Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Manifestations of God’s Glory: Preparation for Mankind’s Acceptance of the Incarnation

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
 Manifestations of God’s Glory: Preparation for Mankind’s Acceptance of the Incarnation
Submitted to Dr. Daniel Mitchell, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the completion of the course
THEO 626 D01
Doctrine of God
by
Ray Ruppert
December 18, 2015
Table of Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Historical Perspective ...................................................................................................................... 2
God Is One ........................................................................................................................... 2
God Has a Physical Presence ................................................................................................ 3
Influence of Theophanies ......................................................................................... 3
Contribution of Jewish Mysticism ............................................................................ 4
Transition from Temple Glory after the Exile ........................................................... 4
Intertestamental Messianism ..................................................................................... 5
Progression of the Manifestations of God’s Glory ....................................................................... 5
Appearance of God’s Glory to Moses .................................................................................. 6
Appearance of God’s Glory to Isaiah ................................................................................... 7
Appearance of God’s Glory to Ezekiel ................................................................................ 8
Significance of Daniel’s Vision of the Son of Man .............................................................. 8
Relating Jesus to God’s Glory ....................................................................................................... 9
Jesus’ Transfiguration ........................................................................................................... 9
Jesus and God’s Glory in Johannine Scripture ..................................................................... 10
Jesus Is the Image of God .................................................................................................... 10
Application for the Church ............................................................................................................ 12
Deity of Jesus Denied in Current Culture ............................................................................ 12
Revelation of Jesus’ Glory Is Transforming ......................................................................... 13
Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................... 14
Bibliography..................................................................................................................................... 16


Introduction

     God’s glory as represented in physical manifestations before Moses and Israel; Isaiah, and Ezekiel are mysterious and hard to understand especially in light of what the Lords says, “Man shall not see me and live” (Ex 33:20[1]). Appearances in total human form are theophanies, which add to the mystery. This paper will not attempt to explain God’s glory; rather it will focus on the long-range purpose of God’s eventual revealed glory, his incarnation in Jesus Christ. This requires an explanation of Jewish thought because it is evident that they believed God is one and looking upon his glory resulted in death. Examination of several of these appearances will reveal that instead of fatal consequences, these manifestations and other visions provide a progressive revelation of God and his glory. Intertestamental mysticism, messianic speculation, and apocryphal writing further affected the Jewish concept of God’s nature, which helped Jesus’ disciples more readily accept the Messiah to be more than just an anointed representative of God but the Son of God. Examination of New Testament references to Jesus’ glory and his being the “radiance of the glory of God” (Heb 1:3) will demonstrate that the authors accepted Jesus as the Son of God in part because of the Old Testament manifestations of God’s glory. The current state of the church is in peril as it often presents Jesus as only a prophet, teacher, or an example to follow. Reflecting on God’s plan in history to reveal himself in the incarnate Jesus restores the deity of Jesus. It renews the awe for the incarnation as God prepared his people to accept himself in human form. This should inspire greater worship of our Lord Jesus. This paper will use these historical perspectives, exegesis of relevant Scripture, and theological reflection, arguing that manifestations of God’s glory in the Old Testament prepared mankind to accept God’s glory in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The church needs reminding that this progression of revelation resulted in salvation and Jesus living in its members. With transformed lives, the church can renew its worship of Jesus because he is the radiance of God’s glory living in the church.

Historical Perspective

     Justin Martyr clearly taught that Jesus was the one who appeared in the burning bush, fire, and angels (1 Apol 63). Some in the early church, however, were more concerned whether the appearance is a vision or is physical. According to Bucur, Augustine believed that theophanies were real angelic beings but the Word of God was in those manifestations when they spoke as God.[2] Bucur also asserts, “The exegesis of Old Testament theophanies is a crucial element in early Christianity’s process of theological self-definition.”[3] His interpretation of Clement is that theophanies may have been Jesus channeling himself through an angelic representation.[4] While it is evident that early Christians identified the Son of God with most appearances of God’s glory, current scholars are often in disagreement.[5]

God Is One

     Israel had the clear command from God to understand that he is one (Deut 6:4) in contrast to the pagan nations around them. Additionally, his declaration to Moses that man cannot see his face and live (Ex 33:20) must have been very confusing for Israel to understand how God could appear to Abraham in bodily form, converse with him, eat with him, and even argue for sparing Sodom (Gen 18:1-33). The use of ’ĕlŏhîm, the plural name for God when the singular was also available,[6] either planted the seed for belief that God had a physical body along with his spiritual presence or was ignored. The former would help formulate and accept a physical Messiah.

God Has a Physical Presence

     God’s physical presence in theophanies and his several glorious appearances reiterate the fact that God is capable of making himself known in physical forms. Whether it was to Abraham, Moses, or the whole of Israel in the cloud (Ex 16:10), these manifestations probably led later ancient Israelites to believe some could see God under unordinary circumstances.[7] This developed into some rather astounding conclusions about God including attempts to assign specific measurements to different parts of his body.[8]

Influence of Theophanies

     The very idea that God can appear physically is at the heart of Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation. Two significant reason that God must stoop to man’s level and accommodate his being to enable mankind to view some essence or representation of himself is founded on his omnipresence and existence as a spirit (especially in the Old Testament before the incarnation).[9] His progressive accommodation, especially in the visions of Ezekiel, is instrumental in providing the impetus for Jewish mysticism and intertesamental development of who the Messiah would be.[10]

Contribution of Jewish Mysticism

     Merkabah, also known as throne visions,[11] is a Jewish mystical system that first appeared approximately 100 BC. Adherents focus on attempts to see the Shekinah, “The majestic presence or manifestation of God which has descended to ‘dwell’ among men.”[12] In opposition to Exodus 33:20, they supposed it was possible to see God[13] even though this belief was not universally accepted. The Apocalypse of Abraham, because its vision of God was not anthropomorphic, was “a polemic against anthropomorphism.”[14] However, this validated that before the arrival of Jesus Christ, some people adhered to the possibility of seeing God in human form.

Transition from Temple Glory after the Exile

     The Shekinah departed from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek 11:23). While Ezekiel saw his return (Ezek 43:1-5), this was also in a vision. The Bible does not record any incident of God’s glory returning to the temple after its reconstruction in the same fashion as it did at the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chron 7:1). Because God’s presence among men was no longer in the temple as it had been, the Spirit depicted the presence of God among his people better than any other concept. The Second Temple period was devoid of God’s manifest presence, which heightened the expectation of the Messiah. When the Spirit descended on Jesus, it was a representation of God coming to his people in his temple not built by hands (Mark 14:58; John 2:19). “Wherever Jesus’ body is present, Jesus mediates the presence of God through the Spirit.”[15]

Intertestamental Messianism

     The intertestamental period produced many writings categorized as Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Some described the coming Messiah in varying terms as God and man who is both high priest and king.[16] Other representations of the Messiah were simply a “divinely endowed being … or coming of a god in human form on earth.”[17] Others believed that there would be a series of Messiahs who would take on the various roles of “Priest, Prophet, King, Son of Man, Son of God, Servant.”[18] Speculation of the Messiah’s coming was divergent but the impact of previous Old Testament appearances planted the seed with some that the Messiah would be God in human form.

Progression of the Manifestations of God’s Glory

     Theophanies acquired various forms in the Old Testament but the ones that represented his glory in Exodus 34:5, Isaiah 6:1, Ezekiel 1:26-27 and Daniel 7:9 increasingly demonstrate the progress of these theophanies by including anthropomorphic representations of God. The vision of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9 and the presentation of “one like the son of man” (Dan 7:13) who was then given glory is perhaps the most significant.

Appearance of God’s Glory to Moses

     God first appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:1-6. In comparison to other manifestations of his glory, this was almost commonplace. Yet, Moses was afraid to look at the Lord. The description of the angel of the Lord in a bush that burned without consuming the bush seems almost insignificant in comparison to Exodus 19:16-20 where God dramatically appeared on Mount Sinai with thunder, lightning, trumpet sounds, quaking, thick smoke, and fire. Moses ascended the mountain at God’s calling. Later, Moses took along seventy-three others, elders of Israel, and they all saw the Lord but Moses only described the sapphire pavement beneath his feet (Ex 24:9-11). This appearance is also in stark contrast to Exodus 33:20 where God says, “No man shall not see me and live.” Commentaries do not elaborate on why these people were able to see God in this glorious representation without being killed.[19] However, Calvin saw this as an advancement of God’s accommodation because they had refrained from attempting to see God for themselves until he called them.[20]
     The pinnacle of Moses’ encounters with God and his glory occurs in Exodus 33:17-23 and 34:5-8. In response to God’s commendation, Moses asks to see his glory. Some have called this an impious request because it would be a revelation of God’s self-knowledge, something that only the Spirit of God can know (1 Cor 2:11).[21] However, if the Westminster Shorter Catechism is right, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever,” then asking to see God’s glory and know him more personally[22] is the most acceptable response to being in God’s presence. In response to Moses’ request, God related his face to his full glory (Ex 33:18, 20). He also responded not only by elaborating on his nature, but also by revealing more anthropomorphic characteristics that cannot be directly associated to his nature. When the time came, God descended in a cloud and stood with Moses (Ex 34:5). His hand covered Moses protecting him from an inappropriate view of God but removing it so that Moses could see his back (Ex 33:22). He revealed his nature in words[23] but these increased depictions of physical characteristics do not appear to add anything to understanding his nature. Rather, they express something that anticipates a future revelation.

Appearance of God’s Glory to Isaiah

     Isaiah’s vision of God’s glory at first appears to be a reversal in revealing any new physical descriptions of God. It depicts him on a throne being “lofty and exalted” (Isa 6:1 NASU) while the train of his robe fills the temple. The imagery clearly conceives a person though there is no further description of his glory. Rather, the seraphim and their activities consume the description of the remaining passage. The importance of this theophany is the reference to the throne. This throne reference appears several times in Psalms and as Justin Martyr identified these with Jesus, so Isaiah and the Psalms strengthens the association of theophanies with the coming Messiah.[24] In Psalm 47:8, God rules the nations from his throne. Several Psalms refer to his throne as the foundation of his justice and judgment (Ps 9:4, 7, 97:2), which enhance the messianic role.

Appearance of God’s Glory to Ezekiel

     The manifestation of God’s glory to Ezekiel is perhaps one of the most dramatic appearances in the Bible other than when he came to Mount Sinai. While the description of God is brief in contrast to the account of his approach and the heavenly beings who support his throne, it develops the image of God in greater detail than any previous appearance (Ezek 1:4-28).[25] The striking part of the description is that Ezekiel describes God having “a likeness with a human appearance” (Ezek 1:26). Even though engulfed in fire from his waist upward and downward, no vision to this point presented God in this manner. Previous theophany appearances to Abraham (Gen 18:2) and Jacob (Gen 32:24), although recorded as men, were not associated with God’s glory. Ezekiel’s descriptions are foundational to descriptions found in Daniel.

Significance of Daniel’s Vision of the Son of Man

     The details of Daniel’s vision (Dan 7:9-10) contain several of the same elements of Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s throne visions. The Ancient of Days’ throne is described comprising fiery wheel similar to the emphasis on the wheels in Ezekiel. Corresponding to Isaiah, God is clothed this time all in white. A new description also includes his hair like pure wool. These would be enough to categorize the vision along with Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s showing a greater anthropomorphic revelation. However, the significant vision relating specifically to Jesus follows as “one like a son of man” (Dan 7:13-14) is ushered into the presence of the Lord. Like other visions, he approaches with clouds. The astonishing culmination occurs when he receives glory when all people and nations serve him and he receives an eternal kingdom. Since God does not share his glory with another (Isa 48:11), the clear implication is that this “son of man” must in some fashion also be God. This establishes the hallmark of the Messiah being both God and man. This is a significant influence on the Gospel of John.[26]

Relating Jesus to God’s Glory

     These manifestations of God’s glory, especially the later ones, increased in anthropomorphism. The intertestamental period accelerated speculation about the Messiah and prepared those who were willing, to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus’ followers had to overcome any latent hesitations about Jesus being both God and man. The Gospels are replete with demonstrations of his deity, but only a few will suffice to show that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory.

Jesus’ Transfiguration

     God ultimately granted Moses’ request to see his face when he appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:2-3) with Jesus. For Paul said that the knowledge of the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6). Jesus’ face shone with light as bright as the sun and his clothes became white as light. As Peter spoke, a cloud overshadowed them and they heard the voice of God (Matt 17:5). They could not escape perceiving the correlation of Jesus’ appearance with the visions of Isaiah and Daniel concluding, “That Jesus is the embodiment of the theophanic Glory of God revealed in the Old Testament.”[27]

Jesus and God’s Glory in Johannine Scripture

     John directly appeals to Merkabah mysticism when he quotes Jesus in John 1:51. The Merkabah mystics sought a vision of God looking for the heavens to open for them. He alludes to their mystical viewpoint proposing that to see the glory of God, they need to see the Son of Man, who represents “Yahweh and the ladder of Jacob’s vision.”[28]
     However, John invalidates one of the intertestamental concepts of the Messiah coming as the conquering king with his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey (John12:13-16). Jesus demonstrates that his kingdom will be peace and salvation after the crowd has already declared that he is the king of Israel. Jesus’ glorification will not be through conquest and displays of human power, but through the cross and manifestation of God’s power in his resurrection as Jesus stipulates and the Father affirms in John 12:23-28.[29]
     The throne visions of God in his glory all incorporate an environment encompassing the throne with angelic beings, fire, and light while he sits on the throne robed in splendor. The glory of Jesus on the cross is the exact opposite. He was stripped naked, bleeding and dying, he is surrounded by enemies, “strong bulls of Bashan” (Ps 22:12), and in darkness. Yet nailed above his throne (the cross) was the declaration of his irrevocable kingship (John 19:19). This reversal of symbolism is potent in persuading any seeking to see God’s glory to identify Jesus as God incarnate.[30]

Jesus Is the Image of God

     While the Gospel demonstrated that Jesus is the incarnation of God, even drawing on allusions or direct reference to theophanies, Paul and the author of Hebrews taught explicitly that Jesus is the image of God. This is the culmination of the progressive revelation through the manifestations of his glory as well as all Scripture. In the past, humanity expected to see God only in visions but these authors reveal that seeing Jesus is seeing the glory of God. They amplify Jesus’ words, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
     Regarding Jesus, Paul states, “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). God, who is spirit (John 4:24) was previously visible only to a select few and then only in mysterious veiled surroundings. Paul unequivocally states that Jesus is the image of an invisible person, God. It is problematic to envision an invisible person, let alone, God. However, Paul directs all those who were seeking a vision of God on his throne well as everyone who comes after them to Jesus. While it may elude humanity how this is possible, God provided intimation that this would be the case in his revelation to Moses and throne manifestations.[31]
The author of Hebrews affirmed the same concept, as did Paul. God’s glory radiates from Jesus (Heb 1:3). John Piper says, “Exod 33:19cd is a solemn declaration of the nature of God’s glory.”[32] God’s glory is his ultimate purpose and he would never do anything to detract from his glory.[33] So, declaring that Jesus is not only the radiance of his glory but “the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3), provides a significant emphasis that any anthropomorphic descriptions of God points to the ultimate revelation of his glory in Jesus.

Application for the Church

     The Christian church in America is significantly heterogeneous in doctrine and practice. The deity of Jesus is one element at the heart of this predicament resulting in doctrines denying the need for salvation. Reviewing how God has revealed himself with the understanding that his plan includes his incarnation in Jesus Christ reestablishes Jesus’ deity and salvation through him. This strengthens the church with people who are truly in God’s family. Looking to Jesus’ glory is transforming for individuals and therefore, the church.

Deity of Jesus Denied in Current Culture

     Barna Research reveals that 56 percent of Americans believe Jesus is God, but only 24 percent believe he was sinless.[34] This is a remarkable revelation. While many people may believe Jesus to be God, their concept of what that means is foreign to the biblical concept of God’s nature. This paper has argued that the manifestations of God’s glory were in part a preparation to reveals his glory in Jesus. Even a cursory study of the Old Testament reveals the holiness of God for he says, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:45). The manifestation of God on his throne reveals his holiness as the seraphim call out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:3). Certainly, the repeated declaration of God’s holiness during his display of glory should be convincing of his sinlessness. Since these manifestations point forward to Jesus as the representation of his being, Jesus’ deity should include his sinlessness.
     Regardless of the opinion polls, numerous churches do not uphold the deity of Jesus. Modern critics who read John 10:30 to mean only that Jesus and the Father had one purpose[35] motivate these churches to deny Christ’s deity. Reflection on God’s glory and revelation of himself, knowing that his appearances prefigured the coming of the Messiah, refutes these critics. There is no reason that God, who is a spirit, would provide anthropomorphic visions to his people if they did not convey meaning beyond symbols of his nature. The opening of this paper explained that God is one. He also prohibited construction of any images of himself (Ex 20:4). It is unexplainable why he would tempt Israel to make images by providing limited vision of a human personage.
     An imprecise understanding of Jesus’ deity and his sinlessness results in doctrines in which Jesus cannot possibly be Savior. He had to be God so that his sacrifice was sufficient and he had to be sinless otherwise his sacrifice would have only covered his own sin.

Revelation of Jesus’ Glory Is Transforming

     “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). When Moses entered the tent of meeting without a veil to talk with God face to face, it was a foreshadowing of the time when every Christian would have the privilege of seeing the glory of God.[36] Israel is hardened so that when they read the Old Testament, they are unable to see the glory of God and relate it to Jesus (2 Cor 3:14). This implies that though we do not see Jesus physically at this time, we can see him and his glory when we read the Bible. As the Old Testament revealed Jesus incompletely but more fully in the New Testament, so the church has the advantage over the saints of the Old Testament to see his glory more fully. When we read of the theophanies and the throne manifestations of his glory, we gain the assurance that God has indeed become incarnate in Jesus and in this way, we behold the glory of Jesus.[37]
     Now, the light of Jesus living in us transforms our being. In essence, Jesus’ life is manifested in our bodies (2 Cor 4:10). The transformation is inward as we are being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16). Becoming Christians, we put off the old and put on the new self “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). The church can meditate on the glory of God manifested in the Old Testament that anticipated the incarnation and the glory of Jesus. We can observe our salvation and forgiveness then extend this to others demonstrating his glory shining out from us. The result should be transformed lives and magnified worship of Jesus and God the Father.

Conclusion

I     n accordance with Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation and the progressive revelation of God from the beginning of the Bible to the end, the manifestations of God’s glory with increasing anthropomorphic qualities prepared the eventual arrival of the Son of God incarnate in Jesus Christ. This preparation was necessary because God first had to remove the concepts of multiple gods in the images of men and animals from their thinking. Yet he had to communicate with his people and start the process of revealing the future Messiah who would come as a human being. He accomplished this by gradually adding human characteristics to his throne visions. Some during the intertestamental times exaggerated these appearances and sought to replicate these visions in their personal devotions. Others developed implausible measurements of God’s body. Still others misunderstood the purpose of the Messiah’s first advent. However, these excesses or misdirections serve to prove that God’s intent was to prepare people to accept Jesus as the incarnation of God. This is evident throughout the Gospels as the disciples recognized Jesus as one with the Father. The rest of the New Testament clarifies that Jesus is indeed the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). There is no more appropriate response for people than to receive salvation through Jesus Christ, live transformed lives, and glorify him in worship.

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[1] Scripture in this paper is from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2001), Biblesoft.
[2] Bogdan G. Bucur, “Theophanies and Vision of God in Augustine's de Trinitate: An Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” St Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 52, no. 1 (2008): 70, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 20, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?
[3] Bogdan G. Bucur, “Clement of Alexandria's Exegesis of Old Testament Theophanies,” Phronema 29, no. 1 (2014): 61, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 20, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLAn3770939&site=ehost-live&scope=sit.
[4] Ibid., 75.
[5] J. C. Moyer, “Theophany,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 1190.
[6] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him: the Doctrine of God, (Wheaton. Ill: Crossway, 2006), 418-419, Kindle.
[7] Ira Chernus, “Visions of God in Merkabah Mysticism,” Journal For The Study Of Judaism In The Persian, Hellenistic And Roman Period 13, no. 1-2 (December 1982): 125, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 14, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000929729&site=ehost-live&scope=sit,.
[8] Guy G. Stroumsa, “Form(s) of God: Some Notes on Metatron and Christ,” Harvard Theological Review 60, no. 3 (July 1983): 276, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 29, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000947541&site=ehost-live&scope=sit,.
[9] Michael H Kibbe, “'Present and Accommodated For': Calvin's God on Mount Sinai.,” Journal of Theological Interpretation 7, no. 1 (2013): 117, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost accessed November 20, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001941544&site=ehost-live&scope=sit.
[10] Vries, Pieter de, "Ezekiel: Prophet of the Name and Glory of YHWH–The Character of His Book and Several of Its Main Themes," Journal Of Biblical And Pneumatological Research 4, (September 2012): 108, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 1, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001947517&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[11] Jey J. Kanagaraj, “Jesus the King, Merkabah Mysticism and the Gospel of John,” Tyndale Bulletin 47, no. 2 (November 1996): 364, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost. Accessed November 19, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001016854&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[12] Kaufmann Kohler and Ludwig Blau, eds., Jewish Encyclopedia (West Conshohocken: JewishEncyclopedia.com, 2011), s.v. “Shekinah,” accessed December 11, 2015, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13537-shekinah.
[13] Chernus, 141.
[14] Ibid., 125.
[15] Joseph R. Greene, “The Spirit in the Temple: Bridging the Gap between Old Testament Absence and New Testament Assumption.,” Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 50, no. 4 ((December 2012): 718, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 17, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001932475&site=ehost-live&scope=sit.
[16] David A. DeSilva, “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs as Witnesses to Pre-Christian Judaism: A Re-Assessment,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 23, no. 1 (2013): 58, accessed October 24, 2014, http://jsp.sagepub.com/content/23/1/21.
[17] Cullen I. K. Story, “What Kind of Messiah Did the Jews Expect?,” Bibliotheca Sacra 104, no. 60 (October 1947): 488, accessed December 11, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/bsac104-416-09.
[18] Ralph W. Klein, “Aspects of Intertestamental Messianism,” Concordia Theological Monthly 43, no. 8 (September 1972): 507-17, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost. Accessed November 14, 2015. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000732130&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[19] Kibbe, 124.
[20] Kibbe, 125.
[21] Thomas N. Smith, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Final Revelation of God,” Reformation and Revival 8, no. 4 (Fall 1999): 30, accessed October 27, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/rar08-4-03.
[22] J. Carl Laney, "God's Self-revelation in Exodus 34:6-8, " Bibliotheca Sacra 158, no. 629 (January 2001): 39. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed October 27, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001281252&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[23] Ibid., 43.
[24] Bogdan G Bucur, “Justin Martyr's Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies and the Parting of the Ways between Christianity and Judaism,” Theological Studies 75, no. 1 (March 2014): 44, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed November 20, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001980315&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[25] Vries, 106.
[26] Peter W. Ensor, “The Glorification of the Son of Man: An Analysis of John 13:31-32,” Tyndale Bulletin 58, no. 2 (2007): 237-238, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost, accessed October 29, 2015, http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001659010&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[27] Meredith G. Kline, “Primal Parousia,” Westminster Theological Journal 40, no. 2 (Spring 1978): 271, accessed December 10, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/wtj40-2-03.
[28] Kanagaraj, 351-352.
[29] Ibid., 353-354.
[30] Ibid., 361.
[31] Kibbe, 130.
[32] John Piper, “Prolegomena to Understanding Romans 9:14-15 an Interpretation of Exodus 33:19,” Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 20, no. 3 ((September 1979): 215, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost. Accessed November 16, 2015. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000774460&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
[33] Tom Austin, “The Glory of God,” Reformation and Revival 4, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 42, accessed October 27, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/.
[34] David Kinnaman and Roxanne Stone, “What Do Americans Believe About Jesus,” Barna, April 1, 2015, accessed December 9, 2015, https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/714-what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs#.Vmhd5bgrKt8https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/714-what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs#.Vmhd5bgrKt8.
[35] John A. Witmer, “Did Jesus Claim to Be God,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no. 498 (1968): 153, accessed December 15, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/bsac125-498-07.
[36] Mark R. Stevenson, “Holiness through Beholding the Glory of Christ: A Meditation On 2 Corinthians 3:18,” Emmaus Journal 21, no. 1 (Summer 2012): 62, accessed October 27, 2015, http://www.galaxie.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/article/emj21-1-04.
[37] Stevenson, 66.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sensible People Are Dignified – Titus 2:6-8

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (NASB)

Sensible Young Men
What does it mean to be sensible? Several versions say it is to be self-controlled. Others say it is to be sober-minded. Then there are a few other versions with other translations. But looking up the Greek word and where it is used elsewhere reveals what many older people think about most young men even in this culture – they are crazy and Paul is urging them to be sane. The word is soofroneoo which means, “to be of sound mind, (a) to be in one's right mind: [used in ] Mark 5:15. (b) to exercise self-control (1) to put a moderate estimate upon oneself, think of oneself soberly: (2) to curb one's passions, [used in] Titus 2:6.”[1]

The word is only used in six verses. The first is, “And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid” (Mark 5:15 ESV). The same incident in Luke 8:35 uses the same word. While demon-possessed, the man had been out of his mind. He had no self-control. In Romans 12:3, Paul urges everyone not to think too much about oneself but to “think with sober judgment.” In 2 Corinthians 5:13 Paul uses the word again in the sense of not being crazy. “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (ESV). Beside ourselves could be translated crazy or out of our minds. Right mind is again the word soofroneoo. And then Peter also uses the word in 1 Peter 4:7 where he says, “Be self-controlled and sober-minded” (ESV). If soofroneoo were translated sober-minded, it would read, “Be sober-minded and sober-minded” as Peter uses a different Greek word for sober-minded. What does all this prove? Not much, but it is interesting to see how closely the word is used in opposition to erratic behavior that stems from the mind and lack of self-control. Perhaps it proves that this is more serious than just being sensible.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV)

When it comes to sanity and self-control, Christianity has the corner on the market. Going back to the Greek reveals that the word for sound mind is a form of soofroneoo. In this case it is soofronismos,[2] a call to a sound mind or self-control. Where does insanity or a lack of self-control come from? In this verse it is related to fear. In the context of Second Timothy, it looks like Timothy may have been fearful of what other people thought about him, his faith and his association with Paul who was a now a prisoner. The craziness comes when someone feels an overwhelming desire to protect himself because he can’t deal with reality. There are many other reasons for people to act insanely such as wanting something so bad that they are willing to sin to get it. Think about the many reasons people have violent tempers. While we don’t usually call it insanity, it is certainly a lack of self-control. Foolishness and sanity are often linked and “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Prov 29:11 NLT). Modern psychology doesn’t have the answer as it once advised, if does not still continue to do so, to vent your anger.

The answer in is God’s power and God’s love to overcome the fears and craziness that often abound because we either do not trust God, use His power to overcome, or experience and reflect His love. I mentioned Paul’s use of being out of his mind above (2 Corinthians 5:13), but I must follow up here as we can see from the next two verses how God’s love works. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14-15 NKJV). These verses explain how Jesus’ love working in us keeps us from being crazy because we are no longer focused on ourselves but on each other. It is really hard to be crazy when you care for other before yourself.

Good Deeds
Look back at Titus 2:7 where the result of being sensible is, “A model of good deeds” (RSV). Some people grow tired of doing good deeds. They want to get out and have some fun. Unfortunately, that kind of fun usually results in regrets the next day, because of either personal consequences or having fun at the expense of others. Paul told the Galatians, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:9-10 NASB). Which is more sensible? Having worldly fun or the pleasure of seeing others helped in some way. What we reap by doing good not only benefits our souls now but it is storing up treasures for eternity.

Jesus promised rewards for those who performed acts of kindness to His disciples (Matt 10:42; 25:34-40). On the other hand, he also predicted eternal punishment for those who ignored the needs of others, especially Christians (Matt 25:41-46). Hosea 10:12-14 is clear as God commanded Israel, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love” (vs. 12 ESV), but follows it with a description of what happens when people are not sensible but trusting in their own ways. The result is war and destruction.

Teaching
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (2 Cor 2:17 NIV)

The way we are to teach is a topic Paul often hits. In Titus, he provides three qualities for doctrines or teaching. Teaching must first be pure, then dignified, and sound in speech. Purity may relate to the topic of doctrine meaning that it is not corrupt or false. It could also mean as 2 Corinthians 2:17 says, the motivation is to be pure. They are both related. If the motivation is for profit, then the doctrine will likely be distorted to what people want to hear instead of what God wants taught. This would fit with the ESV and NIV translation that the teaching should be done with integrity. Integrity would also include the idea that it wasn’t done shabbily, without proper preparation and study. Too many preachers have an idea that they can just “wing it.”

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29 NASU adds “of the moment”)

Being dignified in teaching is another matter. A teacher doesn’t have to come across as stuffy but teachers should be careful in the way they present doctrine. It can’t be flippant or peppered with so many jokes that the main point is lost. I’ve heard some preachers work through a very serious passage that has eternal consequences on a person’s soul or serious reflection on living a godly life. Then they ruin the moment with a flippant comment that makes the audience laugh or snicker. When the Holy Spirit is working on a person’s heart that moment is a time to be dignified.

Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. (Matt 12:13 NKJV)

What does this verse have to do with sound speech? The NLT tends to translate passages like Titus 2:8 according to its own bent so that alternate thoughts are stifled. It says, “Teach the truth.” However, the word that Paul uses to describe speech as sound[3] is only used in the New Testament in relation to healings where the person is made whole or healthy. Applying this word to speech implies that the presentation of the doctrine should be whole or healthy. While truth is certainly part of that, Paul already covered that when saying the doctrine must be pure. Here, we should look for additional, not redundant meaning. Like a hand that is made whole, speech that is sound would include completeness. A big issue with false teachers is that they generally camp on a single topic or issue and don’t teach the whole Word of God.

In context, the soundness of speech (along with purity and dignity) is related to being beyond reproach so that opponents will have nothing bad to say. Have you ever heard someone say or write something that should have been profound but it was so full of grammatical or spelling error it made you wonder if he really was qualified to make a reasonable statement about the subject? While I don’t want to imply that everyone must have advanced degrees to be able to teach or preach as God has used ordinary people like Billy Bray. However, this is usually the exception. I also don’t want to point fingers at others because of my own deficiencies in the area of grammar and spelling (I thank God for a good spelling and grammar checker in Microsoft Word). However, the point is that I don’t want to be so sloppy as to turn people away from what I have to say or write.

Nothing Bad to Say
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. (Phil 2:14-15 NLT)

Being dignified and having soundness of speech relate to this verse along with all the other characteristics of a Christians that Paul expressed in Titus. No one likes to be around someone who is complaining or arguing. This goes on and on until it wears people down. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov 12:18 RSV). It is hard enough to be around negative people when they don’t know the Lord, but it is especially irritating if they are Christians. Sometimes I think that unbelievers are even more sensitive about Christians who are obnoxious than we are. We want to extend grace to a believer who is acting poorly but others seem to know that insufferable Christians should know better and get their act together. Besides, it gives them reason to excuse their own behavior, tear down all Christians, and do their best at preventing others to become Christians.

Whether young or old, men or women, Paul’s advice to Titus applies just as well to each of us. A lot depends on how the world sees us as Christians. We don’t act sanely or dignified to impress people, but to please our Lord.



[1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, s.v. “NT: 4993,” (Biblesoft: 2006), Electronic Database.
[2] Ibid., s.v. “NT: 4995.”
[3] Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, s.v.” NT:5199” (Thomas Nelson, 1985).   Hugies (cf. Eng., "hygiene") is used especially in the Gospels of making sick folk "whole," Matt 12:13; 15:31; Mark 3:5; 5:34; Luke 6:10; John 5:4,6,9,11,14,15; 7:23; also Acts 4:10; of "sound (speech)," Titus 2:8, Biblesoft.