Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1 John 3:16-24

3.16 The word for ought/owe is "ophell-oo" which has a sense of being bound and obligated (more than a casual "should").

3.16 The word for life here is "psyche"

3.17 The word here for "means/ability" is "bios" (as in biology); in 3.15 in fact, the word zooeh (as in Zoo) is found. This in three consecutive verses, we have ideas about life: eternal "zooeh"; a "psyche" that is laid down; and "bios" to provide for others.

3.17 The word for compassion here is splagchna, which means intestines. The idea of the word is that compassion means your gut wrenches.

3.17 The word for world, "kosmos" is often set at odds with God in the Johannine writings. Here though we see that the world can have a purpose, to help others.

3.22 There is no word "whatever" in this sentence. It simply says, "If we request this, we will receive." The "this" is less likely "whatever" and more likely the rest of the clause -- doing of his will. (The later clause begins with "hoti" which may be translated "because" or "that" so "If we request this, we will receive from him that we keep his commandments.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1 John 3:1-7

3:1 The word for give (didoo-mi) as in "love the Father has given us" is in the perfect, suggesting an act in the past (Jesus) that still has a present effect (being called the children of God)

Also interesting is that the hina clause that governs the phrase "called children of God" is not connected with the phrase "and we are" The Greek reveals this is from a different thought (as indicated by the verb "we are" being in the indicative and not subjunctive mood as "called" is). Does this mean that we are children of God regardless of the love on the cross but that in the cross we may be called children of the father??

3.2 The word "kathoos" (just as) appears in this section three times -- just as he is; just as he is pure; just as he is righteous. Although the overall logic may seem to imply "works-righteousness" in this passage, it is helpful to keep in mind that the ground for all of this is Christ and his status. Indeed, the transformation comes when we see Christ, which cannot happen until he appears. I am not saying that this passage fits into Lutheran mechanics nicely, but that still, the primary actor here is God.

3.3 Moreover, the tenses about what we will be in 3.2 are in the future; and now in 3.3 we come to the idea of hope, expressing the thought that God is not done working on us! Indeed, even the verb tense for purify is a present tense -- that hagniz-oo (to purify) is an on-going reality, not a one-time event. So, over and against a simple message of "Christians are fully realized saints and not sinners in any way," this passage points toward the work still to be done.

3.6 A key word in Johannine thinking is "men-oo" which means to abide (abide in me as I abide in the father...") This is the verb here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1 John 1:1-2:2

1.1 The verb 'to hear' (akou-oo) and 'to understand/see' (ora-oo) are both in the perfect, while 'to see' (theao-mai) and 'to touch' (psehlapha-oo) are in the aorist. Again, an aorist tense suggests a one time event; a perfect tense has the connotation of a past action that creates an on-going and present status. John (or the writer from the Johannine community), by using these tenses, suggests that although the original congregation can no longer touch or see Jesus because of his ascension, but the reality of hearing and understanding the word of God remains. This perhaps is not simply true of the original congregation, but us as well. We leave Sunday having seen and even touched Jesus in the bread and wine, but as we head out, we still are in the state of hearing and understanding.

1.2 In both 1.1 and 1.2, the verb 'eimi' (to be) is used in the imperfect tense. In Greek, there really is no aorist tense of 'eimi,' the 'to be' verb. (which if you stop and think, makes a lot of sense). In both cases, the verb is translated with the English aorist form of the to be verb: "was." What is probably a more helpful translation is not the static "was" but an imperfect "was being" or "was and continues to be" or "has been"  In short, the English "was" makes it sound like the event of the Word being with the Father or the Word being from the beginning is over; the imperfect tense in the Greek suggests that that the Word continues to be with the Father and continues to be from the beginning.

1.3-1.4 The only verbs so far in the present tense are 'apangell-oo' (to proclaim),
'martyre-oo' (to witness) and 'ech-oo' (have + fellowship), and 'graph-oo' (to write), all of our actions. The only God verb so far is "appear" (phanero-oo); always in the aorist.

1.5 The word for "message" here is 'angelia' related to the word for angel.

1.6 This sentence ends with the phrase, literally, "are not doing the truth." Translators have fun trying to put that in idiomatic English.

1.7 The verb for cleanse 'kathariz-oo' is in itself a neat word -- tell your people their sins have been catharized! Also worth noting is that it is in the present tense.

1.9 The word here for confess is 'homologe-oo,' which means literally, "to speak in one voice," suggesting that even in the early church, public confession was the norm.

2.1 and 2.2 These do not belong in this section! The crazy word here is 'hilasmos' or 'propitation' or 'atonement." This word is related to a number of other words having to do with atonement. This word is not that common (2x NT; 7x NT). What is helpful to keep in mind is that the book of John has no mention of God's wrath. The most obvious, connection, it seems to me, with this word, is with a numbers 5 'hilasmos' which is a sacrifice made to repay someone the wrongs they have done to you. The particular word, then, may have more to do with restitution than with some sort or anger-management. Perhaps the idea of an angry God needing to be fed blood will never disappear, but I think the idea in John 1 and the particular use of this word emphasizes the forward nature of the sacrifice rather than the backward nature -- the sacrifice was not simply to please God for past sins, but to set us straight for future relationship.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1 Corinithans 15:1-11

15.1 The word for Gospel/Good News is euangelion, coming from eu for Good and angelion, the word for message (like Angel=messenger). Interestingly, Paul uses this as a verb as in "the good news which I good newsed you with." We could write in English, "The Gospel that I evangelized you with," but in Greek they are the same root word

15.2 Save (sooz-oo) is a present passive here -- salvation is an on-going and passive activity for Paul.

Also, in this sentence, the word for "if" is "ei," which can be translated since when the verb it is connected with is in the indicative and not subjunctive mood. This, this sentence could read, you are being saved, since you hold to a word which I proclaimed to you. Unless of course, you believed in vain.

Also, the word "the" is not used with "word (logos), but rather "tini" is, which means, "a" or "certain" or "some."

15.3 This is not a Greek note, but a more theological one. Paul's primary category of thinking is not simply sin...but here it is, the big deal is dying on behalf of our sins. Fascinating.

15.8 The word for "untimely birth" (ektrooma) means stillborn or even aborted.