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, January 30, 2007

Response to Dr. Wallace's Objections: Apostolic Fathers Analyzed (Dr. Wallace did NOT do his homework!)

To all – a note: Frank Turk has opted out of continuing to discuss the Epistle of James with me. He has claimed victory by citing a lexicon and quoting an expert. To him, the debate has been won; the shallowness of his affirmation readily identifiable to any impartial observer. He does not believe there is anything left to discuss but what to write on the FG tombstone, lol. The ‘Dead Horse’ posts on his blog say it all.

Furthermore, Frank Turk has banned me from his blog. Why, you ask? After contributing money to a missions organization that he was advocating in a post, I commented that I had donated, and that the organization seemed to be doing a needed and beneficial work. In the same comment, I added a hyperlink to the last article, in case he wanted to read it (in light of the fact it was a response to a post of his). He therefore banned me for including a simple link on a comment where I told him of my contribution to the charitable cause he was advocating in the OP. To this I say, “Of all the cheek!”

I am not done discussing James and the evidence that supports the Free Grace rendering and interpretation. We are currently treating Frank Turk’s ‘Big Gun’ (his words, not mine) expert, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, in his response to my lexical studies germane to our assessment of the kind of ‘salvation’ found in James. Frank Turk’s reticence will not prevent me from adducing all the relevant data to this issue. The traditional edifice has been raised. Can its foundation survive scrutiny?

Setting Up this Post

The book of James has generated a lot of controversy down through the centuries. In a nutshell, and to many, James seems to defy the Pauline doctrine of justification. Several theological constructs have had their take on this ostensible tension, offering their solutions to the apparent discord between the biblical writers. There have been basically four views of the James debate (other than the Free Grace position):

(1) Paul and James are irreconcilable. James teaches eternal salvation by works. (New Testament Scholar View)
(2) Paul is saying that salvation is apart from ‘works of Torah’, not all works per se. (A view advocated by some at the University of Tubingen, and some Anglicans)
(3) Introduction of perseverance theology. Faith that is divorced from works will result in eternal damnation. (Traditional Reformed)
(4) Faith must stay alive by the inclusion of works and faithfulness or else one will lose their salvation. (Arminian)

What these four views all have in common:

(1) The belief that James is discussing eternal salvation
(2) James, in one-way or another, must qualify Paul’s simple and explicit soteriology (except #1 that says Paul and James cannot be reconciled).
(3) Works, in a very real way, are necessary for the desired result: final deliverance from hell.
(4) ‘Faith alone’ is not sufficient for entrance into heaven.

The last three must all logically follow the first. If one is to advocate the position that James is speaking about eternal salvation, the language used in James will necessarily lead to a compromise between James and Paul, thus damaging the critical content of both. The insistence that James is talking about salvation from hell has wreaked incalculable damage to the Bible, and to the Christian faith. The soteriology of Paul has been brutally modified and works have been introduced into the gospel.

Is there any other option that has persuasive evidence to substantiate it?

Imagine for a moment that the salvation James is discussing in his epistle is not eternal. I know it would be difficult to do in light of the interpretive tradition fused to James. But… could this lead to a bona-fide resolution? The answer must be an emphatic, “Yes!”

The solution to the dilemma of James vs. Paul is very simple; easier than you may think, and does not take any gymnastics or sophisticated word play. Quite simply, James does not use the Greek word “sozo” (to save, deliver) in the sense of eternal salvation whatsoever. He is talking about the temporal deliverance of the life – in both significance and preservation from death. The biblical, lexical, and contextual evidence all point to this fact. A logical result of this substantiated position is a death-knell for the raging controversy concerning the Epistle of James. Not only does it fit the biblical data better, it resolves the mysterious and paradoxical nature that has been forced on soteriology by those who claim with their lips “sola fide” but proclaim with their doctrine a synergy of faith and works.

Can the Traditionalist, even for a moment, consider both the evidence and implications of this position?

For a short introduction to the evidence thus far adduced for the Free Grace rendering and interpretation of ‘salvation’ in James, discussing James 1:21, refer to this post: Overview. For a more detailed look, read over the last 5 posted articles on this blog.

Objection of Dr. Daniel Wallace:

Dr. Wallace read over one lexical study I did which analyzed every instance of the phrase “sozo” with “psyche” as its object in the Septuagint. This is the phrase we find in James 1:21, “save your souls”. It is found eleven times in the LXX. In each instance in the Koine Greek Old Testament, we found that the phrase in question invariably and most certainly meant a deliverance of the temporal life. To this study, Dr. Wallace gave a response that contained many objections. This is the third post thus far replying to his opposition.

Dr. Wallace is a decorated and highly esteemed scholar. Yet at the same time, I believe that his response to my lexical study was thoughtless and undiscerning. He has made many errors, which we have been exposing, and will continue to bring to light. I am being careful to answer each one of his objections to show the baseless nature of his arguments. We will let the impartial reader decide.

To read the whole objection, refer here: Frank Turk’s Dead Horse

The portion of the objection that we are addressing in this article is:

The author did not look at the apostolic fathers. But on a theological trajectory, it is important to see how the expression was used in the Greek immediately after the NT was written by those who followed the teachings of the apostles. Further, in the AF the bodily resurrection and afterlife is already well established. Thus, apart from three instances in the LXX that come after Daniel, we might say that the usage seems to move in a different direction-toward salvation from hell. Cf. 2 Clem 13.1; 15.1; Barn 19.10; Shep 61.1.

Reply to Dr. Wallace’s Objection

In our last post, Apostolic Fathers Part 1, we saw some of the tragic errors that filled these so-called Apostolic Father’s writings. No stock can be put into their epistles for the very reason that they significantly departed from apostolic doctrine, corrupting God’s grace. Please see the aforementioned post for a discussion of this very fact.

Nevertheless, in my last post, I stated that I was not running from these important references that Dr. Wallace has given us. We shall now look at the four passages given to us.

NOTE: I am seeking to determine the AUTHORS’ intent and sense of meaning in their writing by treating these passages. Whether or not they line up with biblical doctrine is up to you to decide. I am going to try to determine the sense of what the authors of these passages meant when they used the phrase “save souls”. This is my only purpose in treating these verses. How was this phrase used by them?

2 Clement 13:1

English Passage:
Therefore, brethren, let us now at length repent; let us be sober unto what is good; for we are full of much folly and wickedness. Let us blot out from us our former sins, and repenting from the soul let us be saved; and let us not become men-pleasers, nor let us desire to please only one another, but also the men that are without, by our righteousness, that the Name be not blasphemed on account of us.

Greek Phrase in Question:
μετανοησαντες εκ ψυχης σωθωμεν

The phrase we have been looking at, taken from James 1:21, is the Greek ‘sozo’ (to save, deliver) with ‘psyche’ (soul, life) as its object. From the very start, anyone who has a rudimentary understanding of English grammar can see from the English translation that ‘soul’ is not the object of ‘save’ in 2 Clement 13:1.

‘Psyche’ is the object of the preposition ‘ek’. This prepositional phrase modifies the verbal participle ‘metanoeo’. What this all says is that 2 Clement 13:1 is not an example of the Greek phrase in question.

It strikes me as particularly odd that Dr. Wallace so indiscriminately gives us a reference that is supposed to contradict my lexical study, when it is apparent from just a cursory look that this passage is irrelevant. Was the verse even read before he submitted it as a rebuttal to my studies? I would be surprised if it were, seeing that Dr. Wallace has such a scholarly reputation. Surely he would have noticed that this passage does not contain the phrase in question!

It is interesting in this passage, though, that the writer seems to equate the salvation he is talking about with one that takes works to enact. Furthermore, it seems to be a temporal salvation. Yet I would not bet my life on it… The so-called Apostolic Fathers were not the clearest stained-glass windows in the cathedral (as my last post showed)!

The writer calls his audience “brethren,” and includes himself in the admonition to repent (“let us now at length repent”). As a matter of fact, he incorporates himself in all the exhortations contained in this passage, even so far as including himself when he says, “for we are full… of wickedness”! Surely he considers himself as a Christian! (or does he!?) All of the exhortations are for saved people, as you can read. Therefore, it would seem that he is calling on saved people to repent so that they may have some kind of deliverance (obviously other than from hell). So the most probable solution would be to take ‘sozo’ as a temporal deliverance of some kind. This would not be a jump, as our studies have already shown that the OT uses the verb “sozo” as a deliverance from temporal circumstances in over 98% of its occurrences.

Nevertheless, it has been shown that this verse does not contain the phrase ‘sozo’ with ‘psyche’ as its object, which is the very phrase we have been studying.

2 Clement 15:1

English Passage:
Now I do not think I have given you any light counsel concerning self-control, which if any one do he will not repent of it, but will save both himself and me who counseled him. For it is no light reward to turn again a wandering and perishing soul that it may be saved.

Greek Phrase in Question:
ψυχην... σωθηναι

Granted, his thoughts here are a bit difficult to follow. But I will try rendering them intelligible with two paraphrase options.

Paraphrase #1:
My counsel to you about self-control is very important. If you should practice it, you will not regret that you did. This advice, if you follow it, will save you from the deadly consequences of intemperance. The one who exhibits self-control will save himself. When you follow my advice, I, too, will experience a salvation. This is seen in the fact that a great reward lies in store for the counselor who turns one from dissipation unto self-control, saving the life of the active recipient of his counseling.

Paraphrase #2:
My counsel to you about self-control is very important. If you should practice it, you will not regret that you did. This advice is good for both you and me; for if we should put into practice self control, we shall save ourselves from the deadly consequences of intemperance. This is explained by the fact that there is great gain in following my admonition unto self-control, which thus turns one from a destructive path of dissipation unto a path that saves and preserves the life.

(1) Self-control is the condition for the salvation in question.
(2) Self-control is obviously a work, and can in no way be mistaken for simple faith.
(3) The second sentence in the verse is logically tied to the first by use of the explanatory ‘gar’ (for).
(4) The one who practices self-control will save himself, a self wrought salvation.
(5) The salvation comes as a result of changing one’s behavior.

What is the opposite of self-control?

Dissipation, drunkenness, excess, indulgence, intemperance, intoxication, revelry, wantonness. All of these things, when fully mature, can cause physical death (see James 1:15). It is not hard to imagine the maturity of any sin causing death. Just think of the following: fornication, drunkenness, anger, drug use, etc; all of which are committed only in the absence of self-control.

It is obvious that someone who does not practice self-control is in danger of physical death. The practice of self-control will save one’s life! The one who is not practicing self-control is “wandering” from the truth and is perishing in his sin.

Both the options in rendering that I give take the above five observations into consideration. There would be one other interpretation that may be equally as valid in consideration of the observations shown, seeing that the so-called Church Father’s strayed so far away from grace. Just a casual reading of 2 Clement shows many explicit passages advocating a works-salvation. This passage could be another example of them, and thus be a false gospel. In that case, we could not put any stock into the unnamed (all scholarship denies that 2 Clement was written by the Clement of 1 Clement) writer of this ancient homily as to what the writer of James meant by “save your souls” in James 1:21, unless one is to assert that James advocates works-salvation.

Epistle of Barnabas 19:10

English Passage:
You shall remember the day of judgment, night and day. You shall seek out every day the faces of the saints, either, by word, laboring, and going to exhort them, and striving to save a soul by the Word, or by your hands you shall work for a ransom [IOW, liberty, freedom = Greek ‘lutron,’ “something to loose with”] of your sins.

Greek Phrase in Question:
σωσαι ψυχην

This passage is found in the midst of 11 verses (Barnabas 19:2-12) describing “the way of light” (19:1). Each of these verses starts out with the familiar imperative, “You shall (thou shalt)”, containing additional instances of this phrase within them as well. They are commandments to a Christian readership by which one should “travel on the way to his appointed place” (19:1). In other words, they are commandments for one’s Christian walk. The passage is like a medley of ordinances, only held together by virtue of the fact they are commandments. They cover many differing topics and do not have an evident and/or recognizable flow or meter.

The first sentence of this verse may or may not have to do with the second verse. Reading the eleven verses of this section one finds that there is not much connection between the commandments in the sense of a progressive thought. It doesn’t matter in any case. Christians must be vigilant and waiting for their Master to appear, before whom they must give an account at the Bema (Judgment seat) of Christ.

Diagramming the sentence that contains the phrase in question is very important, for it gives us the clues on how it is used by the author.

The main clause is:
“You shall seek out every day the faces of the saints”

Subordinate to the main clause are two subordinate clauses that modify/qualify the main clause and are delineated by the correlative conjunctions, “h[…h[” (English: “Either… or”).

The first subordinate contains three coordinate clauses, each of which is a verbal participial phrase, conjoined by the Greek conjunction “kai” (“and”):
“going to exhort them”
“striving to save a soul by [instrumental of means] the word”

Each of these participial, co-ordinate phrases is governed by the prepositional phrase: “by (through)[Greek = “dia”] word”

The second subordinate delineated from the first by a correlative conjunction:
“you shall work for a ransom of your sins” which is further modified by the prepositional phrase: “by your hands”

Illustrated Flow of this Verse According to its Diagramming:
(Main Command)
You shall seek out the faces of the saints, every day

(Subordinates that describe how one is to accomplish the main command, giving two options, per the correlative conjunctions)


By word:
1) laboring
2) going to exhort them
3) striving to save a soul by the Word


By hand:
You shall work for a ransom of your sins

The command is to seek out the faces of the saints. We are not talking about the unsaved here. The writer is exhorting his readership to endeavor in the ministries of edification and service unto the saints. He is not talking about evangelism!

The writer of this homily gives 2 options for following his command to “seek out the faces of the saints.” The first option has three co-ordinate components: laboring, going, and striving. It is obvious that the intention and aim of seeking out the faces of the saints is for the purpose of ministering to them. This ministry is produced either by option one:

Laboring by word. The minister is commanded to labor by means of his words, which must obviously include: teaching/preaching, admonition, and encouragement. The minister seeks to benefit ‘the saints’ by so doing.

Going to exhort them. A special emphasis is placed upon exhortation in the ministry unto the saints. It is of value to note that this verse resides in the context of a very large exhortation in the form of commandments (Barnabas 19:2-12). Could the author have intended this commandment (‘going to exhort them’) to be observed by urging the ‘saints’ to walk in “the way of the light” by preaching this set of commandments? It is highly probable.

Striving to save a soul by the word. Let us not jump ship here, dislocating this participial commandment from its governing clause! “Striving to save a soul by the [instrumental means of the] Word” is how one observes the command to “seek out the faces of the saints”! In this context, this command can hardly mean anything but “Strive to save the lives of the saints by exhorting them to obey the Word.” Obeying the commandments of the Word can save the life! This command is in the context of “seek[ing] out… the faces of the saints”, not “seeking out the faces of the lost!”

Here is a small ensample of the proverbial literature that illustrates this principle:

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 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.

(For a more thorough introduction to the Proverbial literature having to do with this issue, refer to my article here: The Book of Proverbs and The Epistle of James)

Or this ministry is produced by option two:

By hand, you shall work for a ransom of your sins

The last subordinate should not give us any trouble. Remember! We are still within the context of ministering to the saints! The first option apparently discusses the ministering to the saints through our words. The second option discusses ministering to the saints through our deeds.

In other words, we minister to the saints through “laboring by hand”. Not only are we to edify the church by our words, we must build up our brothers and sisters by the performing of deeds. Not only does “laboring by hand” minister to the saints, it also has as a purpose a kind of freedom from the minister’s sins. When one is out laboring by his hands, doing deeds for the saints, he is working righteousness. We remember the old proverb that “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” When one is working righteousness, it is impossible for him to be sinning at the same time. It is keeping him out of trouble. The working of righteousness will free the man from falling into the snare of sinful activity.

Of course this also may contain the ideas of penance and satisfaction, discussed briefly in the last post. The author may then be implying that by working and doing deeds for the saints one can merit favor or grace from God, enacting a temporal satisfaction for sins committed. It would be an act, similar to the sin offerings in the O.T., whereby one can stay in communion with God; providing a sacrifice for the temporal forgiveness of sins.

The Shepherd of Hermas Book 6 1:1

English Passage:
Sitting in my house, and glorifying the Lord for all that I had seen, and reflecting on the commandments, that they are excellent, and powerful, and glorious, and able to save a man's soul, I said within myself, "I shall be blessed if I walk in these commandments, and every one who walks in them will be blessed."

Greek Phrase in Question:
σωσαι ψυχην

A James Passage that Immediately Comes to Mind:
As soon as I read this passage in the Shepherd of Hermas, a sentence in James, merely four verses away from James 1:21 (where we have the phrase in question) came to mind:

James 1:25
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Do you see the comparison? The one who walk in the commandments, says the author of Shepherd “will be blessed”. Does not James say the exact same thing? The one who continues in the law of liberty and is a doer of it “will be blessed” in his doings. The author of the Shepherd had this James passage in mind when he wrote his treatise.

The author of this Similitude relates to us that he was meditating and reflecting upon “the commandments”. It should be obvious to all that he means the commandments of God. Is he discussing salvation from hell? It is unlikely in the context here. He is discussing a salvation that is enacted by obedience to the commandments of God. He furthermore, mirroring James in his epistle, pronounces blessing upon the one whom “walks in them”.

This imagery closely parallels the Old Testament Proverbial literature.

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

How do commandments save a man’s life? The commandments give practical instruction on righteousness. Heeding the commandments keeps one from the physical death dealing consequences of sinful activities and behaviors. Walking in the commandments give temporal significance to the life and prolongs one’s days (Prov. 10:27).

Summing it Up

One of Dr. Wallace’s objections to me was that I “did not look at the Apostolic Fathers.” In this post, we have rectified this problem. Dr. Wallace gave 4 references to early church writings from the so-called “Apostolic Fathers”. We have examined each one closely, analyzing them in context. In the first instance, we found that the phrase in question did not even occur in the text. The final three were unsuprisingly shown to refer to temporal deliverance of the life.


Dr. Wallace ought to be embarassed by the carelessness that pervades his objections to my lexical studies. His assertion that “the usage [of the phrase in question] seems to move in a different direction-toward salvation from hell [in the so-called ‘Apostolic Fathers’]” was assumed on his part without him taking any time to critically look at the texts themselves.

In the next installment, we shall look at a few passages from Josephus that Dr. Wallace failed to look at. He obviously has the software that I used to find the passages in Koine Greek that have the phrase ‘sozo’ with ‘psyche’ as its object, but has completely ignored them.

A friend of mine (whom I agree with often and disagree with more) has said concerning Wallace’s opposition:

“he wasn't being objective with you, he was just showing a bias against your position rather than engaging it”

I would have to say that I whole-heartedly agree with his assessment.