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, February 27, 2007

More Koine Greek Lexical Evidence for the Free Grace Rendering and Interpretation of James 1:21


In viewing the evidences thus far for the Free Grace interpretation and rendering of James 1:21, what has impressed me almost as much as the utter lack of lexical substantiation supporting the Lordship/Calvinist interpretation, is the usage of the Greek word “psyche” (soul, life) in the Koine Greek Bible. This word suggests the intrinsic, inner self, which is alive and capable of experiencing all that human existence can offer. It is life conceived of as inseparable from selfhood. I believe that the term “soul” in English has collected much baggage from speculative, worldly philosophies of yesterday and today.

The phrase in question, the one which we have been studying, of course is “… receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Thus far we have looked at every occurrence of the phrase in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint, LXX) and in the so-called Apostolic Fathers. In each and every single instance, the phrase in question means a deliverance of the temporal life. We continue to adduce evidence in this post for the same phrase. A search was done for this phrase in both Josephus and Philo, and the following two references are its results. Following those is a reference from the Papyri.

Antiquities of the Jews 11:255 This was the advice which Haman gave, out of a supposition that such a reward would come to himself. Hereupon the king was pleased with the advice, and said, "Go therefore, for you have the horse, the garment, and the chain, ask for Mordecai the Jew, and give him those things, and go before his horse and proclaim accordingly; for you are,” said he, “my intimate friend, and have given me good advice; be then the minister of what you have advised me to. This shall be his reward from us, for preserving my life.”

εσται σωσαντι [sozo] μου την ψυχην [psyche]

Josephus is discussing the book of Esther, where the king commanded Haman to parade Mordecai about the city, in royal garb, as a reward for saving his life.

Antiquities of the Jews 9:240 Stand, stand still, seize their gold and silver, for there shall be no one to wish them well, for they will rather save their lives than their money; for a terrible contention shall possess them one with another, and lamentation, and loosing of the members, and their countenances shall be perfectly black with fear.

σωζειν [sozo] γαρ αυτων εθελησουσι τας ψυχας [psyche]

Josephus, here, is quoting Nahum’s prophecy concerning Ninevah (Nahum 2:8ff), which portrays Babylonian invaders and looters who describe the fear of the Ninevites upon their attack. They muse over their prospects of the great spoils which they will be able to retrieve with ease, for as they think, the Ninevites will “go away by flight” (Antiquities 9:239) wanting to “save their lives” rather than try to protect their money.

Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, pg 620 (see also pg 698):

“P. Tebt I. [The Tebtunis Papyri] 5611 (late ii/B.C) σωσαι [sozo] ψυχας [psyche] πολλας (from famine)”.

In the context of this papyrus, the phrase should be translated “to save many lives” from famine.

It is the practice of Moulton and Milligan to give representative references for the semantic ranges found in the papyri. In the whole of all the papyri evidence, which includes many Christian and religious letters of varying sorts, there cannot be found one usage of “sozo” with “psyche” as its object discussing an eternal salvation from damnation. Such would be a major usage, and as such, is absent from Moulton and Milligan’s important work.

Concluding Remarks

In the evidence thus far presented in substantiation of the Free Grace Theology position on James 1:21, every single reference supports the rendering, “which is able to save your lives” (James 1:21). Every single usage of this phrase in the Septuagint, the Patristic writings, and the major 1 century A.D. histories conforms to the Free Grace position. Whenever lexical evidence of this nature is ignored, erroneous interpretation is sure to follow.

Two questions for the Lordship Salvation / Calvinist reader:

1) Can you produce even one reference from any Koine Greek source for the phrase in question that has as its meaning: eternal salvation from hell ?

2) Why is the substantial lexical evidence for this phrase ignored by the Lordship Salvation / Calvinist commentator ?


Anonymous danny said...

Nice work, Antonio - especially the last post on the Apostolic fathers.

February 27, 2007 6:17 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Keep it coming, Antonio.

February 27, 2007 6:21 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thanks guys,

there is more to come.

My next post will look at the 9 occurrences of the phrase in the New Testament.


February 27, 2007 9:18 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Ah yeah!

February 27, 2007 10:50 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio, without assuming any ability to critique your work here I am still compelled to say that all of these recent articles have been both persuasive and impressive. If there were a loose end anywhere I am certain it would have been both found and exposed to the highest degree.

I would also say, to the praise of God, that these articles are testimony that you are a workman that needs not be ashamed.

February 28, 2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I am a fluff scholar. Mostly because of pure intellectual laziness. But I have to admit, I love this stuff, which is not fluff at all.

Good work, Antonio!

March 01, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

I must agree bro. Antonio, excellent work. One of the major things that keeps me in the Free Grace "camp" is the solid exegesis of Scripture rather than commentary counting. God Bless you.

Oh, by the way, the same solid evidence for this rendering of Jas.1:21 also stands for the historical FACT of Christ's bodily resurrection from the dead. All the supposed "finds" of unbelievers, like this latest one from James Camerson & the "bones of Jesus" are simply fabrication & the truth always comes out eventually. The resurrection has never been nor ever will be succesfully disproved. I don't know why I brought this up, but I just saw it as connected!

March 03, 2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous solifidian said...

When you're done with your research, perhaps you should make it into an article and submit it for journal publication to Chafer, GES, or even BibSac.

March 05, 2007 10:04 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thank you all for visiting and your encouragement.

An article would be extremely tempting. It would take alot of time in formatting, reduction, and honing.

Maybe I could print out all my stuff and use scissors to narrow down the good stuff and try to put it into some kind of cohesive and progressive thought.

Kinda scary!


March 05, 2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peace to you Antonio. I pray your work may save the "soul" of those lost in their religious effort of working their way to heaven. Take comfort in the One who will judge your words and reward you in Heaven. Do not strike with the sword but minister and your peace and reward will be from the Lord.

March 08, 2007 3:05 PM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Awesome post!

March 12, 2007 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Graham Cracker said...

I ran across your blog recently. It parallels my own study in some ways.

Question: I have tried to tie in Jms 2:13 (judgment and mercy) with "save" in order to show "sozo" in 2:14 was not eschatological (heaven/hell) in context. It still looks superficially like heaven or hell judgment simply because it does not say it is not.

Obviously, 1:21 is helpful in this context but I would like something a little closer--like 2:8-12. But I have not been able to develop a convincing argument to use in debate.

What have you written along this line of thinking.

March 14, 2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Danny and Matt C.,

Thank you for the encouragement.


I appreciate your thougtful and encouraging remarks.

Joe and David,

you guys are too kind, really!


March 14, 2007 1:34 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


very good advice,

John, thanks for dropping by.


March 14, 2007 1:35 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Graham Cracker,

James 1:21 sets the standard for the remaining uses of the verb "sozo" (save) in the Epistle.

The overarching theme in the epistle is trials, and our appropriate responses to them. I prefer not to use the term "eschatological" for reference to the eternal destiny of men and women. To me, the judgment in James 2:13 is indeed eschatological, in the sense that it is referring to the judgment of believer's works at the Bema of Christ (The judgment seat of Christ). It is not for the purpose of determining one's eternal destiny. That was definitively made certain the moment one believed into Christ for eternal life. It is for the purpose of reviewing one's life in the sense of giving account of one's stewardship while here on earth. The results of this judgment will be either reward in varying degrees based upon one's endurance in faith and confession, or loss to one degree or another.

A very strong indicator of the type of "salvation" that James is discussing is realized when one understands the overwheling evidence that shows that the epistle was written with justified believers in mind, and not the unsaved whatsoever.

Check out what I have so far on James in the table of contents section of my main page. The last entry is on James.

Let me know if I can turn you on to any more articles.


March 14, 2007 1:43 PM  
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March 16, 2007 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antonio, would you mind reading this and letting me know if this is a correct interpretation of free grace theology?

I need to find out of the Lordship theology is presented correctly too, as I haven't studied it at all; however if what he does say about it is correct, then I'm not buying a big chunk of it. :) (ie being works oriented, de-emphasizing grace, and no assurance of salvation)

I guess I find myself somewhere in the middle because I fully embrace God's sovereignty, no doubt about that. But my gosh, where would we all be without God's grace????! As I see it, it is by His grace that we will persevere to the end, but that peseverence doesn't necessarily include a host of 'works' nor is it characterized by legalism.

This part:

"Lordship" theology teaches that if a so-called Christian falls into sin, persists in sin, and does not soon return to the Lord, that that so called Christian is not a real Christian at all. He is only a professing Christian. Real Christians persevere in the faith. If you do not persevere, then you are not a Christian, and you are lost. The logical consequences of such a theology on a believer’s sense of security, which is tied to his identity, is defeating. Believers caught up in this theology hear God saying, "If you want to know you are My child, consistently act like My child!

is totally untrue. Two testimonies: 1)my husband ran from God for 25 years of his adult life (after being saved at 15). I guess anyone observing him during this time would have pronounced him unsaved. That would have been wrong. God did get hold of him though. And 2) I lived in blatent sin for a period of time some years back. Same thing. And God got hold of me as well.

Anyway, sorry to ramble. I'm just trying to gain some insight. :)


March 17, 2007 6:07 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Gayla,

I'm a Free Gracer like Antonio. In case Antonio doesn't respond to this in the next few days, I'll be happy to help you.

Yes, Rutherford's artice is a good defense of the Free Grace position, and is right on in its critique of the Lordship position.

However, I take another Free Grace view of "inheriting the Kingdom." Now I do indeed agree that wrong-doing Christians enter, but do not reign in the Kingdom (the reward of the inheritance - Colossians 3:23-25). But I don't believe that the expression "inherit the Kingdom" refers to the "reward of the inheritance." The reward of the inheritance definitely has to do with reigning/possessing the Kingdom, but inheriting the Kingdom doesn't.

I believe entering and inheriting the Kingdom are the same thing, but I do not see a warning to wrong-doing Christians in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Let's look at the context. In 1 Corinthians 6:8, Paul tells the Christians that they are doing wrong. In verses 9 and 10, Paul compares them to unbelievers who are naturally wrong-doers or unrighteous, who do not inherit (enter) the Kingdom. So the believers are acting like unbelievers, but in verse 11 Paul tells them that they are washed, justified, and sanctified, in distinction to the unbelievers in verses 9 and 10.

The word for unrighteous in verses 9 and 10 is the same Greek word for the unrighteous in verse 1. In verse 1, the unrighteous are clearly unbelievers. In 6:8, Paul tells the Corinthians that they do wrong (from the same word group as unrighteous), and then in verse 9 he compares them to unbelievers, who most naturally committ the sins on the vice list in verse 10. But even though the Corinthians are committing similar sins as unbelievers, still fornicating (5:1) and so on, they have been washed, justified, and sanctified. Paul's point: It is shameful for believers, who are washed, justified, and sanctified, to behave like unbelievers who do not inherit the Kingdom.

Believers who commit these sins will not reign in the Kingdom if they keep it up, but that isn't Paul's point here.

All throughout 1 Corinthians 5-6, we have a compare and contrast between believers and unbelievers. The comparison - the believers are still committing the same sins that unbelievers typically commit. The contrast - while both groups are acting unrighteously, the Christians have been washed, justified, and sanctified. In light of that, they should stop sinning.

Since most of my fellow Free Gracers equate the terms "inherit the Kingdom" and "reward of the inheritance," (Colossians 3:23-25) they think that unrighteous in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are unrighteous Christians who enter the Kingdom, but lose the reward of the inheritance.

Now again, I agree with my fellow FGers that the reward of the inheritance has to do with ruling and reigning in the Kingdom. And I do agree that Christians who commit the sins in 1 Cor 6:9-10 will not reign in the Kingdom. But I don't believe 1 Cor 6:9-10 refers to believers. These two verses are just a quick reference to unbelievers for compare/contrast purposes started in 1 Cor 5.

March 17, 2007 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny, thank you for taking the time to provide me such a well thought-out reply.

I'm jotting down all your Scripture references for some futher study.


March 18, 2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous danny said...

You're most welcome Gayla.

March 18, 2007 1:41 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


I pretty much agree with what Arch talks about.

Danny and I disagree on this point. To equate terms such as "enter" and "inherit" is to do injustice to language.

1 Cor 15:50
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;

We know that unglorified saints will enter the kingdom of God at the end of the tribulation. If Paul considers "inherit" the kingdom to be synonomous with "enter" the kingdom, this verse makes no sense.

Inheritance implies ownership and thus authority over that which is inherited, as in the case of the kingdom. To inherit the kingdom is to be placed in ruling authority over it.

Matt 5:5
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.

Matt 5:10
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here we have inheritance of the kingdom of God conditioned on standards of righteousness. Inheritance cannot be confused with entrance, or else entrance is based upon works.

Cross reference this Messianic Psalm:

Ps 2:7-9

7 "I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'"

with this verse from Revelation:

Rev 2:25-28
25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations --

27'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' --

as I also have received from My Father;

Christ, who is King and Son, is receiving the nations and the kingdom as His inheritance. Christ declares that all who overcome in standards of righteousness will receive that which Christ is receiving: inheritance of the kingdom and authority over it.

In distinction with Danny's views on 1 Corinthians 6, I wrote an article addressing the text here:

Unfaithful Christians will NOT inherit the kingdom of God

Bob Wilkin has written a great piece going over the various views of the 1 Cor 6 text and afterwards describes what he advocates as:

Christians Who Lose their Legacy

I hope these things help, Gayla. I am open to entertaining any more of your questions.

I want to give you an applause.

I appreciate that you are truly searching and considering various positions rather than blanketly dismissing the prayerful and hard worked exegetical position that has come to be known as Free Grace theology.

Every blessing in Christ,

Antonio da Rosa

March 18, 2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Hey Antonio,

Even though I hold the FG higher-calling view, please know that I totally respect the reward view of the expression inheriting the kingdom in 1 Corinthians 6. You already know that I believe unfaithful Christians will not rule in nor possess the Kingdom. You and I agree that the reward of the inheritance deals with ruling/reigning.

And I agree with you that the expression "theirs is the Kingdom" in Matthew 5:10 is referring to the reward of the inheritance. Yes, the inheritance in Matthew 5:10, Revelation 2:25-28, 21:7, James 2:5, Hebrews, and so, are referring to the reward of the inheritance, conditioned on conduct.

March 18, 2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Danny,

I know you do. I appreciate you, brother. I see your poignant and clear posts around the blogosphere and I am encouraged. Thanks for your patronage to my waning blog.

You should think about starting one!

Every blessing, brother!


March 19, 2007 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antonio, thank you for your reply. Admittedly, I have not studied 'enter' vs 'inherit' the Kingdom of God. I'm glad that it was pointed out, as it gives me pause to take a look at it!

You know, I truly want to be careful in taking a hardline stance and not developing a teachable spirit - I have to ask myself, do I want to be 'right' rather than 'righteous?'

And I certainly wish to be gracious to those who might see things a bit differently than me. :)

I do love studying though. (Far cry from h.s. and college days!) And I do want to be as faithful to the Word of God as I can possibly be.

Thanks again~

March 20, 2007 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny and Antonio, it seems I hear some confusing comments from those in the free grace camp concerning rewards and sins. I would agree with Danny's position on these verses from 1 Cor.(exhortation). The vices listed are clearly sins and as believers we are forgiven(eternally). In this life though, as believers, we should not let ourselves come under the power of sin or walk in the flesh. But often we do, so we must confess and turn to escape sins control and possibly suffer God's wrath against sin in our life here on earth now. When we walk in the Spirit we develope fruits of the spirit that will go with us to heaven where we may also receive a reward for any works and a possible rule in God's kingdom. We may do things in this life we think are good but the Lord may not judge them worthy of a reward, but sins are not the issue at the Bema. I think often the free grace position blends loss of reward with sins in the same way reformed theology blends works and eternal salvation. I am not saying free grace is confusing on eternal salvation. It should be more of a contrast between sins forgiven and works rewarded.

March 25, 2007 6:27 AM  

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