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On 1 Corinthians 7:14 “as it is they [the children] are holy”

For the unbelieving husband is set apart for God by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is set apart for God by the husband. Otherwise your children would be corrupt, but now they are set apart for God. (1 Corinthians 7:14 HCSB)

Most Bible versions translate hagios here to “holy” which is correct, except that it results in some interpreting the word in some salvific or new-covenant-inclusive sense by some paedobaptists, but I think the HCSB’s rendering of “set apart” alludes to the correct understanding. The reason is this: The children are not made holy in the sense of being saved from the wrath to come. They are not justified. The only way that a child could be holy in a justified sense is according to the Scriptures, which is by their own faith, not because of the faith of their believing parent(s). So it follows that “holy” here means something other than faith. One common understanding shared by some, including John Calvin, is that “holy” here is in the context of a lawful marriage.

This understanding is further buttressed by the fact that the unbelieving husband is also made holy. There are at least two points to be gleaned here. First, if “holy” here means justification, then it follows that one may be justified without believing, or to put it more plainly, that there is such a thing as a justified unbeliever. We know from other perspicuous passages that this is not the case. The second point is that if Paul means that unbelievers are made holy/justified by their believing spouses, then a Christian marrying an unbeliever should be accepted, because the unbeliever would become a believer by virtue of their marriage. But we know this is not the case. In verse 16, Paul says plainly that the husband is not saved. Additionally, Paul teaches that unbelievers are not saved through marriage when he asks “what fellowship has light with darkness?” So an unbeliever married to a Christian is still an unbeliever, though Paul says that in some way he is “holy.” It follows then that the unbeliever is not holy in a justified sense, but rather in some other way. The conclusion then is this: just as an unbelieving spouse is not made “holy” in the sense of justification or membership in Christ’s covenant, neither are unbelieving children. Calvin’s commentary on the passage is a more feasible solution.

For further support, again we see Paul using the term “holy” in a similar manner a few verses later when he writes,

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

Again, Paul is contrasting someone who is “holy” and someone who is not. But in this case both persons are believers, so Paul cannot mean “holy” in the sense of justified, but rather he means “set apart,” as I believe he also meant in 7:14.

The late Greek scholar A.T. Robertson also offers a helpful interpretation in agreement with Calvin,

7:14 Is sanctified in the wife [hēgiastai en tēi gunaiki]. Perfect passive indicative of [hagiazō], to set apart, to hallow, to sanctify. Paul does not, of course, mean that the unbelieving husband is saved by the faith of the believing wife, though Hodge actually so interprets him. Clearly he only means that the marriage relation is sanctified so that there is no need of a divorce. If either husband or wife is a believer and the other agrees to remain, the marriage is holy and need not be set aside. This is so simple that one wonders at the ability of men to get confused over Paul’s language. Else were your children unclean [epei ara ta tekna akatharta]. The common ellipse of the condition with [epei]: “since, accordingly, if it is otherwise, your children are illegitimate [akatharta].” If the relations of the parents be holy, the child’s birth must be holy also (not illegitimate). “He is not assuming that the child of a Christian parent would be baptized; that would spoil rather than help his argument, for it would imply that the child was not [hagios] till it was baptized. The verse throws no light on the question of infant baptism” (Robertson and Plummer).

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Can a Christian man be a stay-at-home husband or a SAHH?

In this post I offer some arguments to consider the topic of stay at home husbands and attempt to answer one objection I encountered.

The objection is this: Isn’t it true that there are other means of husbands providing for their families? Why then is financial support necessarily a function the husband should fulfill? Can’t the husband provide for his household as a stay-at-home husband and father?

It is certainly true that there are many ways to provide for one’s family, but I think the question we are dealing with here is, is it biblical for the wife to function as the primary financial support, while the husband stays at home and functions as the primary manager of the household? Another way of asking this is, Does the financial support role carry more weight than other roles, such that it should be assigned primarily to the husband, the head of the household? I think the answer to the first question is no and second yes. Let me offer some arguments to consider.

The first argument I have is this: That in our culture, financial support is the primary means by which a family is provided its most basic needs. I think we can all agree that without monetary resources, a family cannot survive. Every necessary provision, including clothing, food, and shelter require money to acquire these needs.

Other contributory functions such as teaching or food preparation are also critical for a family’s well-being, but these tasks are not essential for providing basic life needs. While very important, a family could survive without them. A family cannot, however, survive without food or clothing or shelter. Teaching and food preparation do little good if the family is struggling with starvation or exposure. Biblically speaking, I think we see this illustrated in Proverbs. For example:

The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. Proverbs 28:18-20

Here Solomon acknowledges that it is only by working that the basic need of food is provided. No work. No eat. Reading this in tandem with the understanding that the husband is primarily responsible for well-being of his family, I would argue that biblically the task of working to eat falls primarily to the husband.

Consider also this as a supportive passage,

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:28-31 ESV)

Here the argument is that if the husband, not the wife, is to love and nourish his spouse as part of his own body, the husband is responsible for provision, not the wife. The head, the husband, provides for the body, of which the wife is part. The body does not provide for the head, but rather the head for the body, while providing nourishment and delegating responsibility to the other parts, provides protection of the whole of the body. How can the head nourish the body by asking the body to nourish both itself and the head? Likewise, how can the husband nourish his wife by asking her to function in the primary role of protector and provider of basic needs? I would argue that in the latter scenario, the roles are unnaturally reversed.

So to me the question then is this, should the head of the household, the husband, the stronger vessel, put this heavier and more critical responsibility on the shoulders of the helpmeet, the wife, who is the weaker vessel? If God charges the husband as the protector/superintendent (proistēmi in 1 Timothy 3) of his family, does he fulfill his God-given calling to require of his wife the primary role which most protects and provides for his family’s basic needs? In this role the wife, not the husband, becomes the primary protector and caregiver of her family. If she loses her job, the family’s survival, at its most basic level, is at stake. To me it is clear then, that in these roles, the husband is no longer serving as the primary protector and caregiver of his family, because the survival of his family at its most basic level is primarily dependent upon the wife.

Consider also the instructions given in 1 Timothy 3 and 5:

In 1 Timothy 3 husbands are charged to proistēmi their households. In 1 Timothy 5 women are charged to oikodespoteō. These are two different words and two different meanings. The first means “rule, protect, care for, and superintend.” The second means more “to rule or manage the family affairs.” One role is subject to the other. Both share aspects of management, but only one superintends. The husband is specifically charged in chapter 3 with the superintendence, protection, and care of his family. The wife is charged with the management of family affairs, under the superintendence of her husband. How can a husband function as the primary protector and caregiver if his family’s protection is dependent upon his wife’s employment? If then the protection of one’s family is dependent on the wife and not the husband, then I would argue that it is the wife that is primarily protecting the family, not the husband.

A few thoughts on 1 Timothy 5:3-8:

To me it seems that the primary charge to provide for the widow is to the children or grandchildren. This verse does not seem to be specifically addressing the idea of a husband supporting his family financially. Rather, it speaks of children or grandchildren providing for their widowed mothers, and it also seems to teach that members of a household must provide for one another as they are able. But then Paul shifts a bit to talk in the context of households, which in the context of other Scriptures, we know are to be ordered in a specific way. Who is primarily responsible for household provisions? It cannot be the children of the household, nor the wife, who are the weaker vessels. The overall responsibility then falls to the husband, the stronger vessel. The head of the household. Others can help out as necessary, but this too is done under the guidance and leadership of the household’s head. The primary responsibility and accountability falls to him.

Another clue we find here is with regard to Paul’s instructions for widow care. All references to the unmarried in need are always specific to women without a husband. There is no instruction in Scripture for the care of widowers. Why is this? I believe this is because the responsibility of care and provision primarily falls on the man, the head of the household, and if a man is a widower, he is still the head of his household. A man is expected to work if he is able, as Paul explained to the brothers at Thessalonica when he wrote, “For even when we were with you [brothers], we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 ESV)

Again, Paul charges the men, not the women, with the responsibility of working quietly and earning their own living. This does not mean that a woman is in sin if she conducts business in the household, or even if there is a temporary season where the circumstances require the woman to be the primary provider of income. This may be necessary for the family’s survival when the husband is injured or temporarily unemployed. But the husband, as the head, protector, and stronger vessel should feel the weight of that responsibility on him, to get better or find a new job as soon as possible, because God has charged him with the role of protector and caregiver of his wife, who is to be cared for and nourished as part of his own body.

Again, this does not mean that a wife cannot do business or help make ends meet. In some cases, she might even bring in more money than her husband. Proverbs 31 clearly provides an example of a noble and virtuous woman who does a great deal of business and earns income for her family, but notice that the passage does not teach that she is the primary caregiver and protector. Even with women of exceptional entrepreneurial talents, the wife should be able to fall back on the husband should her endeavors fail. If the wife cannot fall back on her husband, then I believe that the husband is not biblically fulfilling his charge to protect and provide for his family’s basic needs.

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Aquinas: Should a Christian answer back to a reviler or mocker?

Whether one ought to suffer oneself to be reviled?

Objection 1: It would seem that one ought not to suffer oneself to be reviled. For he that suffers himself to be reviled, encourages the reviler. But one ought not to do this. Therefore one ought not to suffer oneself to be reviled, but rather reply to the reviler.

Objection 2: Further, one ought to love oneself more than another. Now one ought not to suffer another to be reviled, wherefore it is written (Prov. 26:10): “He that putteth a fool to silence appeaseth anger.” Therefore neither should one suffer oneself to be reviled.

Objection 3: Further, a man is not allowed to revenge himself, for it is said: “Vengeance belongeth to Me, I will repay” [*Heb. 10:30]. Now by submitting to be reviled a man revenges himself, according to Chrysostom (Hom. xxii, in Ep. ad Rom.): “If thou wilt be revenged, be silent; thou hast dealt him a fatal blow.” Therefore one ought not by silence to submit to reviling words, but rather answer back.

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 37:13): “They that sought evils to me spoke vain things,” and afterwards (Ps. 37:14) he says: “But I as a deaf man, heard not; and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.”

I answer that, Just as we need patience in things done against us, so do we need it in those said against us. Now the precepts of patience in those things done against us refer to the preparedness of the mind, according to Augustine’s (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 19) exposition on our Lord’s precept, “If one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other” [*The words as quoted by St. Thomas are a blending of Mat. 5:39 and Lk. 6:29]: that is to say, a man ought to be prepared to do so if necessary. But he is not always bound to do this actually: since not even did our Lord do so, for when He received a blow, He said: “Why strikest thou Me?” (Jn. 18:23). Consequently the same applies to the reviling words that are said against us. For we are bound to hold our minds prepared to submit to be reviled, if it should be expedient. Nevertheless it sometimes behooves us to withstand against being reviled, and this chiefly for two reasons. First, for the good of the reviler; namely, that his daring may be checked, and that he may not repeat the attempt, according to Prov. 26:5, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.” Secondly, for the good of many who would be prevented from progressing in virtue on account of our being reviled. Hence Gregory says (Hom. ix, Super Ezech.): “Those who are so placed that their life should be an example to others, ought, if possible, to silence their detractors, lest their preaching be not heard by those who could have heard it, and they continue their evil conduct through contempt of a good life.”

Reply to Objection 1: The daring of the railing reviler should be checked with moderation, i.e. as a duty of charity, and not through lust for one’s own honor. Hence it is written (Prov. 26:4): “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like him.”

Reply to Objection 2: When one man prevents another from being reviled there is not the danger of lust for one’s own honor as there is when a man defends himself from being reviled: indeed rather would it seem to proceed from a sense of charity.

Reply to Objection 3: It would be an act of revenge to keep silence with the intention of provoking the reviler to anger, but it would be praiseworthy to be silent, in order to give place to anger. Hence it is written (Ecclus. 8:4): “Strive not with a man that is full of tongue, and heap not wood upon his fire.”

Source: Aquinas, Summa Theologica

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A helpful rebuttal to the paedobaptist argument that Luke uses “brephe” (often translated “infant”) in chapter 18.

The Greek for infants, or babes, is usually brephe ; but even this word is sometimes applied to children that are not infants. Thus, Luke, in his narrative of this transaction, once uses the term (v. 15) in the same way as paidia, —rendered in our Version by “infants”. Here, however, the fact that Luke, in all other places in the passage, employs the word paidia, as is done in every case in Matthew and Mark, shows that children older than infants are meant; just as, in 2 Tim. 3:15, we read of Timothy, that ” from a child” (apo brephous) he was ” acquainted with the Scriptures” ; where brephos quite clearly does not mean a babe, or infant.

The manner in which the Evangelists narrate this transaction, proves beyond question, that the children spoken of were not infants but young growing children, capable, not only of walking, but of understanding speech. All three of the Evangelists represent our Lord as saying “forbid them not to come” elthein, erchesthai, —not, to be brought which idea would have been expressed by prosenecthenai, — evidently implying that the children could walk. And even more than this is said ; for Luke,—the very Evangelist who uses brephein one place, as we have seen,—says expressly, “Jesus called* [proskalesamenos having called ; showing that the children are addressed in person] them unto him.”

The word brephos is applied in a number of places in the Greek Classics to children capable of intelligent action. Theocritus (who nourished 272 B. C.) uses it of a boy who was old enough to understand what his mother was saying about his father (Idyl 15,1.14). Moschus (fl. 154 B. C.) applies it to the (“runaway” Cupid (Idyl 1, 1. 11). Anacreon (fl. 559 B. C.) does the same, several times, in his Ode to Eros (Ode 4). Bee also Lucian, Toxaris, 26; and the Palatine Anthology, 7, 632. Other examples might he cited. For those here given, the Author is indebted to the research of his friend, Geo. Wyndham, Esq., of New Orleans. Source: History of the Early Baptists From The Beginning of the Gospel To the Rise of Affusion As Baptism, And Of Infant Baptism by William Cecil Duncan – January 1, 1857 (p. 145)

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Fruit Of The Spirit: Peace

  • By peace it is only meant the peace that comes from God, that reconciles one with God. Righteousness. Sin and peace are opposites, just as sin and righteousness are opposites. Sin results in disharmony. The peace of righteousness results in harmony.
  • Peace that comes through the righteousness of God and living righteously. What happens when we live righteously?

    • We put a way the corrupting sins of the body and the mind.

      • Be not wise in your own eyes;
        fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
        It will be healing to your flesh
        and refreshment to your bones.
        (Proverbs 3:7-8 ESV)
      • A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
        but envy makes the bones rot.
        (Proverbs 14:30 ESV)

    • We are confidently at peace with God, knowing that we stand before Him righteous in Christ, seeing the work and presence of the Spirit  in us.

      • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)

    • Our peace with God gives us a great calmness about our future and purpose.

      • You keep him in perfect peace
        whose mind is stayed on you,
        because he trusts in you.
        (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

    • Our peace with God leads us to live peacefully with others. We seek peace with everyone. Avoid arguing, fighting. Seek harmony. Music.

      • Opposite is strife, rivalry, fits of anger, etc. (see earlier context of passage)

        • Their feet run to evil,
          and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
          their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
          desolation and destruction are in their highways.
          The way of peace they do not know,
          and there is no justice in their paths;
          they have made their roads crooked;
          no one who treads on them knows peace.
          (Isaiah 59:7-8 ESV)

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Eldership Notes

  • Geoff Thomas 

    • says that almost all preachers are elders, but few elders are preachers??

      • He sees the distinction here: I Tim.5:17  “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching”

    • “Their own character and godliness is far more important to him than the various tasks they perform.”
    • “What struck you first about this deacon or this elder? Many of you would answer that you saw him in church and liked his appearance and manner, that there was something different about him – long before he ever spoke to you”
    • “The apostle tells us that it is important for a man to ‘set his heart’ of being an elder.”
    • “A man can want to be a leader for many wrong motives. God resists the proud. A man must have a great view of the glory of the Lord, loving Christ’s church and longing to see it strong, holy, caring and faithful to the word. A man with that vision must set his heart on being an overseer because appointed to it he could do more to bring about these graces in a congregation. It is a noble task to be in leadership in the kingdom of God.”
    • “What price taking care of the church? What cost managing the congregation? We are being searched as to totality of our own commitment. What am I prepared to endure, and deny myself for in order to fulfil this particular ministry? Will we suffer for the good of a church, to ensure that it is central in our lives? We organise our lives, consecrating our time and talent for the sake of the flock of God.”
    • “So very often it is appointment to the office, and involvement in the work, that matures a man beyond his years and our expectations.”

  • Geoff Thomas, again, on preaching
    • And concerning preaching there had developed a joy in the pulpit which transcended anything else which has never left me, and I could detect a bond of indescribable blessing that had formed between myself and those who heard me which came about because of sheer vertical sovereign grace. There was identification between pew and pulpit, and a mysterious solidarity. We were ‘family’. We had entered something divine together.
    • So I longed to return straight home from Philadelphia and go to a university town in Wales and influence students. It seemed to me to be a worthy ambition. God even gave that to me. But no verses jumped out of the Bible to confirm any of those longings, just the Scriptures’ big themes – “these words are true, do this with your life, marry this sort of spouse, to desire this work is a good desire, and preach this message.”
    • Sought fitness in five key areas:

      • vitality: was there an energy of God in the encounter of proclamation to a congregation and in never-ending pastoring? 
      • rationality: did I have common sense and a practical sagacity which, enlightened by grace, is the most important characteristic a preacher can have? I wasn’t sure of that. I am impulsive and can be silly and make ill-judgments, and all these years seem to have matured me little there. 
      • intellectual ability: if I were to spend my life teaching others was I myself apt to learn? 
      • moodthe ministry is no place for a man with mental problems, a melancholic, a depressive, an exhibitionist, an extrovert or an angry man. When the leader needs leading and the shepherd needs shepherding God help the flock. 
      • spirituality: it has become an abused word: I mean godliness, the life of God in the soul. When Duncan Campbell arrived off the ferry on the Isle of Lewis fifty years ago to take part in meetings which are still talked about today the elders of the church where he was to preach met him and first asked him this question, “Mr Campbell, are you walking with God?” That is what I mean by spirituality, and I will amplify it in a moment.

    • We have also to say this, that no one is called by the Head until the body calls him to be its pastor. That is, until a gospel congregation invites you to becomes its pastor-preacher you are not permitted to say that the Lord Jesus has called you. You may believe he has, and long for such a call, and prepare yourself for it, but until the call of the church comes to you you may have no assurance that you have a call from the church’s head. The assurance occurs when the church’s call is given, because ultimately God’s call is mediated to you through his people. Then you go on and on, hearing the Word together, pulpit and pew, and time will go by, and there will be growth by inches, and to your amazement you will find them still saying to you 35 years later, “You will come back from America won’t you? You will be preaching here this winter won’t you? You will be preaching to us next Sunday, won’t you?” And your love for them constrains you to say ‘Yes.’ And that artless call of theirs to you to teach them the Word is still the call of God.
    • His leadership is known in all the churches, and if there is one explanation to that success and to my dismal misjudgment of him it is found in these words, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
    • [On Westminster seminary candidates] Students gave themselves 6 or 7 out of 10 in most of those categories, but when it came to their assessment of their own preaching ability candidates for study at Westminster Seminary more often than not awarded themselves 9’s or even 10’s. How different those men were who met God in the glory of his being and perfections who called them to speak for him. Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” and he protested his ill-equipment, his lack of natural eloquence. Isaiah said, “I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips, and I have seen the King.” It was not until he was assured of God’s call that he said, “Here am I, send me.” Jeremiah said, “Ah, Lord, I am a child. I cannot speak.”
    • The Christian ministry is not a matter of building a library of books and parchments, using whatever other helps we might have at hand, with some confidence of our fluency of speech. It is not simply teaching people about the Bible. It is bringing God to bear upon the life of a church. It is bringing the power of God into the lives of a congregation. Its end is that people might experience the power of the Word. The Methodist, William Bramwell, confessed, “I die a death every time I preach. I wonder I have lived as long as I have.” He was a man who actually had an awakening ministry, and yet he felt he did not possess knowledge enough, prayer enough, holiness enough, experience enough, love enough, and sacrifice enough to carry on as a preacher.
    • That loving is absolutely indispensable for leaders in the church. This is not some option that you can pick up or discard like a change in the order of service. The apostle is saying that without love you are as much help as a gong. Imagine the congregation gathering on a Sunday morning and the climax is hearing a gong being beaten for thirty minutes, and then they go home. That is listening to the loveless preacher, “the Rev. Clanging Cymbal.” In fact, without love you are ‘nothing.’. Nothing means nothing. And I would plead with all those who teach Church Growth seminars to find a place in their theological universe for the centrality of love. To be a pastor, the preacher must be in love with his people, and he must like people and be interested in them. He must be approachable, and not defensive in his attitudes. He must welcome and not resent people who want to ask him questions about his preaching. My son-in-law is about to become the father of their fifth child, and he is a pastor in inner-city London. He was ruefully saying to me recently, “I am not a people person (I don’t believe that at all). I am a book person, but these four sons of mine have made me a people person.” He is thankful for that. His wife and children have made him a more humane man. So there must be the love of I Corinthians in a preacher.
    • So you see why, when Paul describes a church leader, that it is on this note he begins, “A bishop then must be blameless” (I Tim.3:2). What a man is will be far more important than what a man does. It is the difference between an apple tree and a Christmas tree. The fruit of an apple tree comes from within itself. The chocolate fruit of a Christmas tree is an adornment hung upon it, merely cosmetic. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good things, such as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. They come from the life of God within the man. When the apostle describes the church leader divine graces are Paul’s priority, not his eloquence or man-management skills, or his orthodoxy – important as all such things can be – but that he is without blame.
    • If I read aright the biographies of the great men of God, I find that this is their unanimous testimony. All with one accord declare that if there was any secret to their ministries it was this: it was the man, cultivating his inner life in the presence of God” (Al Martin, “What’s Wrong with Preaching Today?” Banner of Truth).
    • Men are God’s great method. The church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men. ‘There was a man sent from God whose name was John.’ … What the church needs today is not more machinery, or better, not new organisations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men, He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer” (E.M.Bounds, “The Complete Works of E.M.Bounds on Prayer”, Baker, 1996, p.447).