Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

James 2:14ff : "Salvation" Intimation and Prequel (Post 5)

In this post, I wish to intimate the answer to the question that I left hanging in the previous posts: what is the salvation that James is talking about in 2:14ff (and in 1:15, 21; 5:20)? Although in the next post I intend to defend my position, I wish to use this post as a prequel in order to pique your interest and get you thinking.

It is the knee-jerk reaction of 21st century readers of the Bible to import into the word “salvation” (Greek = “soteria”) and its cognates the meaning “salvation from hell” each time he reads it in the New Testament. Yet the word merely means “deliverance”. It is up to the context to decide what kind of deliverance is being referred to.

If I said to you “trunk”, could you by my mere utterance of the word be able to determine the import of it? Could I mean “the storage compartment in the back of a car,” or “the long protruding appendage of an elephant,” or “the wooden storage compartment in my attic” or “the woody axis of a tree” or “the body of a human excluding the head and limbs” or “the thorax of an insect”? Unless the word is used in a context, you would not be able to comprehend the meaning attached to it.

It is the same with the word salvation. Although, admittedly, we know that it means “deliverance”, unless the word is used in a context, we cannot determine what kind of deliverance or saving from is in view. The word will only take meaning as it is used within the complete thought of a sentence or passage.

In a word study of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) we find that the Greek word “soteria” and its cognate “sozo” (save) in their contexts, where they are found about 363 times, means “deliverance from temporal calamaties” – such as circumstances that cause death, enemies, troubles; both individually and nationally - in the greatest majority of the times they are found, upwards of 98% of occurences. Only a relatively few passages have spiritual contexts to the salvation being discussed. Yet even in the instances that the terms "save" and "salvation" carry a sense of spiritual salvation in these minimally few OT passages, there is no explicit instance where the term appears solely with a spiritual nuance. In a study Rene Lopez of Dallas Seminary did of each occurrence of the words, he could not find even one instance where the words in their contexts had a justification-salvation-only meaning.

What does this say about the Greek reader of the New Testament? That he obviously would not consider the meaning “salvation from hell” for the Greek words “soteria” and “sozo” (salvation and save, respecively) as the first, knee-jerk option when he read it.

In the New Testament, there is an obvious emphasis on the spiritual and eternal salvation, yet in all of the occurences of the words sozo and soteria, only around 50% of the time do the contexts indicate that they have a meaning of “salvation from hell”.

Dr. Earl Radmacher wisely relates:

----------
Have you ever said something to a friend only to discover later that while he heard what you said he missed the meaning? This often happens when we read the Bible. How easy it is to bring a meaning to a Bible passage that was not what the writer had in mind. When we do that, we missed the mind of God and are in serious danger of following the enemy of our souls. To protect ourselves from that danger we need to study the meaning of words and how they are used in their contexts. And this is especially true of the word salvation.
----------

Commentators of James err when they assume, rather than demonstrate, their interpretation of the word “salvation” and its contextual concept within the book.

So this brings us to the “salvation” that James is discussing in his epistle. In my next post, I wish to discuss it more fully, but for the purpose of preliminary and prepatory considerations, I wish to quote the book of Proverbs in a few instances, and end with 3 verses in James for your consideration. Look for the key elements. I may do a short follow up if you don’t get my gist. So here we go!

Proverbs 2:21-22
For the upright will dwell in the land,
And the blameless will remain in it;
But the wicked will be cut off from the earth,
And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.

Proverbs 3:1-2
My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you

Proverbs 3:8
[The fear of the Lord] will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Proverbs 3:16
Length of days is in [wisdom’s] right hand

Proverbs 4:4
Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.

Proverbs 4:6
Do not forsake [wisdom], and she will preserve you;

Proverbs 4:10
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.

Proverbs 5:23
He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Proverbs 6:15
Therefore [for the man living in wickedness] his calamity shall come suddenly;
Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy

Proverbs 6:23
For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,

Proverbs 7:1-2
My son, keep my words,
And treasure my commands within you.
Keep my commands and live

Proverbs 8:35-36
For whoever finds [wisdom] finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own life;
All those who hate me love death.

Proverbs 9:10-11
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.


Proverbs 10:2
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
But righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 10:27
The fear of the LORD prolongs days,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened


Proverbs 10:29
The way of the LORD is strength for the upright,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 11:4
Righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 11:17
The merciful man does good for his own life
But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.

Proverbs 11:19
As righteousness leads to life,
So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.


Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life

Proverbs 12:28
In the way of righteousness is life,
And in its pathway there is no death.

Proverbs 13:3
He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs 13:6
Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless,
But wickedness overthrows the sinner.

Proverbs 13:13-14
He who despises the word will be destroyed,
But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
The law of the wise is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death
.

Proverbs 19:16
He who keeps the commandment keeps his life,
But he who is careless of his ways will die.

Proverbs 21:16
A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

Proverbs 28:18
Whoever walks blamelessly will be saved,
But he who is perverse in his ways will suddenly fall
.

James 1:15
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

James 1:21-22
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls [=lives]. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 5:19-20
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

15 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, it is vital not to read NT doctrine into the OT, as Reformed people continually do. James needs to be understood against the OT backdrop.

Good stuff.

God Bless

Matthew

December 07, 2005 1:18 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

"in order to pique your interest and get you thinking"

Mission accomplished! ;-)

December 07, 2005 2:30 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Matthew/Antonio,

I do however see a big unity of the Bible when I read in the Bible I see the GOSPEL on every page.

By the gospel I mean :
1)The greatness of God
2)The sinfulness of humans
3)The Grace of God to save Sinners.

December 07, 2005 6:08 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I would not disagree with this being a key theme of Scripture. However, the main theme of the Bible is God's glory and the accomplishment of His purposes. God has some purposes that are not directly connected to the salvation of sinners.

God Bless

Matthew

December 07, 2005 7:46 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I do not see why anyone is calling these posts heretical. What you have said is very easy to follow and you have not made any big leaps into your "own opinion". I see this as a study trying to understand what James is really saying here and how it fits in with the whole of scripture.

I'm very uneasy when believers start throwing around the word "heresy" and "another gospel" as even you have here. That being said, I'm really interested in what the next post has to say!

Bless you in your study and in this provocation of thought.

December 07, 2005 8:43 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 07, 2005 10:47 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Matthew (DF),

Totally Agreed, that is the purpose. I guess that is more of what I meant in Item #1.

December 07, 2005 11:01 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Saved from what?

Currently, most people use the word "salvation" to refer to our justification. However, for the most part the NT does not reflect this meaning.

I agree that the word "saved" can mean saved from physical death. However, that doesn't mean that the word "saved" here means deliverance from death or peril or etc. The context determines the meaning. What in the context allows you to give it this meaning?

You pointed to several passages in James and yet in each of these you assume that death is merely physical death. What in the context allows you to make that decision? It is not at all clear that that is the most likely meaning.

James 1:15 probably refers to spiritual death. That is why new birth is needed in 1:16-18. The "word of truth" is the gospel. This is the message that gives new birth, a birth that is neccessary because our sins led to spiritual death.

More likely, the word "saved" in James 2:14 refers to our final salvation when Christ returns. James uses it similarly to how Paul uses it in Romans 13:11.

I understand your concern about lordship salvation. I held Hodges' view at one time. However, I now think that the evidence points else where.

December 07, 2005 12:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew and Rose,

Thank you for your comments. I hope that you see where I am going with this :)

Daniel,

It is in all probability very highly unlikely, even in this point of our discussion, that James is talking about spiritual salvation.

Now unless you view present salvation as a gift and future spiritual salvation as a merited reward, your idea of spiritual salvation in this context is highly imporobable, even at this point in our discussion.

We have already shown that the intended audience of James is nothing but regenerate "beloved brethren" (Post 2). We have shown that James is talking about a salvation where faith is insufficient to enact (Post 3), therefore the salvation in mind is not by grace. The salvation that James has in mind is enacted by being a doer of the word, in other words, works. This is the same thread that runs through the book of Proverbs: doing the commands saves the life.

Next we have seen the parallelism between the book of Proverbs and James himeself (as can be noted elsewhere in James!).

These cords have not at all been broken. Daniel, by all means comment on my train of thought starting in Post one, for this is a cumulative proof.

I am going to cover 1:15, 23; 5:21 as well in due time, and intend to support what I say. So please feel free to comment on what has gotten us to this point in the previous posts which already make your view highly unprobable; and we will bring out even more in the posts to come that will make the traditional view even insupportable!

Antonio

December 07, 2005 1:30 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

And Daniel, you may not be Calvinist, but according to the last post on your blog, if this is something you agree with, then you are definitly Lordship Salvation, in that you also espouse the traditional view of James.

To go from believing Hodges to Lordship. Hmm... You look like a young man...

Antonio

December 07, 2005 1:41 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Daniel,

you write:
---------
You pointed to several passages in James and yet in each of these you assume that death is merely physical death. What in the context allows you to make that decision? It is not at all clear that that is the most likely meaning.
----------

I was merely intimating! This was a prequel to my support of my contention (although I have been supporting it from post 1)

I am going to go over all the contextual, grammatical, and linguistical arguments for my assertion.

This, though, was not the point of THIS post, as was disclaimered in the very first paragraph.

Antonio

December 07, 2005 1:45 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I guess that my problem with the debate between the LS folk and the "free grace" folk is that they ask the wrong question. They ask, "What is the minimal requirements to get to heaven?" This misses the entire point. The Bible never really answers that question.

The Bible asks, "How does someone get to know God?"

In John 17, Jesus prayed, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." If someone winds up in heaven and doesn't know God, he isn't going to like it that much. The point of life isn't to go to heaven. The point of life is to know God and to delight in Him.

December 07, 2005 2:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Daniel,

you write:
----------
They ask, "What is the minimal requirements to get to heaven?" This misses the entire point. The Bible never really answers that question.
----------

The Bible DOES answer that question. The Gospel of John is constructed with this question in mind! It is faith alone in Christ alone, many times over!

You write:
----------
The Bible asks, "How does someone get to know God?"

In John 17, Jesus prayed, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
----------
The word "know" is a poly-morphous word. It can have several senses. For instance, it is completely normal and valid to say:

I know you, but I just don't know you.

I can know you in one sense yet not know you in a deeper sense.

Believing in Christ for eternal life is the BEGINNING of the knowledge of Jesus and the Father. This knowledge should be built upon during the Christian life of the regenerate one.

The reception of eternal life is but the entry way into the knowledge of God.

That the word "know" is poly-morphous is an important consideration when one reads the book of 1 John.

It is completly true that one may know God and Jesus in the sense of they have regeneration and have a relationship with them through being adopted into God's family, and NOT know them in a sense of deep intimacy that reveals itself in koinonia (fellowship, sharing, intimacy, participation) between the son and the Father.

I can surely know my dad, yet be estranged from him by my own doing, and not KNOW him in the sense that I don't have deep intimacy with him!

The minimum is defintitly a question that the bible answers! How ridiculous to suppose that it doesn't! How else are we to know how to enter into the family of God?

You need to know how to get in before you can grow within the relationship of being in!

Antonio

December 07, 2005 9:42 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Hi Antonio,

You write:

In the New Testament, there is an obvious emphasis on the spiritual and eternal salvation, yet in all of the occurences of the words sozo and soteria, only around 50% of the time do the contexts indicate that they have a meaning of “salvation from hell”.

I believe if this one point you make here had been clearly understood in Evangelical circles in the 7o's and 8o's the Lordship Salvation Controversy would not have happened.

This 'salvation' confusion, in my view, is 80% of the error. If it were corrected the other 20% would fall into place.

HK

December 13, 2005 9:57 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"James 2:14ff: "Salvation" Intimation and Prequel (Post 5)" -- comment following, by Antonio, Dec 7 01:30 pm.

Antonio, I would like to comment regarding what you said after the original post, in the following quotation from the comment, because I think it is succinct:

-------------------
We have already shown that the intended audience of James is nothing but regenerate "beloved brethren" (Post 2). We have shown that James is talking about a salvation where faith is insufficient to enact (Post 3), therefore the salvation in mind is not by grace. The salvation that James has in mind is enacted by being a doer of the word, in other words, works. This is the same thread that runs through the book of Proverbs: doing the commands saves the life.
--------------------------------------

I would like to point out that this is a piece of deductive reasoning, as follows.

1. The salvation in James 2:14 is some kind of deliverance, from something.

2. The person with no works will not be delivered from it, according to the implied answer of the rhetorical question.

3. Therefore the deliverance (salvation) being addressed is not Paul's common discussion of salvation from hell, because that deliverance is apart from works, and by grace, which if it were also by works, would no longer be grace.

4. A deliverance which is apart from works cannot be equated with a deliverance that is denied to someone who has no works.

I think this is a valid argument.

Then, IMHO, you go off to the OT. And, of course, you show the concept of deliverance from various temporal ends that are there, that depend on works.

Then I think you make -- or are about to make -- a non-sequitur; not a horrible one, but a non-sequitur nontheless. Here it is ... (reminder: a non-sequitur does not mean that the conclusion is false, only that it does not follow...)

1. The salvation and deliverance in the case described in James 2:14 will not occur without works.

2. The Old Testament described various deliverances and "salvations" and preservations of life, etc., which also depended on works.

3. Therefore the two refer to the same thing.

#3. Does not follow.

I think you go too far afield. Don't go back to 200 B.C., just go up one verse!

The salvation and deliverance that 2:14 refers to is from the judgment that James just described in the previous verse!

This answers the contextual criticism that you go so far afield.

We can chalk the fact that such an option is not often considered by, of all things, paragraphing. There is hardly a Bible that does not almost "make" us start at 2:14 without reading 2:13. At least, it strongly influences us.

December 22, 2006 9:36 AM  

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