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)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Parenthesis from James Study: The gospel of John / Soteriology

I have every intention of continuing with James! And I will! So don't despair (not that anyone actually reads this blog!). This is merely a parenthesis (like the church).

I don't want my comments on other people's blogs to go to waste, so here, in a bit of a condensed and edited form, are some comments I made concerning the Gospel of John (and Galatians:
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It is interesting that in the book of John (which by its own explicit and written statements has as its purpose that of evangelism, and is the only book in the Bible that makes such a claim)that the word "repent" and "repentance" and any and all of its cognates are absent.

Not one mention of repentance at all in the book that explains it purpose as being evangelistic.

If I wrote a book on the greatest hitters of all time in baseball and I did not include Pete Rose, what two observations could you make about it?

Either:
1) I am in error, for he most certainly was a great hitter
or
2) I do not consider Pete Rose to be a great hitter.

There are no other options.

Either John was in error and did not know the way to eternal life, or he did not consider repentance a condition for eternal life.
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Not only does John not have "repent" and "repentance" and all of their cognates (which is very important, as John is the only explicitly written book for the purpose of evangelism in the whole canon!) neither is jot or tittle of "repentance" or any of its cognates found in Galatians, which is Paul's defense of the gospel!

If you wrote a book on evangelism, and repentance is indeed a condition for eternal life, would you not include several times the words "repent" and "repentance" or any of its cognates? Yet in John we find "faith" and its cognates 99-100 times (the words repent, repentance, etc ZERO times)!

How incredible! Both John and Galatians not speaking as to even ONE WORD about repentance?

John had to take great CARE not to even include one WORD about repentance in his gospel. He spoke about John the Baptist. What was John the Baptists's message in the synoptic gospels (the first 3 gospels that were written to Christians)? "Repent!"

Yet you don't hear John the Baptizer saying that in John. John took great care to not even include ONE reference to "repent" or "repentance" whatsoever!

Yet, everywhere in the gospel of John, which is the only book in the canon which has as its EXPLICITLY written purpose: Evangelism, the ONLY CONDITION OFFERED as the intermediate agency for eternal life is: faith in Christ (Never "repent"!!!)

Isn't it odd that (if) John believed that repentance was a condition for eternal life, yet he DOES NOT EVEN MENTION IT ONCE in his gospel (the only explicitly written book in the Bible that has as its purpose evangelism), but mentions FAITH ninety-nine (99) times?

Isn't it odd that Paul would defend his gospel in the book of Galatians, yet not even mention repentance and any of its cognates even once!?

Let me tell you something: You don't preach a doctrine by remaining silent on it! You don't teach a doctrine by NOT MENTIONING IT!
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Speaking as to the Gospel of John as an entity within itself is not arguing one book of the Bible against another!

It is rightly dividing the word of truth.

If John does not expound repentance as a condition for eternal life in his book that he explicitly wrote so that men would receive that life, it is apparant that it is not a condition for salvation.

Repentance IS a doctrine in the Scriptures. A prevalent one. An important one. One that John DID know about (he speaks about it multiple times in Revelation). (Ask me sometime what the doctrine of repentance teaches!)

Yet, when he wrote his magnum opus, which has as its purpose:

"that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31)

he chose, in all 21 chapters of his book on evangelism, to not even include ONE reference to repentance as a condition for eternal life.

How does the Lordship salvationist account for it?

Does he muddle and jumble the doctrine of soteriology by turning to the Christian(in other words, the doctrine for those who are already saved) doctrine of repentance in the epistles which were written for Christian audiences and apply them instead to soteriology?

Or does he turn to the synoptic gospels that conditioned the instatement of the kingdom of God to Israel upon Israel's national repentance and acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah and apply this instead to the doctrine of salvation?

This is not rightly dividing the word of truth.

The Lordship Salvation proponent has taken many bible passages, stuck them in a blender, and hit puree!

This is NOT rightly dividing the word of truth. It is jumbling and mixing the word of God, being very careless with it!, not accounting for distinctions, and context.

If John says that he is writing a book to show people how to have eternal life, and he does not mention repentance whatsoever(!!!), but mentions faith 99 times, this is telling.

If Paul writes an epistle in defense of the gospel and fails to mention repentance even once(!!!), yet conditions justification solely on faith in Jesus, this is telling.

The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show how its readers can simply appropriate eternal life (John 20:31). To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately! (while it makes specific claim as to purpose TO BE evangelistic!) I sincerely hope no Christian person would want to be stuck with a position like that!

Your comments are welcome!

Antonio

32 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think that John's Gospel is evangelistic in its intention. However, as far as I am aware (and I am not a Bible Scholar) this is only a minority view amongst scholars. I could be mistaken.

I think you make some good points.

God Bless

Matthew

December 08, 2005 8:59 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I don't mind being nobody (as in nobody reads your blog). ;-)

I would very much like to know your opinion of repentance, it's definition and how it is accomplished. I know most understand it to be a change of action but I don't see that implied in the verses that use Metanoia or any other form of the word. I understand it to be a change of mind, which in all honesty I interpret, means attitude (heart, mind and will). How could this occur in someone who does not acknowledge God?

The Israelites accepted God and were told to repent and prepare for the coming of the promise. We who believe and have accepted God by faith in Christ are told to repent of the sin in our lives but to tell someone who does not accept God to first change their attitude about Him seems to ask the impossible.

I am open for a better understanding.

December 08, 2005 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

For whatever it is worth, Dr. Wilkin of faithalone.org debated Kerry Gilliard on the relationship of repentance to eternal life. The debate can be found at the following link:

http://www.faithalone.org/debate.html

Also, Professor Hodges’ book, Harmony with God, which discusses this same issue, can be found online in three installments at the following links:

http://www.chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v8n3_1.pdf
http://www.chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v8n4_3.pdf
http://www.chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/Vol%209-1%20ar2.pdf

December 08, 2005 1:02 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I feel like I have read this already. :~)

(another nobody)

December 08, 2005 2:27 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew, I believe that many if not most scholars actually take the view that John was written for evangelism. Even MacArthur does! It is very hard to gloss over the clear purpose statement of John's gospel (John 20:30,31). Thank you again for your comments!

KC, you are becoming more and more endeared to me.

For a great, short discussion of repentance, Bob Wilkin wrote a small journal article here:

Repentance reconsidered

Also, if you ever have time, as Andy down here has written, Zane Hodges book: Harmony with God:a Fresh Look at Repentance is completely online in three installments. Great book! I mean really sharp.

Andy, who are you? Do I know you from the GES chat board? Drop me a line in my email: agdarosa@cox.net

Rose, vuja de, er, deja vu!?

Your friend, one and all...

Hey, we could could start a group of nobodies and be nobodies together!

Antonio

December 08, 2005 8:32 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio,
I know you are of focusing now on the epistle of James. However, in the near future, could you possibly give us some studies on the epistles of John?

God Bless

December 09, 2005 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There appears to be a similar conversation developing on the Still Reforming Blog:

http://stillreforming.blogspot.com/2005/12/while-im-gone-read-about-what.html

December 09, 2005 3:24 PM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Hi Antonio~
Interesting observation. I do believe John uses the concept of repentance through and through. I might have the wrong idea though... It is my diminutive comprehension that repentance is a change of mindset about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done on our (all sinners of all times) behalf (a one time, complete work, never again to be repeated, ever). One cannot receive a gift that is not offered, neither can one reject a gift that isn't for him. To receive Him is to believe Him. To believe Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to love Him. To love Him is to know Him. To receive Him is equal to repentance. Am I wrong? Why?

December 09, 2005 8:14 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew,

Besides James 2:14ff, no other passage/book in the Bible has been more misrepresented then 1 John. This James series is kinda taking on a life of its own. It is highly profitable for me, but very time consuming.

I don't see why we couldn't look at some of the most mischaracterized verses in 1 John, after we get through with James. (Or if there is one inparticular that you would like to go over, we could do another parenthesis!)

Lets have tea in the coming kingdom, shall we?

Antonio

December 09, 2005 10:27 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

John, I need to go to bed, but I will answer your questions tomorrow. I need to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work.

Antonio

December 09, 2005 10:29 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'To receive Him is to believe Him. To believe Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to love Him. To love Him is to know Him.'

John, you have probably seens ome of my exchanges with Shawn, so I wont repeat too much of them. I am really uncomfortable with this idea that loving Christ is involved in salvation. Biblically, love is tied up with obediance. If loving Christ is involved in salvation, then so are works.

Love is also partly emotional. Can you voluntarilly love someone? Can we tell lost sinners to love Christ? If we tell people to believe in Christ, do we not urge a volitional act?

As regards John's epistles, chapter 3 is very difficult, I find. I think the whole of John's theology in the epistles could do with some exploration here. Thanks.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

December 10, 2005 3:07 AM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Antonio,
Are you still in bed?

December 11, 2005 5:24 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

J Wendell,

Sorry for the delay.

You write:
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I do believe John uses the concept of repentance through and through.
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I guess that would depend on how you define repentance.

you write:
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I might have the wrong idea though... It is my diminutive comprehension that repentance is a change of mindset about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done on our (all sinners of all times) behalf (a one time, complete work, never again to be repeated, ever).
----------
The Greek word for repentance has as its etymological root "after-thought" or "change of mind". But to take this meaning as the meaning the New Testament uses is "root fallacy", in other words, to derive the meaning of the word by its etymology. Although there are uses for the etymology of a word, the meaning of a word does not come from it, but by its usage in a language.

Nevertheless, John did not use the word "repent" or any of its cognates in his 21 chapters which he wrote with the express, written purpose of evangelism.

You write:
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One cannot receive a gift that is not offered
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Good point. So much for the sincere and gracious offer of Calvinists to the reprobate

You write:
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neither can one reject a gift that isn't for him.
----------
Same comment as above

you write:
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To receive Him is to believe Him.
----------
I disagree. It may be splitting hairs in your estimation, but I think that the opposite is true. To believe in Him is to receive Him. Purposeful faith in Christ is the intermediate agency whereby one receives Christ. Receiving Him is the passive result of our faith in Him.

you write:
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To believe Him is to trust Him.
----------
You are correct here, as long as I am reading you right. If you are using these terms synonomously, then I agree. If you are are saying that trust is distinguished from belief, then I disagree.

you write:
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To trust Him is to love Him.
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I don't know how you make this leap. To equate the two, as Matthew pointed out, is to condition eternal life on loving Him. The Bible never conditions eternal life or justification on loving Christ. But it does condition a favorable review at the judgment seat of Christ on loving Him.

You write:
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To love Him is to know Him.
----------
"Know" is a polymorphous word. Believing on Christ for eternal life is really the beginning of knowing God. Yet there is much at this point that we don't "know" about Him. We grow in our knowledge of Christ and of the Father as we walk in fellowship with God.

It is quite legitamate to say that we know God in one sense but do not know Him in deeper senses that take maturity and time walking in the faith.

you write:
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To receive Him is equal to repentance.
----------
You are equating things that the Bible does not equate. It breaks the rule of identity and affirmation. We have no right equating two things unless the Bible specifically does. Similarity (and I fail to see the similarity, and the progression you are giving us here) is not identity.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Thank you for your comments!

Antonio

December 12, 2005 9:19 AM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Regarding the evangelistic purpose of John, while there is good evidence for reading it this way, most major commentators suggests that it has both an evangelistic and "discipleship" purpose in mind. Its presence in the Christian canon is probably enough to confirm this.
Regarding the absence of "repentance" language, you are almost certainly ignoring John 12:40 where the verb strephw is used to describe what is best described as repentance. The same verb is also used to subtly allude to conversion/repentance in Matthew 18:3. Even if you're not willing to grant Matthew 18:3, since John 12:40 is alluding to Isa 6:10 and the verb strephw is more frequently used to describe physical turning, its use in John 12:40 suggests that it is a synonym for the verb metanoi- word group (which also has conveys the sense of "turning").
Not only are you basically arguing from silence, you are also failing to recognize that words should not be studied in isolation but as expressions of a concept. This was long ago demonstrated by J. Barr (The Semantics of Biblical Language). See M. Silva, Biblica Words and their Meaning, for a helpful introduction.


Mark

December 12, 2005 4:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mowens, thank you for your visit and your comment.

You are welcome here and your comments are too!

Let me see if I can't tackle your contention:

In John 12:40 we have "straphosin", 3rd person, plural, aorist, PASSIVE, subjunctive

Do you realize that this verb is talking about a passive working upon an individual and not an active thing he is doing? That is why they translate it "be converted". It is something that is acting upon them, not something that they are actively doing.

On a side note, when a person believes the gospel, they passively recieve eternal life, they ARE CONVERTED.

How can you relate this to repentance being a condition for eternal life? You are comparing apples with oranges!

John knew the words for repent and repentance. He used them several times when he wrote the book of Revelation.

In the book he wrote with the purpose of evangelism (John 20:31), he did not even include one reference to it.

Not only is there no direct mention of repentance in the Gospel of John, but nowhere in the book is the concept of turning from sins given as a condition for obtaining eternal life.

Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he had to turn from his sins in order to be born again (John 3). Nor did He tell the woman at the well that she had to turn from her sins to obtain eternal life (John 4). The same is true with the man born blind (John 9), and Martha (John 11). And, tellingly, the book's statement of purpose (John 20:31) does not mention turning from sins as a condition for eternal life.

Turning from sins cannot be a condition for eternal life, since it is inconceivable that the Gospel of John would fail to mention it if it were.

We do not really have here an argument from silence, but an argument about silence. The issue is: why is John silent about repentance in the fourth Gospel?

A classic "argument from silence" would run like this: "Our historical data for (let us say) the period 1168 B.C. to 1068 B.C. is sketchy and incomplete, so Arabia could have been a major regional power during that time." The argument is worthless, of course. The silence of our historical data tells us nothing about the power status of Arabia during the period described.

The present issue is not comparable.

Second, it is important to note that those who might reject the argument about the absence of repentance in John's Gospel are not claiming not to know John's view of repentance. On the contrary, they are making a direct claim about John's theology!

For example, lordship people claim that, of course, John held that repentance was necessary to salvation. They usually add that, though he does not mention it explicitly, repentance is there implicitly. But the search for "implicit" indicators of repentance in John's Gospel becomes a hopeless hodgepodge of guesses and misguided creativity, as in your case, mowens.

The whole problem we are discussing is due to a false premise. The false premise is this: repentance is necessary for eternal life.

No medical professional today would dream of writing a book on Significant Treatments for Heart Disease without mentioning bypass surgery precisely because in the context of modern medicine this is a significant treatment in the view of most medical professionals. Only if most medical professionals agreed that bypass surgery was not significant, would it make sense to write a book ignoring it.

In the same way, if no NT apostle or prophet held that repentance was necessary for eternal life, then John would have no reason to mention it when telling people how to obtain that life. This explanation--and this only--fits the facts naturally.

This is why I refer to the view that "repentance is necessary for eternal life" as a false premise. This view is in reality a petitio principii--that is, a begging of the question. It cannot be demonstrated from Scripture.

Let's put it this way. If we started with the Gospel of John, would we have any reason from the Gospel itself to suppose that repentance was necessary for eternal life? The obvious answer is no.

Why then do we think that John included it implicitly in his Gospel? Because we bring to the Gospel the untested and unprovable assumption that other NT texts show that repentance is necessary. Apart from this false premise, John's silence about repentance is both easily explained and natural:

Repentance is not necessary for eternal life.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 9:26 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Let me comment on 3 things:

Another fact that affirms your point on repentance is that John, unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke, seems to have been a disciple of John the Baptist, before becoming a disciple of the Lord.

(In the first chapter of John, he presents himself as an eyewitness of John the Baptist as he gives his early testimony that Jesus is the Christ.)

This makes John an expert on how repentance and the offer of eternal life relate to each other.

His answer seems to be clear: they don't!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About how love relates to trust...

I believe there are many people who love Christ in a way that causes them to try to serve him with their whole lives, but who are offended by the idea that they need to trust Him to have eternal life.

They love him in a way that is just proud enough to resist the Spirit's leading about the Father's will:

For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day

Whether these people are Catholic Missionaries or liberal Peace Advocates or Evangelicals who rail against easy-believism, it is sobering to imagine how many are out there. (I'm not saying everyone who rails against easy-B is too proud to put their faith in Christ!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About arguments from silence...

If Johnny Cash had published an article about his 5 favorite Christian songs, and they consisted of only hymns and Gospel songs, the person that argued that that showed that Cash thought Christian heavy metal and Christian rap were unbiblical and despicable would be arguing from silence. But the person who said that rap and heavy metal were not among Cash's top song favorites, would be arguing from a very legitimate premise.

The issues is who is defining the boundaries of the original premise. John defined his own boundaries by overtly telling us his purpose for writing his gospel.

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Your friend, and a nobody's nobody,

HK

December 13, 2005 11:02 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

What a fascinating insight, HK.

December 13, 2005 11:46 AM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Antonio,
Thanks for your detailed response. I will answer what I consider to be the major components of your response. I would gladly respond to others issues if you wish.

First, you are right to note that the verb in John 12:40 is in the passive form. However, it really does not prove anything. I would affirm that the "turning" involved is ultimately the work of God (it is a "divine passive") but the turning is nonetheless worked out (pardon the pun) in the life of the person "turning." The passive form simply indicates that God is converting/turning the person.
More important is the MEANING/SENSE of the verb in context.
What would you suggest is the meaning of the verb in John 12:40? Since John is alluding to Isaiah 6:10, it would seem appropriate to me to search in the context of Isa 6:10 to find the meaning of the verb. In light of Isaiah 1-5, the author likely has an ethical turning from sin in mind. You are welcome to disagree, but I hope you furnish sufficient proof.

Speaking of Isaiah, note that in John 1:23, John the Baptist identifies himself by quoting Isa 40:3. Are you suggesting that the Baptist does not have an ethical preparation in mind? If so, on what evidence would you base that reading? It certainly seems plausible to me (and most scholars) to suggest that the Evangelist is subtly alluding to the Baptist's ethical preaching of repentance.

Returning to the verb strephw in John 12:40, do note that Acts 3:19; 26:20 clearly suggest that the verbs epistrephw (a compound of the verb used in John 12:40) and metanoew are synonymous (check the Greek text). Interestingly, Acts 16:18 connects the SAME verb with the concept of "forgiveness of sins." Furthermore, the verb epistrephw is used throughout the NT to describe an ethical turning from sin (Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 1:16-17; Acts 3:26; 11:21; 14:15; 1 Thess 1:9; James 5:20; 1 Peter 2:25).

Second, why is John so silent on the concept of repenentance. [Note that I clearly think you are overestimating the evidence.] Without researching this too much, I would simply note that some scholars have recently suggested that John was written PARTYLY as an evangelistic document for the Jewish people. Such individuals would probably be less in need of consistent teaching on repentance. Instead, they would need to know that Jesus was the their awaited Messiah and that they should place their faith in him. In short, John DIMINISHED a message of repentance because his one of his target audiences simply would not have needed (being good ethical Jews). I would not press this point too strongly, however, because I simply think the concept of repentance is not absent from John's Gospel.

Third, I did not intend to suggest that an argument from silence is never valid. I only intended to note that it is not a particularly strong argument. The weight of my argument AGAIN is that the silence you see is not silence at all.

I would like to note that you have not at all defended the notion that the Gospel of John is an evangelistic document. I don't think this point is vital to your argument (I PARTLY agree with you), but I would like to note that you are dismissing a lot of solid research on this point.

Again, what is essential in studying words in the NT is to recognize that words are not to be studied in isolation but in relation to other words. These words form concepts. So, while the verb metanoew (and cognates) is absent from the Gospel of John, that does not mean the concept (which is ultimately more important) that underlies the notion of repentance is absent. I've tried to show that John 1:23 and 12:40 indicate that the concept of repentance (or something akin) is NOT absent from the Fourth Gospel. Do note that a standard Lexicon (Louw & Nida) group the words metanoew and epistrephw under the CONCEPT "to change behavior." Here is their definition, "to change one's manner of life in a particular direction, with the implication of turning back to God - "to change one's ways, to turn to God, repentance."

I look forward to reading your response.

December 13, 2005 2:13 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Concerning "strepho":

I already answered as to it:

the search for "implicit" indicators of repentance in John's Gospel becomes a hopeless hodgepodge of guesses and misguided creativity. Repentance is just not there.

You glossed over all my arguments, mowens.

You write:
----------
Second, why is John so silent on the concept of repenentance. [Note that I clearly think you are overestimating the evidence.]
----------

Overestimating the evidence?

No matter what the "commentators" say, brother. I would rather take John's explicit statement about HIS purpose for writing the book, rather than listen to commentators wax eloquent concerning the deafening silence of the fourth gospel concerning repentance.

We read in:

Luke 24:46-47
46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Here is an explicit command to the apostles to preach repentance. Yet even in light of this direct command from the Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostles, the Apostle John, in His book written to bring people to saving knowlege of Jesus Christ, HE DID NOT PREACH IT. You do not preach a doctrine by being silent on it!

21 chapter he had ample opportunity to preach repentance. But he does not. He presents the terms of the gospel as "faith in Christ". This he does as an entreaty to the will.

Your creative fancy with strepho is unconvincing. In a book where he explains how one can have eternal life, whereas he gives command to merely believe in Christ for eternal life, are you saying that the passive use of strephw should be taken as a command for repentance (as every explicit use of it is used) as an act of the will?

Repentance is something that is commanded as an etreaty to the will. Here you are really grasping. Strepho is passive, and relates to the recipient being acted upon, not actively doing something (as repentance is always considered in the New Testament)and relates to conversion -- being born again/regeneration. In the standard of all greek lexicons, BAGD, it gives no evidence that the interpreteive entry in your lexicon is at all correct. They share no common root, they are not used the same way.

Strephw has only 20 occurences in the New Tewtament, none of them having the idea of repentance whatsoever!

You are grasping, and being quite creative here, instead of dealing with the fact that John does not preach repentance in the book he wrote for the purpose of evangelism.

Can you see your predicament? John fails to correctly express the requirements of eternal life, for nowhere does he condition eternal life on repentance in the book he wrote to bring men to faith in Christ for eternal life.

I don't know how else to cut the cards, man. Your position is sinking ground. Nowhere in any of his dialogues where he was doing evangelism, does he require repentance. Not a jot or a tittle is mentioned. Repentance is not even mentioned anywhere in the book. If John did think it was a NECESSARY requirement for eternal life, his silence about it is astounding! Concerning one of the most, if not the most, important considerations that a person has to deal with in his life, the claims of Jesus Christ concerning his offer of eternal life, if John thought that repentance was an essential, important, required, necessary, condition for eternal life, whereby, the one that doesn't repent does not receive eternal life, it is confusing why he would not even mention it!

The Gospel of John, which claims to be written to bring men to faith and eternal life(John 20:30–31), never once even mentions repentance. Still less does it make it a condition for eternal life along with faith. If John had really believed that to be saved one must “repent and believe,” it staggers the mind to consider that he never manages to say so in 21 chapters of his Gospel. By contrast, he says over and over again that one must believe.

Once again, supporters of the “repent and believe” doctrine frequently say that repentance is “implicit” in John’s Gospel. But this claim bears all the earmarks of what is called “eisegesis”—the process of reading into a text what one wants to find there, even when it is obviously not there. No interpreter of Scripture should be allowed this privilege unless he can show that in some way the text itself demands an implicit idea that is not directly expressed.

Of course, all texts, whether human or divinely inspired, work on assumptions that are not always directly stated. But this fact does not relieve the interpreter from demonstrating that these assumptions do indeed underlie the text he is considering. And it is nothing less than a monumental task to show, if repentance is truly a condition for eternal life, that the text of the Gospel of John clearly requires us to understand this. Nothing is less probable on its face than the claim that John omits any mention whatever of a fundamental condition for eternal salvation in a book in which he seeks to bring people to that salvation (John 20:30–31).

That you do not see this as significant is quite astonishing! Yet it is because you have brought your pre-held theology into the book of John, rather than take the prima facie reading of it: faith alone in Christ alone is the intermediate agency which brings eternal life.

John is not ignorant of repentance. As HK Flynn adeptly showed, John was a disciple of John the Baptist whose exclusive message was one of repentance.

Not just that, in the New Testament, John speaks of repentance more times than any other writer besides Luke! He mentions repentance no less than a dozen times in Revelation. He was no stranger to the doctrine.

Yet he took great lengths to not even mention the word ONCE in a book he wrote with evangelistic purposes! He AVOIDS the doctrine!

That you do not receive the import of these observations, the ones I made in my last comment to you, and my post itself, is quite astonishing.

One of the most striking facts about the doctrine of repentance in the Bible is that this doctrine is totally absent from John's gospel! There is not even so much as one reference to it in John's twenty-one chapters! Yet one lordship writer states: "No evangelism that omits the message of repentance can properly be called the gospel, for sinners cannot come to Jesus Christ apart from a radical change of heart, mind, and will." (John MacArthur)

This is an astounding statement. Since John's gospel does omit the message of repentance, are we to conclude that its gospel is not the biblical gospel after all?

The very idea carries its own refutation. The fourth evangelist explicitly claims to be doing evangelism (John 20:30-31). It is not the theology of the gospel of John that is deficient; it is the theology found in lordship salvation. Indeed, the desperate efforts of lordship teachers to read repentance into the fourth gospel show plainly that they have identified their own fundamental weaknesses. Clearly, the message of John's gospel is complete and adequate without any reference to repentance whatsoever.

The silence of chapter one persists to the very end of the book. The fourth gospel says nothing at all about repentance, much less does it connect repentance in any way with eternal life.

This fact is the death knell for lordship theology. Only a resolute blindness can resist the obvious conclusion: John did not regard repentance as a condition for eternal life. If he had, he would have said so. After all, that's what his book is all about: obtaining eternal life (Jn 20:30-31).

Antonio

December 13, 2005 9:29 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Antonio,
Thanks for the response. In the interest of fruitful discussion, would you please be sure to answer the following questions: 1) what is the meaning of the verb strephw in John 12:40? 2) what is the meaning of the Baptist's statement in John 1:23?

By the way, regarding John's supposed association with the Baptist, there seems to be little reason to conclude that John the Evangelist was present during the events described in John 1. The "beloved disciple" is not mentioned until John 13:23. To suggest that he was present in John 1 is simply speculation. Much more evidence is needed.

-------
"are you saying that the passive use of strephw should be taken as a command for repentance (as every explicit use of it is used) as an act of the will?"
-------
No, I'm not saying this is a command. Let's look at John 12:40 in context. In essence, this verse functions as part of a scriptural proof from Isa 6:10 that explains why the "crowd" in John 12 did not believe (see John 12:37, 39). John 12:40 forms part of the fascinating interaction between divine sovereignty and human responsibility that runs throughout the Gospel of John (see D. A. Carson's dissertation on the subject). Do note that while the verb strephw is passive, the verbs idwsin ("see") and nohswsin ("understand") are ACTIVE. Here is the interaction between God's sovereignty and human responsibility that I mentioned earlier.

In essence, the use of the passive verb form conveys the reality that salvation (and the faith in Christ that accompanies it) is not solely the work of a person's will. Instead, it is also the result of God bringing a person to conversion. This idea is described here using the verb strephw, which generally means "to physically turn." John is using the verb here with a metaphorical sense (by the way, the LXX - the Greek OT - uses the verb epistrephw at this point; therefore, my previous comments about this verb are not invalid as you suggest; also see below).

The question then becomes what metaphorical sense does John intend to convey? It seems most natural to suggest that John is using the verb to convey the sense "to turn from sin and to God." In short, Jesus is suggesting that God has not granted the "crowds" the ability to turn from their sin (cf. Acts 16:14). If this is not close enough to the CONCEPT of repentance, I would like you to explain why. If you would prefer a different meaning, please explain as thoroughly as you can that meaning.

Regarding the verb epistrephw, please note that in Koine Greek, the meaning of a root verb (in this case stephw) can be intensified simply by adding a preposition (in this case epi). Hence, the verb epistrephw is simply a combination of the preposition epi and the verb strephw. That said, my previous comments about epistrephw are entirely valid and establish a clear connection with the verb metanoew ("to repent").

The whole issue of John's Gospel being written with an evangelistic intent (in my view) is generally irrelevant. As I said before, I PARTLY agree with you. The reality is, there is a major textual variant in John 20:30. One can either read an aorist form of pisteuw or a present form of pisteuw. The former (supposedly) conveys an evangelistic purpose, while the latter conveys (supposedly) an emphasis on discipleship (specifically, continuing in the faith). This issue is not best answered by examining the textual evidence or the verb form (aorist or present). Instead, it is best answered by looking at the Gospel as a whole. I really would suggest that we ignore this issue.

By the way, I have read your discussion with Theophile regarding John 15. First, your assumption that the disciples are regenerate at that point does not account for the significance of John 20:22 (a proleptic act that foreshadows Pentecost). Therefore, in my view, the degree to which your argument with him was dependent upon that assumption is the degree to which your argument is weakened. Second, your distinction between a "Master/discipleship relationship" and a "savior/sinner relationship" is creative but cannot be substantiated from the text. That is not a natural way of reading the text.

I look forward to your response.

Mark

December 14, 2005 2:08 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Antonio,
I was skimming through your response and noted the following statement that I would like you to explain:

"Strephw has only 20 occurences in the New Testament, none of them having the idea of repentance whatsoever!"

My first response to you already noted the use of strephw in Matthew 18:3 ("Truly, I say to you, unless you turn [strephw] and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven"). Your response, however, seems to indicate that Jesus is not speaking of something akin to repentance. Yet, you do not give any reason for adopting that position. Could you carefully explain why?

Could you also carefully explain why you think you are justified in dismissing my appeal to the verb epistrephw. You describe my appeal to that verb as "creative fancy" yet you do not explain why you think you're justified in describing it as such. I fail to see how it can be described as such when there are passages that clearly link it to the verb metanoew ("to repent"), indicating that they are close synonyms. For example, Acts 26:20 - "I preached that they should repent (metanoew) and turn (epistrephw) to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance"). Does not the presence of the conjunction "and" (kai) indicate that they are being used synonymously. Note that these two verbs are both in the same verbal form (present, active, infinitive), further suggesting that Luke is closely connecting the meanings of these two verbs.

I would be really interested in seeing how you respond to these two issues.

Mark

December 14, 2005 7:38 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mowens,

We are at an impasse.

You are bringing your theology to the text of John, rather than seeing the clear implications of his deafening silence and ommission of repentance in his text.

All the talk about "implications" of repentance is a red herring diverting from the absolute fact of the absence of repentance.

Concerning repentance in the gospel of John, Lordship Salvation people are up the creek without a paddle.

As B.B. Warfield put it,

"Evidence cannot produce belief, faith, except in a mind open to this evidence..."

and

"If evidence which is objectively adequate is not subjecively adequate, the fault is in us..."

As to your centention about a "major" textual variant in John 20:31 (you said 20:30), let me make a few observations.

1) Both the so-called contemporary critical text and the Majority Text adopt the same reading : "pisteusete"
2) The reading "pisteusete" is found in the overwhelming majority of extant manuscripts
3) Even if the verb was taken as present, it would be a gratuitous interpretation to conclude that this shift would indicate the purpose of the book to be discipleship instead of evangelism.
4)The hina subordinate purpose clause of verse 31, has as its explicit purpose that the reason John writes is that the reader, believing, would have life.
5)The gospel bears this purpose out with multiple evangelistic pericopes and absolute gospel affirmations, i.e. that Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the beliver in Him for it.

The gospel of John was written for evangelism, but omits any reference whatsoever to repentance.

This is the pill that is hard for you to swallow.

As to your comment concerning my other post and John 15, I have a question. Are you saying that noone was "regenerate" until Pentecost?

If this is your contention, this is quite an astonishing one.

Are you telling me that after 3 years of Jesus preaching that faith in Him receives eternal life that they, nevertheless hadn't trusted in Him for that life? They were not regenerate?

You are confusing the gift of the Holy Spirit with His ministry of regeneration. The gift of the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. The regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit has been around from the beginning.

John 3:5-11

5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him,"How can these things be?"

10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

Nicodemus was rebuked for not knowing about the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet he was a teacher in Israel!

Jesus, in the narratives of John, guaranteed eternal life as an immediate and present possesion to the believer in Him. This was not something subsequent to Pentecost (see John 5:24; 6:47; etc.).

The 11 disiples in the upper room were justified by faith pupils/disciples of Christ in a dynamic relationship with Him.

You write:
----------
Second, your distinction between a "Master/discipleship relationship" and a "savior/sinner relationship" is creative but cannot be substantiated from the text. That is not a natural way of reading the text.
----------
Jesus is teaching the justified/born-again 11 disciples in the upper room. He is talking about a dynamic fruit-bearing relationship. He is commanding them to remain in it! As the Master, when the disciple both has His commands and keeps them, an intimate bond is formed, and the disicple gets a disclosure and manifestation of Christ that was not possible before having the commands and keeping them (John 14:21f).

It is a shame how the Lordship/Reformed folks do not critically distinguish and divide the word of truth, but jumble it together, gratuitously equating things, causing a massive eclipse of grace!

Antonio

December 14, 2005 8:08 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You write:
----------
Does not the presence of the conjunction "and" (kai) indicate that they are being used synonymously. Note that these two verbs are both in the same verbal form (present, active, infinitive), further suggesting that Luke is closely connecting the meanings of these two verbs.
----------

I command you to brush your teeth and to go to bed.

Note:

1) the conjunction "and"
2) use of present, active, infinitives
3) No necessary synonomous connotation

Mark,

You have glossed over my arguments. Yet, in all the arguments, there remains one salient, germaine, and incontrovertible fact: John, in the literary construction he wrote to bring men to faith in Christ for eternal life, ommitted any reference whatsoever to repentance in all 21 chapters of his evangelistic treatise. You can bank on that statement.

There are only two options:

1) John's theology is deficient
2) John did not regard repentance as a condition for eternal life

If repentance is a condition for eternal life, the gospel of John would fail in its intended purpose. The book could not stand alone, and no reader could get saved if this was the only document he had, for repentance is completely absent from this gospel. John failed to fulfill his purpose in his writing.

Antonio

December 14, 2005 8:25 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Antonio,
Believe me, I wish I could go to bed. I work as a security guard and will be getting off in half an hour:-)

I posed a series of questions to you that are very legitimate and your past two responses only addressed one of them. With all due respect, how can you write, "You have glossed over my arguments"?
I think I'm more justified in asking you that question.

As to your response to Acts 26:20, I really fail to see how you can miss the parallelism between these two verbs that indicate closeness in meaning. I don't mean to be offensive, but I would advise you to read a few works on the importance of understanding linguistics in interpreting the Bible. I've already noted Silva's fine work. I can give you a few more references if you wish.

If we are at an impasse, I'm afraid it's because you are not properly responding to my critique. You can continue claiming John is devoid of repentance, but merely claiming so does not prove it.

I would be more than happy to continue this discussion, but I would ask that you answer the questions that I posed you.

Mark

December 14, 2005 8:38 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

By the way, please don't jump to conclusions regarding my comments about John 15. As it is, there are still a few issues to discuss (if you are willing). I would be glad to comment on that at a later date.


Mark

December 14, 2005 8:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mark,

Keep your eyes off the computer screen and ON THE VIDEO MONITORS, lol :)

you write:
----------
but I would advise you to read a few works on the importance of understanding linguistics in interpreting the Bible
----------
But it was you who stated that because there is a conjunction joining two verbs both sharing the same forms, that they were synonomous.

This represents to me a need for you to take a class in linguistics.

As to your "legitamate" questions, I see them as nothing but red herrings diverting from the facts that

1) John knew the word repent and its cognates, and the contemporary meaning of it's use. (He used the words more times than anyone in the New Testament beside Luke)
2) John did not include repentance or its cognates anywhere in the 21 chapters that he wrote for the purpose of evangelism.

Everything you have written has been constructed to divert from these incontrovertible facts.

It is inconceivable that John believed that repentance was necessary for salvation, and yet would not even mention it once in the 21 chapters he dedicated for the purpose of evangelism.

Antonio

December 14, 2005 8:52 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

you may have been confusing the granville sharp rule that doesn't talk of synonimity but identity of two nouns conjoined by kai and ruled by a single article...

December 14, 2005 8:55 PM  
Blogger Mowens said...

Antonio,
May I suggest we get back to the basic that revolves around this discussion. You are arguing that repentance is not found in the Gospel of John. I am arguing that at the very least, it is found in John 1:23 and John 12:40. I've explained how I understand 12:40 (I can comment on 1:23 if you wish) and have asked you to explain both passages. As far as I'm concerned, you've simply not answered my questions. Anyone who reads these comments can tell the same. That said, how do you interpret John 1:23 and John 12:40?

On a complete side note, please note that in the 3rd edition of Bauer's dictionary, they give the following as the meaning of strephw in Matthew 18:3 and John 12:40 - "to experience an inward change."

Regarding the Granville Sharp rule, I was not at all thinking of that construction (there is no article before "repent" in the Greek text and that rule applies to nouns not verbal forms.) I'm basically arguing that the conjunction kai ("and") functions as a coordinating conjunction that links the infinitives metanoew and epistrephw. It would be like me saying, "I really wish and desire to travel the world." Pardon my lame example, but it is close enough to what we find in Acts 26:20. In that sentence, the verbs "wish" and "desire" are connected by the word "and" such that they convey a closeness (not complete identity) in meaning. I'm arguing that is what's going on in Acts 26:20 ("repent" and "turn" are close in meaning; the statements following the verb "turn" at the end of the verse also confirm this). You would seem to argue that the conjunction kai should be translated differently. That will be very difficult to prove.

Antonio, I BEG you, please don't comment at all on anything related to the purpose of John, the Granville Sharp rule, Acts 26:20, or anything like that. Please just explain as fully as you can why you think the CONCEPT repentance is not found in John 1:23 and 12:40. Please explain to me why you think there is no notion of a change in ethical behavior found in these verses.

Finally, please keep in mind that I have no deep seated interest in defending "Lordship salvation" (per se). Frankly, I'm no big fan of people like J. MacArthur, primarily because of the manner in which they argue against those who do not agree them. I'm just trying point out what seems to be the most natural way of reading John.

Mark

December 15, 2005 6:42 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Antonio, I stumbled onto you blog. I just wanted to say "very interesting" not exactly what I would have said or think, but "very Interesting" I do have one comment in the the form of a question. Are you not starting in the middle of theology and trying to work your way out? It seems to me that faith in Jesus Christ is "itself" a repentence. Love you in Christ.

Larry Fann http://lbfann.blogspot.com

January 24, 2006 6:43 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Parenthesis from James Study: The gospel of John / Soteriology" (Dec 07 2005 08:52 PM) and comments

I would like to notice that part of mowen's comments involves a jumping to conclusion.

Antonio was saying,
-----------------------------
Do you realize that this verb is talking about a passive working upon an individual and not an active thing he is doing? That is why they translate it "be converted". It is something that is acting upon them, not something that they are actively doing.

On a side note, when a person believes the gospel, they passively recieve eternal life, they ARE CONVERTED.

How can you relate this to repentance being a condition for eternal life? You are comparing apples with oranges!
-----------------------------

The particular apples and oranges that mowen did was to jump from passive to active voice in comparing the two verbs.

When noting synonyms, you cannot assume that two verbs which are synonymous in one voice have the exact meaning when the active voice of one is compared to the passive voice of another!

This is the jump that he did not mention. He went from God doing something to someone, and compared that to man doing something.

Isn't that what the Reformation was to protest against? God doing the saving, not man doing the saving with God's help?

And to make sure that we did not misunderstand him, mowen adds that a particular authority gives us good reason to think that when man does something right, God can be thought of as moving behind the scenes.

Of course, that's true. But that is not an excuse to make the saving of a soul as man doing it with God moving him behind the scenes. Salvation is not God helping those who help themselves, even if you cloak that idea with the word "repent."

Here's where mowens had made this jump, Dec 12 2005, 04:47 PM:
---------------------------------
you are almost certainly ignoring John 12:40 where the verb strephw is used to describe what is best described as repentance.
---------------------------------

To have something done to you by God is not the same as doing it yourself, even if identical words are used.

December 22, 2006 12:04 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Parenthesis from James Study: The gospel of John / Soteriology"

Hello Antonio et al --

I realize that I'm in a time-warp :)

By that I mean I'm writing to you as if this discussion were current, and as if you and others who posted here a more than a year ago had nothing to do but check old blogs! For that I sincerely do apologize.

My only excuse is that the ideas being discussed are so eminently discussable!

Something happened in the thinking of the commenter of Dec 14 2005 02:08 PM. It said the following:

--------------------------
In essence, the use of the passive verb form conveys the reality that salvation (and the faith in Christ that accompanies it) is not solely the work of a person's will. Instead, it is also the result of God bringing a person to conversion. This idea is described here using the verb strephw,
--------------------------

There are two things: salvation "is not solely the work of a person's will" -- !??

Speaking from the point of view of historical theology, I would hope this comment is not unnoticed, irrespective of the verse being discussed, Jn 12:40, and the verb being discussed ("be converted").

Salvation is not at all the work of a person's will (Jn 1:13). We also have, as I mentioned in the previous post, many Reformation-era disputes even unto death, to rescue salvation (!) from the clutches of those who would give credit for it in the smallest to the work of a person's will. Luther vs. Erasmus was all about that.

But anyway, back to the argument of the quotation. If I said "You're not driving tonight. I'll have to pick you up," what if your answer was something like this:

"You are correct in saying that my getting there will not be solely the result of my driving, but also the result of you picking me up." Obviously you want to do part of the driving.

If a verse ascribes salvation to God, and our answer to the verse is "I realize that it is not solely the work of my will, but xxx" -- we want to do part of the saving. And we can't.

December 22, 2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Larry, leave me an email at:

agdarosa@cox.net

there is something that I would like to discuss with you.

I like when you said:
----------
When noting synonyms, you cannot assume that two verbs which are synonymous in one voice have the exact meaning when the active voice of one is compared to the passive voice of another!
----------

Your stuff is great!

December 22, 2006 2:17 PM  

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