Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Romans 6:10

ο R-ASN γαρ CONJ απεθανεν V-2AAI-3S τη T-DSF αμαρτια N-DSF απεθανεν V-2AAI-3S
For that he died he died to sin,
……………………….εφαπαξ ADV
……………………….once for all,
ο R-ASN δε CONJ ζη V-PAI-3S ζη V-PAI-3S τω T-DSM θεω N-DSM
but that he lives he lives to God

I am seriously running out of steam trying to tackle these verses, seeing them verse by verse does come to some repetitive work as Paul builds on it the same message as he concludes his first question of "what then, shall we sin so grace may abound?"

But this particular verse, which should be taken with the previous verse as it gives proof to the last statement of v.9, is simply beautiful in Greek.

ο δε ζη ζη τω θεω
(ho de ze ze to theo)
but that he lives he lives to God

What is significant about v.10, I feel is 2 things: (1) how does Christ die to sin when he is sinless and (2) the significance of εφαπαξ, once and for all.

απεθανεν τη αμαρτια
We died to sin (απεθανομεν τη αμαρτια, v.2) and Christ died to sin once and for all. In his dying to sin, he affected sin by his dying because he bore the penalty of the sins of others. And it doing so, sin has no longer a ruling power over the people.

The quality of εφαπαξ correspond to the fact that Christ is risen and he ζη τω θεω, lives to God. The adverb is also used in:

Heb 7:27: He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (ESV)

Heb 9:12: he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (ESV)

Heb 9:26: for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (ESV)

Heb 9:28: so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (ESV)

Heb 10:10: And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (ESV)

1Pet 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. (ESV)


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Romans 6:9

ειδοτες V-RAP-NPM οτι CONJ χριστος N-NSM εγερθεις V-APP-NSM εκ PREP νεκρων A-GPM
We know that Christ being raised from the dead
……………….ουκετι ADV αποθνησκει V-PAI-3S
……………….will never die again
……………….θανατος N-NSM αυτου P-GSM ουκετι ADV κυριευει V-PAI-3S
……………….death no longer has dominion over him.

ειδοτες οτι
Knowing that - an undoubted article of belief.

ουκετι αποθνησκει
Will never die again - what Christ has done is enough, there will not be any other requirement as in the repeated burnt offerings, for what he has made is sufficient for all

ουκετι κυριευει
No more dominion - death has no rule, no lordship, no power over him .


Monday, May 29, 2006

Romans 6:8

ει COND δε CONJ απεθανομεν V-2AAI-1P συν PREP χριστω N-DSM
But if we died with Christ
…………..πιστευομεν V-PAI-1P οτι CONJ και CONJ συζησομεν V-FAI-1P
…………..αυτω P-DSM
…………..we believe that we will also live with him

Paul here reiterates what he has already stated in v.5 as well as to draw out the significance of that connection which he follows up in v.9-10. And we see similar usage of tenses - aorist for died and future for live, pointing to the promise of the eschatological resurrection of our lives in Christ.

συν χριστω
This phrase only occurs here in Romans, though the formula is virtually present in certain occurrences of συν-compounds (v.4, 6, 8b and 8:17) . The formula seems to have originated with Paul (Grundmann) and is used most often with reference to fellowship with Christ in the eschatological glory, but it is also used with past tenses with reference to baptism and to that which baptism is the witness. (Cranfield p.312)

πιστευομεν οτι
I am not too sure about the semantics of language then, but the phrase I believe seem to markdown whatever statement that follows. Cranfield says that it is inserted as an emphasis to indicate the personal and inward commitment of the members of the Church to its truth.

και συζησομεν αυτω
Cranfield's take on this is that it refers to the present life, from the whole structure of the argument here and especially from the content of v.11, which it is closely related to. The Christian's present life is to be a life with Christ in the power of his resurrection, a foretaste of the life with Christ in glory, an eschatological fulfilment of the life already begun. (Cranfield p.312-3)


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Romans 6:7 Why not "justify"?

Moo addresses the v.7 issue I highlighted yesterday. Here's a summary of his comments.

Verse 7 explains the connection in v.6 between death (crucified with Christ) and freedom from sin (no longer serve sin), but how it does so, however, is debated.

One view - he who died with Christ has been justified, in the usual Pauline sense, acquited from the penalty of sin. But Paul does not connect our dying with our justification anywhere else. Some suggested that "he who died" refers to Christ, who through his death secured justification for himself and others - but this introduces a shift in subject for which the context has not prepared us.

Now, this would explain why NIV and NASB does not translate it as justify.

With this, it is likely that "justified from sins" means "set free from the power of sin". "The one who dies" still refer to "the one who has died with Christ". So rather than virtually repeating v.6, it is more likely that Paul is citing a general maxim, to the effect that " death severs the hold of sin on a person".


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Romans 6:7

I could not find any answers yet to the questions I raised in v.6 and so I'm moving on to the next verse.

ο T-NSM γαρ CONJ αποθανων V-2AAP-NSM
For he who has died
………δεδικαιωται V-RPI-3S απο PREP της T-GSF αμαρτιας N-GSF
………has been justified from sin

δεδικαιωται: many bible translations have translated this word as freed, including NIV and NASB. The older translations like ASV and RV uses justified.

Is there a difference?


Friday, May 26, 2006

I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me.

I am not able to post anything on Romans today. I was down with the worst migraine in years! This psalm however meant a lot to me today. I thank God for his grace and love.

Psalm 69 (New International Version)

For the director of music. To the tune of "Lilies." Of David.
1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.
3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.
4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.
5 You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.
6 May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the LORD Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel.
7 For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face.
8 I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons;
9 for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
10 When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;
11 when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me.
12 Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.
13 But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
18 Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes.
19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
22 May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and [a] a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.
29 I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me.
30 I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.
32 The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Romans 6:6

τουτο D-ASN γινωσκοντες V-PAP-NPM
knowing this
οτι CONJ ο T-NSM παλαιος A-NSM ημων P-1GP ανθρωπος N-NSM συνεσταυρωθη V-API-3S
that our old man was crucified with him
..................................ινα CONJ καταργηθη V-APS-3S το T-NSN σωμα
..................................N-NSN της T-GSF αμαρτιας N-GSF του T-GSM order that the body of sin may be brought nothing
..................................μηκετι ADV δουλευειν V-PAN ημας P-1AP
..................................τη T-DSF αμαρτια N-DSF
..................................and henceforth we should not serve sin

Moo differs in his understanding of this verse from the other commentators and translators. I am not in agreement with his understanding of the verb συνεσταυρωθη used here in this verse, where he equates it with the definite and final death of Christ as result of the crucifixion. I disagree because the finality of the death of Christ is portrayed by his burial (v.4).

I feel we need to understand how they take to crucifixion in the time of Paul. In Jesus’ time, it was the most shameful and painful way to die – and I believe that view would not have changed by much in Paul’s time, in comparison to our present time.

Taking that into consideration, would Paul be referring to the way Jesus died in suffering and shame that our old self should also be crucified in shame and in pain? For it is indeed in shame that we admit to our sins and die to it; and it is in pain that we renounce our old ways which we have become so accustomed to.

Moo also commented that when Paul refers to “our old man”, ο παλαιος ημων ανθρωπος, Paul does not refer to the two parts of the life of a believer – his old nature and his new nature, but to the person as a whole, the entire corporate structure to which he belongs.

This is thought-provoking for me because one, it seem to be in the same line of argument of being “dead to sin”: if the whole old man has died, and the new man now exist in Christ, what then our weaknesses to sin? And two, what about Eph 4:22-24, where Paul commands Christians to “put off the old man” and “put on the new man”, implying that as Christians, we may still have our old nature lying around, which we need to discard in order to be like Christ?

Looks like it's a more-on-Romans 6:6 tomorrow.


Addendum: The "tomorrow" I promised

Behind the contrast between "the old man" and "the new man" is the contrast between Adam and Christ, those who are in Adam exist in the old man and those who are in Christ exist in the new man. In Moo's opinion, it is only by interpreting it this way that we are able to intergrate two apparent conflicting viewpoints in Paul. Where Col 3:9-11 make clear that the believer has ceased to be the old man and has become new man, Eph 4:22-24 commands Christians to put of the old man. And if these phrases look at the person as one who belongs to the old age or the new, respectively, then this conflict is easily resolved. Moo may be right, in that Paul makes it clear that the believer has been transferred from the old age of sin and death to the new age of righteousness and life. The powers of that old age will continue to influence the believer and must be continually resisted - hence the imperatives of Eph 4:22-24. At the heart of the contrast is the eschatological tension between the inauguration of the new age in the life of the believer. What we were in Adam is no more, but until heaven, the temptation to live in Adam always remains. (Moo p.374-5)

How true ... the temptation to live in Adam will always for us remain, and not until heaven is realised for us, we are required to resist and fight, and live a holy life.

Updated Sunday 28th May 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Romans 6:5

After working out v.5, I am again struck by the amazing Word of God.

τω ομοιωματι του θανατου αυτου
ομοιωματι being the dative of ομοιωμα makes it an object with which we are joined, hence the translation of: we have become united with the likeness of Christ.

ομοιωμα has several meanings, in this case it would most likely take the meaning of form, in the sense of the outer appearance, or shape, or of the reality itself. Likeness of his death, may, then simply be the death of Christ itself.

But Paul in making use of the word may want to portray Christ’t death in a particular light. Could it then be the cause of the atemporal nature of the application of death of Christ to the life of the believers; as a redemptive-historical association that cannot be precisely defined in terms of time or nature? While it does not differentiate the death to which we are joined from Christ’s death, it qualifies it in its particular redemptive historical “form”. And with this “form” of Christ’s death, Paul may be reminding us that by our “dying with Christ”, it initiates a “conformity” with Jesus’ death that is to have a continuing effect on our existence. (Moo p.370)

As Moo summarises it: we (at ‘conversion-initiation’) were united with the death of Christ in its redemptive-historical significance, and are now, thus, in the state of ‘conformity’ to that death.

αλλα και της αναστασεως εσομεθα
αλλα και, but also, introduces the second part of the verse and it stresses the certainty of that union with the form of Christ’s death will mean union with the form of Christ’s resurrection.

What is the significance of εσομεθα taking the future tense, we will be? Paul may put it this way as a logically follow through from being joined to the form of his death, i.e. we will be joined with the form of his resurrection.

Its possible implications:
1. the already realised spiritual resurrection of believers with Christ (cf. Col 2:12, Eph 2:6) (Prat, Zahn, Harrison, Fitzmyer, Frid)
2. the imperative of living in the “form” and power of Christ’s resurrection life in the present (Godet, Cranfield)
3. the physical resurrection of believers with Christ (cf. 2 Cor 4:14) to that time when God will transform our earthly bodies, making them conformed to the body of Christ’s glory. (Moo)

I was told by my Ephesians lecturer once that we have to decide on one interpretation, not two, not three, not all. However, in this case, I seem to think I should. The application of the death and resurrection of Christ in our lives is atemporal, not bound by time; and therefore while we are united into death with Christ, we have also been raised to with him and thus, we are now living in the power of that historical resurrection in a resurrected life. In the same time, the futurity our resurrection have it that it is only complete in that day, and until then we live under the imperative of making the life of Jesus manifest in the way we live (cf. 2 Cor 4:10). (Moo p.371)


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Romans 6:5 Starters

I have been extremely busy today and I have not done enough to give Romans 6:5 a fair exposition. I will give it a try anyhow.

ει COND γαρ CONJ συμφυτοι A-NPM γεγοναμεν V-2RAI-1P τω T-DSN ομοιωματι N-DSN του T-GSM θανατου N-GSM αυτου P-GSM
For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death
....................................αλλα CONJ και CONJ της T-GSF αναστασεως N-
................................................GSF εσομεθα V-FXI-1P the same way also we shall be united in
....................................the likeness of his resurrection

V.5 expounds what has already been discussed in v.4. It comes in a conditional sentence with an if, followed by a then, though not used here is implied.

This verse to me emphasises the completeness of the work of Christ that we are a part of as believers. If we are united with him in his death, so shall we be united with him in resurrection. There is no salvation without death and there is not salvation without resurrection.

What intrigue me about this verse though is the presence of the word ομοιωματι, in the likeness. Why does Paul now talk about being united with him in the likeness of his death when in v.3 he was talking about being buried with him into death.

Another interesting point is the usage of the future tense, εσομεθα, will be, in the participation of his resurrection.

More tomorrow.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Romans 6:4 Part 4

One final word on v.4: Moo closes the discussion on this verse with answers to the other 2 questions mentioned yesterday, i.e. why mention burial and why baptism as the means.

It is interesting to note that burial is mentioned because it is included in what is called the basic kerygma.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
~ 1 Cor 15:3-4 (NIV)

Burial was probably included in this simple summary because burial confirms the reality of death, completing the break from the old life. Our death with Christ to the old age of sin is final and definitive.

Baptism as the Means
We need to preserve the centrality of faith and at the same time do justice to the mediatorial role of baptism in this text. J. Dunn explains it succinctly: the early church conceive faith, the gift of the Spirit, and water baptism as components of one unified experience; this is what he calls “conversion-initiation”. Just as faith is always assumed to lead to baptism, baptism would always assume faith for its validity.

For those who are not baptised? Moo says that we must assume from the fact that faith is emblazoned in every chapter of Romans while baptism is mentioned in only two verses that genuine faith, even if it has not been “sealed” in baptism, is sufficient for salvation.

Main Point of Romans 6:4
The main point of v.4 is not being with Christ or baptism, but the new life which these events lead to: so that we might walk in newness of life, that is empowered by the Spirit of God.

Several Exegetical Insights of Greek Words/Phrases
An aorist subjunctive of περιπατεω, designating manner of life or lifestyle. Context suggest that the aorist might signal an ingressive idea: that we might take up a new way of walking.

An objective genitive: the newness that leads to life

δια της δοξης του πατρος
Christ was raised “through the glory of the Father” alludes to the power, which is specifically the power of the new age.

With this I conclude v.4 with a quote from Calvin:

By these words (vv.3-5) he not only exhorts us to follow Christ as if he had said that we are admonished though baptism to die to our desires by the example of Christ’s death, and to be aroused to righteousness by the example of his resurrection, but he also takes hold of something far higher; namely that through baptism Christ makes us sharer in his death, that we might be engrafted in it. And, just as the twig draws substance and nourishment from the root to which it is grafted, so those who receive baptism with right faith truly feel the effective working of Christ’s death in the mortification of their flesh, together with the working of his resurrection in the vivification of the Spirit.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Romans 6:4 Part 3

I took a read (several, in fact) into Moo’s commentary of Romans 6:4 (p.361-367) and if I have been wading and testing the waters before, this has turned out to be a swim in deep waters. It is quite overwhelming – so much so that I begin to understand why some of my friends shy away from theology, taking the stand that God’s word is not suppose to be so complicated: it is we ourselves that make it so. That would be an issue for interesting discussion for another time, God willing, but for now, here’s Romans 6:4, according to Douglas Moo.

Paul in v.4 draws a conclusion from v.3: we have been baptised into Christ and into death, therefore we are buried with him through baptism in order that we are also raised like Christ, to walk in newness of life. If we have died with Christ through (δια) baptism, we have also been buried with him through (δια) baptism.

Moo says this raises 3 interrelated and controversial questions (p.361):
1. Why has Paul introduced the image of burial?
2. What is the meaning of the Christian’s being with Christ?
3. How does baptism mediate this being with Christ?

Answers to these questions fall into 3 general approaches:

Immersion-Emersion Metaphor

The basic argument:
  • “burial with Christ” as a metaphor for a complete break with the old life
  • baptism is the symbolic picture of transfer from old life to new life
  • immersion represents death to the old life, the burial
    emersion represents the rising to new life
  • baptism pictures what has taken place in the believer’s life through conversion

  • Why is the argument inadequate:
  • it does not, by itself, provide sufficient explanation
  • Paul makes baptism the means by which we are buried, and not the place, i.e. where we are being submerged and then emerged
  • even though the immersion-emersion interpretation can be traced to a fairly early date in the history of the church, to the time of Tertullian, there is not evidence in Rom. 6 or in the NT elsewhere that the actual physical movements involved in baptism were accorded symbolical significance
  • the argument does not explain what it means by being with Christ nor does it show how this baptism becomes a means or instrument to that being with Christ

  • Burial a Break, Baptism the Mediator

    Basic argument:
  • burial as a metaphor represents, like the above approach, a complete break with the old life
  • baptism, however, is seen as a mediator of that break, whether by water baptism or “spiritual” baptism during conversion as the point of break

  • Why is the argument inadequate:
  • but similarly, it does not explain the συν compound: what it means for believers to be, or to do things with Christ
  • some try to explain that we are being in union with Christ in our relationship with him, though Moo felt that Paul did not say we are joined with Christ, but that we have been buried with him

  • Burial a Description of Participation, Baptism the Mediator

    This approach Moo considers as the correct one. This is basically his argument:

    Here, the burial with Christ is a description of participation of the believer in Christ’s own burial and this participation is mediated by baptism. Not that the believer in baptism is laid in his own grave, but that through that action he is set alongside Christ Jesus in his (Beasley-Murray). This interprets δια naturally and explains συν adequately.

    Baptism however, is not the place or time at which we are buried with Christ, but the instrument, δια, through which we are buried with him.

    With this, it may be an obvious conclusion that the “time” of our burial with Christ was the time of his own burial: that when Christ died, was buried, and resurrected, we were “in him” and so participated in these events “with” him. This is evidence by the usage of aorist passive verbs throughout this passage.

    But how can we tie this is with the obvious that our transition from the old life to the new is a conscious life experience, not something that happens in A.D.30? Therefore, we may be forced to conclude that we are dealing with a category that transcends time (Schlatter): our dying, being buried, and being resurrected with Christ are experiences that transfer us from the old age to the new, while applied at conversion, has been accomplished through the redemptive work of Christ on Good Friday and Easter.

    Paul’s συν refers to a “redemptive-historical” “withness” whose locus is both (1) the cross and the resurrection and Christ – where the “shift” in ages took place historically – and (2) the conversion of every believer – when this “shift” in ages become applicable to the individual.


    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Romans 6:4 Part 2

    It has been bothering me for the whole day that I could not find anything on the "with" and "into" question I had yesterday. Only to realise that the "with" comes from the verb συνεταφημεν, which carries a meaning of being in company with, hence bury with. The preposition συν, with, is attached to the verb ταφω, bury. I really didn't know - it is all still Greek to me anyhow!

    Moo acknowledges that this preposition does create difficulties for a purely symbolic view: it is questionable whether its normal meaning of accompaniment can be stretched so far as to embrace the idea of a being buried (in our lives) as Christ was buried in his. He suggests that since it is through baptism that we are buried with Christ, we might think of Christ's burial (and death and resurreciton in v.5 also) as being present in baptism. (p.365)

    Through baptism, we are buried with our Lord Jesus.
    Paul is truly one profound bloke.


    p/s talking about Moo, I had mentioned that his commentary on Romans is not at all an easy read, at least to me. He goes on and on, without giving much of a clue where he stand only to take a sudden turn when you least expect it. Being tongue-in-cheek, I mused that he can Moo till the cows come home, I still will not understand him! But I have to read him now, on this συν preposition. Wish me luck.

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Romans 6:4 Part 1

    I am already thinking that I am too ambitious in trying to tackle one verse in only one day. The richness in this verse is the case in point. What with phrases like buried with him, buried through baptism, buried into death, raised from the dead, through the Father’s glory, in the same way, newness of life, might walk; and I am only just beginning.

    συνεταφημεν V-2API-1P ουν CONJ αυτω P-DSM
    we were buried therefore with him
    ....................δια PREP του T-GSN βαπτισματος N-GSN
    .................…through baptism
    ……..................... ....εις PREP τον T-ASM θανατον N-ASM
    ………...………………….into (the) death
    ….................ινα CONJ ωσπερ ADV ηγερθη V-API-3S χριστος N-NSM εκ
    ....................PREP νεκρων A-GPM
    … order that just as Christ was raised from the dead
    ………………………………………………δια PREP της T-GSF δοξης N-GSF του
    ..................................................................T-GSM πατρος N-GSM
    ………………………………………………through the glory of the Father
    .................…ουτως ADV και CONJ ημεις P-1NP εν PREP καινοτητι N-DSF
    ....................ζωης N-GSF περιπατησωμεν V-AAS-1P
    … the same way we too in newness of life might walk

    In v.4, Paul draws out and clarifies the meaning of the last clause of v.3. εις τον θανατον is to be taken with βαπτισματος rather than συνεταφημεν since it corresponds closely to εις τον θανατον αυτου εβαπτισθημεν in v.3. This is clear because it would be odd to talk about burial into death. (Cranfield)

    The use of the dative personal pronoun, αυτω, may require some study. What are the implications between these 2 phrases:
    1. Through baptism we are buried with Christ
    2. Through baptism we are buried into Christ

    Most translations favour #1. Why? If I look at it from the English standpoint, when I am buried with Christ, it is a participation, we are being buried together, I am by his side; but when I am buried into Christ, it is a union, he brings me into him in death, I am in him. Comparing with v.3, we are however, baptised into Christ and into his death. Are there any significant difference?


    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Romans 6:3

    η PRT αγνοειτε V-PAI-2P οτι CONJ
    do you not know that
    .................οσοι K-NPM εβαπτισθημεν V-API-1P
    .................all of us who have been baptised
    ......................................εις PREP χριστον N-ASM ιησουν N-ASM
    ......................................into Christ Jesus
    ......................................εις PREP τον T-ASM θανατον N-ASM αυτου P-
    ...................................................GSM εβαπτισθημεν V-API-1P
    ......................................into his death we have been baptised?

    I have discussed briefly about baptism here.

    What is of interest to me in v.3 is the preposition εις, into. What does it mean by "into Christ" and "into death"? I have looked into the more common "in Christ" before but what about "into Christ"?

    Wallace suggests 8 possible meaning of εις:
    1. Spatial: into, toward, in
    2. Temporal: for, throughout
    3. Purpose: for, in order to, to
    4. Result: so that, with the result that
    5. Reference/Respect: with respect to, with reference to
    6. Advantage: for
    7. Disadvantage: against
    8. In the place of εν (with its various nuances)

    In relation to (8), εν has the nuance of:
    9. Spatial/Sphere: in (and various other translations)
    10. Temporal: in, within, when, while, during
    11. Association (often close personal relationship): with
    12. Cause: because of
    13. Instrumental: by, with
    14. Reference/Respect: with respect to/with reference to
    15. Manner: with
    16. Thing Possessed: with (in the sense of which possesses)
    17. Standard (=Dative of Rule): according to the standard of
    18. As an equivalent for εις (with verbs of motion)

    The preposition here in v.3 I believe take #1 and #9 where one is baptised into Christ and into death spatially. Initially I thought #4 sounds possible for death as a result as baptism, but I don't think it sounds right.

    As such, to be baptised into Christ is to enter into a union with him and to be found in him. In the same way, being baptised into Christ also means participation in the death of Christ. It denotes a union into Christ's death. For the lack of better tools, a check into e-Sword results in εις χριστον taking the nuance of into Christ, only in relation to baptism. This could imply that we can only be in union with the Lord through his death.


    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    A Lament

    Kindness, there is no need for it
    In the pursuits of the world
    Kindness, there is no place for it
    In the harshness of the soul
    Kindness, laid away
    Kindness, what use of it we say
    So alien we keep it at bay
    Never have much need of it today

    In its place what do we have
    Cruel words and heartlessness
    In nastiness and spite we laugh
    We border around maliciousness
    We thrive in putting others down
    So to raise ourselves in loftiness
    Wear a facade we thought a crown
    Stride in pride, such wantonness

    What a world we live in
    But do we find ourselves staging
    The same dreadful game
    The same frightful maim

    Copyright © 2006 Pearlie Ng

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Romans 6:2

    μη PRT-N γενοιτο V-2ADO-3S
    God forbid!
    οιτινες R-NPM απεθανομεν V-2AAI-1P τη T-DSF αμαρτια N-DSF
    we who have died to sin
    ................... πως ADV-I ετι ADV ζησομεν V-FAI-1P εν PREP αυτη P-DSF
    ................... how can we yet live in it?

    μη γενοιτο is a formula of strong denial used frequently by Paul always after a question.

    οιτινες is placed at the beginning to give more emphasis to the consideration which contains within itself the answer to the false inference.

    απεθανομεν τη αμαρτια is where everyone agrees it is of fundamental importance in this section though there is difficulty in agreeing to what exactly Paul means here. This has been previously posted before here.


    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Romans 6:1

    I have started on my Greek exegesis of Romans 6:1-14 and by God's grace I plan to do it on a one-verse-in-one-day basis. If I am disciplined enough at it, I should complete it in 2 weeks.

    τι I-ASN ουν CONJ
    What then?
    ερουμεν V-FAI-1P επιμενομεν V-PAI-1P τη T-DSF αμαρτια N-DSF
    (should we) say we continue in (the) sin
    .............................ινα CONJ η T-NSF χαρις N-NSF πλεοναση V-AAS-3S that (the) grace might increase?

    ερουμεν is a Future Active Indicative. It carries a deliberative future nuance. It asks a question that implies some doubt about the response. It is asked in the first person singular or plural and is generally either cognitive or volitional. In this case it carries the volitional sense in asking "should we?" rather than the cognitive "how will we?" (Wallace p.570)

    πλεοναση is an Aorist Active Subjunctive with a deliberative rhetorical sense. The rhetorical question expects no verbal response, but is in fact a thinly disguised statement, though couched in such a way as to draw the listener into the text. In the speaker’s presentation, there is uncertainty about whether the listener will heed the implicit command. Unlike the interrogative indicative, it does not ask a question of fact, but of obligation. It is supremely a question of “oughtness”. (Wallace p.467)

    This verse is a follow-up from what he has said in Rom 5:20, "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (ESV). He is not asking a question of whether to increase in sin but whether it is morally acceptable to continue in sin, in which he has confirm it with a μη γενοιτο, God forbid!

    This verse starts Paul's retort on those who would argue that they can and should sin because not only God's grace and forgiveness would cover it in the first place but as they sin, God's grace for them would increase. However much this sounds absurd but in small ways, do I do that? Do I justify my own sins comforting myself that it is okay since God is graceful and forgiving anyway? God forbid! God is love but God is also wrath. There are too many mentions of the wrath of God in just Revelations alone to think that God would let us go away with that.

    Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, "Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God." ~ Rev 16:1 (ESV)


    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Tune my heart to sing thy grace ...

    What touched me today is this hymn we have not sung for a long time. Beautiful words, beautiful tune.

    Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
    Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
    Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
    Call for songs of loudest praise.
    Teach me some melodious sonnet,
    Sung by flaming tongues above.
    Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
    Mount of Thy redeeming love.

    Here I raise my Ebenezer;
    Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
    And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
    Safely to arrive at home.
    Jesus sought me when a stranger,
    Wandering from the fold of God;
    He, to rescue me from danger,
    Interposed His precious blood.

    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.

    O that day when freed from sinning,
    I shall see Thy lovely face;
    Clothed then in blood washed linen
    How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
    Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
    Take my ransomed soul away;
    Send thine angels now to carry
    Me to realms of endless day.

    Words: Ro­bert Ro­bin­son, 1758; ap­peared in his A Col­lect­ion of Hymns Used by the Church of Christ in Angel Al­ley, Bi­shop­gate, 1759. Music: “Net­tle­ton,” Wyeth’s Re­po­si­to­ry of Sac­red Mu­sic, Part Se­cond, by John Wy­eth, 1813

    Picture by Luc Sesselle

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Romans 4:18

    During class, there was a short discussion on how ελπιδα επ ελπιδι is to be translated. To me it is quite an interesting phrase construction and description of Abraham's faith: that even though he knows that he and Sara are dead as far as their progeny is concerned (v.17), even when there is no reason for hope, Abraham kept on hoping (NLT 2004), that he will become the father of many nations as promised by God. (The lecturer commented that the 2nd edition of the New Living Translation is very well done. I guess it's time I upgrade my 1996 copy?)

    This serves as a reminder to me that even when all hope is gone (not even seems gone but is gone), we can hope against hope that God will eternally be faithful in his love and his purpose; in fact even if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself (2Tim 2:13).

    Such is our God. We do not lose heart. We hope. We trust.

    ος παρ ελπιδα επ ελπιδι επιστευσεν
    (hos gar elpida ep elpidi episteusen)
    Who in hope against hope have faith (my translation)

    ALT: Who against hope believed in hope

    Amplified: [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith

    ASV: Who in hope believed against hope

    BBE: Who without reason for hope, in faith went on hoping

    CEV: And when it all seemed hopeless, Abraham still had faith in God

    CUV-T: 他 在 無 可 指 望 的 時 候 ,因 信 仍 有 指 望

    (ta1 zai4 wu2 ke3/4 zhi3wang5 de* shi2hou5 , yin1 xin4 reng2 you3/4 zhi3wang5)

    Darby: Who against hope believed in hope

    ESV: In hope he believed against hope

    GW: When there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham still hoped and believed

    IBIS: Abraham terus saja berharap dan percaya meskipun tidak ada harapan lagi

    (Abraham kept on hoping and believing eventhough there is no more hope)

    ISV: Hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances

    ITB: Sebab sekalipun tidak ada dasar untuk berharap, namun Abraham berharap juga dan percaya

    (Eventhough there is no basis for hope, yet Abraham also hoped and believed)

    KJV: Who against hope believed in hope

    LITV: He against hope believed in hope

    MKJV: For he who beyond hope believed on hope

    MSG: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway

    Murdock: And without hope, he confided in the hope

    NASB: In hope against hope he believed

    NET: Against hope Abraham believed in hope

    NIrV: When there was no reason for hope, Abraham believed because he had hope

    NIV: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed

    NLT 1996: When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him

    NLT 2004: Even when there is no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping

    RV: Who in hope believed against hope

    Webster: Who against hope believed with hope

    WNT: Under utterly hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed

    Wycliffe: Which Abraham against hope believed into hope

    YLT: Who, against hope in hope did believe


    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Romans 4

    I still stand by my opinion that Romans 4 is pretty straightforward. Imputation and double imputation was not really addressed during class, on the basis that they were not really the gist of the chapter. Paul was instead trying to drive home the point that justification is by faith and not works.

    And in answer to my questions yesterday:

    Is faith counted as righteousness? Faith recognised as righteousness?
    Yes on the basis of Rom 4:3: For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." (ESV)

    That if I have faith, I have righteousness? If it is, won't it count as justification by works after all?
    No. Paul qualified Rom 4:3 with Rom 4:4-5: Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. (ESV)

    And what about double imputation? Christ's righteousness imputed on us?
    My stand is: Christ's righteousness being imputed on us was not once mentioned in the bible. I am not saying that it can't be. It can and it may but it was not mentioned and therefore, I don't see that as an issue. But I believe it was brought up because of the above question of faith being a work and as a result justification will be by works. To me, Paul has already qualified his statement in the following 2 verses. He could use 4:3 to appeal to the Jews but gave it a twist to emphasise his point.

    What I discovered in class however, was something quite interesting found in Rom 4:24.

      It (faith) will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord.
    This verse can be seen as a turning point in what Paul was trying to teach the Jews. In Rom 4:3, he quotes Gen 15:6, Abraham believed God. In Rom4:24, he did an about turn and said instead, believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord. In effect, he is saying, "Abraham believed God and his faith is reckoned as righteousness, however for you, believe in God who raised Jesus from the dead, and your faith will be counted as righteousness."


    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Imputation and Double Imputation

    We are going to have our Romans 4 class tomorrow. I had thought that this chapter was pretty straightforward, but no, I was told. There is this issue of imputation and double imputation of which I have only just heard about.

    I checked Theopedia, double imputation is a doctrine related to justification, which views the concept of imputation as applying both to Christ and believers. While on one hand, our sins are imputed to Christ who bore them on the cross, Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers who are seen by God as cloaked in the righteousness of Christ.

    And imputation refers to the transfer of benefit or harm from one individual to another.

      That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. ~ Rom 4:22-25 (ESV)
    The word ελογισθη is interpreted as counted (ESV), credited (NIV), reckoned (ASV), imputed (KJV).

    So the question on imputation that arises in v.22 is this: is faith counted as righteousness? Faith recognised as righteousness? That if I have faith, I have righteousness? If it is, won't it count as justification by works after all?

    And what about double imputation? Christ's righteousness imputed on us?

    I am sure the answer to both the issues above is a "no". I need to find out why.

    Picture by John Evans

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006


    Carson talked about journaling in A Call to Spiritual Reformation as a discipline to help us adopt practical ways to impede mental drift. He thinks that the real value of journaling is several-fold:

    1) It enforces a change of pace, a slowing down: it ensures time for prayer and when we are writing down our prayers, we will not end up day-dreaming

    2) It fosters self-examination: only the examined life is worth living; if we are not taking time to examine our own heart, mind and conscience from time to time, in the light of God's word, and deal with what we find, we will become encrusted with the barnacles of destructive self-righteousness

    3) It ensures quiet articulation both of our spiritual direction and of our prayers

    I am never good with journals. The longest journal I have ever maintained was probably for just 2-3 days, and in spurts. And therefore this web logging has been my greatest success at journaling ever. Even though it is different from a personal prayer journal where I can be more unreserved, this public journal accomplishes several things for me:

    1) It keeps me going in my daily devotion: having named by blog Daily Ponderings and rightfully so, I make it my responsibility to keep my daily devotion, which I have been truly blessed with the learning, praying and meditating on his word. And on top of that, I get to learn even more with my fellow bloggers. Though I have to be careful of what Carson warned: the danger of making it a regime and deluding myself into thinking that the discipline is an end in itself. As evident over here, my colleague is usually asking the question, "what shall I blog today?" or commenting, "yes, I can blog about this!" I have been trying my best not to fall into that trap - daily devotioning just to have something to blog.

    2) It puts a hold on my self-centeredness: looking back into my previous personal journal entries, those which I have kept especially in times of trial and need, I tend to sound really pathetic and full of self-pity. On the flipside however, a public journal may not allow me to disclose my deepest feelings. But this is one thing I can pass, since I really do not want to wallow in self-pity anyway.

    Picture by Pam Roth

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    What am I being thankful for?

    My recent reading and studying of Romans 4 and 6 does not seem to be as fruitful as I wanted it to be lately and so I decided to take a break. The break turns out to be DA Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation, a book I wanted to reread for awhile now.

    According to Carson, there are 5 lessons we need to learn from the School of Prayer:

    (1) Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray
    (2) Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift
    (3) At various periods in your life, develop, if possible, a prayer-partner relationship
    (4) Choose models – but choose them well
    (5) Develop a system for your prayer lists

    Then for a start, he uses 2 Thess 1:3-12 to present a Framework of Prayer. Paul lays foundations for his prayers in the letters he writes. In this letter, his prayer to the Thessalonians is found in v.11-12 with v.3-10 as his framework that controls what he prays for and why.

    Basically, the one fundamental component as the mental framework that we need to emulate is thanksgiving. Here, it is his thankfulness for the signs of grace that he sees in the Thessalonians:

    (1) Paul give thanks that his readers’ faith is growing
    (2) Paul give thanks that their love is increasing
    (3) Paul give thanks that they are persevering under trial

    It all prompts me to ask if I am thankful for the right reasons. Carson commented that most of the things that we are thankful for are materialistic, which I think is quite true, if we think about it.

    Is my thankfulness materialistic as well? I do have many financial commitments, which I am thankful that by his grace they are under control. I am thankful for how he has provided for us, never missing a single time that we are in need. I am so thankful for that.

    Yes, these are materialistic alright. What else am I thankful for? The love and joy shared within the family; even though friction does happen, we forgive and forget. The camaraderie and goodwill of friends, sharing time and just being together. The trials that I go through from where I grow and mature – this is not easy but having gone through what I have gone through, I am so thankful that from I am able to experience His grace and mercy and love.

    These are the things I am thankful for myself. What about thankfulness for others and especially people that I pray for, especially for those I have been praying for currently. The love and joy that my Wycliffe friend shares with people around her. The love and care shown by my church friend to his cousin just diagnosed with cancer. The patience and trust that Milly has for the Lord to care for her brood. The versatility of my colleague who grew to accept things as God has given her. The deep love for God and his word shown by my Romans classmates and my fellow bloggers.

    I have much to learn about praying but I am thankful I have started on my way.

    Picture by Adrian Yee

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    A drink of joy from deathless springs

    I am feeling a bit blue today; not so much because it is a Monday. I guess it is just one of those days - can't be explained.

    Today's pondering is something that cannot be put into words either. JS Bach's "Jesu Son of Man's Desiring" is so captivating I can listen to it forever. It makes me hopeful of the last day, when I can eternally be where the angels sing.

    Embedded mp3 removed - get it here.

    Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
    Holy wisdom, love most bright;
    Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
    Soar to uncreated light.
    Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
    With the fire of life impassioned,
    Striving still to truth unknown,
    Soaring, dying round Thy throne.

    Through the way where hope is guiding,
    Hark, what peaceful music rings;
    Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
    Drink of joy from deathless springs.
    Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
    Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
    Thou dost ever lead Thine own
    In the love of joys unknown.

    Words: Mar­tin Ja­nus, 1661 (Je­sus bleib­et meine Freude, mein­es Herz­ens Trost und Saft); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish prob­ab­ly by Ro­bert S. Bridg­es (1844-1930).Music: Jo­hann Schop (1590-1664); ar­ranged by Jo­hann S. Bach for the chor­us clos­ing his Can­ta­ta 147, 1723 MI­DI, score).

    Todd Frazier recorded the above horn rendition of the piece, where he played all four parts himself.


    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    How lavish his love … but they knew him not.

    I taught Sunday School today with 1 John 3:1 as the memory verse.

    See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God's children — and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (NET)

    1. On the slave metaphor, how marvelous is it that even though we are called to be slaves to God, his love us is lavished on us so greatly that we are called his children. As slaves we are bound by the demand of a master and the gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. As children, we are bound by his love and promised an inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    2. And with regards to the DaVinci Code post, the second portion of the verse rings so true. Let me quote Barnes: “Therefore the world knoweth us not - Does not understand our principles; the reasons of our conduct; the sources of our comforts and joys. The people of the world regard us as fanatics or enthusiasts; as foolish in abandoning the pleasures and pursuits which they engage in; as renouncing certain happiness for that which is uncertain; as cherishing false and delusive hopes in regard to the future, and as practicing needless austerities, with nothing to compensate for the pleasures which are abandoned. There is nothing which the frivolous, the ambitious, and the selfish “less” understand than they do the elements which go into the Christian’s character, and the nature and source of the Christian’s joys. Because it knew him not - It did not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, the world had no right views of the real character of the Lord Jesus when he was on the earth. They mistook him for an enthusiast or an impostor; and it is no wonder that, having wholly mistaken his character, they should mistake ours. On the fact that the world did not know him, see the 1Co_2:8 note; Act_3:17 note. Compare Joh_17:25. On the fact that Christians may be expected to be regarded and treated as their Saviour was, see the notes at Joh_15:18-20. Compare Mat_10:24-25.”

    Picture by Griszka Niewiadomski

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    The Juxtaposition in Rom 6:15-23

    In Romans 6:15-23, Paul presents a rhetorical question, "should we sin since we will be forgiven anyway?" The answer? A definite "no".

    Following that, Paul presents his case using the slave metaphor and in doing so he places it as two sides in juxtaposition of one another:

    oooooooooooooooooooooiiilaw <> grace
    oooooooooooooooiiislave to sin <> slave to obedience
    ooooooooooooooooooooideath <> righteousness
    iislave to impurity & wickedness <> slave to righteousness
    not controlled by righteousness <> controlled by righteousness
    ooooooooooooooooooooooooo<> set free
    ooooooooooooooooooooooooo<> slave to God
    ooooooooooooooooooooooooo<> eternal life
    oooooooooooooooooooiiwages <> gift

    As to the using of slaves as a metaphor, the message may not be that strong for us compared to Paul's time when slavery were practised. Although Paul is no anarchist, he uses the metaphor for the easy understanding of the hearers, but qualifying himself by explaining that he is speaking on humans due to their limitations.

    Slavery implies a person who is totally subjected to the will of another. He does not have a will of his own, but is in control of another person: here is where sin, impurity and wickedness is personified. A person who is a slave to them will be in their total control. On top of that, slavery is for service, they perform work. In this sense, a slave to sin and wickedness would render the person to perform acts "required" by sin and wickedness.

    However, if a person is slave to obedience, righteousness and to God, he will be in total control of these, and doing work that is characteristic of them.

    Take that in light of the parable Jesus told, as recorded in Matthew, it strongly reminds us to be certain of whom we serve, and whose slaves we are.

    "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'
    ~Matt 7:15-23 (ESV)

    Picture by Griszka Niewiadomski

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    A diagrammatic Rom 6:1-11

    Romans 6:1-11 is interesting. It can be seen as a dual layer message - Christ as the foundation of which we rest upon.

    Christ has died, was buried, then raised and now he lives.
    We have died in him, buried through baptism, raised with him and live a new life in him.

    Such is the beauty of life in Christ Jesus.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come ~ 2 Cor 5:17


    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Being a baby about it

    I am suffering from a writing block today. I could not manage to write much at work nor could I seem to articulate what I want to right now. So this could all be gibberish for all I care.

    Basically, there is this choral group opening that I want to take up but somehow or rather the timing is just not right. I could not seem to adjust time on my side for it. This means that I will have to give it up. I am really very unhappy and disappointed for not being able to be a part of it because this is something I really want to do.

    I have to resign to the fact that we do not always get what we want. I mean there are some things we really want, but we accept the fact that it is downright unattainable: to be able to sing like Katharyn McPhee for example, to write and publish prolifically like DA Carson or to work and logic things out like CS Lewis. I am very comfortable with the fact that even though I wish I could do all these, I really do, I am okay with it that I can’t.

    However, there are some things that are so close within reach yet vanishes like a mirage the moment I try to take hold of it; and what I have instead is frustration, anger, disappointment.

    I need some time to come to reality. I know that later in a different perspective, this isn’t even important. I just need to come to terms with it but easier said than done.

    I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. ~ Psa 130:5-6


    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    On Sunday, our pastor fully encourage all of us to watch The Da Vinci Code movie when it comes on screen, stating that we are all strong enough to withstand it. While I agree that we can by all means watch it but I cannot deny that I felt worried too.

    I have read The Da Vinci Code some months ago and being a very forgetful person, I have forgotten most of what I read save the general plotline. I realised this when I was reading Josh McDowell's The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers. I really could not recall much of what was discussed in McDowell's book.

    I wasn't too impressed by The Da Vinci Code anyway though I thought that as fiction, it was pretty engaging. When I say I wasn't too impressed, I was refering to the so-called facts purported by Dan Brown in the book. I also felt quite incredulous when I was reading the last section of the book what I felt was an over-the-top climax.

    However, having finished reading McDowell, I felt I should reread The Da Vinci Code just to relook at those sections where McDowell make references to. And also to see if it is possible to run a short session in church (most probably some weeks after the premier of the movie here on 18th May) both to ensure that the people are not misled and to take the opportunity to teach a bit of apologetics, which is lacking in our church. We have already ordered 50 copies of McDowell's book to be distributed in church this Sunday - taking the opportunity to open the window to some learning in apologetics among the church members.

    Meanwhile, talking about Dan Brown - after reading just 2 of his books, for the remainder 2, I already could easily work out who the bad guy is in no time.


    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Today’s class is postponed. This will give me a little bit more time to go through Romans 4 before class proper.

    I was reading Moo’s commentary on Romans this morning and find it not that easy a read. But it has a very interesting excursus on “Paul, Works of the Law, and First Century Judaism”.

    Reading it through reminded me of what my good friend and Romans classmate once commented: that Luther may be too extreme in arguing for justification by faith alone, and almost doing away completely faith by works. He should have qualified it and included some on justification by works, as Paul did. But could he?

    Given what the church was involved in at that time, I do not see how else could Luther have done it. Just like Paul who was strong in his conviction that justification is by faith, Luther fought for it hoping to undo what the church had done selling faith to the people at large who were biblically illiterate and whose only source of spiritual teaching is the church. However, did circumstances prevent Luther from qualifying his conviction? If Paul can speak and teach both justification by faith and justification by works, what about Luther? Did he do it and if not, would he have done it given the chance?

    Looks like I need a more in-depth history lesson on church reformation, the life of Luther, and his impact and contributions to Christendom.

    Picture by Sean Standish

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Some preparatory work for tomorrow's class on Romans 4.

    The fourth chapter of Romans is where Moo has segregated into the following sections under the main theme of "By Faith Alone: Elaboration with Respect to Abraham"

  • Faith and Works (4:1-8)
  • Faith and Circumcision (4:9-12)
  • Faith, Promise and the Law (4:13-22)
  • The Faith of Abraham and the Faith of the Christian (4:23-25)

    According to Moo, Paul expounds the great theological thesis of 3:21-26 in 3:27-4:25, with 3:27-31 as the Initial Statement.

    In this section, Paul no longer talks about atonement, the demonstration God's righteousness or the provision of sins under the Old Covenant, but about the vital theme stated in v.22, "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe".

    Faith is seen to be the main topic in every part of this section of Romans. It is contrasted with:

  • works of the law (3:28)
  • works (4:1-8)
  • circumcision (4:9-12)
  • the law (4:13-16)
  • sight (4:17-22)

    Paul argues that "by faith alone" is necessary in order to maintain "by grace alone".

    Picture by Bill Davenport