Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lk 3 Studies, Pt 2

Continuing the discussion of Lk 3.

Lk 3:8

Q1.  Can the presupposition that he was preaching to fake repenters in this verse be sustained?

No.  That would be mistaking strong language for accusatory language in this verse.  It starts with the big "therefore" to the answer to his previous question.  "Therefore" ... in fleeing from the wrath to come, by coming out to be baptized by him, their obligation now (cf. 3:10-14) is to bear fruits.  It is not the obligation of those who have not repented, to bear fruits in keeping with repentance, but those who have.

Q2.  Is it irrelevant to true religion to have Abraham as father?

No.  Paul doesn't think so in Rm 4:13-17a.  Neither Jesus Himself, in Jn 8:39.  John the Baptist's argument is more complicated than that.  What is to be avoided, while bearing fruits in keeping with repentance?  Saying to oneselves, "we have Abraham for our father."  In the Greek, it's more of a categorical, using the accusative: "a father we have, namely, that Abraham."  John the Baptist is telling them not to make that argument about themselves, which is a "standing pat"-type argument.  Not that it's false.  But they are not to use it in lieu of bearing fruits in keeping with repentance.  They are to go with the repentance, over that fact.

Why?  Because "from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." This is often taken as, therefore it is of no consquence, to be Abraham's descendant.   But God's ability to do this from stones  ... that is not the ability to do something that's unimportant.  To have repented, however, is a compelling fact, greater than to be Abraham's descendant, a fact to be taken as compelling action, no matter even that they are Abraham's descendants.

So to bear fruit worthy of repentance is far to be preferred to -- even -- being the great Abraham's descendants, because, though God is able to raise up children to Abraham from stones, in repenting and bearing fruit in keeping with it, they distinguish themselves from passivity.  It's an activist argument.  Act!  Don't stand pat!

It also closes the argument started in 3:7.  God has brought you to repentance.  That's a great thing.  What does God do?  Since God can even make stones into grown up children of Abraham, let this repentance be for you a source of action such that God can even do with stones, turning them from their passivity.  God can not only create children of Abraham from stones, but raise them up.  God brought you to repentance.  Go on in keeping with that! in keeping with how God can even do with stones!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Luke 3 studies Pt. 1

Something of a detour into the gospels will sometimes be shown, my having started a year-long study of them back on April 27.

Today, in looking at Lk 3:7-9, there are many questions for a person interested in the gospels and what they say on salvation to possibly consider; at least I think so.

Lk 3:7

Q1.  Are the crowds addressed by John the Baptist as "you brood of vipers" all Pharisees?

The crowds addressed by John the Baptist here are not specifically Pharisees!  These crowds were, therefore, broods of vipers, and not necessarily because they were Pharisees!  What we know about this collection is that there were many instances of them: many instances of these crowds, since John "came into" many places: he "came into all the district around the Jordan."  That refers to many instances of preaching.  Secondly, they "were going out to be baptized by him."  That refers to the same instances of the crowds, ones that were in all the district around.  Not just one.    The attribute "brood of vipers," therefore, cannot be restricted to the Pharisees.

Q2.  What is the implied answer to John the Baptist's question in this verse?

That God Himself has warned them!  John the Baptist uses this as the premise of what he says to them that follows.  If God Himself warned them to flee from the wrath to come, then what John the Baptist says next makes sense.  Since they fled, they must do what is in keeping with that flight.    Otherwise, if they were not fleeing from the wrath to come, or if it was not God impelling them to, then there was no repentance to be in keeping with.

This answer gains support also from the way the topic starts: "You brood of vipers!"  They are as he says they are.  Do vipers know to avoid God's wrath to come?  No.  But they are a brood of vipers, so who but God could possibly have caused this unexpected event to have be happening at this present moment? If broods of vipers are fleeing from the wrath to come, by going out to be baptized by John the Baptist, they must have been warned to do so by God.  And since they are coming out to a baptism of repentance, their repentance is something from which John also argues the ethical implications of: "therefore bear fruits ...." (cf. 3:7, RV/ASV mg, "worthy of your repentance" ... your repentance: John is arguing from its existence in them.)