claim.

When Jesus declared He was the “I am” at John 18:5, 6, and 8, we read that the “fearless” Romans soldiers “fell to the ground.” What would cause Roman soldiers to fall to the ground? So powerful were Jesus’ divine pronouncements that it caused His enemies to shudder to the ground. Even when Jesus was being arrested at perhaps one of the lowest points of His life on earth, He still retained total sovereignty over His enemies.

Jesus’ divine statements of being the “I am” were unambiguous claims of being the eternal God, that is the YHWH who spoke to Moses and the YHWH who rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from YHWH out of heaven.” 

Also See The NWT and John 8:58 


NOTES

[1] Ean gar mē pisteusēte hoti egō eimi apothaneisthe en tais hamartiais humōn.

[2] For example, the pre-2011 NIV has a bracketed clause after “I am” that reads: “the one I claim to be.”

[3] Although the non-predicated divine declaration, “I am,” John 8:58 is accepted universally as a divine claim in biblical scholarship, not all scholars hold 8:24 in the same light as reflected in many translations. However, some translations (e.g., ISV [2008]; NAB) do see the phrase at 8:24 as unpredicted: “I am.” The Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) reads: “I said to you that you shall die in your sins, for unless you shall believe that I AM THE LIVING GOD, you shall die in your sins” (caps theirs). Also see Vincent’s Word Studies, where 8:24, 28, 58 and 13:19 are seen as a “solemn expression” of Jesus’ “absolute divine being.”

[4] Some connect Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58. However, as mentioned, the LXX rendering of Exodus 3:14 is not an exact equivalence: Egō eimi ho ōn (“I am the Being” or “Existing One”). Though there is a solid connection between Jesus’ divine claim in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14 (both provide same meaning: I am the Eternal one. Also note the articular participle, ὁ ὢν (ho ōn, “the one who is/being always”) in the LXX of Exodus 3:14. When contextually warranted, as in 3:14, the phrase indicates timeless existence – “who is always existing.” The phrase is applied to the Father in Revelation 1:4 and 4:8 and applied to the Son and John 1:18 denoting the Son’s eternal existence: “No one has seen God at any time; the only the unique God who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the One who is/being always”] in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Also applied to the incarnate Son in Romans 9:5 with the same sematic: “Whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the One who is/being always”] over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” The phrase also appears in Revelation 1:8. Although referential identity is not clear (Father or Son), verse 7 clearly refers to the Son, which seems to correlate naturally with verse 8.            

As pointed our above, the full theological impact of Jesus’ divine declarative should be linked to the Hebrew phrase ani hu (“I [am] He”), which was rendered by the LXX as egō eimi. Again, the unpredicted egō eimi was a divine title used exclusively by YHWH (e.g., Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4). Unlike Elohim (“God”), the title egō eimi was never applied to men or angels, but to YHWH alone: “See now that I am [egō eimi], and there is no god except Me” (Deut. 32:29, LXX).

 

According to the NT (esp. in Paul) and OT, the gospel is simply the incarnational and atoning work of the Son. The work of man in his faith-act, repentance, obedience, etc. is the “result” and not the substance of the gospel. In other words, the gospel has nothing to do with man, rather, all to do with the Son.

The gospel is not limited to one doctrine, such as election (as many overly zealous, yet unripe, Christians assume), rather, the gospel is the work of the Son consisting of both His Humiliation (incarnational work, life, suffering, death, being buried) and His Exaltation (resurrection, ascension, seated at the right hand of God, second coming).

Paul clearly summarizes his gospel of the Son definition in esp. in such places as Rom. 1:1, 3; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; and 2 Tim. 2:8 (see below). However, in many other places, the apostle provides a positive detailed delineation of the gospel—namely, the Son’s incarnational and cross work, even without using the term “gospel” (cf., Rom. 5:1, 10; 8:32; 9:5; 1 Cor. 2:8; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 5:25; Phil. 2:6-11; Titus 3:5-7 et al.).  

 

The Gospel is the work of God the Son 

 

Rom. 1:1, 3: “the gospel of God. . . . regarding His Son”

1 Cor. 15:1-4 (A.D. 54):

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel [euaggelion] which I preached [euēggelisamēn- aorist ind. of euaggelizō], which also you received in which also you stand, 2 By which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached [euēggelisamēn– aorist ind.] to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as first importance [prōtos] what I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

2 Tim. 2:8: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.” 

 

So Rom. 10:15: “How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written [Isa. 52:7], ‘How beautiful [hwraios, ‘timely’] [are] the feet of those gospelizing [euaggelizomenwn] good things.”

 

 

A vital part of the believers’ progressive (practical) sanctification is to do the commandants given by Christ in Luke 9:23—denying one’s self, taking up the cross, and following Christ.        

Luke 9:23-25: “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose It, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Context. Note the context in the previous passages (Luke 9:18-22), which is the identification of Christ (see the parallel account in Matt. 16:13-18):

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?’ 19 They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day.”

Jesus’ first questions to the “disciples” was regarding who “who do the people say that I am?” (they gave inadequate answers). Then, Jesus asked them specifically: “Who do you say that I am?” It was the most faulty, fearful yet devoted, disciple of them all, who correctly answered and confessed: “The Christ of God.” However, Peter’s full confession is recorded in the parallel account in Matt. 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Although Peter (like many of us) totally misunderstood Jesus’ mission (esp. Matt. 16:21-23), and made countless mistakes in both word and action, he rightfully saw Jesus as Lord, the Son of God (God in the flesh), the Messiah of Israel. As with all Christians, throughout Peter’s life, he had victories and failures (even after the resurrection; cf. Gal. 2:11), but he grew spiritually and doctrinally until the point of his death. Recalling, Jesus had prophesied of Peter’s death in John 21:14-19, “signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, follow Me!” (v. 19)—and he did just that – the rest of his life unto his death.

From the start of Peter’s journey as an apostle of Christ, to his death, in spite of his many mistakes in his Christian life, Jesus was his Lord and Savior. Although, his ongoing sanctification and understanding of the work and mission of Christ was developmental and progressive and at times faltered, his faith in the Christ as “the Son of the living God” was unwavering.

What I find interesting is that immediately after Peter’s high Christological Confession (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:18), Jesus foretold that He must “be killed” (Luke 9:22) Peter “criticized” the Lord Jesus for saying He must die: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Jesus, then, responds in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:23 adds, “Get behind me Satan”).

Jesus indicates to His disciples (who heard Jesus’ rebuke) that true discipleship can not be realized unless one is willing to forsake it all. This would mean fully trusting Him in all things. Job demonstrated this kind of trust when he said, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15).

Peter eventually grew in knowledge and understanding of the Savior and His mission. This is apparent in John 6 regarding Jesus’ seemingly difficult statements of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:54). In response to this, “many of His disciples left” (v. 66), which prompted Jesus to ask (v. 67) “the twelve, ‘You do not want to leave also, do you?’ 68 Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 And we have already believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”

 

Denying oneself involves humility before the Lord.

Peter makes this point in 1 Pet. 5:6-7: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you” (NASB). In verse 6, the verb tapeinoō (“be humble”) is in the aorist imperative—, which indicates an urgent command, as in Be humble right now!—“under the mighty hand of God.” Keep in mind, the OT writers frequently used God’s hand as a symbol of discipline (Exod. 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Ps. 32:4) and deliverance (Deut. 9:26; 32:32; Ezek. 20:34).

But how are we to be humble ourselves under the mighty hand God. The means of doing this is found in verse 7: “By casting all your cares [‘anxiety, worry’] on Him” (NET). The verb epiripsantes is the aorist participle of epiriptō (“to throw, cast upon”). So the verb would literally be translated as, “casting” (ESV, Holmen) or “having cast” (NASB 2020), or better “By casting” (NET). Unfortunately, translations such as the NIV (even the 2011 updated) make the participle independent of verse 6 by translating the participle as “Cast,” the beginning of a new sentence: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

In other words, the very means of obeying the urgent commandment in verse 6 (“be humble under the mighty hand of God”) is found in the action of the participle: “By casting all your anxiety [or ‘worry’[1]] on Him—because He cares.”

Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Although following Christ is a commandant (present imperative), the two preceding verbs arnēsasthō (“let him deny”) and aratō (“let him take up”) are in the aorist imperative—thus, as seen above, a commandment that stresses urgency— “Do it now!” commandment! Commenting on the parallel passage in Matt. 16:24, Calvin says of the phrase, “And let him take up his cross”:

As God trains his people in a peculiar manner, in order that they may be conformed to the image his Son, we need not wonder that this rule is strictly addressed to them. . . . (Calvin, Commentary of Matthew).

9:24 “For whoever wishes to save his life [psuchēn, “soul”] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Nothing is more important in this life than to live for and serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen? As seen, Peter came to understand this clearly: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We as Christians have nowhere else to go except to the Lord Jesus—who has given us the words of eternal Life: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (see also 1 John 5:20). In our stressful, unpredictable lives all we can do is ask: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

9:25 “For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself?” For us, nothing, but Christ matters. Without the Son, the soul will perish: “The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12; cf. John 3:36).

9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Contextually, this statement was in the present state of the looming event of His death. However, there seems to be wider application (whether the latter phrase is referring to the final Eschaton [Second Coming] or, as many see it, the Transfiguration in vv. 28-36). The term translated, “ashamed” is from epaischunomai. Note the prefix of the verb, epi (“on, upon”) with aischunō (“to dishonor, disgrace”).

This verb shows the personal aspect of the disgrace or dishonor. Paul is “not ashamed [same term] of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). Christian teachers even more, should not be ashamed of the Son of God and His work; or that He alone is the only means of salvation. True believers who love the Lord should never be ashamed of proclaiming the Trinity and justification through faith alone.


Notes

[1] The term anxious/worry is from the Greek word merimna, which carries the meaning of being “drawn in opposite directions; pulled apart from both sides.”

 

 

Taken from the the larger article, Biblical Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), by Dr. Edward Dalcour.     


Election.
How one sees election and God’s sovereignty will effect every dimension and method of how one evangelizes. The term “election” is from the Greek noun eklogē (ἐκλέγω, from ek, “out” and legw, to speak or reason). Linguistically, it denotes a “marking out,” or “choice” or “the act of picking out, choosing” (Thayer). The noun is used in the NT 7 times.[1]

 

Romans 11:5, for example, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice (eklogē chritos, lit., “election of grace”).   

 

The verb being, eklegomai-eklegw (“I chose, mark out”) appears twenty two times in the NT, and always middle voice (gram. subject does the action to or for himself). Note the verb’s usage in Ephesians 1:4-5, for example:

 

4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (John 15:16, 19; etc.).

Theologically, it refers “to the electing” of those whom The Father gave to the Son, whom He called and choose for salvation before the foundation of the world (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13). According to Romans 9:22-23 – Election is God’s way of “making known” to us (vessels of mercy) – “the riches of His glory.”

 

 Two Views: Conditional Election and Unconditional Election

 Conditional Election – asserts that God elects those for salvation based not His free and sovereign choice; rather, it is based on the foreseen future actions of men (faith-act), which is the “condition” of God electing him. In this sense, salvation is solely based on God’s foreknowledge of what He sees in man, that is, what men will do with His Son.

In this view, Jesus’ death on the cross produced a “universal” hypothetical atonement—i.e., it asserts that Jesus died and paid the penalty of sin and took the wrath of all men. Further, in this, view, God really desires all men to be saved, but the mighty force of man’s will stops God from doing what He desires—viz. from actually saving “all men.” Those who hold to this view include Roman Catholics, and most modern evangelicals—most of the professing Christian church. Salvation then in this view, is purely SYNERGISTIC (lit., “together works)—namely, God and man working together; man cooperating with God.      

 

Unconditional Election asserts that God’s election of men unto salvation was based not on the foreseen actions of men (as a condition), but rather, based on God’s immutable sovereignty and freedom (unconditional) over the clay. In this view, Jesus’ atonement was not hypothetical, but definite; He died specifically for all the ones the Father gave Him (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:5-23; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13).

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Salvation in this view is purely MONERGISTIC (“alone working”)—namely, God working alone in salvation—man’s eternal destiny then is in the hands of the sovereignty, grace, mercy, and justice of God, and not in the hands of sinners. Those who hold to this view include the entire Reformed tradition (including the Puritans), early Baptist tradition, and present-day Reformed and Sovereign Grace churches, and most standard Systematic Theologies.           

[1] Acts 9:15; Romans 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; and 2 Peter 1:10.