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Gospel Questions XIV
 

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Question #1:

John 1:14, 18. Please could you explain this "only begotten"? I think I read something you wrote about it but I don't remember anymore. When the Scriptures talk about Jesus as Son or Begotten, that does not refer to His Deity, does it?

Response #1:

No, this is a translation of the Hebrew yachidh which means "one and only", "special", "unique"; link

Question #2:

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
John 1:51 NKJV

What does our Lord mean here? Is this a reference to the ladder In Jacob's dream?

Response #2:

When he saw the angels ascending and descending, Jacob was on the earth-side of this portal from heaven to earth; but our Lord's words to Nathaniel refer to being the heaven-side when the heavens open at the second advent (that is where Nathaniel will eventually be); and in regard to what our Lord says to His inquisitors prior to the cross, that refers to His return to earth from the heaven-side at the second advent – when all such unbelievers will see His glorious return and run for cover (Lk.23:30; Rev.6:16).

Question #3:

What does our Lord mean here?

Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
John 2:4 NKJV

Response #3:

From "Q/A on John":

The time of our Lord's earthly ministry, though now at hand, had not yet officially begun. The purpose of His miracles was to demonstrate the truth of the gospel message He was giving, after all. But this was not an occasion where He would be preaching repentance and the coming kingdom (Matt.4:17). That would begin after John was put in prison (Matt.4:12; Mk.1:14; Lk.4:14) and after our Lord moved His earthly family from Nazareth to Capernaum (Jn.2:12; cf. Matt.4:13).

Question #4:

Does John mean here that this was our Lord's first miracle?

This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
John 2:11 NKJV

Response #4:

From "Q/A on John" where the NIV Study Bible poorly addresses this issue:

The note is attempting to explain the use of the word "sign" (Gk. semeion), but insufficiently so (i.e., all miracles and signs demonstrate God's supernatural power, His grace is behind everything He does, and redemption, the deliverance of mankind from sin, is the point of the incarnation of Christ and the plan of God as a whole vis-à-vis mankind – but combining them in the way the note does not only does not explain what this "sign" is unique but also manages to obfuscate the other terms in the process). As to the meaning of "the beginning of His signs" as explained in the NIV SB, I think rather that the explanation John gives in contradistinction to what he had said before sums up the meaning. That is to say, this was not "His hour" so that the sign/miracle was not an official part of the preaching of the kingdom – that would begin very shortly after this wedding as discussed in the previous Q/A. However, it was very clearly a "manifestation of His glory", that is, a demonstration of His status as the Messiah and the Son of God, and this was apparently the first time He had done so publicly so that His disciples could witness it. The words "sign" and "miracle" (or "power", Gk. dynamis) are essentially synonyms as used in the New Testament. The only (occasionally observable) difference is that the former is more often used of something done publicly and thus "seen far and wide" (as in this instance where everyone at the feast see it and all the disciples realize who did it), whereas the latter may be applied to supernatural acts done privately which only one person or a few persons may see (as when our Lord tells certain individuals He has healed not to reveal who did it). The two words overlap in most actual usage, however: the accomplishment by our Lord of something that no one who was not empowered by God in an unprecedented way could possibly do. Everything our Lord does and says is "miraculous", after all, but "miracles" and "signs" are indisputable indications that He is who He says He is, even for those who in their hardness of hearts refuse to accept Him.

Question #5:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3 NKJV

This is an example of Jesus answering in the perfect way without wasting words, isn't it? He was answering what Nicodemus was really there about, not just what he had just said, right, Sir?

Response #5:

Indeed! And notice all our Lord's references to darkness vs. light . . . and N' came to Him "at night" – which showed that he was not yet willing to commit to the truth (not wanting to be seen with the Lord of light!), and that is driven home directly by our Lord.

Question #6:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness."
John 3:11 NKJV

Who is the "we" here?

Response #6:

"We" is Jesus and anyone else (as N') who fits this principle of "speaking what is known by them"; in other words, this applies to everyone: you can only teach what you actually know.

Question #7:

John 4:6. What was the sixth hour? Noon Jewish time or 6pm Roman time? How should we read statements like this one in the Gospels?

Response #7:

Even in Rome the situation is not as many commentaries et al. assume. The sixth hour and the seventh hour are divided by the sun being at its apex, so the sixth hour ends at "high noon" in solar terms.

Question #8:

John 4:7 - 26. This whole conversation between our Lord and the Samaritan woman at the well seems like a dance, as if our Lord was deliberately leading her to the Gospel. I guess He would have been in any case but it just feels like one is only hearing half of what was actually said because of so many missing links or something. For example, I can't tell if the woman was trying to mock Jesus when she asked Him to give her the living water so that she wouldn't come all that way to draw. It seems to me as if it should be obvious that she was but then our Lord tells her to go call her husband (why though?) and come to which she says that she has no husband. The response feels a little weird to me since they were talking about water just now. But it isn't weird, is it? Maybe something about the culture makes it necessary for her husband to be there for Jesus to give her living water? And I wonder, does verse 29 suggest that much more was said than was recorded?

Response #8:

Our Lord knew precisely what piece of information would cause the woman to recognize that He was who He was, and He deploys that information in the perfect way. A good lesson. Even if people appear to be behaving in ways that to us seem to indicate a lack of faith, God knows the true heart of everyone – and precisely how to reach it if it is willing to be reached. In our case, we give the truth of the gospel, and the Spirit knows just how to reach the person in question with the truth (cf. Rom.8:26-27), if willing.

Question #9:

John 4:37 - 38. Could you explain this to me, Sir?

"For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."
John 4:37-38 NKJV

Response #9:

Specifically, our Lord had done the work in leading this woman to the truth, and she did the work in leading the others in this town to the truth, but the disciples entered into the work in helping after this point (with clarification, others who hadn't heard, and providing more truth for spiritual growth). This demonstrates the "team effort" of the Body of Christ in our day as well. We need to remember that whenever we bump into someone who needs the gospel or who is a believer and needs the truth, there is already "history" which the Lord has superintended – beginning with bringing them to God-consciousness when they were much younger.

Question #10:

John 5:3-4. Are the ending of verse 3 and the whole of verse 4 where it says that the paralyzed man was "waiting for the moving of the waters" and about the angel stirring up the waters so that the waters had healing properties part of the Bible?

Response #10:

No. It's a gloss added later by accident or possibly intentionally. Clearly, that is not the way God does things (even though the RC church certainly thinks so).

Question #11:

John 5:27: "and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man". What does this mean? That God's appointed Judge must be human? Why is that?

Response #11:

The perfect Judge for believers and unbelievers both is the One who is both God and a human being, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only One in all creation who is a fit Mediator as having a share in each.  He has always been God; He knows what it is to be a human being and to walk through this world (as the only One who ever did it perfectly).

Question #12:

John 6:64: "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.". I've been thinking about the discussion you had about Judas Iscariot and whether or not he was ever a believer. This verse seems to me to say something about that. I am not sure but it seems to me as if John is saying here that those who did not believe included the one who would betray him. I am not sure because it seems to me as if the language here can also be interpreted to say that our Lord knew those who did not believe and He also knew who would betray Him whether that person did believe at any point or not. How should we understand this verse, Sir? Further, it seems that verse 70 stands firmly in favor of the first interpretation. Is that correct, Sir?

Response #12:

The "not" is not actually part of scripture here (not in e.g., Sinaiticus) so that our Lord is breaking things down to the essential categories here: 1) the believers; the Greek says "those who were believers"; and 2) the betrayer – who is not part of the first category and thus not a believer.

Question #13:

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.
John 7:1 NKJV

This seems to me an indication that our Lord did not take unnecessary risks even though He had the power to deliver Himself out of any danger. Can we say that this was a practical example of His instruction that we should be as shrewd as serpents?

Response #13:

Yes; nicely done.

Question #14:

His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
John 7:3-4 NKJV

This seems to me a temptation just like when Satan told our Lord to take a leap off of the pinnacle of the Temple since the angels were under command to protect Him. He is in this case using Jesus's legitimate ministry to tempt Him into a reckless action, isn't He?

Response #14:

Yes. From John Questions:

Our Lord was ministering openly daily but He was speaking in parables and not parhesia, "freely" in Greek – precisely because almost no one of "this generation", including His brothers, was willing to accept the truth. What they and their fellow Israelites wanted was for Jesus to "get down to business" and lead a revolution to throw out the Romans – or better yet to call down divine fire to destroy them out of hand. They wanted the second advent without the sacrifice of the first. Telling God what to do is never a sign of great spiritual maturity, so I think we can fairly conclude that they did not believe in who He was – as the next verse states explicitly.

Question #15:

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”
John 7:15 NKJV

Why do they say that he was never educated? Was there a recognized track to becoming a teacher like the Pharisees that made anyone who didn't pass through it essentially uneducated in the eyes of the populace?

Response #15:

The crowd said what they said, but were often wrong. Later, they assume that He was born in Galilee, when in fact He was born in Bethlehem (Jn.7:41; 7:52). We know that He was educated through guidance by the Spirit to the point where at twelve years old He knew more than all the teachers in the temple (Lk.2:46-47), so any formal track of education, to be educated "at the feet" of some famous Pharisee as Paul was (Acts 22:3), would have been beyond pointless for Him who as a human being had come to know and understand everything that could be known and understood about the truth.

Question #16:

"If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."
John 7:17 NKJV

Does this confirm that it is only the will to obey the Lord that opens up the Truth to those who hear it, not only as here to discern what the source of it is, but also to understand what it says? Is this also an explanation for why many of us are trapped in churches following errors, namely, for a lack of willingness to do God's Will and a consequent lack of ability to tell what the source of any teaching is?

Response #16:

Great application!

Question #17:

Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?"
John 7:35 NKJV

Is it significant that they say this?

Response #17:

 It serves to demonstrate their complete spiritual blindness and unwillingness to accept the truth.

Question #18:

John 7:53 - Chapter 8 Verse 11. Is this pericope about the woman caught in adultery a part of the Bible? The footnote says that it was only added in later manuscripts.

Response #18:

This story occurring at the beginning of John chapter 8 in most Bibles is most definitely NOT part of the Bible. It is also one of the most widely quoted "biblical passages" – which tells you something right there. "Father, forgive them!" is the other most quoted passage; also not biblical. See the links.

Question #19:

These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.
John 8:20 NKJV

It seems to me that even while we should not take unnecessary risks, we are not to hide away when we should be abroad about our tasks. The Lord appears here to have gone out to carry out His duties without fear because He must and He was protected in doing so because He was doing what He should and it was not yet time that He should be delivered into the hands of the Jews. Is this the correct way to understand this?

Response #19:

Yes indeed.

Question #20:

Verse John 8:24. Does our Lord say here "I am" or "I am He"?

Response #20:

It says, "I AM", which is a reference to YHVH, but "I am He" is not a bad translation, because a predicative sentence has to have a predicate, even if that is to be understood from context as it is here. From John questions in loc.:

The content of what must be believed in order to be saved is "I am He". To be saved, we have to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior – which means accepting who He is, the God-man, and what He has done for us in dying for our sins. Both aspects of our Lord as Savior of the world are present in this phrase which our Lord used repeatedly to let anyone interested know that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, God Himself who had also become a human being in order to be the sacrifice for our sins.

Question #21:

"I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you."
John 8:37 NKJV

Does our Lord say this of those Jews who had come to believe in Him? Or was He speaking to a mixed crowd? I have also wondered if this whole story was about people coming to initial Faith and then almost immediately losing it because they were offended by additional things that He said?

Response #21:

From the general context in John Questions:

Again, we have to do with 1) a mixed group – our Lord addresses His comments to "those Jews who had believed", but that does not mean that there were not others in the crowd who had not; there clearly were; 2) some who "believed" later took offense and turned away (as at Jn.6:66); the legalistic mindset and the superiority of their race over all others based on a special relationship with God which alone provided salvation to all by means of birth (in their erroneous thinking) was a deeply held and intimately cherished belief, erroneous as it was. Exploding it, as our Lord does in this context, had the effect of separating the true wheat from the true chaff – and those of temporary from those of lasting faith (cf. Lk.8:13).

So what we have here is the combination of a mixed audience and seed fallen on rocky ground. The answer to this and to similar passages in the gospel of John has to do with the various factions John is attempting to represent without parsing them all with long-winded explanations. There were in Jerusalem at this and at all times of festival 1) permanent residents, and 2) those who had come for the festival. In both groups there were genuine seekers of the truth and also hardened unbelievers, and the first group is to be further broken down between the "rulers", their followers and assistants, and the ordinary population of Jerusalem – and even among the rulers we know of various factions (e.g., scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, some of whom were members of the counsel, some not). John perfectly captures through the Spirit the disparity of opinions and reactions to our Lord's presentation of the truth, and also the voluble and fickle nature of the admiration and "faith" of some (cf. the reaction of the crowd after the fact to the miracle of His feeding of the ten thousand in Jn.6:26ff.).

Question #22:

Hi Bob,

Firstly I wish you a blessed Christmas as we celebrate our Saviour’s birth. I am in SA and attended a service today which I would appreciate your comment on. In John 8:41 were they suggesting that they knew Jesus was “ illegitimate” or were they simply using a figure of speech to make their point? Please help me figure this out. As always, I value your wisdom.

Kind regards,

Response #22:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend!

“You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
John 8:41 NKJV

On your question, while I've heard that interpretation before, it's incorrect. First, the crowd says this in response to our Lord telling them "You do the deeds of your father.” This was clearly a rebuke and they took it as such. They respond in defense of themselves by saying, “We were not born of fornication", meaning that this "father" Jesus mentions is not, in their opinion, their actual father; for they say next: "we have one Father—God". So this is all about them in their thinking; not about the Lord. Further, later on we find this:

They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”
John 7:52 NKJV

The ruling class in Judea, the Pharisees and scribes and all the cognoscenti, weren't even aware – because no doubt they hadn't even bothered to look into things, that our Lord was born in Bethlehem. So I doubt they were aware of the virgin birth (so as to be able to slander Him by casting doubt upon it as they surely would have done).

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas too!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hello Professor,

I wish you a blessed and productive year. I will be praying both for your ministry and earthly matters. How has your Christmas been? Did you get some rest?

A close friend of mine and a believer asked me about the "Our Father" prayer. I wanted to make a few key points based on your postings on the subject (https://ichthys.com/mail-Lords Prayer.htm , and  https://ichthys.com/mail-Gospel-QuestionsVI.htm), but there are a couple of issues that I wanted to clarify as well.

1) Firstly, the prayer is given twice in the New Testament on what looks like two different instances. You wrote:

As you are no doubt aware there are two versions in the NT, one in Matthew (Matt.6:9-13) and one in Luke (Lk.11:2-4). It seems clear to me, moreover, that each author is relating a different event, with Matthew giving Jesus' teaching on this subject in conjunction with His "sermon on the mount", while Luke relates Jesus' response to a specific request for information on the subject of prayer put to Him after the sending out of the 72 evangelists.

This leads to your second key point that we are not to see this prayer as some unalterable formula (which it has become in almost every Christian and non-Christian church). You wrote:

This is an important point, because it shows definitively what we know instinctively from the study of scripture, namely, that this prayer is not meant to be some unchangeable and unalterable formula – as if one could reduce our conversation with God to a very particular set of words. For not only are the "stanzas" somewhat different in the two versions, but the vocabulary choice is as well. Attempts to harmonize the two prayers miss the point – Jesus is showing us what sort of things we ought to ask in prayer daily, not limiting us to a set formula of how we should pray. For "how we should pray" has to do with how we should orient ourselves to the truth and the proper subject areas for prayer rather than a rote formula which we have so reduced to a mere ritual that we have stopped thinking about what the words and more importantly the truth behind the words means altogether.

2) Secondly, us being delivered from "the evil one" is as ambiguous in English as it is my language, with many wrongly taking the verse to speak of an abstract idea of evil rather than the devil himself. You wrote:

Secondly, "evil" as opposed to "evil one" is best explained as a controversy by the comment of your pastor. From the Greek, it is very clear that "evil one", which you prefer, is indeed the preferred translation since the adjective, poneros, has the definite article.


3) In question 15 in https://ichthys.com/mail-Gospel-QuestionsVI.htm you explain what I also consider a correct interpretation of πειρασμον as "testing" rather than "temptation" since with God as the subject I don't think we could say He brings us into temptation - but that is a very common translation, both in English and in Polish. This is one of the key corrections to the common rendering that I would make.

4) I have two questions on the following words in your translation:

And don't bring us into testing [that we can't handle] but deliver us from the evil one.

4a) Firstly, you draw a distinction between "leading into" and "bringing into", but while I understand that it is the latter that is used in the Greek text, I am not certain what difference there is in meaning for practical purpose. You wrote:

I don't really like the "don't lead" / "lead us not" translation, because the verb has nothing to do with "leading", and maybe that is part of what is bothering you about it. The verb is eisphero, a standard word for bearing / bringing / carrying with the prefix eis meaning "into", so that "don't bring us into testing" would be a better rendering, and I would append in brackets "[that we can't handle]".

4b) I asked about this before, but I am still not sure how the alternative phrasing you discuss - "don't let us go into" - indicates that our free will has more possible directions of orientation than for or against God. You wrote:

I believe that our Lord's choice of words here, i.e., "don't bring us" as opposed to something like "don't let us go into" is really more in keeping with the true biblical notion of free will. For true biblical free will is the opportunity to choose for God and God's will - or not (rather than a menu of alternatives). "Don't let us go into", the other way one could have phrased this, really would be wrong because 1) it would be asking for our free will to be negated altogether, and 2) it would suggest that our free will has more than one possible orientation (i.e., instead of towards God or not towards God, it could be, theoretically, away from God, which is not at all how we are designed, in purpose or in function).

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #23:

Wishing you and your family a very happy and blessed 2019 too, my friend! Christmas was wonderful. I might have overeaten a bit.

On the prayer, I agree with 1-3. On #4a, I suppose there's not much difference between "lead us not" and "don't bring us", but in English the first is so formulaic that it defeats genuinely thinking about what one is saying, so for the sake of jettisoning the ritualistic aspect of the prayer, I changed it. Also, "lead" makes it seem / feel even more so that the Lord is complicit – which of course He is not (at least that is the way the language "feels" to me). "Bring" is more neutral. In any case, it's important to note and notice that this third part of the actual petition is, as with the other two, merely reminding us of what the Lord is and is not doing in any case. Properly understood, the final part of the prayer means, "Of course I understand, Lord, that you have already provided for me, that you have already forgiven me (and I'm reminded to forgive others too), and that whatever trouble lies ahead, you have already provided my deliverance from it – I just need to trust you".

On #4b, the argument turns on the fact that the third person imperative in both Greek (a discrete form) and English (where we use the "let" construction) is very often more permissive, while the direct imperative is much less so.

Thanks the editorial help too as always, my friend. At least we've established over the years that there is one thing I'm quite good at: producing typos!

Your very good friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Professor, I must add another couple of questions as I'm writing the response on "Our Father".

1) I noticed that you also render the aorist ἀφηκαμεν as a present tense "just as we forgive those who owe us" - why is that?

Response #24:

In the NT in particular, the aorist is often used in a gnomic sense. This is a general statement on our Lord's part and a hypothetical rather than speaking of an actual event. There is also an anticipated "epistolary" tense effect here as our Lord anticipates something that's going to happen in the future. So to translate "we forgave" makes the English reader assume that this is something we've already done (when?); it's not impossible to understand but it is very misleading and, based on the above, wrong (in my opinion). The English present gives us a timeless, general sense, which is really what the Greek conveys.

Question #25:

2) What is your take on the word "daily" bread? BDAG gives several potential etymologies and choosing one of them impacts on the meaning.

Response #25:

From the website:

The adjective is derived from the participle of the verb come/go plus the preposition epi which commonly "points"; so "coming here" is the meaning, namely, in the near future in a temporal context (and we know it is a temporal context from the verse: "this day"). So "daily bread" is not a bad translation. Our Lord provides for us each day for what we will face that day, and if we follow scriptural advice we will not be concerned about yesterday nor will we worry about tomorrow, for we can be sure that He will take care of us "today", "as long as it is called 'today'" (Heb.3:13; cf. Matt.6:34).

Question #26:

3) How should we best translate καθ ἡμεραν in Luke 11:3? Should it be "for each day (i.e., for each day as it comes)", "every day"? Polish translations render this phrase "give us for every day", but I'm not sure if that is the most faithful way to render the Greek.

Response #26:

As with the above, "daily" or "day by day" or "one day at a time" or something of the sort is what is meant. Just as the manna was given newly each day and couldn't be stored day to day, that is how we are to look at our Lord's perfect provision for us . . . that we may know what we have "today" is from Him and not due to our past efforts.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:34 NIV

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Dear Dr. Luginbill:

I found the following quite interesting, and have a few comments. You wrote:

https://ichthys.com/mail-John 1-1.htm

Response: Your understanding of the Greek preposition pros is essentially correct. Just like any English preposition, it covers a lot of ground. And, more to the point, just like any English preposition, it is possible to use it in ways that are somewhat unusual (and so command attention). John's use of pros in Jn.1:1-2 is unique. If John had used the dative case, it would mean something like the Word was "with God" or even "at God's place" (in the sense of the French chez moi), for that is the typical usage. It can mean, as your correspondents suggest, "related to" and often does have this meaning, but in the following sense: "we were talking/thinking/having a discussion about/concerning/related to [something] (where the "something" would be the object of pros). In the absence of a verbal context to indicate what this "related topic" would be (as is the case in Jn.1:1), we don't find this use of pros (i.e., it doesn't mean "related to" in the sense of "kith and kin", only in the sense of "concerning"). No, the use of pros in John 1:1-2 is a very unusual one, and it defies English translation. You suggest "face to face", and that is pretty close (although the idea of "a face" is not in the preposition). "Directed/oriented towards [on a common level]" is closer, though this too is hard to work into a translation. Here are two possible ways to bring through the meaning of pros in John 1:1-2...

**********
I would quibble with your assertion that the use of πρός in John 1:1 is "very unusual" and "defies English translation." πρός with a stative verb simply means "with" and may approximate the French chez or the German bei. Note that Jerome renders πρός with apud in John 1:1:

Verbum erat apud Deum...

He does similarly at Matt 26:18:

apud te facio pascha cum discipulis meis... translating πρὸς σὲ ποι τὸ πάσχα μετὰ τ ν μαθητ ν μου...

BDAG has this:

by, at, near πρός τινα ειναι be (in company) with someone Mt 13:56; Mk 6:3; 9:19a; 14:49; Lk 9:41; J 1:1f; 1 Th 3:4; 2 Th 2:5; 3:10; 1J 1:2.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 875). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Now, I don't mean to contradict what you said above, and πρός + the dative may certainly be used as you suggest, but I don't believe that you have taken into account all the relevant data in your response.

God's riches blessing on you, yours, and your ministry.

Response #27:

Good parallels here, and a good point that they are numerous enough not to be unusual . . . if the context were the same (1Jn.1:2 is the same situation as Jn.1:1, so I would exclude that). However, in all of these parallel cases, it seems to me that we have a case of implied prior motion (explaining the accusative), whereas in the case of eternity past in the two John passages there is no motion implied to produce this usage as opposed to a dative which we would otherwise expect if this were not a unique situation demanding the unique translation given.

(1) The Word [Jesus Christ] existed at the very beginning, and there was reciprocity between the Word and God [the Father]. (2) This One both existed and enjoyed reciprocity with God from the very beginning. (3) Everything came into being through Him, and without Him, nothing has come into being which has in fact come into being. (4) In Him was life, and this life was the light of men.
John 1:1-4

Thanks for your input!

In Jesus Christ the Lord,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Bob (if I may!), thanks for your ready response. If I could push just a bit, could you explain the "prior motion" in this text?

Matt 13:56 καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτο οὐχὶ πασαι πρὸς ἡμας εἰσιν;

Response #28:

John does seem to be using this prepositional phrase in John 1:1 differently from Matthew in your example. Even in the example you give here apud and chez (suggested before) don't really apply since everyone is not dwelling under the same roof in your example (which is what those two Latin and French prepositions imply). The sisters are in town so they are seen from time to time, "people we bump into" them (pros), which still seems a constructio praegnans for motion of some sort understood (when they are "bumped into" by people coming and going). That's not what John is relating (no "house", no motion towards); so while I appreciate your point on the parallels, to me John 1:1 still seems significantly different and unique (hence the translation given).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Bob, thanks again for taking the time to respond, I know how busy it can get. The way this came up is that you were quoted on an online forum as a "hostile witness" in a unitarian arguing against the Trinity, and I was checking up on you (!) to make sure you were a credible source, and of course you are (and it was pointed out that you go on and make a very strong case for a Trinitarian view of John 1:1, but of course that did not phase the unitarian). I would like to make just a couple more observations, and then we can move on (and thanks again, I really do appreciate your responses).
Jerome in fact uses apud regularly in these constructions, and I suspect his sense of the Greek and Latin are at least as good as ours...

Jerome translates πρός + stative verb (ειναι) with apud in the following instances: Mat 13:56; Mrk 9:19 (vs. 18 Vulgate); Mrk 14:49; Luk 9:41; 1 The 3:4; 2 The 2:5; 2 The 3:10; Mark 6:3 is an exception, where he renders nobiscum. There are other examples, but I wanted to stick with ειναι.

Simply put, ειναι is not a verb of motion, and the verses in question are describing presence or nearness or accompaniment. With all due respect, I think you are reading "prior motion" into the text to preserve a distinction with John 1:1, but I don't think the distinction is really there

Response #29:

Thanks for the background.

I wouldn't put too much weight on someone's translation of the Greek, even Jerome's. I can certainly understand how and why Jerome did what he did; but that's not persuasive for me, however, in rendering or understanding John 1:1 differently.  Translators are trying to express an understandable text and don't always have the theology foremost in mind . . . when they even understand it.

No, the verb 'to be' is not a verb of motion; but the situations described in your supposed parallels all – in my view – understand prior motion; that is what generates the accusative.  Prepositions in Greek which take the accusative inevitably suggest motion towards, at least originally. I don't see that in John 1:1, so I'm sticking to my view that it is different and unique – as indeed eternity is and God certainly is.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Dear Teacher

The police patrol truck that was parked on our street moved yesterday, and there have been no gunshots again since the morning of yesterday when we heard a few scattered shots. Movement has resumed again today around here. Thank you very much for praying, Sir.

In John 6, something puzzles me. Unless I'm missing something (and I am asking if I am), the people who are asking the Lord Jesus for a sign in vv 30-31 are the same people who came because He multiplied the loaves earlier. In other words, they already knew about His Power. If they did, it sounds to me like they are only trying to manipulate Him into giving them more bread to eat. That seems rather incredible to me. It seems to me to mean that they really couldn't care less whether or not He was the Christ, they just wanted the bread. They didn't care what He had to say, or whether God sent Him or not. Is this possible? It seems to me to be the obvious way to read that passage, yet I find it quite surprising that these people were so. They did eventually desert the Lord after He told them to eat His flesh and drink His blood. The fact that they took it literally despite hearing Him talk explicitly about believing in Him, and receiving His Words, seems to me to only strengthen the idea that they came there just for physical food (just like the Lord chided them for in vv 26-27). They really couldn't hear anything unless it had to do with food that they could eat.

Even though I am surprised, it occurs to me that I could also use the same chiding myself. Reminds me what you said about having clay feet. I think that we essentially condemn our own selves. We do choose - and know that we choose what we want to hear and believe.

Is my reading of this right? Or am I failing to account for something? What would that be, Sir?

Your student in our dear Lord

Response #30:

I'm glad to hear that the crisis has passed, for the moment. I hope that some day you and your fiancée (and perhaps also your families) will be able to find someplace safe, whether in your country or out of it. Our friend was praying for you too, I know.

"Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ " Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven."
John 6:30-31 NKJV

On John 6:30-31, this is unquestionably hardness of heart. Verse 15 tells us that the reason our Lord left secretively was because after this miracle – instead of responding as we all assumed they would have responded having read and been read this passage since we were children – the majority at least wanted to make Him king by force. They wanted the Millennium, a conquering Messiah, and they wanted abundance without hard work, the curse from the land removed so that the "reaper catches up with the sower" (Amos 9:13). But the cross, the suffering of the Messiah (clear from Isaiah 53 and elsewhere, the Substitute in all the Levitical sacrifices), was a stumbling block to them. For them the Rock of deliverance was a "rock of offense" (Romans 9:32-33), and so they turned away when our Lord attempted to make them see that they had to have faith in His coming work on the cross, eating His flesh and drinking His blood – for He is the bread of life; but they wanted only the physical bread miraculously provided, manna from heaven irrespective of their lack of faith, sign after sign without ever believing, just like the exodus generation. A "good" negative example if ever there was one, even if it is appalling in the extreme.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

 

 

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