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!


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