Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2 Th 1

In 2 Th 1:11, the difference between God making (ESV) us worthy of our calling, and God counting (non-RSV-based) us worthy of our calling may seem large in light of the Reformation understanding of worthiness. There's a good discussion of the Greek behind this difference in the Expositor's Bible Commentary, EBC.

Some people solve this by resorting to a self-originated worthiness versus a God-generated worthiness dichotomy, all the while pointing to their own works!

I don't think that solves anything, especially in light of Luke 17:10, where Jesus tells us to remember to consider ourselves not us just 'formerly unworthy' slaves, as if we are worthy slaves now, but as currently unworthy slaves! And that, AFTER we have done all the things which are commanded. So that helps us keep the proper estimate of ourselves in the future, since we have still some things left to do, of all the things which are commanded!

Nevertheless, it's not necessary to exclude the RSV-based language: it is applied by Paul to what is to us piecemeal. So even though Christ says to consider ourselves unworthy slaves of God in this life, in 2 Th 1:11 is Paul praying, over and over again, always, for God to count or even possibly make the Thessalonians worthy of their calling, not as a new permanent status (otherwise he would not be praying for them more than once!), but to be worthy in the day-to-day. He's asking for God to make our hands stay up, otherwise they would droop.

And besides all that -- there is also no need to be so introspective about a prayer that, after all, Paul is praying about others in. Instead of asking "have I now become worthy, have I now become worthy, ..." how about more praying for God to count and make, in the present, believers we know worthy -- up to the tasks for the day!

Calvin says eloquently that "he [God] is said to account us worthy when he conducts us to the point at which we aimed." Paul "always" prayed for that (2 Th 1:11).

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