Saturday, February 18, 2012

Overview of Romans

By Fr. Thomas Hopko

Part 1: Play Audio

Part 2: Play Audio

Christology and Recapitulation

from pages iii-x

"At the center of St. Maximus' theological and christological universe is the doctrine of Recapitulation. It is this doctrine which forms the basis of all that the New Testament and the Fathers have to say in connection with the Incarnation. While the term "recapitulation" itself appears only twice in the New Testament, the concept itself occurs repeatedly; one has only to recognize its principles of operation in order to know when it is being applied. These may be categorized as fellows: 1) preeminence 2) repetition and recontextualization, 3) reversal, and 4) fulfillment.

The Confessor elegantly summarizes this doctrine and its principles of operation in compact sentence: "The One Logos is the many logoi, and the many logoi are the One Logos." In other words, in His Incarnation and enhominization, Jesus Christ possesses and is all the fulness of the universals common both to deity and humanity. In terms of the four principles enumerated above, then, this works itself out in a multitude of ways. In terms of preeminence, it means that Christ is both the presupposition, the method, the paradigm, and the summit of whatever might be said either about God or about man. God is truly, uniquely, ultimately and finally revealed in The Word Incarnate. And man, perfect humanity, is also only understood properly in its union with the Word. In Scriptural terms, Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of all that can be said of God and man, and thus has the preeminence "in all things". Being thus preeminent in all things, Christ becomes the final context, the ultimate and perfect "recontextualization" and repetition, of the logoi, understood here as both the words of the Old Testament Scripture and the principles of nature: of creation as a whole and of man in particular. That is, not only are the typological themes of Scripture repeated in His Incarnate Economy from His conception to His Second Advent, but He also repeats all of the natural stages of humanity itself; Christ recapitulates and summarizes not only sacred history but the history of all of humanity as a whole, and the stages of life of each individual human being in particular. In doing so, He reverses the effects of the Fall. As the Second Adam, the entire drama of the Fall is replayed, this time to an opposite conclusion. Instead of a Fall into passions and corruption, mankind in Christ is raised and exalted. Deification and the spiritual life, in other words, are integral components and implications of the doctrine of Recapitulation. By thus repeating, and in some cases reversing, the typological themes of Holy Scripture and the natural laws and stages of humanity, Christ is not only preeminent in all things, but fulfills all Old Testament prophecy and expectation concerning His Coming, there being nothing more that canbe said about them outside of and without reference to Christ.

Consequently, the doctrine of the Recapitulation in Christ bears implications not only for the exegesis and interpretation of Scripture and the understanding of the Incarnation, but implies also a general basis on which to interpret human history and the whole created order and their principles of activity.

At this point, it would be helpful to survey how this doctrine is employed by other Fathers prior to St. Maximus before proceeding to his own use of it. The word 'recapitulation' means 'to collect several different things together under one head', or simply 'to summarize'. It occurs only twice in the New Testament, in Ephesians 1:10--"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him"--and in Romans 13:9 -- "if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." It is significent that St. Paul uses this word so sparingly, and then only in contexts having to do either with christological affirmation or with counsels on living a Christian life. In other words, the doctrinal affirmations of Christology and the principles of the spiritual life go hand in hand, they cannot be divorced fromeach other. The doctrinal principles of Christology are not mere intellectual constructs which have no force or bearing on the conduct of life, nor are the counsels of a virtuous life in love ever fully apprehended apart from Christ. Love, the union of God and man in Christ and the love of man for God and his neighbor, are the essence of the doctrine. This union was to play an important role in St. Maximus' own theology, as we shall see.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons is the name most often associated with recapitulation. For him, the two natures of Christ along with their various properties, establish His preeminence in both heavenly and earthly things and thus Christ fulfills them in Himself, ie., fills them with Himself:

"He was invisible and became visible; incomprehensible and made comprehensible; impassible and made passible; the Word, and made man; consummating all things in himself. That, as in things above the heavens and in the spiritual and invisible world the Word of God is supreme, so in the visible and physical realm he may have pre-eminence, taking to himself the primacy and appointment himself the head of the Church, that he may 'draw all things to himself' (St. John 12:32) in due time.

Here not only is Christ's recapitulation taken to refer to His preeminence in deity and humanity, but, since His divine nature is spiritual and invisible, it also includes "the spiritual and invisible world", the world of the angels and also of man's soul and mind. And by the same token, for St. Irenaeus the fact that Christ's humanity is physical and part of the physical creation, all of "the physical realm" is also effected by His Incarnation. Thus, the "one Christ Jesus our Lord" came "in fulfillment of God's comprehensive design and consummates all things in himself." In other terms, as the Word Himself in conjunction with His everlasting Father created "all things visible and invisible", so His Incarnation effects all things visible and invisible.

The double entendre of the word 'effects' is intentional, for Christ's Incarnate Economy affects all invisible and visible things both in the sense of accomplishing and even causing them to be, as well as in the sense of influencing them. The Recapitulation consequently effects the very design of time and history itself, since it pertains to "the mystery which hath been hid from the generations" of the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Recapitulation is the christological basis, then, of a proper understanding of the history of creation and of humanity from its inception to its consummation:

He was incarnate and made Man; and then he summed up in himself the long line of the human race, procuring for us a comprehensive salvation, that we might recover in Christ what in Adam we lost, namely, the state of being in the image and likeness of God.

This constitutes the allegorical or typological basis on which Irenaeus and other Fathers read the Old Testament. On the basis of the Pauline precedent of the parallelism between them: Adam is fashioned of virgin untilled earth, Christ is born of the Virgin Mary. As the Fall occurred through a (fallen) angel, and the disobedience of Eve and Adam, so the restoration is effected not only by a repetition of these elements in the Annunciation by an angel, but by a reversal of disobedience by the obedience of Christ the Second Adam and Mary the Second Eve.

(This is) the back-reference from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which those bonds of union had arisen; so that the former ties be cancelled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again liberty.

That is, in order for there to be a fulfillment of the Old Testament, their must be a repetition and recontextualization of its themes in the Life of Christ, and where necessary, a reversal of them. This presupposes certain principles in order for typological exegesis to take place. Types are like leitmotifs in music; they are repeated, and with each repetition, recontextualized, reaching their fulfillment in Christ.

Not only does this repetitional fulfillment of types occur in reference to the events of the Old Testament, but also in reference to the principles stages of human life itself, i.e., in reference to the observed phenomena of nature:

Therefore he passed through every stage of life, restoring to each age fellowship with God.......He sanctified each stage of life by [making possible] a likeness to himself. He came to save all through his own person: all, that is, who through him are re-born to God: infants, children, boys, young men and old.
Therefore he passed through every stage of life. He was made an infant for infants, sanctifying infancy; a child among children, sanctifying childhood, and setting an example of filial affection, of righteousness and of obedience; a young man among young men, becoming an example to them, and sanctifying them to the Lord.....And thus he came even to death, that he might be 'the first-born from the dead, having the pre-eminence among all [or in all things].'

But this recapitulation of humanity is not merely by repetition of its laws and stages, as the reference to Holy Baptism suggests. There is an ecclesiological and sacramental dimension in which it takes place.

With these principles of the doctrine in mind -- the preeminence of Christ in all things pertaining to deity and to humanity, and to the invisible and visible worlds, the repetition and fulfillment in His Incarnate Economy of the laws of human history, collective and individual, as well as of the repeated typology of the Old Testament -- we may now see how they operate in two other Fathers writing in entirely different times and for different purpose: St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria, and St. Ambrose of Milan.

For St. Athanasius as for St. Irenaeus the Incarnation recapitulates all of humanity:

Through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all.

That is, in His human nature which is consubstantial with all men, the Son and Word effectively bestows incorruption, with a certain irresistible determination, on all of humanity.

In the rest of the created order, St. Athanasius like St. Irenaeus sees that the salient events of the Incarnation life of Christ have the result of effecting and filling all of Creation, being above by virtue of His coming down from heaven and His bodily Ascension and return there, being present in this world in virtue of His Incarnation in it, and below it in virtue of His Descent into Hades prior to the Resurrection:" The Self-revealing of the word is in every dimension--above, in creation; below, in the Incarnation; in the depth, in Hades; in the breath, throughout the world. All things have been filled with the knowledge of God." Thus thus the sensible world itself, in virtue of the Word becoming man, has been made the vehicle of the knowledge of the Word, because "He, as Man," centers "their senses on Himself."


from pages iii - x in the book "The Disputation with Pyrrhus of our Father among the Saints Maximus the Confessor: Translated from the Greek by Joseph P. Farrell
Friday, February 17, 2012

Redemption or Deification?

Why Did God Become Man? The Unconditionality of the Divine Incarnation by Panagiotes Nellas (†1986)

. quote:
 "4. The View of the Mystery of the Incarnation in Relation to
the Fall, and Its Significance.
Man’s temporal Fall, however, created two other impediments,
which in a tragically real way obstruct the outpouring of the Spirit and the full realization of salvation (or completion, recapitulation,
deification, or whatever we may call it). And these real impediments,
which exist within time, need to be dealt with in a way which is
equally real and temporal.

This is why the Son of Man comes
as a giant to run the course of our... nature and through
suffering to make His way to death, and to bind the strong
man and plunder his goods... and lead the erring sheep
back to the heavenly land,
as St. John of Damascus writes poetically.13
And, as the Divine Cabasilas says,
This is what happens, then. God makes His own the
struggle on behalf of men, for He is man. Man, being pure
from all sin, overcomes sin, for he is God (513B).

Thus we arrive at the postlapsarian, historical view of the mystery of the Divine Incarnation, and the postlapsarian application of
the passage of Cabasilas which we quoted at the beginning of the
theological section of our study.
We shall not concern ourselves in detail here with this postlapsarian view of the mystery of the Divine Incarnation—not because it does not bear on our subject, but for the sole reason that
space is limited.
For it is a truth just as fundamental as that previously stated that
man, broken, degraded, and enslaved to sin, the Devil, and death on
account of the Fall is in need of redemption. And he cannot achieve
redemption on his own. Man was obliged to “retrieve his defeat,”

Cabasilas says. But he was unable to win the battle.
Indeed, no human wisdom, strength, virtue, or righteousness
could overcome death, a boundary which, by historical standards, is
fundamental and decisive. On the other hand, God, Who could have destroyed sin, the
Devil, and death by a single thought did not do so, because that
would have been unjust; it was man, and not God, who had been
defeated, and man had to retrieve the situation.
It is at this point that Cabasilas sums up the second aspect of
the mystery of the Incarnation, that “God makes His own the struggle
on behalf of men, for He is man,” and its corollary: “Man, being pure
from all sin, overcomes sin, for he is God.”

Cabasilas dwells at length on this postlapsarian aspect of the
mystery, and in my book  Ἡ περὶ δικαιώσεως τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
διδασκαλία τοῦ Καβάσιλα [Cabasilas’ teaching on the justification of man] I expounded it in detail.
It would truly be a grave spiritual, pastoral, and also theological
error to ascribe a secondary importance to the reality of sin and the
need for redemption. From this standpoint, we would not have had
the right to treat the subject as we do here if we had not previously written an entire book on the Sin-Redemption dimension. Yet it
would be an equally grave error to limit salvation, that is, deification,
to redemption alone.

In the first case, Christianity would be transformed into an unrealistic mysticism; in the second, it would be degraded to a legalistic ethical system.
As a true theologian of the Catholic Church, Cabasilas took into
account both of these truths; and, in contrast to Anselm, who restricted Christianity and man to the Fall-Redemption polarity, he
gave this polarity the attention that it merits and, at the same time,
placed it in its proper context, at the same stroke giving man his
true scope.
After this crucially important observation, to which we ask the
reader to pay special attention, it is time to return to studying more
directly the problem that we posed at the outset, that of narrowing
the axis of the Divine Œconomy from Creation-Deification to FallRedemption.III. The Significance of Cabasil.

"4. Overcoming the Fear of Sin as the Central Motive of Spiritual Life. Christ, the Beginning, Middle, and End of Spiritual
BUT Cabasilas’ correct answer to “Cur Deus homo?” also brings
the liberation of man from evil and sin. No matter how terrifying
evil may be, since it, and not Christ, is merely an episode and an
event, it proves, in the final analysis, insignificant. The understanding of man—of salvation, spiritual life, and so forth—is disjoined
from evil and joined to Christ.
Ascesis, charity, etc. are not the “good works” that will counterbalance our sins before God’s justice and in that way offer Him satisfaction.

God is not a “sadistic father” who takes satisfaction in torturing
his children. Ascesis is a vigorous struggle against evil. And man can
throw himself into this struggle much more easily, with hope and
joy, if his aim is to develop the seeds of godlikeness that he has within him, a longing for all the elements of his being to be united with
Christ, and not simply fear of sin.
The real sin, for Cabasilas, is for man to remain outside Christ,
to consider that he is sufficient on his own, i.e., autonomy. Adam’s
greatest sin, the sin that engendered all of the others, was that he
wanted to live with the life of his nature, to exist independently of
God. This led him to death.

Cabasilas is unambiguous on this point. If man is not alive with
the life of Christ, he is dead, even if he is a fine and good person socially or religiously, even if he formally observes the prescriptions
of the law. On the axis of  Fall-Redemption, justice and law are
dominant. On the axis of Creation-Deification, sin consists in making oneself autonomous, in self-sufficiency. And this, according to
the ascetic Fathers, was the greatest danger lurking even for the redeemed. The dominant figure on this axis is Christ.
Therefore, the ethos of Orthodox believers is not legalistic, but
theocentric. Any virtue in man has value to the extent that it is a
virtue of Christ, says Cabasilas. For only what is incorporated in
Christ and, consequently, spiritual (“born from above”) is able to sur-mount the biological boundaries of corruption and death. “In this
way the Saints are blessed, because of the blessed One Who is with them”
The holiness of the saints is due to the fact that they have united
their will to the will of Christ. The wisdom of the truly wise, those
who uncover the truth by Divine inspiration, is due to their having
united their mind with the mind of Christ. “From themselves and
from human nature and effort there is nothing whatever... Rather, they
are holy because of the Holy One, righteous and wise because of the righteous and wise One Who abides with them” (613A).

For this reason, Cabasilas advises, “be merciful” not in a human
way “but as your Father is merciful.”
The faithful are called to love “in the love with which Paul ‘yearned
with the affection of Jesus Christ’” (Philippians 1:8), and to have the
love “with which the Son loved the Father,” and the peace that is not
human, but of Christ. For, as the birth is “Divine and preternatural,”
so also “the new life, its regime and philosophy, and all these things are
new and spiritual” (616A).

This Pauline Christocentricity which places Christ as the beginning, middle, and end of the world and of history is the core of Cabasilas’ work. This is the basis on which he gave a correct answer to
the question, “Cur Deus homo?,” confined the  Fall-Redemption
axis to its proper bounds and revealed the true breadth of the Divine Œconomy, which begins from Creation and reaches to Deification, that extension without end of created man within the uncreated God.
As has become evident from the few examples that we have been
able to give within the scope of this study, Cabasilas placed on this
axis all the realities of faith, spiritual life, and the Church, and revealed their true nature and their extraordinary transformative dynamism."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity

Just started to get into it:

Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity

Something I thought was interesting:
"Two Judaism and Rhetorical Culture
b. Midrash
Th e second group of texts which refl ect biblical interpretation dating from
the Amoraic period in Eretz Israel is called midrash. Th e term ( מִדְרָשׁ , from
דָּרַשׁ , darash, “to seek,” “inquire,” “investigate”) refers to a method of expounding
the text and to a collection of such texts. Th ese texts are commentary and
elaboration on the Written Torah. Th e various collections which fall under
the head of midrash, however, can focus on deriving rabbinic halakah based
on Scripture, or provide elaborations on narrative passages in the Bible. Th ey
may be organized according to the order of the biblical text, or arranged as
homilies corresponding to the lection on Sabbaths and Holy Days.
In midrash we can discern some of the interrelationship of Judaism
and Christianity during the early Christian period. Th ere are some remarkable
parallels in hermeneutical method between the midrashim and Greek
and Syriac patristic literature. Origen and Jerome are explicitly aware of
midrashic traditions. Moreover, in the third century tensions between Jews
and Christians (including Origen and Eusebius) living in Eretz Israel rose
to a level of confrontation. Th ese debates can be discerned in the pages of
midrash from this period, and the development of midrash in Eretz Israel
(not in Babylonia) may in part be the result of Jewish eff orts to confront their
Christian counterparts regarding interpretation of the Scriptures.

An example of rabbinic response to Christianity can be found in Genesis
Rabbah on the sacrifi ce of Isaac (the Akedah, Gen :–). Th e account
begins with the command to Abraham to go to the place he would be told,
and sacrifi ce his son (Gen :). He took two slaves and Isaac on the journey.
Th en he “saw the place from afar” (Gen :; מָקוֹם (maqom), meaning “place”
also serves as a euphemism for God. Th e midrash asks, “What did he see?”
“He saw a cloud attached to the mountain”—i.e., a manifestation of the divine
presence, which made it clear to him that this mountain was the place which
God had commanded as the appropriate place to off er up Isaac.
He [Abraham] said: “It would appear that is the place upon which the
Holy one, blessed be He, commanded me to sacrifi ce my son.” He said
to Isaac: “My son, do you see what I do?” He told him, “Yes.” He said
to his two young men, “Do you see what I do?” Th ey said to him, “No.”
He said: “Since you do not see it, REMAIN HERE WITH THE ASS
[Gen :], for you are like the ass [which also does not see].” (Gen.
Rab. .–)
We learn from other sources that the Gentiles are “a nation resembling an ass.”
Christians and Jews debated vehemently in the third and fourth centuries
about the possibility of how, aft er the destruction of the Second Temple, that

BblRieba ltebo b ttoihn teihc S eLe Sipteteupratautguainrgetin t 
one could verify divine revelation, and whether divine revelation to a non-
Jew was possible at all. In the above passage we observe the denigration of
the two non-Jewish servants. Th ey do not have any perception of the divine.
As non-Jews they are like the ass, a dumb animal incapable of perception.
Modern scholars may have some disagreement about whether or not the
“people who is like an ass” refers specifi cally to Christians or more generally
to pagans. Nonetheless, there are many passages in midrash literature which
focus on the theme of Verus Israel and God’s continued covenant with the
Jewish people in their exile.

i. Tannaitic Midrashim
Th e oldest group of midrashim are the so-called Tannaitic midrashim, sometimes
called halakic midrashim or מִרְשֵׁי הֲלָכָה (midreshei halakah, meaning
“midrashim of the halakah”). Th e works included in this subgroup are the
Mekilta d’Rabbi Ishmael and the Mekilta de Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai on Exodus,
Sipra on Leviticus; and Sipre on Numbers and Deuteronomy. Th e Tannaitic
midrashim may be said to form a continuous commentary on the Pentateuch
from Exodus to Deuteronomy. In these midrashim there is extensive use
of rabbinic hermeneutics to demonstrate how various expansions of the
Oral Law are grounded in Scripture. Despite the use of the name halakic
midrashim, these collections all contain commentary on narrative passages
in their respective biblical books.

ii. Exegetical Midrashim
A second set of midrashim consists of those referred to as “exegetical” and
“homiletic.” Th e “exegetical” midrashim are later than the midreshei halakah, but
a number were compiled during the fi ft h century. It is important to remember
that the midreshei halakah are exegetical, but modern scholars refer to them as
“exegetical” because these collections are organized according to the biblical
verse order. Th e term “exegetical midrashim” merely distinguishes them from
the next group to be described, which are called “homiletic midrashim.”
Genesis Rabbah explicates the book of Genesis. Scholars postulate that
it was redacted in the fi ft h century. It is considered by some to be the best
example of the exegetical midrashim because the rabbis reveal deep layers
of meaning within the text. Th e meanings the rabbis sought in the Scriptures
included truths which pertained to their own age. Genesis Rabbah provides
many examples of rabbinic apologetic against pagan and Christian arguments.
In the narratives about the patriarchs and matriarchs, it is possible

Two Judaism and Rhetorical Culture
to discern their veiled arguments against Christian claims that these biblical
fi gures reached their true fulfi llment only in Christ.
In this period exegetical midrashim were also edited on the fi ve books
in the Hebrew Bible called the Five Megillot, or “Five Scrolls.” Th ese biblical
books were read as part of the synagogue liturgy for the three pilgrimage festivals:
Passover (Canticles), Pentecost (Ruth), and Tabernacles (Ecclesiastes);
and on Purim (the Feast of Esther) and the Ninth of Ab commemorating
the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (Lamentations). Th e earliest
description of the liturgical role for these books is in the Mishnah, tractate
Th ese midrashim would include Canticles Rabbah; Midrash Ruth (also
called Ruth Rabbah); Lamentations Rabbah; Midrash Qoheleth (also called
Ecclesiastes Rabbah); and the fi rst half (§§ –) of Esther Rabbah.

iii. Homiletic Midrashim
“Homiletic” midrashim are so called because the order of their composition
follows the readings for Sabbaths and for special Sabbaths, or Holy Days, in
the liturgical year. Th ese collections do not follow the order of the biblical
text. Rather, they develop thematically. As we have them, these homilies have
sometimes been subjected to abbreviation or other editorial reformulation.
Th e most signifi cant collections dating to the Amoraic period include Leviticus
Rabbah, containing thirty-seven homilies, which dates to the fi ft h century
(perhaps later); the Pesiqta de Rab Kahana, a collection of homilies for feasts
and special Sabbaths, redacted in the fi ft h century, though subject to later additions;
and the Tanhuma on the Pentateuch, which contains some material
from the Amoraic period but was not redacted until the medieval period.
Modern scholarship has concentrated considerable eff ort on the structure
of these homilies, especially the formal conventions for their beginning
and conclusion. Th e petiah, which is generally understood to be a kind of
proem or introduction to the homilies, is the most common rhetorical form
in midrashic literature. Petiot aim at artfully leading the hearer from verses
in other parts of the Hebrew Bible, such as Psalms or Proverbs, to consider
the opening verse(s) of the Pentateuchal reading of the day. Th e atimah, or
peroration of the homily, has also been studied. Particularly in the Pesiqta de
Rab Kahana, and Tanhuma, these atimot lead to an eschatological teaching
which concludes the homily with a message of hope in the messianic deliverance
of the Jewish people from the harshness of its exile. Th ese atimot may
off er students of patristic literature some understanding of the development
of early Christian typological exegesis." [1]

[1] pages 130-132 from the Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity by Charles Kannengiesser

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Look at Romans Chapter 9

A conversation I had with someone else:

I see Thee Elect One as being Jesus Christ and so the Elect group are all those Elected In Christ. In this sense I believe in corporate election.

Quote Originally Posted by lonehunter View Post
Right. Just wondering, but what makes you think that Christ is being elected as opposed to those in Christ being elected?

Because Christ is the starting point. Let's look at some Old Testament prophesies about Christ being chosen:
Isaiah 42:1
"“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations."

For a fuller typological context you can read to verse 7. But this shows that the Messiah is also Chosen or seen as Thee Chosen One. Let's look at another passage in Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:1
"Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name."

To get the fuller typological context read all the way to verse 13. In this we see He is thee Called One. He is also a Nation, the True Nation of Israel, but I don't want to get into that right now. But yes, Jesus is the Elect One! This is seen more clearly in the New Testament.

1st Peter 1:20
(read verses 18,19, and 21 too)
"He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."


1st Peter 2:4(you can read up to verse 6)
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him"

Jesus being Thee Elect/Chosen One can also be seen by Clement of Rome, one of the Apostolic Fathers

Clement of Rome
"May God, who seeth all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh—who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculia people—grant to every soul that calleth upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen."

You are(I assume) a protestant and so you may not like the Book of Wisdom and the Book of Enoch, but if you read them then you will also see what I'm saying here. Election is Christ-Centric! For there can be no Election apart from Christ. Thus, He is thee Elect/Chosen One, and it is by way of Him that we become elect. Election in Christ is primarily Corporate and secondarily individualistic because the Covenant Community is inherently pluralistic. There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian, correct?

Jesus said:
Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Noticed that Jesus never said wherever one is gathered in my name. Thus being In Christ is inherently Communal. It is inherently Koinonia.

Eph 2:11-19 shows that it is pluralistic. That it is covenant community based. And so it is the community that exist in Christ that is primary. The individual who is united to the community is secondary.

For more info about Christ being Thee Chosen one and how we are chosen by way of Him, well, you can listen to this mp3 if you want:
Jesus - The Chosen and Beloved

Quote Originally Posted by lonehunter View Post
Right, I'm not arguing that Christ is not the chosen one. I am referring specifically to Romans 9, and what it means. From what I read in the post that TheKenster posted (though I haven't read all of it quite yet) I think we were in general agreement here. That God's promise is given to those in Christ, as opposed to the literal descendants of Jacob. Now you are saying that Christ is the recipient of this promise?"

Yes, I agree with you that God's promise is given to those in Christ, as opposed to (all) the literal descendants of Jacob. However, the word Chosen is another way of saying Elect, and so Christ is the Elect One. And so I don't believe He is the recipient of the promise. What I believe is that He is the promise itself.

Christ is the promised seed as seen in Galatians.
Galatians 3:16
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

Christ is also a Nation, the true Nation of Israel. If you look at the typology used by the Apostles in reference to Jesus then you will be able to see how Jesus is Israel.

Matthew 2:14-15
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Hosea 11:1
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son."

The Church, which is His body, is also seen as the Israel of God:

Galatians 6:16
"Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God"

And so in this way we can see the connection between the Promised Seed(Who is Jesus) and all those who believe in the Promise.

We can see the connection between the Nation of Israel (Who is Jesus) and all those who want to be citizens of this Nation. Which is also the Kingdom of God for the Kingdom of God is connected to the Person of Christ. Christ is the very core, the very foundation of it all.

So what does this have to do with Romans chapter 9 you ask? Well, even-though there is no such thing as an infallible hermeneutic, I will make use of a common one in where Scripture is interpreted by Scripture, and so lets Interpret Romans Chapter 9 with not only other chapters from the book of Romans, but also Galatians chapter 3, Ephesians chapter 2, and maybe a few other sources from the Old Testament.

I truly believe that when we do it this way then we will see what Paul is trying to say more clearly.

Let's interpret a good portion of Romans chapter 9 through the lens of Galatians chapter 3.

Galatians 3:19
"Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator."

Galatians 3:22
"But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

Galatians 3:23-29
"Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Now, if we look at Romans chapter 9 then we will see that there were certain periods of time in where it was about which lineage would be the one to carry the promise seed.

Romans 9:5
"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

Now let's look at what I quoted from Galatians with what I underlined in Romans 9:5 and let's compare them to the two examples given by the Apostle in verses 6 to 13.

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”"

In this we see that the lineage of the promise seed would go down Isaac's family line and not Ismael's for in Galatians it says that Isaac was a son based on a divine promise while Ismael a son of a bond-servant woman. Now let's look at the next example.

"Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”"

In this we see that the lineage of the promise seed would go to Jacob instead of Esau. Why? Faith! God foresaw that Jacob would believe while Esau wouldn't. In Paul's terminology, faith is not a work. We can see this all throughout the book of Romans, and Galatians.

A couple patristic quotes about the issue:

"God does not have to wait, as we do, to see which one will turn out good and
which one will turn out bad. He knew this in advance and decided accordingly."

Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on quoted from the Ancient Christian commentary on scripture volume 6, edited by Gerold Bray and Thomas C. Oden page 250

"Thus God chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael and the children of Keturah. So also
he chose Jacob over Esau, even though both were formed together in the womb. Why
be surprised then, if God does the same thing nowadays, by accepting those of
you who believe and rejecting those who have not seen the light?"

Theodoret of Cyr: interpretation of the letter to the quoted by Ancient christian commentary on scripture edited by Gerold Bray and Thomas C. Oden page 253

"What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

God is not unjust on which lineage gets to carry the promise seed. The carrier of the promise seed is based on God's Mercy! And the Apostles already told us who God has Mercy on. He has Mercy on those who Believe!

Galatians 3:14
"He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

Romans 9:30-33

"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”"

Romans 11:1-10
"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”

And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”"

God's Mercy and Hardening is conditional:

Romans 11:19-23
"You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."

And so, what I see in Romans chapter 9 is mostly what happens in regards to who gets to carry the promise seed in their lineage before the first advent, and then towards the end of Romans chapter 9 I see what happens after the first Advent. The one consistent theme in both pre and post 1st Advent is being embraced because of Faith.

Election is primarily corporate for me because it's all based on the Person of Christ who is also the Promise Seed and Israel! The Gentiles get a chance to become Citizens of the Nation of Israel, the Kingdom of God when they are united to Christ. And for me, this happens by way of Belief, Repentance, and Baptism(Water and Spirit).





Christian Gifts

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