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 ?