Monday, October 22, 2012

Answers to Your Question

Below is something I ran across while preparing my lesson on "The Inspiration of the Scriptures" for Sunday morning.  I've always known that the writer of the book of Hebrews is debatedI was taught in my Sabbath keeping church growing up that it was Paul.  Then my studies as an adult proved it couldn't be Paul.  Look at what he wrote in Galatians and then what the writer of Hebrews wrote:
Paul wrote:  Gal 1: 11: But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  12: For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The book of Hebrews author wrote:  Heb:4:2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

So, the Hebrews author couldn't be Paul, right?  No one preached the gospel to him.

Answer: I do not know who wrote the letter to the Hebrews. Your point is a good one. But here is what I do know. The Greek of the letter to the Hebrews is closer to the Greek school of Alexandra and is definitely not Paul. Paul’s works are clearly written in a consistent Greek. The character of the Greek in Hebrews is more closely aligned with the type of Greek of the LXX. The LXX is the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek by the “group of 70” in Alexandria Egypt around 300 BC. The Greek is called Koine Greek because it was the common Greek language of the day after Alexander the Great conquered the area.

With 300 years of time between the Greek of the LXX and the New Testament, the language changed. Like the English of the Pilgrims verses modern American English. Some words become obsolete and the language in general becomes simpler. If you look at the text, its structure, the words used, etc., it is obvious that the signature of the text is fundamentally different from that of Paul. 
Also, some authors are more classically trained (e.g. Luke the doctor), while others are trained in a localized school that is notable enough to be recognized. The Greek of Hebrew’s is clearly from someone that is classically trained and from a city of classic Greek heritage (e.g. Alexandria Egypt). The letter to the Hebrews has too many unique features that differentiate it from any other work of the NT. The author is clearly a one of a kind. 
Thank you for your question.  
Dr. John Pappas

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Replacement Theology and Galatians


One of the most troubling doctrines taught today is replacement theology. Replacement theology says that the Church has replaced Israel as far as the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) are concerned.  Is it not interesting that those in the replacement camp not only find the Church in the Old Testament, but also will say the Church is in reference everywhere “Israel” is used in a good connotation, but wherever the context is negative - it is national Israel! There is no consistency; the Church receives all the blessing but none of the curses.

A good example of a leading replacement theologian is Louis Berkhof. Listen to what he says: “Both the Old and the New Testament speak of a future conversion of Israel, Zech. 12:10; 13:1; II Cor. 3:15,16, and Rom. 11:25-29 seems to connect this with the end of time. Premillennialists have exploited this Scriptural teaching for their particular purpose. They maintain that there will be a national restoration and conversion of Israel, that the Jewish nation will be re-established in the Holy Land, and that this will take place immediately preceding or during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. It is very doubtful, however, whether Scripture warrants the expectation that Israel will finally be re-established as a nation, and will as a nation turn to the Lord. Some Old Testament prophecies seem to predict this, but these should be read in the light of the New Testament.”  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 698-699)  

At least Dr. Berkhof admits that the text seems to say that national Israel will be saved at the last day. Most replacement theologians do not!

The Loci Cummunes (chief location) in support their position is found in Romans 9:6; 11:26 and Galatians 6:16. The book of Galatians, in particular, contains many verses that serve more evidence for their position than any other book of the Bible. The verses cited include Galatians 3:7; 3:16; 3:27-29, 4:25-26, 5:6, and 6:16.  This series of articles examines these verses and exposes some of the problems with this view from the text. 

The text of Galatians 3: The first text is Galatians 3:5-9.

Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? - just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."  Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed."  So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Gal. 3:5-9)
Does Galatians 3:5-9 teach that ethnic Israel was never the recipient of the covenant made with Abraham? Does it say that God gave it to ethnic Israel, but replaced Israel with anyone else after the fact? It does not! The Abrahamic covenant clearly was legally “cut” with Abraham and his physical seed after him. Listen to the conversation Abram has with the Lord:
But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."  And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:2-6)
It is clear that Abraham took things into his own hands by making his servant Eliezer of Damascus the legal heir. In that culture, a childless couple could adopt an adult outside the family in order to have a legal heir in case of their death. It appears Abram cut a legal contract making Eliezer their legal heir. He would be their legal heir until the couple produced a real physical heir. However, the Lord rejected that heir, restating the initial promise that God Himself would give him an heir and descendants (Hebrew  “zera” - “seed,” used collectively, thus the translation offspring, descendants, etc.) (cf. Gen. 12:1-3).

Listen to the contract language in Genesis:

On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…” (Gen. 15:18)
The covenant is a one way covenant – God will perform all the activities defined therein. The specific activities are twofold: A. Abraham will possess a physical seed; and, B. Abraham’s descendants will receive the land that is defined by the boundaries specified.

What then is Paul talking about in Galatians 3:5-9?  There really is little disagreement between evangelicals, whether dispensational or amillennial, concerning the meaning of this text. The statement:

Therefore know that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7).
Everyone applies the meaning of children to its metaphorical usage. The word children (Greek “huios” - a son) can mean a physical child born to real parents, or in the metaphorical usage, it means one with the characteristic of the person or thing it originates from. For example, “sons of God,” or “sons of light,” are those that are possessed by God and reflect some characteristic of God (i.e., represents and acts in a certain way as God does). In contrast, a “son of perdition” means one that acts the way the “man of sin” acts – as a person going down the road to destruction (2 Thes. 2:3), or “sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:3) is a Hebrew expression indicating that their chief characteristic is one of “disobedience.” 

What is understood by the text of Galatians 3:5-9 is that anyone can be called a son of Abraham who possess the same faith that he possessed when he believed God and that faith was accredited to him as righteousness. This person is not a physical son, but a metaphorical son, who possess the same faith as Abraham. There is no disagreement among expositors concerning this section of Scripture. The reason I have listed it in this discussion is because it is used as backup material to justify a perverted doctrine of the “true Israel” which they teach as replacement theology.

The error lies with the basic usage of a metaphor. A metaphor does not replace the original, it just serves as a literary device to use the literal original as a means to characterize the thing described as having the same characteristic as the original. A metaphor is never meant to redefined or replace the original literal thing. Understanding the basic rules of a metaphor is important and must not be abused. In the next article, I will look at Galatians 3:16.