Saturday, July 12, 2014

Totemic animals

As Kenneth C. Way documents in Donkeys in the Biblical World, certain animals had an "ominous" (i.e. omen) or divinatory significance in ANE paganism. This includes talking animals. 

I wonder if there's a conceptual parallel with the role of animal spirit guides in so-called "Native American spirituality." From what I've read, these "totemic" animals aren't confined to American Indians. This is, of course, very popular in the New Age movement. According to this paradigm, animal spirit guides are able to communicate (telepathically) with receptive humans. Likewise, various techniques can be employed to induce a trance, putting one in a receptive state to receive communications. In witchcraft, the tradition of "familiar spirits," which sometimes assume bestial form, intersects with this outlook.  

One wonders, in this connection, if Num 22 might not be, among other things, a polemic against totemic animals. Balaam is a heathen seer, steeped in the occult. Gen 3 may trade on the same sinister connotations. 

I don't know if anyone has ever investigated the connections, if any, between "ominous animals" in ANE paganism, "familiar spirits," in witchcraft, and "animals spirit guides" in American Indian paganism.  

Near to the heart of God

In many writings, John Walton promotes the view that Gen 1 presents an antiquated view of the universe. One of his supporting arguments is that this isn't the only instance of outmoded science in Scripture. In his new book, The Lost World of Scripture (coauthored with Brent Sandy), he says Bible writers attributed emotional and cognitive processes to the heart, kidneys, and entrails. There are, however, several problems with his argument:

i) Walton would be the first to claim that Bible writers had negligible understanding of human gross internal anatomy. Ancient Jews didn't dissect human corpses. So not only, according to Walton, would they not know the true functions of each internal organ, but even their number or general placement. 

But that raises a question: how do Bible scholars and Bible translators know what the Hebrews words are even referring to? What are the intended correlates of these terms if OT writers didn't even know what the human body looks like on the inside when you open up the chest cavity and poke around (like a surgeon or coroner)?

That's reflected in Walton's equivocal ascriptions, when he oscillates between the heart, kidneys, and entrails as the source of emotional and cognitive processes. But those aren't interchangeable organs. How can OT writers intend to attribute reason or emotion to the "kidneys" if they couldn't even point to which organ was the kidney? 

So his argument generates a dilemma. To the extent that OT writers, and ancient Jewish readers, knew next to nothing about the internal anatomy of humans, how could they attribute emotional or cognitive processes to particular organs? 

ii) Another basic problem with Walton's inference is that OT writers also attribute divine emotional and cognitive processes to God's "heart" (e.g. Gen 6:6; 8:21; Hos 11:8). But by Walton's logic, that would mean OT writers thought God was a corporeal, humanoid being with a physical heart. If, on the other hand, Walton denies that, then why assume the attribution is figurative in God's case, but literal in man's case? Why not at least allow for the possibility (or probability) that it's a poetic or idiomatic metaphor in both cases?

iii) In addition, there's evidence that ancient Near Easterners believed in the afterlife. Take Biblical prohibitions against necromancy. If, however, the dead could still think and feel emotion, then emotional and cognitive processes were separable from internal organs. 

Given how much stock Walton puts in the conceptual world of the ANE to supply the "cognitive environment" for OT writers, surely that should figure in his interpretation. If ghosts could still reason and feel emotion, then their psychological makeup was independent of the body.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Obama's opponents are "racist"!

The last-ditch retort of Obama apologists is that criticism of Obama is motivated by white racism. Now, it's really not incumbent on his critics to refute that allegation. Rather, the accuser bears the burden of proof. 

That said, one simple way of responding to this allegation is to ask the accuser which of Obama's policies Republicans and/or conservatives would support if he was a white Democrat rather than a black Democrat. If, say, Hillary Clinton had won the last two elections, and she was doing or proposing the same things, name which of her policies Republicans and/or conservatives would support. Give us a list. 

Calvinism and determinism

"Calvinism and Determinism" by Prof. James Anderson

"Morality is a collective illusion"

Darwinian philosopher and atheist Michael Ruse on morality:

I am on record as an “evolutionary skeptic.” I don’t deny substantive morality — you ought to return your library books on time — but I do deny objective foundations. I think morality is a collective illusion, genetic in origin, that makes us good cooperators. And I would add that being good cooperators makes each one of us individually better off in the struggle for existence. If we are nice to other people, they are much more likely to be nice to us in return. However, as the philosopher J.L. Mackie used to argue, I think we “objectify” substantive ethics — we think it objectively the case that we ought return library books on time. But we do this (or rather our genes make us do this) because if we didn’t we would all start to cheat and substantive ethics would collapse to the ground. 
So I don’t buy the moral argument for the existence of God. I think you can have all of the morality you need without God. I am a follower of Hume brought up to date by Darwin. Morality is purely emotions, although emotions of a special kind with an important adaptive function.

Liberal panic and mob justice

This is a somewhat distasteful, as well as controversial, topic. That's a dilemma for Christians. Liberals decide to make some new issue their great social cause du jour. The latest "crisis." 

Ideally, we'd rather not follow them into the tawdry details, but if we absent ourselves from the debate and let them monopolize the discussion, they win by default. They win without a fight. It would be nice if we could sidestep some of these controversies, but we can't let them do all the talking. And, of course, the Bible itself is not for the squeamish. 

As a Christian complementation, I'm ironically more egalitarian about men and women than feminists are. Let's hold both to the same moral standards. 

Last month, George Will wrote a controversial column on the alleged rape epidemic on college campuses:

His column provoked outrage, and demands that he be fired. Several issues:

i) Will is not a stereotypical conservative. He's an atheist with libertarian leanings. So he doesn't fit the popular caricature of the rightwing theocrat. 

ii) Critics accused him of blaming the "survivors." But I don't think that's what he was saying. Rather, I take him to mean that a culture of victimhood proliferates false accusations of sexual assault. 

iii) Which brings me to the next point. It's as if his critics were willfully twisting his words. Do they deliberately misrepresent his position, or do they have a hair-trigger reaction that renders them incapable of even understanding what someone they disagree with means? 

iv) Another issue which he alluded to is the relationship between intoxication and consent. But that's complicated:

a) Inebriation doesn't automatically negate responsibility for your actions. If get get drunk, get behind the wheel, and kill someone, the fact that you was driving under the influence is not exculpatory, or even mitigating. For although, at the time, you was in a state of diminished responsibility, you're responsible for getting drunk in the first place–with the resultant consequences. 

b) Why do college students go to clubs, bars, or parties where they know there will be heavy drinking? Where they themselves go to get plastered? It's not exactly a secret that intoxication lowers sexual inhibitions. Isn't that why some people get drunk in the first place?

c) If inebriation negates consent, where does that leave the sexual transaction if both parties are drunk? Who's raping whom? Are they raping each other? Is the woman as well as the man a rapist under those conditions? 

v) Secular universities aggressively promote a highly-sexualized campus climate, with coed dorms, coed locker rooms, &c. It's duplicitous to then turn around and scream about an epidemic of sexuality run amok. 

vi) Will cites this case to illustrate his point:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”: 
“They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. ‘I basically said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then he said, “OK, that’s fine” and stopped. . . . And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.’”
Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped. 
i) Notice that even according to her own testimony, she didn't put any physical resistance. 
ii) Suppose we change the story:
“They’d now decided — mutually, he thought — just to be friends. When she ended up falling asleep on his bed, he changed into boxers and climbed in next to her. Soon, she was putting her arm around him and taking off his clothes. ‘I basically said, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.” And then she said, “OK, that’s fine” and stopped. . . . And then she started again a few minutes later, taking off my boxers and performing fellatio on me. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let her finish. I pulled my boxers back on and went to sleep.’”
Six weeks later, the student reported that he had been raped.
Would feminists say the coed raped the guy in that situation? Would they demand that the coed be expelled and be prosecuted for sexual assault? 
There is also the kangaroo court atmosphere:
Liberals have a habit of declaring some positions off-limits. You are not permitted to disagree, or even raise questions. You are not permitted to question the facts or question the logic. This false premise in turn becomes the basis for liberal policies.
It's necessary that we challenge these developments before they become entrenched. Consider the whole notion of hate crimes. That should have been challenged at the outset. Same thing with "disparate impact," "racial profiling," and other liberal axioms. We must not allow these to harden into indisputable presuppositions.   

Non-Calvinist Calvinists

First, it’s important to pay attention to the fact that Romans 9 was never interpreted as teaching unconditional double predestination to salvation and damnation before Augustine in the early fifth century. For four centuries Christians read the New Testament including Romans 9 and never came up with that interpretation.

A few quick observations:

i) It's funny to see Arminians take refuge in early church history. After all, no one taught Arminianism until the late 16C or early 17C, and no one taught Wesleyan Arminianism until the 18C. Not to mention more recent permutations of Arminianism (e.g. purgatory, postmortem salvation, open theism).

ii) You needn't be a Calvinist to believe Paul teaches double predestination in Romans. Heikki Räisänen, in The Idea of Divine Hardening, and Ernst Käsemann, in his magisterial commentary on Romans, both think Paul taught double predestination or even supralapsarian predestination, yet both scholars are liberal Lutherans. You can be a non-Calvinist Calvinist in the sense that you believe Scripture teaches Calvinism, but you aren't committed to the authority of Scripture. You don't submit to what it teaches.

And, in a way, that's not essentially different from Olson's own position. He frequently tells us that if he thought Scripture taught Calvinism, then so much worse for Scripture. The only difference is that his position is more hypothetical. Yet he too admits that Scripture teaches things he rejects (e.g. the "genocidal" passages).  

So this isn't ultimately a question of Scriptural interpretation, but Scriptural authority. 

Kept feminists

Recently, three women drew the ire of feminists: Kendall Jones, who's into big game hunting (ditto: Axelle Despiegelaere); Holly Jones, who posed with a Bible and a machine gun; and Nia Sanchez, who said women should learn martial arts to protect themselves against sexual assault. 

Why are feminists outraged by women who project strength? Perhaps they feel threatened by women who project strength. There's an obvious sense in which radical feminists live like kept women. Dependents. The government or the university administration is their keeper. 

Which God You Love Matters

Oh, if Thou carest not whom I love,
Alas! Thou lovest not me.
(John Donne, "A Hymn To Christ")

Impossible to bootstrap

"Impossible to Bootstrap" by Peter Pike.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The food police state

Vegans make a big deal about "meat is murder." That's their wedge issue. How can you love a puppy dog but eat a piglet? 

Admittedly, that's not a wedge issue for me. But in any event, it's important to keep in mind that veganism, as well as the animal rights movement that's driving it, is far more radical than eliminating meat from your diet. Vegans are equally vehement about dairy products. They claim dairy products are the result of the same inhumane, exploitative process as the meat industry. 

That means that if the vegan food police had their way, they'd not only ban beef, fish, pork, poultry, &c., but they'd ban pizza, ice cream, &c. If meat is murder, pizza is rape! As one vegan put it:

Most people believe that dairy isn’t a bad thing because an animal doesn’t have to die in order for you to get it.  But the truth is that an animal does have to die – in fact, many animals have to die – for the sake of that slice of cheese on your sandwich, or that milk in your cereal.  If you really care about animal rights, the first things you must eliminate from your diet are eggs and dairy. 
If you are a feminist like I am, dairy should really hit home for you.  This is because dairy is a business that profits off of the exploitation of the female reproductive system.  The entire life of a dairy cow is a never-ending nightmarish cycle of depression, torture and rape. 
These aren't just eccentric, powerless fanatics. They influence police policy. No idea from the loony left is too preposterous to catch on. Today's absurdity is tomorrow's law. 

God plays with loaded dice

I. Introduction
Last Spring, Vern Poythress published Chance and the Sovereignty of God. It's an outstanding treatment. I've been planning to do a post on it, but I was waiting for the ebook edition to come out, because it's easier to quote from the ebook:
Although he doesn't use the terminology, his Scriptural illustrations are textbook examples of coincidence miracles. Likewise, his analysis of chance and probability is useful for unpacking the nature of a coincidence miracle, as well as supplying criteria for the identification of coincidence miracles. Before I quote from his book, let's review some preliminaries.
Traditionally, systematic theology distinguishes between miracles and ordinary providence. A miracle is classically defined as an event that bypasses natural processes. By contrast, ordinary providence employs natural mechanisms. To take a comparison:
i) The development of an acorn into an oak is providential. The acorn has the innate information necessary to turn into an oak. That development follows a continuous process of gestation. 
ii) Take a miracle like turning a stick into a snake (Exod 4). That's naturally impossible. There is no natural mechanism to account for that. 
iii) However, there's a third class of events that overlaps providence and miracle. Suppose a guy dies in an elevator mishap. The elevator suddenly plunges 50 stories, crashing in the basement. 
Normally, we'd consider that a tragic accident, due to a mechanical malfunction. But suppose the victim was an investigative reporter who was about to publish a story that would bring down the president. In that event, we suspect the elevator mishap was a "planned accident" rather than a freak accident. 
Ordinary providence is like a machine that's programmed to do something. It always does and only does what it was programmed to do. Like invariable chemical reactions. 
Compare an assembly line using human workers with robotics. Robots can be programmed to perform some of the same tasks which humans used to do. Although robots are unintelligent, they can perform tasks which require intelligence because they were designed by intelligent engineers who programmed them to perform that task. 
In Scripture, some events are "natural" events in the sense that the outcome is the result of natural means. Yet the outcome is too selective to be the result of blind physical causes. The outcome reflects special guidance. 
Many answered prayers are coincidence miracles. God often answers prayers through natural means. Yet it's not something that would happen if nature was left to operate on its own accord. The result is too discriminating. God coordinated causally independent chains of events to converge at just the right time and place to benefit the Christian.  
The next two sections are verbatim excerpts from the book. 


Arminian theologian Randal Rauser was raised in a "fundamentalist" church. Since then he's shifted to the opposite end of the theological spectrum. Only the ventilator of philosophical theology keeps his moribund faith from expiring. Yet he's discovered that he seems to possess a genuine, albeit low-grade, paranormal ability:
He finds that credible since it's something that happens to him personally. Assuming that this constitutes evidence for natural psychokinetic ability, imagine how much more someone could do whom God specially empowered (e.g. apostles, OT prophets), or someone in league with the devil (i.e. the Egyptian sorcerers). Yet Rauser undoubtedly rejects most Biblical miracles. His conflicted attitude nicely illustrates the unbeliever's rationalist/irrationalist dilemma (a la Van Til).  

Paranormal Maladies

In an earlier post, I linked a recent interview with Stephen Braude. Something that stood out to me when I listened to the interview was the negative or trivial nature of so many of the paranormal phenomena Braude discusses. He discusses some cases in which the negative nature of the phenomenon is widely recognized, like the cases involving shlemazels. But I suspect that much of what isn't treated as negative ought to be thought of that way. I don't know much about ectoplasm, but what I've heard of it suggests to me that it's not something most people would want to experience. I find it repulsive. Braude discussed some organ transplant cases that some people take as evidence of reincarnation, possession, or something similar. Given that these cases only represent a tiny minority of all recipients of organ donation, given that the organ recipient's adoption of the donor's character traits seems so partial (in contrast to taking on more of the donor's traits and doing so more consistently), and given that continuing to live on through your organs in another person's body seems so undesirable, the phenomenon seems better explained as some sort of malfunction rather than the activity of an intelligent agent (e.g., the soul of the organ donor or a demon).

Stephen Braude On His New Book And Recent Paranormal Research

Here's a recent interview with Stephen Braude that covers a wide range of topics, including his latest book, his experiences with opponents of parapsychology in academia, and an update on his research into the Felix Circle. The interviewers take up a lot of the air time, but Braude has some significant things to say when he gets a chance to speak. It's worth listening to, especially from around the middle of the program onward.

The interviewer who talks the most, Laura Knight-Jadczyk, the one who discusses the alleged reincarnation of her son, seems to have some significant credibility problems. See the thread here. But I'm citing the interview primarily for what Braude has to say.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bioethics in the Buffyverse

Now, to talk about something serious for a change:

Chance and the Sovereignty of God

Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events (PDF) by Vern Poythress.

Update: Check out Steve's post on the book as well.

Warfield on predestination

A classic overview:

Hardening Pharaoh's heart

A classic analysis:

"It is the Lord!"

7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea (Jn 21:7).
Jn 21 is one of the major accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ. Liberals typically discount the historicity of John because it's too theological. Mind you, that's difficult to finesse even on their own terms inasmuch as John's Gospel often includes many historical details lacking in the Synoptic Gospels. 
One critical test of authenticity is the criterion of embarrassment. And v7 fits the criterion. Indeed, commentators seem a bit embarrassed discussing the verse.
Commentators typically contend that the Peter wasn't totally nude. Rather, he was wearing a loincloth or short tunic. They say this in part on the assumption that Jewish scruples about public nudity would inhibit Peter from fishing in the buff.
However, one problem with that explanation is that, if Peter was already wearing just enough to avoid "indecent exposure," it's less understandable why he'd then don his outer garment. Was he that self-conscious about appearing bare-chested in the presence of Christ? Was that considered unseemly in the hot Palestinian climate? Was that not something Jewish men did? Seems unlikely. 
Richard Bauckham takes issue with the conventional wisdom:
Richard Bauckham However, as you say, everyone went to the [Roman] baths. Even the rabbis went to the baths. I think even Jews, who were more sensitive about nudity than most people, just thought it was natural to be naked around and in water. Fishermen worked naked, even on shore. The Victorians were the first to invent bathing trunks.
Assuming that's correct, it would better explain the account. It's just a bunch of guys here. Like a locker room. And it was so much simpler, when working in water, checking their nets, not to be bogged down by wet clothing. 
There's a certain theological irony about his feeling the need to clothe himself in the presence of his Creator (cf. Jn 1:3). it's not as if God doesn't know what we look like underneath. But people can be (and often are) illogical in that respect. Consider how many Christians still think you ought to dress up for church. Wear your "Sunday best." So it's psychologically realistic. 
Commentators sometimes puzzle over donning an outer garment just before diving into the water. Surely the less you're wearing, the easier it is to swim. Mind you, that objection applies regardless of whether we think Peter was wearing nothing all, or wearing a loincloth or short tunic–before he donned his outer garment and dove in. 
Again, though, that objection misses the point. People will often sacrifice practicality for decorum. Yes, his sense of modesty interferes with swimming, but modesty has nothing to do with efficiency.
So you have this somewhat comical, down-to-earth detail in the midst of an account about the Risen Lord. One of those parenthetical details that lends credence to the account. Not something you'd expect the narrator to invent. 

Why is Roman Catholicism Respected Today?

I’ve been aware of these kinds of incidents for a long time. But seeing them in one place, as they are shown here, really presses home the corruption of the whole Roman Catholic system. The history here is valid – by trusted names like Philip Schaff, Williston Walker, and J.N.D. Kelly.

Roman Catholic Apologists will claim, “well, infallibility doesn’t mean impeccability”, meaning, there will still be sinners in an imperfect “Church”. We don’t deny that all men are sinners; but the Roman Catholic authorities portrayed here were not merely imperfect – they were so bad, that some of them make modern day Islamists look like mischievous Sunday School students by comparison.

I invite you to watch for a few minutes and understand how the Roman Papacy has conducted itself at many times throughout history. Again, Roman Catholic Apologists will suggest that these men contributed nothing to “the deposit of faith” – at best, that’s a concession that they were mere placeholders in an “unbroken succession” of popes. But at worst, these things verify what Jesus said: “a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 12:33)”. This is the fruit of Roman Catholicism in its full, rotten, smelly aroma of death.

HT: Sam Shamoun

Free Will: Pagan and Unbiblical (a short film)

This is not perfect, I don't think, but very useful for showing where the notion of Arminian "free will" comes from; and there is an excellent scriptural summary of the Sovereignty of God at the end.

More here.

The pink elephant in the room

Over on his blog, Arminian theologian Randal Rauser has been offering a one-sided "review" of the Brown–Vines debate. Guess which side he takes?
Not surprisingly, this becomes a pretext for Rauser to legitimate homosexuality and transexuality. Perhaps it's time for rename Rauser's workplace Gaylor Seminary rather than Taylor Seminary. 
Speaking of which–the Society of Evangelical Arminians has mastered the fine art of overlooking the pink elephant in the living room. When was the last time you witnessed SEA critique a prominent Arminian philosopher, theologian, or Bible scholar for being too liberal? SEA presents a sanitized version of Arminianism for public consumption, while gingerly stepping around the noisy pachyderms under its roof. 

Questioning Darwin

Stephen Meyer relates the following story (starting at about the 23:15 mark in this video) about a Chinese professor of paleontology giving a lecture in which Meyer was in attendance. Meyer recounts:

[The Chinese professor is speaking:] "The strange thing about these Cambrian fossil finds is that they turn Darwin's tree upside down. Instead of having the simple forms at the bottom and gradually morphing and then the complex forms arising and then branching out, we have the disparity between form at the very beginning of the [Cambrian] explosion, with nothing underneath."

So there was some uncomfortable shuffling. And then we went to the Q&A time. And one of the geologists from the University of Washington raised his hand and he said, almost as if in warning, "Professor, aren't you a little bit uneasy about expressing scepticism about Darwinian evolution coming as you do from such an authoritarian country?"

And suddenly you could cut the tension with a knife, to use the old metaphor. But this Chinese professor - no one's fool - got a wry smile on his face, and he said, "In our country we can question Darwin, just not the government." And then he said, "In your country, you can question the government, but you can't question Darwinism."

Meyer also relates the same story in his book Darwin's Doubt (see chapter 3, "Soft Bodies and Hard Facts"):

So there was little doubt about the significance of the discoveries that [J.Y.] Chen came to report that day. What was soon in doubt, however, was Chen's scientific orthodoxy. In his presentation, he highlighted the apparent contradiction between the Chinese fossil evidence and Darwinian orthodoxy. As a result, one professor in the audience asked Chen, almost as if in warning, if he wasn't nervous about expressing his doubts about Darwinism so freely - especially given China's reputation for suppressing dissenting opinion. I remember Chen's wry smile as he answered. "In China," he said, "we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin."

Economic indicators

Are we in a recovery? Seems like the situation is steadily worsening, yet the mainstream media ignores it or denies it:

Microcosm? Justice Blackmun and theology

Internet Arminians wear tinged bifocals. They see themselves through rose-tinted glasses while they view Calvinists through jaundice-tinted glasses. For instance:
July 3 at 3:05pm · Edited ·
As we approach July 4 where we celebrate freedom, I have been pondering this historical tidbit. John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were contemporaries who lived at a time when many Christians accepted slavery. Wesley, however, was an outspoken critic of the practice, and his last letter was to Wilberforce, encouraging him in his fight to end it. Edwards, by contrast, owned a slave. Of course, we cannot read too much into this and I am sure both opponents of slavery as well as supporters can be cited on both sides of this theological divide. Still, I wonder if it is suggestive.
On paper, Walls is a philosopher. And a basic feature of philosophical reasoning is to test your hunches by considering counterexamples. But where Calvinism is concerned, Walls is a demagogue first and a philosopher last. Since he insinuates a link between Calvinism and slavery, let's consider some links between Arminianism and slavery (or analogous evils):
The Methodists split over slavery:

And here's Frederick Douglas on Methodists of his acquaintance:

Conversely, John Newton was a Reformed pastor and abolitionist. 

Finally, the architect of Roe v. Wade was a devout Methodist:

Same denomination as Ben Witherington and Jerry Walls. I guess Blackmun is a microcosm of Wesleyan Arminianism. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

All creatures great and small

Physicists have a reputation for being the smartest scientists. Smarter than biologists. That's ironic since biology is far more varied and complicated than physics, so–if anything–you'd expect great biologists to be smarter than great physicists.
One of the putative evidences for evolution is the functional and structural similarity between otherwise diverse organisms, &c. Darwinians chalk this up to common descent. Mind you, that inference is tricky even on Darwinian assumptions inasmuch as Darwinians attribute some functional or structural similarities to convergent evolution rather than common ancestry. 
Anyway, they contend that if God really is the Creator, and more so if natural kinds originated in divine fiats of special creation, then we'd expect more diversity in how organisms are designed. 
But suppose, for the sake of argument, that God went back to the drawing board for each type of organism. In that case, the world would be far less comprehensible to man. The life sciences would be basically impossible.
Take a veterinarian. In a way, it's harder to be a vet than a doctor. That's because a vet must be competent to treat a variety of pets and farm animals, whereas a doctor only has to know about the human body. Human diseases. What is good or bad for humans, in terms of food, medicine, toxins, &c.
Even so, I imagine that in a pinch, a vet could operate on a human while a doctor could operate on a dog. If, however, every kind of organisms had a fundamentally different design, you couldn't be a vet. There'd be way too much to master. 
Likewise, you couldn't be a marine biologist if every marine species had a fundamentally different design. Admittedly, a marine biologist usually has a specialty, like dolphins or whatever. But a marine biologist is probably expected to know a lot about one (or maybe a few) species, and a little about a lot of species. Fish in general have a lot in common. That's what makes them fish. Marine mammals have a lot in common. 
But if God designed each type of organism from scratch, so as to share very few functional or structural similarities, then the natural world would be pretty incomprehensible to man. There'd be far too much to sort out. 
Or take something as "simple" and basic as yeasts. Essential to life. But imagine if every kind of yeast was radically dissimilar to every other type of yeast. Where would that leave us?
That, in turn, would make it basically impossible for man to adapt natural organisms to human use. Lacking any common frame of reference, it would be too complex to figure out.
It's beneficial to humans to live in a world that's understandable. That's something we can take advantage of. That's a sign of God's benevolence. 

New Age Arminianism

On Facebook, Arminian philosopher Jerry Walls plugged this interview:
Yesterday at 8:21am · Edited ·
Part 2 of Tom Morris's fascinating interview with Patricia Pearson, author of "Opening Heaven's Door."
I don't object to investigating NDEs. I'd add that Pearson has some useful statistics and interesting anecdotes. 
But the study of NDEs also requires us to sift and evaluate the evidence. For instance, consider the following excerpt from the interview that Walls is promoting. Does he agree with his? Given his views on purgatory and postmortem salvation, maybe he does. 
If not, doesn't he have some responsibility to his groupies to winnow the wheat from the chaff?  
Tom: Ha! Good point. In these accounts that you've heard and told us about, there's always a measure of mystery, or uncertainty, which most people think of as a bad thing. And, yet, perhaps it's a good thing. What do you think? 
Patricia: Well, there are a number of ways to answer that question. From a spiritual perspective, as the 19th century Baha'i prophet Bahaullah said, "If I told you what paradise was like, you would slit your throats to get there." Islamist suicide bombers believe they know what paradise is like, and are eager to arrive ASAP and wallow with virgins. They clearly have no idea what's entailed in being a spiritually mature human being. So what advantage is there in a false certainty that strands us with people like that? 
Humans are in their spiritual adolescence right now, in the Baha'i view. They may be smart as hell, but they're dumb as beer-addled teens in speedboats. How would you trust them with the certain contours of another realm when they would view it as a simple opportunity, and not understand the complex obligations of spiritual maturation that should precede it? 
Tom: That's an excellent point. It reminds me of an old expression: "just enough light for the step I'm on." And then, there's a new expression, "What got you here won't get you there."

Scientists discover that atheists might not exist

"The Non-Existence of Atheists" by Peter Pike.

The future of Scripturalism revisited

Retreating into pious nonsense

I'll comment on this post:
God is in time because there is no time unless God is in it.
Unfortunately, Shannon gives the reader no reason to agree with that claim, on its own terms. It's just a tendentious slogan. 
At best, he shifts gears to a different argument:
That’s a little Vos-Van Til talk, but we could infer the same from omnipresence and eternity. Eternity does not mean that God as God cannot touch temporality (again, unless you are entangled in Thomistic simplicism; but then you have created your own problems). It means that he fills all time, just as omnipresence doesn’t mean that God cannot be in places (spatially located); it means that he fills all places. This is an unbiblical non sequitur: He fills all time, therefore he cannot be in time. So is this: He fills all space, therefore he cannot be in a place.
It doesn't even occur to Shannon that his comparison might backfire: just as omnipresence doesn't mean God literally fills space, eternity doesn't mean God literally fills time. Shannon doesn't anticipate that move, or give the reader reason to deny it. 
So if we affirm, say, omnipresence, what then is condescension (which the divines worked into the confession—WCF 7.1)? If God fills all space, what does it mean that he ‘comes down’? To where does he come down? Well, to the top of Mt. Sinai (Ex 19), for example—even though being omnipresent, he was already there. He ‘comes down’ to covenant with Israel. Mt. Sinai is a particular place; and Ex 19 records the Lord’s presence there at a particular time. And so: if God fills all time, we may say that he condescends in order to covenant with his people at Mt. Sinai, at that time. The Lord speaks to Moses, then and there. 
That's a theophany or angelophany. A manifestation of God's presence. A manifestation is the effect of something else, and not the thing itself. 
Take a hologram. I could see and hear your holographic presence in my living room, but that doesn't mean you are physically present in my living room. It's a concrete representation
In principle, I might be dead by the time you receive the hologram. In that event, not only am I not actually in your living room, I'm not even offsite. 
And this presence of God with his people is no innovation; it is the telos of covenant history:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” Rev 21:3 
That presumably alludes to Christ dwelling with his people. That involves the communication of attributes. The usual Reformed construction is that what's said of each nature can be said of the person, but what's said of one nature can't be said of the other.

Grammar nazis

I'll make a few quick observations about the grammar nazis. 
i) A certain percentage of the population does suffer from a degree of illiteracy. Due to ignorance, they make grammatical blunders. It reflects the state of public education and pop culture. To that extent, grammar nazis sometimes identify genuine problems.
ii) But oftentimes, people make mistakes, not because they don't know the difference between "there" and "their" or "its" and "it's" (to take two stock examples), but because they are writing fast, and their mind gets ahead of their fingers. 
ii) Moreover, grammar nazis are self-incriminating. That's because they lack a basic understanding of how language works. "Proper grammar" is ultimately based on predominant usage. If enough people make the same grammatical mistake, that becomes idiomatic English. Sheer usage makes incorrect grammar correct. Today's solecism may be tomorrow's idiom, for language evolves, and usage drives grammar. Grammar is ultimately descriptive, not prescriptive. It follows, not leads. Grammar is a social convention, and conventions change. Get used to it. 
iii) By the same token, the spoken word is the basis of the written word. The written word cannot long resist how most people actually speak. 
iv) "Proper grammar" is relative to social class, ethnicity, and region. Grammar is sensitive to dialectical variations. It depends on who you are, where you are, and who you're with. 
v) Likewise, slang pumps fresh blood into the language. Some slang is quickly dated, but other slang becomes standard usage. 
vi) The "rules" of formal written English can be stylistically uncouth. If, say, "proper" grammar requires you to use "that" three or four times in one sentence, the repetition is monotonous and confusing. 
Likewise, forbidding contractions or split infinitives can lead to rhythmically awkward sentence construction. Same thing with the "rule" that you should never use a long word when a short word will do. But a writer with a good ear may use a longer synonym to give the sentence a nice cadence. Or he may choose a longer word to rhyme with another word in the sentence. Redundancy can serve the same purpose. Omitted a word or adding an extra word to make the sentence roll off the tongue. 
Grammar nazis sacrifice euphony for arbitrary rules. They produce stilted sentences. 

Why a 1000 years?

Traditionally, amils–following the lead of Augustine–identified John's millennium (Rev 20:1-6) with the church age. However, that's fallen out of favor. Amils like Beale and Poythress now identify the millennium with the intermediate state.
Assuming this identification is correct (which, of course, premils deny), why would John use a 1000-year interval to designate the intermediate state? Although you have a few dissidents, most scholars agree that persecution and the impending threat of martyrdom is a major theme in Revelation. Indeed, amils interpret 20:1-6 in light of 6:9:11. The point is not that the saints in 20:1-6 are confined to Christian martyrs, but that martyrs represent the faithful. (Incidentally, this is quite pertinent to contemporary Christians in the Muslim world.)
A martyr is a Christian whose life is cut short when he is murdered (by a mob) or executed (by the state) for his faith. On the one hand, the 1000-year afterlife stands in contrast to his untimely death. Although he died prematurely, his afterlife in the intermediate state is far longer than if he had a normal lifespan, or even exceptional longevity.
On the other hand, the intermediate state is still a temporary condition. It's not the final state. It's not eternal. For the saints, eternal life is about more than the afterlife, more than immortality: it's about the resurrection of the body. Restoration of our physical existence. And that's illustrated by the new Eden, New Jerusalem denouement in the last chapters of Revelation. 
The duration of the intermediate state is more than this life has to offer, but less than the resurrection of the just–which is forever. And, of course, there's a qualitative as well as quantitative distinction. Reigning with Christ in heaven is better than life in a fallen world. 

What's the sticking point?

The sticking point here has to do with the psychology of the OT writers. When they wrote passages interpreted by the NT as references to Christ, did they consciously have these Christological meanings in view? The advocates of “christotelic” interpretation argue that at least some such Christological content was extrapolated by NT writers in light of the Christ event. Their critics contend that this threatens the authority of Scripture, destroys the “organic unity” of the OT and NT, and stands in tension with the Westminster Standards.
I'm not a WTS insider, but I doubt that's the sticking point. Now, I don't think Gaffin's explanation was altogether clear, but I suspect this was the sticking point:
It is this point of the entire truthfulness of the history of revelation and Scripture-- involving “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” as Vos says, and critically essential for any doctrine of Scripture, like that set out in chapter 1 of the WCF, intent on doing justice to the unity and coherent harmony of the Bible as God’s own written word--it is just this crucially important point that is compromised or at best obscured by the Christotelic approach to Scripture.
Gaffin quotes Vos as saying, among other things:
… Reformed theology has with greater earnestness than any other type of Christian doctrine upheld the principles of the absoluteness and unchanging identity of truth…But the Reformed have always insisted upon it that at no point shall a recognition of the historical delivery and apprehension of truth be permitted to degenerate into a relativity of truth. The history remains a history of revelation. Its total product agrees absolutely in every respect with the sum of truth as it lies in the eternal mind and purpose of God...It is an unchristian and an unbiblical procedure to make development superior to revelation instead of revelation superior to development, to accept belief and tendencies as true because they represent the spirit of the time and in a superficial optimism may be regarded as making for progress. Christian cognition is not an evolution of truth, but a fallible apprehension of truth which must at each point be tested by an accessible absolute norm of truth. To take one’s stand upon the infallibility of the Scriptures is an eminently religious act; it honors the supremacy of God in the sphere of truth in the same way as the author of Hebrews does by insisting upon it, notwithstanding all progress, that the Old and the New Testament are the same authoritative speech of God.  
With the greatest variety of historical aspects, there can, nevertheless, be no inconsistencies or contradictions in the Word of God. 
It's the absolute truthfulness of Scripture, and not the "psychology of the OT writers," that's the sticking point. Inerrancy, not hermeneutics. Peter Enns clearly denies the absolute truthfulness of Scripture. Indeed, that's an understatement. 
Unfortunately, Evans seems to be taken in by the "christotelic" verbiage, which makes it sound like it's just a recondite hermeneutical issue. But, frankly, that's the sales pitch. That's a mock-pious decoy to deflect attention away from what Enns is really up to. 
Now, I can't comment on Doug Green, because he's published so little. But, presumably, he was let go for the same reason Enns was let go. 

Why Ayala is wrong

Here is a great post from Ann Gauger summarizing the responses to Francisco Ayala's attempt to demonstrate that humans had to have come from more than two individuals based on his comparison of the HLA gene complex (focusing on HLA-DRB1). Gauger is fairly gentle about it, but in my opinion her summary response is devastating to Ayala's position. More like a summary execution!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Getting to know you

Life is but a dream

Have you ever had a dream in which you try to write something down to remember it? I don't mean writing down your dream after you wake up. I mean, in the course of a dream, you think of something insightful, or a character says something catchy, and you're afraid you will forget it, so you attempt to record it by writing it down. 
The problem, of course, is the piece of paper and the words you write down are part of the very same dream. That's just as unstable, as evanescent, as everything else in the dream. What you write in a dream is just a figment of your imagination. The writing on the paper only exists in your conscious memory. If you start writing in a dream, the sentences begin to fade way before you complete them. The words only the page only exist to the degree that you are thinking about them. The moment your attention shifts, they vanish. And that's the thing about dreams. The scenes constantly change.
In principle, physical reality is more objective. More stable. It has durable objects. 
Ironically, though, physicalism is a lot like idealism. They might seem to be polar opposites, but atheism erases the distinction. According to physicalism, logic is all in the brain. Math is all in the brain. Morality is all in the brain.
But when people begin to develop dementia or brain cancer, the logic, math, and morality begin to disappear. It might as well be a dream, or subjective idealism, where something exists for only so long as you are conscious of it. Reality is the awareness of reality. 
If there is no God, if matter is all there is, then temporary brains are hard to distinguish from dreams. Grounding logic, math, and morality in the brain is like inscribing a book in a dream. As soon as the brain begins to deteriorate, the "world" of math, morality, and logic slips away like fleeting scenes in a dream. 

Annotated prooftexts

Many Arminians labor under the misapprehension that the case for Calvinism begins and ends with Rom 9. In my observation, that's common due to their self-reinforcing ignorance of the exegetical literature.

In this post I'm going to quote a number of Reformed prooftexts, in canonical order, then quote interpretive comments by various scholars. So the post has a simple structure: I quote a text of Scripture, then I quote one or more scholars expounding the passage. Taken by themselves, Reformed prooftexts might seem to beg the question by presupposing a Reformed interpretation thereof. (Arminian prooftexting is open to the same objection.) I've gone beyond bare prooftexting to provide exegetical arguments for the Reformed interpretation.

I'm doing this in part for the benefit of laymen who don't have easy access to the best modern commentaries. But it's also useful to have some of this material collated, at one's fingertips.

Although both Calvinists and Arminians have their one-verse prooftexts, Reformed theological method is based less on snappy one-liners than tracing out the flow of argument or narrative arc in larger blocks of Scripture (e.g. Gen 37-50; Exod 4-14; Isa 40-48; Jn 6, 10-12, 17; Rom 9-11; Eph 1-2, 4).

I'll quote Calvinists, Arminians, an open theist, and some scholars I don't know how to classify. All the quotes will support or be consistent with Reformed theology. You might wonder why a non-Calvinist scholar would offer an interpretation consist with, or supportive of, Calvinism. One reason is that some commentators compartmentalize exegetical and systematic theology. They think you should interpret each book on its own terms, without shoehorning passages into a harmonious system of doctrine. Likewise, some scholars think some verses are more Calvinistic while others are more Arminian. They don't interpret one in relation to the other. In addition, some liberal scholars don't think Scripture has a consistent theological message.

This post is not exhaustive, either in terms of Reformed prooftexts or supporting arguments. It's a sampler. It understates the exegetical case for Calvinism.

(Because everything below the break consists of direct quotes, I won't bother with quotation marks or indented paragraphs.)

Gen 45:5-8; 50:20

5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today.

God used their crime for his purposes, purposes they could not have anticipated. Here Joseph sounds forth the overarching theological conviction of the Joseph Novel: God's purposes are not thwarted by human sin, but rather advanced by it through his good graces. The hand of God is seen, not only in clearly miraculous interventions and revelations, but also in the working out of divine purpose through human agency, frail and broken as it is. Joseph knows it to be true: "You sold me..." but "God sent me..."

Joseph does not deny their evil intent. But the word play, using the same verb with different idioms, highlights the way God has turned the evil intent of humans into an opportunity to accomplish his good purposes. They planned harm, but God reconfigured their evil and produced good from it...The brothers sold Joseph to Egypt with evil intent, but it was really God who brought him to Egypt in order to preserve life. B. Arnold, Genesis (Cambridge 2009), 361, 388.

God's providence has directed everything, even the misdeeds of the brothers. It underscores the true purpose of the entire account of Joseph: God is the subject of the story, and he is moving all things to the end and goal that he has decreed (cf. 50:20). That goal is the preservation of a "remnant," or seed on the earth.

Joseph again highlights the fact of the sovereignty and providence of God. He states emphatically that the true source of his coming to Egypt is not the brothers' evil activity...Rather, it was the will of God that brought about the present circumstances: this opening statement clearly proclaims the doctrine of providence. It was God who placed Joseph in these various official positions.

Joseph simply believes that God even uses the sinfulness of humans to bring about his good purposes for the world. This theological concept is no stranger to the rest of Scripture (see Prov 16:1; 20:24; Ps 37:23; Jer 10:23). As Proverbs 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but Yahweh directs his steps." There is no stronger statement regarding the true meaning of the sovereignty of God in Scripture than what Joseph says here to his brothers. J. Currid, Genesis (EP 2003), 2:324-325; 397.

"But God sent me ahead of you" (v7a) reiterates Joseph's interpretation of his travail in Egypt...Joseph viewed the families of Jacob as the surviving "remnant" of the world's populations (cp. the Noah imagery, v5). If the Jacobites fail to survive, the whole of the human family will die without salvation hope. Joseph's role as savior of the world from starvation typifies the salvation of the nations that the promises call for (e.g. 12:3). K. Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 (B&H 2005), 2:813.

Exod 4:11

Then the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exod 4:11).

Some Christians, hoping apparently to limit God's liability, effectively absolve God of responsibility for what goes on in the world. If a child is born blind, it is a result of a prenatal infection or genetic defect; God had nothing to do with it. If religious zealots bring down buildings and kill thousands, God was not involved. The problem with this is that it effectively limits God's power and sovereignty. What if an infection was the proximate cause of a baby's being born blind? Couldn't God have saved the child if he had wanted to? Couldn't God have stopped the mass-murderers? God cannot be almighty and all-knowing and also be absolved of responsibility for what happens in the world.

God's response in Exod 4:11 is striking: he takes full responsibility for the suffering that people experience. He makes some blind, some deaf, and some mute. The text does not deny that there are proximate causes to such things (injuries, infections, etc.; the ancients knew nothing about viruses and bacteria, but they certainly knew that accidents and injuries could make a person blind or lame). Furthermore, the issue of human sin is never raised in God's response. This passage is not at all concerned with proximate causes-human sin, like disease or injury, is really just another proximate cause. This text is focused on the ultimate cause, God, and does not shrink from affirming that God is in control of all that happens. Of course, the question of theodicy is very large, and merely asserting that God takes responsibility for all that happens in the world does not resolve all the issues. This topic is explored much more fully in Job. D. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel 2014), 215-16.

Exod 4:21; 7:3-5

21 And the Lord said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

3 But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them."

Pharaoh's heart was particularly important because the Egyptians believed it was the all-controlling factor in both history and society. It was further held that the hearts of the gods Ra and Horus were sovereign over everything. Because Pharaoh is the incarnation of those two gods, his heart was thought to be sovereign over creation.

Yahweh hardens Pharaoh's heart to demonstrate that only the God of the Hebrews is the Sovereign of the universe. J. Currid, Exodus: Chapters 1-18 (EP 2000), 113-14.

By indicating that he would control Pharaoh's resistance to the exodus, God assured Moses that he was totally in control of Pharaoh in every way, able to make him resist as long as necessary even during a buildup of increasingly painful plagues and then make him give up and let the Israelites go at the moment of God's choosing (which was already the essential message of 3:19-20).

His purpose in preventing Pharaoh from giving in too easily and too early was, as will be seen in subsequent parts of the narrative, to allow himself fully to demonstrate his sovereignty over Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the land of Egypt itself, and the gods in which Pharaoh and the Egyptians trusted. D. Stuart, Exodus (B&H 2006), 146-47.

The significance of this pattern lies in the observation that even when Pharaoh is subject of the hardening, or when the subject is unmentioned, these statements describe a resulting condition traceable to a previous hardening action caused by God (cf 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15[19]; 9:7, 35). Therefore these statements cannot refer to Pharaoh independently hardening his heart, as many commentators argue. This is not to say that the reality of Pharaoh's volitional decisions and accountability should be overlooked or ignored; the concern of this study is about the ultimate cause of the hardening.

It is never stated in Exod 4-14 that Yahweh hardens Pharaoh in judgment because of any prior reason or condition residing in him. Rather, as stated in the exegetical conclusion, the only purpose or reason given for the hardening is that it would glorify Yahweh. Therefore, the divine hardening of Pharaoh was unconditional. (Source)

Judges 9:23

23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech

In v23 we see God directly intervening by sending a spirit to stir up hostility between Abimelech and Shechem...This incident is just one of several in which God employs the services of an evil spirit to expedite judgment upon sinners (1 Sam 16:14; 18:10; 19:10; 1 Chron 21:1 [cf. 2 Sam 24:1]). The expression "evil spirit" need not mean that the spirit was itself demonic or evil. The Hebrew term can refer to moral evil, but it can also refer to disaster, harm, or calamity in a non-moral sense. If the word is given the latter sense here, the expression may simply mean that the spirit was sent to bring harm and calamity upon the objects of God's anger.

Even if the spirit is viewed as demonic in nature, this need not impugn the goodness of God himself, for the OT makes it clear that he will on occasion resort to deceit when judging sinners. In this case, the demonic spirit would be an instrument or agent of divine retribution. R. Chisholm, A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel 2013), 316-17.

Judges 9:53

53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech's head and crushed his skull.

The Lord remains sovereign even during the worst of times. He preserved Jotham and brought his justified curse to pass. In the process he intervened supernaturally (by sending a spirit to stir up strife) and manipulated people and circumstances in order to accomplish his just purposes. through a series of reports he drew Abimelech to Shechem and brought about the destruction of that sinful city. By giving Abimelech temporary success, the Lord placed him in a vulnerable position where his daring became his downfall. By using a woman armed with a millstone to kill Abimelech, the Lord once more showed he can accomplish his purposes through unlikely instruments. R. Chisholm, A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel 2013), 326.

1 Sam 2:25

25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

A sobering statement is contained in 2:25b. The wording should be carefully noticed (see note on 2:25). It does not say that Eli's sons had become so hardened in their sinful ways that the Lord decided to put them to death, but rather than Eli's sons did not listen to him because the Lord was already planning to put them to death. In other words, the resistance of Hophni and Phinehas to Eli's call to repentance was not the reason for God's judgment but was the result of his prior judgment. J. Vannoy, 1-2 Samuel (Tyndale 2009), 59.

2 Sam 17:14

And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel." For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lordmight bring harm upon Absalom.

The Lord answered David's prayer (cf. 2 Sam 15:31). The narrator's description of Ahithophel's advice as "good," in contradistinction to Hushai's characterization of it as "not good" (17:7), reminds the reader that Absalom is a victim of divine deception (see the comment above on 16:18).

There is more to the story than meets the eye. Indeed, as we read the advice of the two counselors, it is quite apparent that Ahithophel's plan is superior; even the narrator admits this (17:14). But in the end the Lord is manipulating the minds of Absalom and his men, causing them to prefer the desperate, inferior plan offered by Hushai, because he has already determined to bring disaster upon Absalom (17:14). This is reminiscent of the account of Eli's sons, who rejected their father's warning because the Lord had by that time decided to kill them (1 Sam 2:25; see as well 1 Kings 12:15). R. Chisholm, 1 & 2 Samuel (Baker 2013), 268,270.

2 Chron 18:19-22

19 And the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said one thing, and another said another. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, 'I will entice him.' And the Lord said to him, 'By what means?' 21 And he said, 'I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And he said, 'You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.' 22 Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these your prophets. The Lord has declared disaster concerning you."

In effect, Micaiah explained his actions on the basis of divine intentions behind these events. The Chronicler frequently appealed to divine intentions to explain earlier events. This passage reveals heavenly purposes in great detail. Micaiah has seen the Lord ask for a volunteer from the host of heaven (v18) to lure Ahab to his death (v19). An unnamed spirit had agreed to do so by becoming a lying spirit in the mouths of all [of Ahab's] prophets (vv20-21). God had agreed to the plan and guaranteed success (v21).

Micaiah's two oracles were designed to seal Ahab's fate. While prophets usually warned to encourage repentance, occasionally their role was to insure destruction (see Isa 6:9-1). Jesus spoke in parables for a similar reason (Lk 8:9-10). R. Pratt, 1 and 2 Chronicles (Mentor 1998), 326.

The ethical and theological implications of trickery have not been the focus of this paper. Yet obviously such matters naturally attend the archetype of the trickster and the art of trickery. Particularly troublesome are those passages where God himself is said to be involved in the situation. Most instances fit the category of ruse de guerre. Thus God caused the Aramaean soldiers to hear what seemed to them the clamor of a great host coming upon them and fled in panic (2 Kgs 7:6-7). At the Lord's direction Absalom and his advisors were deceived into following advice that would ultimately lead to their defeat (2 Sam 17:14) and Ahab is deceived into following the counsel of his false prophets to his own destruction (1 Kgs 22:19-23). (Source)

Ps 33:10-11, 15

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.

This section focuses on the Lord's sovereign plan in history as the development of the theme that all his work is dependable (v4b). Verses 10 and 11 go together as the plan and intentions of the nations (v10) are contrasted with the plan and intentions of the Lord (v11).

Now, as for the plan and intentions of the nations, the psalmist says that the Lord "annuls" and "thwarts" them. This second term has the idea of stopping an action (as in forbidding someone from carrying out a vow; see Num 30:8).

On the other hand, the counsel and the purposes of the Lord endure forever. Here we find the verb "stand firm, endure" repeated. As the Lord's creation stood firm at his decree (v9), so his counsel stands firm forever (v11). It cannot be shaken or interrupted by the antagonistic plans of the world. As the sage says, "There is no counsel, no wisdom, no plan against the counsel of the Lord" (Prov 21:30).. And to make his plan stand, as the psalmist says, "He brings to nothing the plans of the nations." The certainty of the plan of the Lord is not temporary-it is eternal. This is stressed by "forever, to the farthest time," and reiterated in the parallel colon that affirms that the purposes of God's heart are "until endless generations." The plan of the Lord can be trusted completely because it is carried out in faithfulness.

The one who forms the heart, i.e. fashions it according to his plan, evaluates its activities...Because he created mankind, his evaluation can penetrate even to the motivations behind actions. He understands completely what we are, what we do, and why we do it, and the standard by which he evaluates us is his righteousness. A Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms: 1-41 (Kregel 2011), 734-735, 737-738.

The point of the line is thus to add that the watcher is the original shaper, their creator. Specifically, YHWH shapes people's mind; the implies the ability to look into it. J. Goldingay, Psalms 1-41 (Baker 2006), 470.

Ps 139:16

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

What is meant, we may well ask, when the Psalmist asserts that all the days are written upon God's book?...The thought here is that the entirety of the Psalmist's being, even including the days of his life, are inscribed in a book that belongs to God. By the days of his life the Psalmist has in mind all the vicissitudes that he must experience. All of his life, each individual day with all that that day will bring, is written down by God in His own book.

Furthermore, it is stated that these days of the Psalmist's life have been formed before there were any of them...If we understand his language aright, he is saying that the days of his life were actually formed before even one of them had come into existence. All his life, the details of each day, had been written down in the book of God, before any of these days had actually occurred.

The Psalmist has here reached a peak in his exaltation of the all-knowing and all-powerful God. Not only does God know all things, but God has also foreordained all things. In other words, the Psalmist has brought us head on with the doctrine of predestination. His life he regards not as a chance happening, but as a life already planned by God even before he himself was born. All the days that David would live and all the events of each day had been written down in God's book before David himself had come into existence.

David's life is not determined by David; he is not the master of his fate nor the captain of his soul, nor, for that matter, is any man. Before David appeared upon the earth, the days of his life had been determined by God Himself. Indeed, all that occurs had been foreordained of God. God has a plan and hence there are no surprises for Him. He knows what the future will bring forth, for He Himself has determined the future. David was to live a life that had been predetermined for him.

David does not rebel at this thought and neither should we. The contemplation of this profound doctrine leads him to an utterance of the preciousness of God's thoughts. He is willing that it should be as set forth here. He is content that God has determined in advance his life, predestined the course of events for him. As a devout believer in the Lord he knows that whatever God does is right. E. J. Young, The Way Everlasting (Banner of Truth 1997), 80-82.

Prov 19:21

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

The Lord's purpose informing their instruction will prevail over human schemes to subvert the teaching (see 16:1-9)...The pair is also linked by the concept that God's counsel will stand forever (v21b)...As for the counsel [see 19:20] of the Lord, refers to God's immutable will (see 1:25). The juxtaposition are many (see 7:26) with it [i.e., "counsel"] will take place contrasts the many human plans that may or may not occur in historical reality with God's single plan that will happen (cf. 6:1). The manifold images developed in the human thinking organ are one thing, but what finally transpires as a reality is another. God can make them successful or cancel them (2 Sam 15:30-17:14) or bring about the reverse of what people intended (cf. Gen 45:4-8; 50:20; Exod 1:8-12,20; Job 23:13; Ps 2:1-6; Prov 20:24; 27:1; Is 45:9; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 23:11-15). Even the best human plans and efforts cannot stand before him if he does not will it (Prov 21:30-31; cf. Ps 33:11; Is 7:7; 14:24; 46:10). B. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31 (Eerdmans 2005), 114-15.

Prov 20:24

24 A man's steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his way?

If even a strong and powerful man cannot determine his steps, how can any human being discern the way his steps take? The similarity between from the Lord and "to the Lord" (see vv22-23) identifies the just God as the ultimate author of the steps (see 16:9), a metaphor for every decision and activity of a man (geber; referring to the male in his strength; see 6:34).

The parallel to "step," his way (see 1:15), moves from his individual decision to his entire direction and the destiny with which he acts. People do not understand their ways because God makes the actual direction and destiny of their free actions subservient to his plan. B. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31 (Eerdmans 2005), 154.

Prov 21:1

21 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

God's inscrutable mastery extends to kings, the most powerful of human beings, and to the heart, their most free member. The Lord rules even the most free and powerful human beings (see 16:14-15; 19:12; 20:2).

As the heart of the individual determines and directs his every move, the king's heart (see I:90) determines the nation's direction and well-being (see vv10-15)...God's inscrutable mastery directs the king, who has in his hands the life and death of his subjects (16:10-15). Here the anthropomorphism teaches that God steers the king's heart according to the Lord's good pleasure. The metaphor is a channel of water...Farmers in Mesopotamia and Egypt divert the water by putting up dams and other obstructions in the stream's flow to direct the water to their fields and gardens. Palestinian farmers depended on rain (cf. Deut 11:10-12), but must have captured and directed the water to where it was most needed. Natural streams are not meant, because their direction is fixed. The Lord is the Farmer; the king's heart is the flexible channel... B. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31 (Eerdmans 2005), 167-168.

Prov 21:30

30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
can avail against the Lord.

Verse 30 protects against misinterpreting v29b to mean that a human being, even the upright, has the power to consummate his journey independently from the Lord. The Lord has the final word in realizing the goal. Everything in this proverb stops at the divine name.

By the triple anaphoric hammer blows "there is no," the proverb drives home the vast and unbridgeable guilt between the best of human wisdom and the Lord's sovereignty. "Wisdom" and "counsel" are used in battle imagery in 2 Kgs 18:20 and Isa 10:13, and probably all three words refer explicitly to human military strategy as suggested by 21:31 (cf. 24:5). B. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31 (Eerdmans 2005), 191.

Isa 14:24-27

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
"As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder."
26 This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

When God swears to do something, the listener can be fully assured that it will happen. God's holiness guarantees the execution of his plans, for he stakes his holy reputation on his promises (cf. similar holy oaths in Amos 4:2; 6:8; 8:7).

The claim is made that there is a direct connection between God's plans and purposes and what actually will happen...This contrasts with man's inability to carry out his plans (8:10; cf. 46:10; Ps 33:9-11; Prov 19:21).

The final two verses extrapolate the principles in 14:24-25 and apply them to God's plans for the whole world...the comparison suggests that God makes sovereign plans not only for specific events related to the future of Assyria, but also for every nation on earth...There is no other way for things to happen in this world, no second choices, no alternative plans but God's plans. No one can resist the hand of God, and no one can turn God's hand away from doing his will. G. Smith, Isaiah 1-39 (B&H 2007), 320-22.

Sometimes in Isaiah a divine statement is underlined in some particularly emphatic way (cf. 5:9; 9:7; 37:32), and so it is here. The name of God is used here (cf. comment on 1:9) combines with the statement of his settled purpose (c f. 5:19) to assure us that the Assyrians cannot survive. If such a mighty God has designed to crush them, they are doomed indeed. As though to reinforce this certainty still more, God speaks of "my land" and "my mountains."

The prophetic word here enunciates an important general principle that has been demonstrated so strikingly in the downfall of Assyria: God is sovereign over human history (v26). All nations will have to submit to his judgment. This important theological principle will be seen in relation to other nations-both small and great-in the oracles that follow. God is not like a man who makes plans and finds he has no power to put them into effect. Perfect wisdom and absolute power find their unity in god. REBC 6:568-69.

Isa 46:10-11

10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

Here the three participles make a direct link between predictive prophecy (declaring the outcome at the start) and divine intervention in history (calling from the east a bird of prey)...As several commentators (e.g. Young) have noted, the three participles move from general to particular to specific. In the first instance, God tells in general what will happen in the future. He can do so because the future is fully shaped by his own plans and wishes. This is the same point that was made in chap. 14 concerning Assyria (vv24-27). Assyria's plans for Judah were really of little import. It is the Lord's plans for Assyria to which that great nation should have paid attention (see also 22:11; 37:26).

This thought is summed in the ringing affirmations of the final bicolon of v11...The repetition serves to emphasize the unshakable connection between promise and the performance, between divine talk and divine action...This parallelism underlines again that the reason God can tell what is going to happen is that what happens is only an outworking of his eternal purposes. John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (Eerdmans 1998), 236-37.

Jn 3:6-8

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

From the start, the Gospel [of John] speaks of those who "receive" Jesus as the Light and "believe in his name," those who are given "authority to become children of God" by virtue of having been born...of God" (1:12-13). Two chapters later Jesus tells Nicodemus, "unless someone is born from above [or "of water and Spirit"], he cannot see [or "enter"] the kingdom of God" (3:3,5). But what exactly is the relationship between being "born of God," or "born from above," and "receiving" or "believing in" Jesus? Which comes first? Is a person reborn because he or she believes, or does a person believe as a result of being reborn? Conventional wisdom assumes the former as a matter of course, and the word order of 1:12-13 seems on the face of it to support this. Yet those verses make no explicit causal connection either way between faith and rebirth, and as Jesus' dialogue with Nicodemus runs its course, evidence for the opposite view begins to surface. "Receiving" Jesus' testimony is mentioned in 3:11, and "believing" is repeatedly urged in verses 12, 15, and 16. Finally, the stark alternative of "believing" or "not believing" in him is clearly set forth (v18), and then restated (in language reminiscent of 1:9-13) as either loving or hating the Light, either "coming to the Light" or refusing to come (vv19-21). The person who "hates the Light" does so because he "practices wicked things," and refuses to come "for fear his works will be exposed" (v20). By contrast, the person who "does the truth comes to the Light, so that his works will be revealed as works wrought in God" (v21).

On this note the interview with Nicodemus-if Nicodemus is still anywhere in the picture-comes to an end. In sharp distinction from the other three Gospels, in which Jesus says, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mk 2:27//Mt 9:13; also Lk 5:32), he does come to call, if not explicitly "the righteous," at least those who "do the truth"-as against those who "practice wicked things." Those who come to him in faith (that is, "come to the Light") demonstrate by so doing that they are already "doers of the truth," not by their own merits to be sure, but because their works have been "in God" (en theo, 3:21). They do not prove their faith by their works-at least not yet-but on the contrary prove their works by their faith. To this extent, John's Gospel turns some versions of Reformation theology on their heads! It is not as radical as it sounds, however, for the point is simply that God is at work in a person's life before the person "receives" Jesus, or "believes," or "comes to the Light." This is evident in the account of the man born blind-the Gospel's classic case study on what it means to be "born of God"-where the point made is not that the man was a sinner who "believed" and was consequently reborn. On the contrary, Jesus insists, "Neither this man sinned nor his patents"-that is, his predicament was not the result of sin. Rather, the purpose of the healing was "that the works of God might be revealed in him" (9:3)-that is, God was already at work in his life, and his eventual confession of faith 9:38) would reveal that to be the case. He did not believe in order to be "born of God." He believed because he was "born of God." This interpretation is confirmed by Jesus' repeated insistence that "All that the Father gives me will come to me" (6:37), "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him" (6:44), and "no one can come to me unless it is given him from the Father" (6:65). The initiative in human salvation is God the Father's and his alone.

While it is true that John's Gospel centers on a call to decision, the hearer's decision cannot change but only reveal what has gone on before-the working of God the Father in those who will eventually become his children. Jesus can speak of "other sheep" whom, he says, "I have," even though they have not yet believed (10:16), and the Gospel writer can envision scattered "children of God"-born of God," therefore-who have yet to be gathered into one" (11:52). Perhaps the words of old Simeon in another Gospel put it best: Jesus in the Gospel of John comes "so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2:35). The accent is not on "conversion" (the words for "repent" and "repentance" never occur), or even the forgiveness of sins, but on revelation. The coming of Jesus into the world simply reveals who belongs-and who does not belong-to his Father, the God of Israel. J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 40-42.

Jn 6:37, 39

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

Both here and elsewhere in the Gospel tradition, Jesus responds to unbelief with an appeal to divine sovereignty and divine election. It is in this framework of sovereignty and election that Jesus holds out the universal-sounding declaration that "the person who comes to me I will never drive out." The words "never drive out" are just as emphatic and final as "never go hungry" or "never ever thirst" (v35). Yet they do not add up to universalism. There is no indiscriminate "Whosoever Will," as in the old Gospel song. Those who "come to Jesus" are those whom the Father gave him, and no one else. In promising never to "drive out" those who come, Jesus is simply obeying the Father by accepting the Father's gift. He confirms a principle first laid down by John, that "A person cannot receive anything unless it is given him from heaven" (3:27). The corollary is that a person must receive that which is given from heaven, and this Jesus promises, emphatically, and without qualification, to do.

If he were now to reject those who came to him in genuine faith, he would not only be denying them salvation, but he would "lose" that which his Father wanted him to have. Their loss would be his as well. J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 377-79.

Formally it is a "litotes", a figure of speech in which something is affirmed by negating its contrary..."whoever comes to me I will certainly keep in, preserve..."I will never drive away" therefore means "I will certainly keep in". D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Eerdmans 1991), 290.

Jn 6:44

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

The words are a negative corollary to verses 37 ("All that the Father gives me will come to me") and 39 ("that of all he has given me I might not lose anything"), and an echo of John's caution to his disciples three chapters earlier, "A person cannot receive anything unless it is given him from heaven" (3:27)...Those who "come to me," Jesus says, do so because his Father "draws" them, and for no other reason. They are God's gift to Jesus, and Jesus is God's gift to them. Jesus is not so much inviting these Galilean "Jews" to "come to him" as providing the reader of the Gospel with an explanation why they would not and could not come.They do not come to Jesus because they are not "drawn" or "dragged" to him. The verb is used literally of drawing a sword (18:10), or dragging a net full of fish into a boat (21:6) or onto shore (21:11). J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 385-86.

Jn 9:3

3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

It touches upon God's manipulation of history to glorify his name. A good example would be Exod 9:16, cited in Rom 9:17, where God tells Pharaoh: "This is why I have spared you: to show you my power sot that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." R. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII (Doubleday 1977), 371-72.

In John's theology, people might not understand God's eternal purposes until they actually came to pass (cf. 2:22; 12:16; 13:7); in this case, the fulfillment that revealed the purpose arrived many years after the situation began. This principle would have made sense to John's contemporaries; for example, many sages believed that God had allowed Israel to endure troubles in the past so that God might redeem them for his glory.

Sipre Deut. 306.30.2, 5, 6. God's mighty acts could be said to be predestined before the creation (Gen. Rab. 5:5). C. Keener, The Gospel of John (Hendrickson 2003), 1:779.

Jn 10:26-28

26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

For emphasis, Jesus repeats himself: "But as for you, you do not believe," adding the reason for their unbelief, "because you do not belong to my sheep" (v26). Reintroducing the sheep metaphor, he revisits the parable of vv1-5 and the discourse of vv7-18. One might have expected rather, "You do not belong to my sheep because you do not believe," but the wording here is in keeping with the theology of the Gospel...Those who do not "believe" prove thereby that they are not Jesus' sheep. Behind it all is a strong accent on election: those who "believe" do so because they are already Jesus' sheep (see v16, "other sheep I have"), his gift from the Father. J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 598.

"Lost" sheep are not "found" in John's Gospel (as, for example, in Lk 15:6). Rather, Jesus' mission is to make sure his sheep "will never be lost, and no one will seize them out of my hand" (Jn 10:29). He does not come "to seek and to save that which is lost" (Lk 19:10), but to keep people from ever being "lost". In this Gospel a person is not first lost and then saved (as in Lk 15:24), but either lost or saved. Both are final, not temporary conditions. Ibid. 380.

Jn 11:4

4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

The purpose of Lazarus's sickness was not "for death"...Instead, the purpose of the sickness is to provide an opportunity for God to manifest his glory (11:4; cf. 11:40), as in 9:3. C. Keener, The Gospel of John (Hendrickson 2003), 2:839.

Jn 12:39-40

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 "He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them."

The writer goes a step beyond "they would not believe," adding, "Therefore they were unable to believe" (v39) on the basis of another text in Isaiah...This is clearly sufficient to explain why "they were unable to believe" (v39; compare 5:44; 8:43). Jesus had said elsewhere that "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him" (6:44), or "unless it is given him from the Father" (6:65), and Isaiah's ancient words now put the judgment in even starker terms. Not only has God not "drawn" these people or "given" them faith, but he has "blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts" to make sure they would not repent and be healed! J. R. Michaels, The Gospel of John (Eerdmans 2010), 710.

Jn 17:2, 9

2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him...9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

In John 17:6-19, our Lord effectively prays for his disciples, those whom the Father has given him, but not for the world (vv9-10). In verses 20-26, Jesus then prays for all future believes, once again given to him by the Father (v24; cf. 6:37-44). This intercession is consistent with Jesus' teaching previously: he is the good shepherd who dies for the sheep (10:11,15); his sheep are given to him by his Father (10:29); his sheep receive eternal life due to his death; but not all people are his sheep (10:26-27). All of this is consistent with his office as a priest who offers himself for a particular people and intercedes for those same people. P. Gentry & S. Wellum, Kingdom Through Covenant (Crossway 2012), 674-75.

Jn 17:12 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

But Judas is not an exception. Jesus didn't choose Judas for the same reason he chose the Eleven. Even before he chose him, Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. That's why Jesus chose him. Judas had an instrumental role to play in the atonement (Jn 6:64,70-71; 13:10-11,18,21-22). Judas was excluded from rather than included in the sphere of soteriological election and protection. Christ's ability to keep everyone the Father entrusted to him didn't break down in the case of Judas; rather, Judas always had a different function and destiny. Cf. D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Eerdmans 1991), 291-2; 563-4.

Acts 2:23

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

God's "foreknowledge" (prognosis) means more than his ability to anticipate the future. It is another way of talking about his determination of events in advance, according to his own plan (cf. Rom 8:29; 1 Pet 1:2,20). Jesus came into the world to fulfill certain God-given roles, and those associated with him had their own roles to play in the drama of redemption.

[Quoting from the NIDNTT] Perhaps no NT author is more concerned than Luke to testify to the accomplishment of the will of God in history or caught upon the language of the divine plan and predetermined intention, purpose and necessity. D. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Eerdmans 2009), 146.

Acts 4:28

28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

The word boule ("purpose, plan, will") appears again (cf. 2:23 note), together with the verb proorisen ("decided beforehand," a compound of the verb used in 2:23; 10:42; 11:29; 17:26,31), now with the expression "your power" (cheir, "hand"; cf. 4:30; 11:21; 13:11) added to stress God's sovereignty in all these events. Once in each chapter of Acts so far, Peter has expressed the confidence that God is able to carry out his purpose even through rebellious human beings who do not accept his revealed will (1:16-20; 2:23-36; 3:13-15).

[Quoting Tannehill] In a time of threat, prayer can be a rediscovery of the sovereign God who wins by letting our opponents win and then transforming the expected result. This rediscovery can keep God's witnesses faithful in spite of threats. D. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Eerdmans 2009), 201.

Acts 13:48

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

The present verse is as unqualified a statement of absolute predestination-"the eternal purpose of God" (Calvin]-as is found anywhere in the NT. Those believed who were appointed (the passive implies, by God) to do so. The rest, one infers, did not believe, did not receive eternal life, and were thus appointed to death. The positive statement implies the negative. C. K. Barrett, Acts I-XIV (T&T Clark 1994), 658.

It is God who "assigns" people to the group of people who inherit eternal life. The idea of being "assigned to a certain classification" may echo the OT concept of being recorded in the 'book of life," in which God's people are listed. E. Schnabel, Acts (Zondervan 2012), 589.

Acts 17:26

26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place

God "determined" not only the existence of human beings but also the conditions of their existence. E. Schnabel, Acts (Zondervan 2012), 734.

Rom 8:28-30; 11:2

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he chose beforehand he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

2 God has not rejected his people whom he chose beforehand. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?

[Rom 8:29] Since, however, it would be a needless truism to say that God "knows" (about) Christians ahead of time, the verb would have to suggest that God "foresees" something peculiar to believers-perhaps their moral fitness (so many patristic theologians), their destiny, or (which is far more likely, if this is what the verb means) their faith...But I consider it unlikely that this is the correct interpretation..."enter into relationship with before" or "choose, or determine, before" (Rom 11:2; Acts 2:23; 1 Pet 1:2,20)...Paul does not say that God knew anything about us but that he knew us, and this is reminiscent of the OT sense of "know". (Moreover, it is only some individuals-those who, having been "foreknown," were also "predestined," "called," "justified," and "glorified"-who are the objects of this activity; and this shows that an action applicable only to Christians must be denoted by the verb...It must be a knowledge or love that is unique to believers and that leads to their being predestined. This being the case, the difference between "know or love beforehand" and "choose beforehand" virtually ceases to exist...1 Pet 1:20 and Eoh 1:4 suggest rather than Paul would place this choosing of us "before the foundation of the world", D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018), 553-55.

[Rom 8:28] In saying that God works in all things for good, panta (all things) focuses especially on sufferings and tribulations, but the all-encompassing character of the term should not be ignored. What is remarkable, though, is that even suffering and tribulation turn out for the good of the Christian...Paul doesn't teach that all things are intrinsically good or pleasant, but instead that the most agonizing sufferings and evils inflicted on believers will be turned to their good by God. It is correct, then, to say that agathon (good) is eschatological, since the "good" will be evident and fully realized only at the end time. Yet by virtue of this promise, believers know "now" that everything conspirers to their good, and this knowledge fortifies them with courage in facing any situation.

Thus Paul adds the phrase "for those called according to his purpose" to further describe those who love God. This last phrase is not a correction of the previous one but a clarification so that the reader can accurately locate the roots of our love for God. The believers' love for God is ultimately due to God's purpose in calling them to salvation.

The text does not say that "some" of those called were justified. It fuses the called and justified together so that all those who are called receive the blessing of justification. If all those who are called are also justified, then calling must be effectual and must create faith, for "all" those who are called are justified, and justification cannot occur without faith (3:21-22,28; 5:1)...The foundational reason why all things work for believers good begins to emerge: God's unstoppable purpose in calling believers to salvation cannot be frustrated, and thus he employs all things to bring about the plan he had from the beginning in the lives of believers.

[Rom 8:29] The good realized is not due to fate, luck, or even the moral superiority of believers; it is to be ascribed to God's good and sovereign will, which has from eternity past to eternity future secured and guaranteed the good of those whom he has chosen. This is the significance of "the golden chain"...In each case God is the subject of the verbs...The good he has begun he will finish (Phil 1:6; cf. 1 Cor 1:9; 1 Thes 5:24)

The background of the term [proginosko] should be located in the OT, where for God "to know" (yada) refers to his covenant love, in which he sets his affection on those whom he has chosen (cf. Gen 18:19; Exod 33:17; 1 Sam 2:12; Ps 18:43; Prov 9:10; Jer 1:5; Hos 13:5; Amos 3:2). The parallel terms "consecrate" and "appoint" in Jer 1:5 are noteworthy...The intention of the text [Amos 3:3] is to say that Yahweh had set his covenant love on only Israel. Rom 11:2 yields the same conclusion...the verb proegno here functions as the antonym to aposato. In other words, the verse is saying that God has not rejected his people on whom he set his covenant love (cf. also Acts 2:23; 1 Pet 1:2,20). Similarly, in Rom 8:29 the point is that God has predestined those on whom he has set his covenant affection. The object of the verb proegno is personal, "those whom" God set his affection on...not just facts about the world but specific persons.

The words proegno and proorisen are almost synonyms. Many scholars observe that the only difference is that Paul specifies the goal of God's preordained work in reference to predestination, that is, that we be conformed to the image of his Son. But this overlooks the distinction between the terms proginoskein and proorizein. The latter term stressed the preordained plan of God that will certainly come to pass (Acts 4:28; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5,11) in accordance with his will. The former has a different nuance is that it highlights God's covenant love and affection for those whom he has chosen.

[Rom 11:2a] As in 8:29 (see the exegesis and exposition of 8:28-30), the work proginoskein doesn't merely connote foreknowledge but also implies foreordination with the emphasis being on God's covenant love for his people (cf. Amos 3:1; 1 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:9; 2 Tim 2:19). Such an understanding of proginoskein is confirmed by the immediate context, for proegno clearly functions as the antonym of "has forsaken". The latter verb means "rejected," and thus the former means "selected". T. Schreiner, Romans (Baker, 2nd ed. 2018), 441-45; 566.

"Foreknew" focuses attention upon the distinguishing love of God whereby the sons of God were elected. But it does not inform us of the destination to which those thus chosen are appointed. It is precisely that information that "he also foreordained" supplies, and it is by no means superfluous. J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Eerdmans 1982), 318.

Confidence in the sovereignty of God in dire circumstances is one of the fundamentals of the faith. It is one thing-and very necessary-to assent to the great historical facts of the gospel as touching the birth of Christ, his miracles, atoning death, resurrection from the dead and return to glory. But, I submit, confidence in God's sovereign goodness in the midst of a baffling and painful providence is equally important, if not more so. P. Barnett, Romans (CF 2003), 200.

Rom 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Those who defend the view that believers may possibly forsake their salvation note that nothing is said here about the impossibility of believers separating themselves from Christ's love...[however], the objective of the text is to rule out that very eventuality. Affliction, persecution, famine, death, and so on are mentioned because these are the sorts of things that would cause a believer to renounce faith in Christ. T. Schreiner, Romans (Baker, 2nd. ed., 2018), 457-58.

Rom 9:9-22

9 For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad-in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls- 12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[a] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-

[Rom 9:13]...I think that a corporate and salvation-historical interpretation of vv10-13 does not ultimately satisfy the data of the text...In addition to the general points I made in the introduction to this section, the following potions are especially relevant to vv10-13.

First, Paul suggests that he is thinking of Jacob and Esau as individuals in vv10b-11a when he mentions their conception, birth, and "works"-language that is not easily applied to nations. Second, several of Paul's key words and phrases in this passage are words he generally uses elsewhere with reference to the attaining of salvation; and, significantly, they occur with this sense in texts closely related to this one: "election" (see esp. 11:5,7); "call" (see esp. 8:28), and "[not] of works" (see esp. Rom 4:2-8 and 11:6). These words are therefore difficult to apply to nations or peoples, for Paul clearly does not believe that peoples or nations-not even Israel-are called and chosen by God for salvation in the sense Paul is using the word. Third, as we noted earlier (see the introduction to 9:6b-13), a description here of how God calls nations to participate in the historical manifestation of his salvific acts runs counter to Paul's purpose in this paragraph. In order to justify his assertion in v6b that not all those who belong to physical Israel belong also to spiritual Israel, and thus to vindicate God's faithfulness (v6a), he must show that the OT justifies a discrimination within physical Israel in terms of the enjoyment of salvation. An assertion in these verses to the effect that God has chosen Israel rather than Edom for a positive role in the unfolding of the plan of salvation would not contribute to this argument at all...The nations denoted by these names, we must remember, have come into existence in and through the individuals who first bore those names, D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018), 605-606.

[Rom 9:18] First, structural and linguistic considerations show that v18 is closely related to vv22-23, where the "vessels of mercy, destined to glory" are contrasted with "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction." As God's mercy leads to the enjoyment of glory, God's hardening brings wrath and destruction. Second, the word group "harden" is consistently used in Scripture to depict a spiritual condition that renders one unreceptive and disobedient to God and his word. Third, while the Greek word is a different one, most scholars recognize that Paul's references to Israel's "hardening" in Rom 11:7 and 25 are parallel to the hardening here. Yet the hardening in Rom 11 is a condition that excludes people from salvation. Fourth, it is even possible that the references to Pharaoh's hardening in Exodus carry implications for his own spiritual state and destiny. D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018), 616-17.

[Rom 9:9] The present issue relates to the salvation of ethnic Israel, not merely to its historical destiny. I have already observed that it was Israel's lack of salvation that grieved Paul (vv1-5), and thus one would expect him to answer that question. The specific terms and phrases used in vv6-9 demonstrate that salvation is at issue. The phrase "children of God" (v8) is invariably soteriological in Paul (Rom 8:16,21; Phil 2:15), designating those who are in Christ. Similarly, "the children of the promise" refers to those who are the recipients of God's saving promises; it cannot be restricted to the temporal destiny of God's people. Finally, the word "call" in Paul has a soteriological cast, confirming that the subject relates to inclusion in the people of God (485).

Even if Genesis refers only to historical destiny (which is disputable), Paul applies the stories soteriologically. In other words, he reads the story typologically. The purpose in Romans is to explain why some ethnic Israelites are not part of the saved people of God. Thus he asserts that "all those from Israel are not Israel" (v6). As in Gal 4:21-31, so too here Ishmael stands as a type for unbelievers and Isaac as a type for believers. Indeed, Ishmael here (like Esau and Pharaoh later in the argument) probably represents Jewish unbelievers of Paul's day (485-86)

Another controversy exists over whether the salvation promised here relates to individuals or groups. Many opt for the latter and exclude the former, because Paul focuses on the salvation promised to corporate Israel. I have argued at some length elsewhere that such a dichotomy is logically and exegetically flawed, since groups are always composed of individuals, and one cannot have the former without including the latter. At this juncture I should note that the selection of a remnant out of Israel implies the selection of some individuals out of a larger group. Moreover, the unity of Rom 9-11 indicates that individual election cannot be eliminated. In chapter 10 believing in Jesus is an individual decision, even though Paul addresses Jews and gentiles as corporate entities. The individual and corporate dimensions cannot be sundered from each other in chapter 10 and the same principle applies to chapter 9. Those who insist that corporate election alone is intended in chapters 9 and 11 are inconsistent when they revert to individual decisions of faith in chapter 10. The three chapters must be interpreted together, yielding the conclusion that both corporate and individual election are involved (986-87).

[Rom 9:10] A winnowing process has been in effect from the inception of Israel's history, and thus the exclusion of some ethnic Israelites from the promise does not constitute an annulment of God's promise (987).

[Rom 9:11-12a] The wording underscores that God's promise to bless Jacob was both prior to and not based on any good works he did, and the exclusion of Esau should be estimated similarly: his evil works were not contemplated in advance as reason for exclusion...[Paul] counters the notion found in some texts that the free will of human beings is ultimate (cf. Pss Sol 9:4-5; Sir 15:11-20; 2 Bar 54:15,19; 85:7; m. Avot 3:16). The desire to rationalize the choice of Jacob over Esau is reflected in Jub 35:13, where it says, "Now I loved Jacob more than Eau because he [Esau] has increasingly made his deeds evil. And he has no righteousness because all of his ways are injustice and violence". Any attempt to explain the promise of Jacob on the basis of God's foresight of Jacob's good works turns the text upside down.

Nor is it convincing to say that the text isn't about predestination. Paul specifically says that human works are excluded "in order that God's electing purpose might prevail (v11) and contrasts "call" with "works" (v12), showing that God's election is the ground of Jacob's exclusion...It is telling that "faith" and "works"' are not contrasted here, but "works" and God's "calling". We have already seen (see esp. the exegesis and exposition of 8:28-30) that "calling" in Paul is effective: God's call creates what is desired (488-89).

Here the reason why his promises are inviolate is propounded: his electing purpose must prevail. It cannot be thwarted, not even by human beings, because it is based not on their actions or works or choices but on God's will and intention. It is important to observe as well that Paul contrasts not "faith and works" but "God's call and works". It would transgress the boundaries of the text to claim that faith is a "work" here, but if Paul desired to say that election and calling depend on human faith, he could have easily clarified this in the course of his argument. His failure to insert human faith as the decisive and ultimate basis for God's election indicates that God's call and election are prior to and the ground of human faith. Abasciano strays from the text and the Pauline intention by inserting the notion of faith (which Paul deliberately left out of the discussion), and thus ends up subverting the argument of the text by making election conditional upon faith (489-90).

[Rom 4:12b-13] The choice of Jacob instead of Esau contradicts the notion that we have corporate over against individual election here, though there are certainly corporate implications as well. The corporate should not be played off against the individual here (see the important studies of Dunson 2011; 2012). In addition, there is no basis in Malachi for saying that the election of Jacob over Esau is conditional...Even if the words don't relate to salvation in Malachi, Paul applies the text to salvific matters (490).

We must also beware of a rationalizing expedient that domesticates the text by exalting human freedom so that it fit neatly into our preconceptions...Once again many scholars insist that this passage relates not to individual salvation but only to the temporal destiny of nations, since Jacob and Esau represent two peoples (Gen 25:23) and their historical destiny. But again this view ignores that the issue in the context of Rom 9 relates to the salvation of the Jews, and a discussion of historical destiny apart from salvation is irrelevant to the issue that called for the the discussion...Paul uses their histories as type, model, or pattern that relates to salvation.

That Paul has not restricted himself to issues of temporal destiny is evident from the terms he uses...It is difficult to believe that these terms carry a different meaning in Rom 9:12. Similarly, in Paul, God's purpose (Rom 9:28; Eph 1:1; 2 Tim 1:9) and election (Rom 11:5,7,28; 1 Thes 1:4; cf. Pet 1:10 usually relate to salvation, and the same is likely here, since Paul is concerned that the saving promises given to the Jews has not be realized (Rom 9:1-5). At least four parallels exist with 1 Tim 1:9. What is astonishing about Paul's argument here is that most of ethnic Israel (i.e., those who have not believed the gospel) are identified with Esau and Ishmael (491-92).

We have already seen that Mal 1:2-5 confirms the idea that Edomites were outside the people of God...Indeed, even in the OT, Edom virtually functions as a type of a nation that will experience God's wrath (see Isa 34; 63:1-6; Jer 49:7-22; Ezk 25:12-14; Amos 1:11-12; Obadiah). Most Jews in Paul's time would have understood the Edomites to be unsaved as well. This is not to suggest that every individual Edomite was cursed. The text relates to what is generally true regarding the Edomites as a nation (492).

[Rom 9:15] There is no basis for saying that what Paul says here [9:14] applies only to Israel. Paul has already proclaimed God's sovereignty in saving gentiles (8:28-30), and he turns to the same idea in 9:24-26) [495].

...Yahweh will not withdraw his presence from his people. The words in Exod 33:19 signify God's sovereign freedom in dispensing mercy...The notion that his mercy is conditioned upon the faith of human beings reads into the text what isn't there. God's mercy is granted without any conditions, as the flow of thought in this chapter clearly demonstrates...The stunning thing for Paul was not that God rejected Ishmael and Esau but that he chose Isaac and Jacob, since they did not deserve to be included in his merciful and gracious purposes (495-96).

Barclay (2010a; 2010b) contrasts Paul's reading of the story of Israel here with Josephus, Philo, and the Wisdom of Solomon. These writers attributed God's mercy to the worthiness of Israel, in stark contest to Paul. Paul is closer to Pseudo-Philo, but he differs here as well, since the latter sees God's mercy as restoring Israel, while Paul teaches that Israel's very existence is grounded in and generated by mercy (496).

[Rom 9:16] Human works were excluded previously as the basis of which God elects and calls (vv11-12). Verse 16 restates and clarifies this theme by indicating that human choice and effort are not the basis on which God's merciful promises is received (497).

[Rom 9:17-18] The power is two-edged even in the Exodus narrative, effecting salvation for Israel and bringing judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt...The very point of verse 19 is that mercy and hardening are antithetical, and no indication is given that those who are hardened receive God's mercy...It is a mistake to understand 11:26-32 as a promise that those hardened throughout history will have their hardening removed. Those Israelites who were hardened and died in their hardening will face judgment (998-500).

[Rom 9:19] If God shows mercy and hardens whomever he wills regardless of human effort or choice, then how can he possibility assign blame to human beings for their choices and actions? God's will determines whatever occurs, and thus he rather than human beings must be held responsible. The formulation of the question suggests that the interpretation of vv14-18 is on target, for the question would scarcely be raised this way if the previous verses taught that the ultimate factor in human destiny were human choices. The question emerges precisely because the destiny of human beings is attributed to the will of God. Nor does Paul in vv19-23 disagree with the idea that God's will is the ultimate cause of one's destiny. He does not solve the problem by retrenching from his previous argument. It has often been pointed out that Paul could have easily clarified the situation if he wanted to assert that human beings could actually resist God's will. Is it not the case that Paul's answer to v20 is shocking? We expect a very different answer to that question. If human beings cannot ultimately resist God's will, then how should we interpret Paul's response to the complaint in v20? I have already shown that he does not deny the premise: no one can ultimately resist God's will. What he denies is the conclusion (502-03).

[Rom 9:20-21] The significance of the [potter] metaphor must be gleaned from the flow of the argument in Romans since the Jewish use of the metaphor is variegated...The proviso in Jeremiah 18, however, can't be imposed on Rom 9. The context is entirely different (504-505).

[Rom 9:22] In Paul's writings, both "wrath" and "destruction" frequently refer to eschatological judgment. Any notion of historical destiny alone certainly seems forced. Moreover, the corollary "vessels of mercy" that are destined "for glory" describes eternal life, for we have seen in Rom 9:14-18 that the "mercy" word group often refers to eschatological life, and "glory" does the same. Since "vessels of wrath" refers to eschatological judgment and "vessels of mercy" to eschatological glory, and since no evident adversative sense can be found between verses 21 and 22-23, it follows that the vessels for honor and dishonor most naturally denote the saved and the perishing, respectively. The word "honor" designates eternal life in 2:7,10, where it parallels the term "glory" (506).

The most important objection is that God would not make vessels in order to destroy them...Those who inclined toward the former think that the idea of cause sits awkwardly with the notion that God is patient with vessels he intends to destroy...[however] the implication is that it would have been just and righteous for him to destroy them immediately (cf. Rom 3:25-26)...Many scholars conclude from this parallel [Rom 2:4] that 9:22 means that God is patient because he is waiting for people to repent. That is hard to square with the evidence contained in v22. Those with whom he is patient are "vessels of wrath" heading for eschatological judgment in contrast to the "vessels of mercy" in v23, who will experience eschatological salvation. Nor is there any intimation that the vessels of wrath will later become vessels of mercy, since the text says that they are "prepared for destruction."

Finally, the participial phrase in v22 explains why God bears patiently with those who will experience his wrath. He wants "to show forth his anger and make known his power"...In Pharaoh's case God demonstrates his patience by not destroying Pharaoh immediately, even though he resisted God's command. By delaying his judgment on Pharaoh, however, God magnified his name and exhibited more forcefully the greatness of his salvation and the terror of his judgment. The correspondence calls for a similar interpretation of v22. God defers his immediate judgment of vessels of wrath so that he can unveil the full extent of his power and wrath on those who continually resist his offer of repentance.

The idea that God suspends an immediate retribution to impose a severer judgment later is attested elsewhere in Jewish literature (2 Esd [4 Ezra] 7:70-74; 2 Macc 6:12-14). This also answers the objection noted earlier: that God would not make vessels to destroy them since no potter does that. This objection demands that the illustration of the potter and the clay correspond to God's relation to creation in every respect, but we must let the text guide us as to how to understand t he analogy (507-09).

How should one interpret the word katertismena?...The middle voice is quite rare in the NT, while the passive is common. The word, then, denotes a preparation by God (divine passive) for their destruction rather than a self-preparation...there is no philological basis for translating the word as "ripe" or "ready"...In any case, one cannot by exegetical means rescue God from willing the fate of the vessels of wrath. This too was part of his plan, and thus double predestination cannot be averted (509-10). T. Schreiner, Romans (Baker, 2nd. ed., 2018).

Rom 11:2-6

2 God has not rejected his people whom he chose beforehand. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." 4 But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

[Rom 11:2] For the "know" in the verb "foreknow" refers to God's election: as Amos 3:2 puts it...The temporal prefix, "fore-" indices further that God's choosing of Israel took place before any actions or status on the part of Israel that might have qualified her for God's choice. How could God reject a people whom he in a gracious act of choice had made his own? D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018),692.

For the distinction between a general election of Israel as a nation and a specific election to salvation of individual Israelites...Paul falls in line with other Jews of his day...There developed during this period a new focus on a "special election" within Israel (see esp. M. Elliot, Survivors of Israel). This combination of a special election of individuals within, and alongside, a larger corporate election of Israel does better justice to the exegetical data than the view that Paul knows only a corporate election. D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018), 693.

[Rom 11:6] The polemical force of "based on the election of grace" becomes clearer in this verse, as Paul explains just what such a gracious election entails. The principle of grace is antithetical to that of "works"; if God has elected the individuals who make up the remnant "by grace," it follows that he could not have elected them on the basis of works. The word "works" refers to anything that human beings do. Since Paul's focus is on the basis for the election of Israel, it is quite likely that he would think of these human actions as done specifically in obedience to the Mosaic law. But, as I have insisted before, it is not the fact that these works are torah-works that prevents them from being a basis for election. As Paul's references to the works of Abraham (4:2-8) and Jacob and Esau (9:11-13) suggest, his problem with works lies not in the fact that they are torah-works but in fact that they are human works. Paul's polemic, while focused on Israel because of his particular situation, is applicable to all human beings and finds its ultimate basis in the human condition. Because of their sin but also simply because of their creaturely status, people can make no claim on God.

"For if it were otherwise," if human beings could by their works secure the blessing of God (as Paul points out in the second part of the verse), grace would "no longer" be grace. For grace demands that God be perfectly free to bestow his favor on whomever he chooses. But if God's election were based on what human beings do, his freedom would be violated and he could no longer be acting in grace. For Paul, however, the gracious character of God's activity is a theological axiom, automatically ruling out any idea that would conflict with it.

To be sure, Paul distinguishes "works" from faith throughout Romans, and so his denial that election is based on works need not mean that it cannot be based on faith. But Paul's conception of God's grace (see particularly 4:3-5) would seem to rule out anything outside of God's own freewill as a basis for his actions. To make election ultimately dependent on the human decision to believe violates Paul's notion of the grace of God...God's grace is the efficient cause of salvation, human faith being not its basis but its result. D. Moo, The Letter to the Romans (Eerdmans, 2nd ed., 2018), 696-97.

[Rom 11:2b-4] What receives prominence here is the verbal phrase "I have left for myself", in which God's action is the decisive reason that a remnant is preserved...This interpretation is also ratified by v5, where the remnant is due to "the election of grace"...The idea of the verse, then, is that God has not rejected those on whom he has set his covenant love. Such an idea is unthinkable and indeed impossible (566).

[Rom 11:5] The existence of a remnant of believing Jews is not ultimately ascribed to their greater wisdom or nobility, or to their free will or to their spiritual perception. The inclusion of the remnant in God's people is due to his electing grace. This point confirms the interpretation of "I have left for myself" in v4, for the phrase is explained in terms of "gracious election" (v5). The only reason some Jews believe is that God has graciously and mercifully chosen them to be part of his people (cf. 9:27-29). The linkage of grace and election also must be observed. Many worry that the choosing of some and not all would be unjust, but this idea overlooks the fact that election is gracious. No one deserves to be elected, and thus the election of any is a merciful gift of God that cannot be claimed as a democratic right (568).

[Rom 11:6] Verse 6 proceeds to forge a connection between election by grace and the exclusion of works. By definition if one is elected by grace, then works are excluded...Paul concludes this paragraph by explaining why works are excluded. If they are introduced as a factor in election, then "grace is no longer grace"...Once works play a role in gaining salvation, then grace by definition is excluded. Dunn's claim that "works of the law" are intended here is off the mark, since Paul speaks of "works" in general without introducing the word "law". Thus he shows that no works of any kind play a role in the reception of God's electing grace. One should also observe that Paul's teaching on election is indissolubly bound up with his gospel of justification. Those who deny unconditional election introduce, albeit subtly, the notion that human works play a role in obtaining justification and open the door for human boasting. For Paul, the purity of grace is bound up with the conviction that God elects apart from any work on the part of human beings...[Luther] defended the doctrines of the bondage the will and unconditional election so vigorously because the denial of either compromised the Pauline gospel that justification is by grace one through faith alone (658-69). T. Schreiner, Romans (Baker, 2nd. ed. 2018).

1 Cor 1:26-31

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

The concept of calling obviously implies the need to respond in obedience. However, Paul does not use the language of response in contexts where he refers to God's converting call, leaving the impression that this calling of individuals to salvation is a decisive act of God. Indeed, the action of calling is synonymous in vv27-28 with God choosing the weak, the despised, and the lowly. In other words, in Paul's parlance, calling is a synonym for divine election, even if the latter is logically prior.

The two verses [27-28] together leave the unmistakable impression of the deliberate, sovereign action of God in assembling, or "calling," his people in Corinthian contrary to all expectations. God's choice of the humble nation Israel was likewise surprising and unanticipated [Deut 7:7]. This is a stable pattern in salvation history. From Genesis onward, where he consistently bypasses the firstborn, God chooses the most unlikely figures, a model he followed in Corinth. In short, the Corinthians are God's people not because of themselves but "because of him" (1 Cor 1:30).

God's ultimate aim in his activity of choosing, shaming, and nullifying is to preclude all human boasting. The critical purpose of God's action of exalting the foolish and lowering the proud is that no one can sing his or her own praises in the presence of God...Paul insists that all praise is to be reserved for God, for "it is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus." Sometimes a brief remark carries more weight than a longer and more elaborate explanation. This is the case in point, with the first two words of the verse, literally "of him," offering a pithy summary of the conclusion of the argument in 1:31 to boast only in the Lord. The point is that if it is "of him" that the Corinthians have their standing with God, it is presumably not "of yourselves." It is hard to conceive of a more emphatic way of underscoring God's grace in such a short space. R. Ciampa & B. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Eerdmans 2010), 104,106-108.

Eph 1:3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Throughout the remainder of this passage (1:4-14), Paul gives a series of reasons why God is so worthy to be praised. The first refers to God's choosing of his people in eternity past.

[vv11-12] Paul ever so strongly emphasizes that God is not responding to events as they unfold with various countermeasures, but that he has a carefully designed plan that he is revealing and fulfilling, especially as it relates to the choosing and redeeming of his people. Here he uses three different words to express the fact that he has a plan (prothesis, boule, and thelema). It is difficult to find shades of differences between the three words, especially as they appear in this context. It is better to recognize a rhetorical stress on God's sovereignty.

It is also important for the readers to know that God has the power (energeo) to put his plan into effect. The power of God is a major theme in this letter, and Paul here introduces it by emphatically asserting that God will powerfully unfold his plan as he has willed it and against any conceivable opposition. To ward off any doubt, Paul explains that God works out "everything" (ta panta) according to his purpose. C. Arnold, Ephesians (Zondervan 2010), 79. 90.

[1:4: "In him"] One view is that it could be regarded as a dative of sphere, which connotes the idea that we are chosen in Christ as the head and representative of the spiritual community just as Adam is the head and representative of the natural community. The other view is that it could be relational or instrumental in the sense that God chose believers in connection with or through Christ's work of redemption. The latter interpretation is preferable because it expresses that God chose the believer for his glory and that it had to be done in connection with the redemption accomplished in Christ.

[1:11] The present tense refers to God's continual activity toward the purpose that he resolved eternity past. The "all things" (ta panta) refers to all of God's providence and must not be restricted to God's redemptive plan. This coincides with v10 where "all things" are described as "those things in heaven and those things on earth." H. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Baker 2002), 177, 229.

The great theme of divine election is the first to be introduced as Paul's mind reaches back before creation, before time began, into eternity in which only God himself existed. Election is one of the variety of motifs found in this magnificent paragraph that describe different facets of God's gracious, saving purposes: note the language of predestination (vv5,11), good pleasure (vv5,9), will (vv5,9,11), mystery (v9), purpose (v9; cf. v11), appointment (v11), and plan (v11).

There is clearly a corporate dimension to God's election. It was God's intention to create for himself a people perfectly conformed to the likeness of his Son (Rom 8:29-30). It is inappropriate, however, to suggest that election in Christ is primarily corporate rather than personal and individual...Some of the divine gifts, for example, redemption and forgiveness of sins in Christ (v7), together with the sealing of the Holy Spirit following belief in the gospel of salvation (vv13,14), must be understood as coming to believers personally and individually.

Further, to suggest that election is Christ is "not related primarily to individual salvation but to God's purpose" introduces an unnecessary "either-or." Predestination is to a relationship with God the Father through his Son, described in v5 under the imagery of adoption.

That choice in Christ was made in eternity, before time and creation, as the phrase "before the creation of the world" makes plain. The language of election before the foundation of the world occurs a number of time in the Pauline letters, not least in the context of thanksgiving (1 Thes 1:4; 2:13; cf. Rom 8:29; 2 Tim 1:9), as part of an expression of gratitude for God's amazing grace. To say that election took place before creation indicates that God's choice was due to his own free decision and love, which were not dependent on temporal circumstances or man's merit. The reasons for his election were rooted in the depths of his gracious, sovereign nature.

The verb "foreordain, predestine," which appears six times in the NT, is used exclusively of God (Rom 8:29,30; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5, in relation to sonship; cf. 1:11; Acts 4:28) and serves to emphasize his sole initiative and authority in our salvation Predestination is for a God-designed purpose, in this instance, "adoption."

The basis or standard of God's action in foreordaining us to be his children is spelled out in the compound phrase, "in accordance with his pleasure and will." "Pleasure"...signifies not simply the purpose of God but also the delight that he takes in his plans..."Will" signifies that which is purposed, or intended.

By giving Gentile believers the Spirit, God "seals" or stamps them as his own now, and he will protect them through the trials and testings of this life (cf. 6:10-18) until he takes final possession of them (cf. v14) on "the day of redemption" (4:30).

The Holy Spirit by whom the Gentiles were now called the "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance." Beyond this translation lies the word that signifies a "downpayment" or "pledge."...In giving him [the Spirit] to us God is not simply promising us our final inheritance but actually providing us with a foretaste of it...

He has made them his own: they are his treasured possession..."They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession" (Mal 3:17). P. T. O'Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Eerdmans 1999), 98-100,102-103,120-122.

Eph 2:8 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

In Greek, events as a whole are treated as neuter singular things with neuter articles, (e.g., topisteuein, "believing"), neuter relative pronouns (e.g., Eph 5:5), or neuter demonstrative pronouns, as in v8b (also, for example, 6:1; 1 Cor 6:6,8; Phil 1:22,28; Col 3:20; 1 Thes 5:18; 1 Tim 2:1-3). Hence, the antecedent of touto is the whole event: "being saved by grace through faith". One implication of this proper understanding of touto is that all the components of the event are also referenced as originating not from human capacity or exertion but as God's gift. This means that even the believer's act of believing comes from God, as is said more explicitly by Paul elsewhere: "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him..." (Phil 1:29). This is part of the evidence of Protestantism's historic position that salvation is sola gratia and sola fide). Humans contribute nothing of their own to this salvation, since even believing (which the elect are indeed enabled to do) is a divine gift (cf. Rom 3:24-25). In the context of Eph 2:8, the key to this is what Paul had been driving home so forcefully up until now: Before God's gracious intervention, believers were hopelessly dead, with their wills imprisoned by nature in acts that led only to transgression and sin (2:1-5a,12). S. M. Baugh, Ephesians (Lexham Press, 2016), 160-61.

Eph 2:1-10

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

"Dead" [in sins] is here understood not as literal physical death, but in the metaphorical sense of alienation from the one who gives life [cf. 2:12; 4:18].

The readers formerly came under the controlling influence of "the age of this world."...This could be interpreted to refer to the various non-Christian religions, ideologies, philosophies, values, and economic systems as well as to the more mundane but equally powerful influence of peer pressure, fashion, and the media.

The second powerful influence that formerly held the readers in bondage to sin is the devil [2:2].

Paul now [2:3] indicates the third form of evil influence that holds unbelieving humanity in bondage to sin and from which they need deliverance...a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.

Paul's thought here [v10] corresponds to his statement on the purpose of election in 1:4, where he says that God "chose that we would be holy and blameless." C. Arnold, Ephesians (Zondervan 2010), 129,131-133,142.

[2:8] In Paul's thinking, faith is not something that people offer to God and with which God's grace then cooperates to save them. Rather, faith is aligned with grace, and both faith and grace stand over against anything that human begins can offer God.

The second statement (v9) denies that salvation comes "from" any "works" they might accomplish. Prior to their conversion, "the Ruler of the realm of the air" [Satan] was powerfully at work (energountos) in them, and they followed the cravings of their fallen flesh and mind (vv2-3). F. Thielman, Ephesians (Baker 2010), 143.

The past condition is mentioned by terms relating either to sin (Rom 5:8-11; 7:5; Eph 2:1), ethical practices, alienation from God and his people (Col 1:21; Eph 2:3), or bondage to evil, supernatural forces (Eph 2:2).

Those outside of Christ are not only subject to the pervasive bondage of the present evil age; they are also inspired and empowered by personal evil forces. Paul depicts the second hostile influence as a powerful supernatural being who rules over this host of evil spirits.

"By nature" [v3] can only mean "by birth" at Gal 2:15, and this is its significance here. The expression "children of wrath" is a Hebraism, like "sons of disobedience" (v2), and means worthy to receive divine judgment.

[v8] However, the context demands that "this" be understood of salvation by grace as a whole, including the faith (or faithfulness) through which it is received.

[v9] "Works" now stand for human effort in general, a nuance found elsewhere in Paul.

The concluding statement of this stunning paragraph about God's gracious salvation underscores the importance and divine origin of these good works: "which God prepared in advance so that we might live in them."...The only other use of this verb at Rom 9:23 presents a strongly predestinarian thrust, and it is likely that the prefix "before" suggests that God's preparation precedes the foundation of the already prepared in his mind and counsel from before eternity. P. T. O'Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Eerdmans 1999), 158-159, 162, 175-177, 180-181.

5. Efficacy. Turning to the effect of the gift, a perfect gift may also be figured as that which fully achieves what it was designed to do. Seneca portrays how a beneficiary can feel totally beholder to his benefactor, owning everything to him (Ben. 2.11), and certain kinds of benefit (giving birth to children, or rescuing a person from death) amount to the gift of life itself, and thus often the very capacity to give in return (Ben. 3:29,3). Once again, this perfection is common in relation to God, since divine agency can be taken to ground, encompass, and even cause the activity of the human recipient of grace. J. Barclay, Paul and Gift (Eerdmans 2015), 73.

Eph 4:17-19

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Paul's Gentile Christian readers should have left behind an existence whose "thinking," that is, mindset, was so distorted that it was marked by "futility" and had fallen prey to folly. In the LXX this word denoted the futility of idol-worship as well as the emptiness of human endeavors which sought to bring lasting satisfaction. Cf. Isa 28:29; 30:15; 33:11. Note especially the many references to "futility" ) in Ecclesiastes (1:2,14; 2:1,11,15,17, etc), which have probably influenced Paul.

Because it lacks a true relationship with God, Gentile thinking suffers from the consequences of having lost touch with reality and is left fumbling with inane trivialities and worthless side issues.

It is noteworthy that the apostle goes out of his way to emphasize the perceptive and mental dimension in the human estrangement from God. The Gentiles' mindset has been drastically affected (v17b), their thinking has become darkened so that they are blind to the truth...the light of their understanding has gone out so that they were now in a state of being incapable of grasping the truth of God and his gospel.

Not only are the Gentiles darkened in their understanding; they are also "separated from the life of God," that life which God possesses in himself and bestows on his children. Gentiles who do not belong to Christ are "dead" through their trespasses and sins (2:1,5), and have no relationship at all with the living God (2:12). "God-forsaken" (p190).

Such ignorance is culpable. It is not an excuse for sin...As if to underscore this point, Paul adds that their delusion is "due to hardness of heart."P. T. O'Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Eerdmans 1999), 320-22.

They are "separated from the life that comes from God." This is in part an expansion of Paul's declaration in 2;12 that Gentiles are "not having hope and godless in the world." Paul sets this parallel to being enemies of God in Col 1:21. The genitive of separation, "from the life," describes the nature of the alienation and helps us understand how Paul could earlier say that before coming to Christ, they were "dead" (2:1). The next noun, "from God," should be interpreted as a genitive of source and as such characterizes God as the fountainhead of life. C. Arnold, Ephesians (Zondervan 2010), 282.

2 Tim 1:9

9 who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

Calling can be used in a comprehensive sense to describe salvation as the result of God's sovereign control in summoning people to himself (Rom 8:28,30)...Next, the gospel summary describes the basis of this salvation. The next two lines consist of a negative/positive contrast that explains the basis of God's saving and calling. First, on the negative side, is the thoroughly Pauline statement rendered literally "not according to our works." Its effect is to rule human effort completely out of the process.

The text also describes the way in which the decision was executed-God's grace. In isolation "grace" refers to God's unmerited favor (1:2; see on 1 Tim 1:2,12; Tit 3:7), and the contrast between human merit and God's purpose and grace celebrates the divine initiative in the salvation of people.

Third, the closing phrase-"before the beginning of time"-commences a Pauline "transition of time" scheme, whereby the passage receives a salvation-historical character that allows the unique nature of the present age to be seen. The time phrase itself, literally "before eternal times," drawn from Hebrew thought, distinguishes between the timelessness of God's existence and the temporality of his creation...the point that v10 will make is that what was conceived prior to creation-the plan to save people-was executed at a point in history in which the grace of God became manifest in history in Christ. But at this point in the text, the theological poem tells us that the plan to save through the work of Christ was made, and in God's mind worked out, prior to creation. In this way, the piece underlies God's sovereignty both in electing his people and in bringing this to pass through Christ's redemptive work. P. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Eerdmans 2006), 468-70.

1 Pet 1:2

2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

The NT understanding of God's foreknowledge of his people indicates that God did not simply observe them or have information about them at some prior time in history. Instead, God chose them according to, or consistent with, his plan and purpose long before God formed a people to be his own. First Peter 1:20 states that the redemptive role of Christ was also foreknown (proginosko) to God before the creation of the world. Therefore, verses 2 and 20 express correlating thoughts that even before creation God had chosen both the people who would be redeemed and the agent who would redeem them. K. Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker 2005), 68.

1 Pet 2:8-9

8 They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

God has not only appointed that those who disobey the word would stumble and fall. He has also determined that they would disbelieve and stumble.

The "but" (de) beginning v9 is most naturally understood as a contrast to what immediately precedes...God has appointed the disobedient to destruction, but on the contrary believers are a "chosen people" (eklekton genos). They belong to God's people because they have been elected, chosen by him. We saw in the first verse of the letter that Peter introduced the theme of election to strengthen God's pilgrim people, and he returned to it here. T. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (B&H 203), 113-14.

Michaels (1988: 107) understands the appointment of Christ as stone and the appointment of unbelievers to stumbling not as two distinct appointing but as one divine appointment with a twofold result. This thought is supported by the use of the same verb (tithemi, place, appoint) to refer both to the stone God has placed in Zion (2:6) and to the appointment of those who disbelieve and stumble (2:8). When God appointed Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice, to be the stone placed in Zion, by that act God also necessarily appointed two consequential outcomes with respect to acceptance or rejection of Christ.

It is impossible to escape the force of Peter's teaching that God has sovereignly determined both the destiny of those who come to Christ and of those who disobey his word and reject his gospel. K. Jobes, 1 Peter (Baker 2005), 155-56.

Rev 4:11

11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created."

"They were and they were created" has been interpreted to mean that creation existed in the mind of God before he actually began to create, or the two verbs could be synonymous (a hendiadys), stressing the fact that God created "all things." It may be best to view the first verb as referring to the ongoing preservation of the created order and the second to the inception of creation: "they continually exist and have come into being." G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (Eerdmans 1999), 335.

Rev 13:8; 17:8

8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

The phrase "the book of life" appears five other times in the Apocalypse (3:5; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27). In each case, as here, it is a metaphor for saints whose salvation has been determined: their names have been entered into the census book of the eternal new Jerusalem before history began, which is explicitly affirmed in 21:27, though the pretemporal phrase is omitted there, unlike 13:8 and 17:8, which express the notion of predetermination "from the foundation of the world." That saints were written in the book before history began is implied by the fact that the beast worshipers are said not to have been so written...The dual notion of a "book of life" for the righteous and "books" of judgment for the wicked is based on Dan 12:1-2 and 7:10.

This safety is the precreation identification of God's people with the Lamb's death, which means that they also identify with his resurrection life, which protects them from spiritual death and ultimate deception (cf. 5:5-13). No one can take this life from them. This conclusion stands regardless of how the syntactical problem is solved.

The "earth-dwellers" will not be able to withstand deception by the beast because their "names has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life." The same reason for worship of and deception by the beast is given in 13:8. Being "written in the book of life" is a metaphor referring elsewhere to believers, whose salvific life has been secured, or, with the negative, to unbelievers, who do not benefit from having such security...In 13:8, as here, this security or lack thereof was determined before historical time began, "from the foundation of the world." G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (Eerdmans 1999), 701-703; 866.

Rev 17:17

17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

[God] will cause the political forces of evil to attack and destroy Babylon. God executes his will through the "hearts" of both the righteous and the unrighteous. This must be construed not as mere divine "permission" but as divine causation.

For the notion of God executing his will through the "hearts of both saints and the ungodly see with respect to the former especially 2 Chron 30:12, as well as 1 Kgs 10:24; Ezra 7:27; Neh 2:12; 7:5; Jer 32:40; for the latter see also Exod 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1; 14:4,8; 2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (Eerdmans 1999), 887-88.