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Various Doctrines : DANIEL‚ÄôS SEVENTY SEVENS AND THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH
|Posted by webmaster on 2009/5/25 16:00:00 (5155 reads)
DANIEL‚ÄôS SEVENTY SEVENS AND THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH
Daniel had studied the prophecies of Jeremiah and saw that the seventy years of the exile were about to be completed (Dan. 9:1-2). Daniel‚Äôs response was to pray a prayer of confession and repentance for Israel (Dan. 9:3-15) and to ask God to restore Jerusalem (Dan. 9:16-19). While Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel was sent to give Daniel an understanding of the future and period of time until the coming of the Messiah (9:20-27). Edward J. Young states the main idea of this messianic revelation: ‚ÄúA definite time has been decreed by God for the accomplishment of all that which is necessary for the true restoration of God‚Äôs people from bondage.‚ÄĚ38 This messianic prophecy is one of the few places in the prophets where the term ‚ÄúMessiah‚ÄĚ is used.
To understand this prophecy properly, it is crucial to place it in its immediate context and its larger biblical-theological context. Within the context of the book of Daniel, this passage parallels the prophetic message concerning the successive kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7 which culminate with the coming of the Messiah. Daniel 2 prophetically sets forth the successive empires which lead to the Messiah: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel 2 climaxes with the ‚Äústone made without hands‚ÄĚ establishing a worldwide and eternal kingdom. Daniel 7 parallels Daniel 2 and climaxes with the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds. The Son of Man, the Messiah, establishes an eternal worldwide kingdom. Similarly, the ‚Äúseventy-sevens‚ÄĚ of Daniel 9 cover the time period from the Medo-Persian empire to the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, the prophetic messages of Daniel 2, 7, and 9 span the same time period and culminate with the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of his eternal kingdom.
The immediate context in Daniel 9 is Daniel‚Äôs prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple. Daniel 9:2 states that Daniel had been reading the prophet Jeremiah and came to an understanding that the seventy years of exile Jeremiah predicted were about to be completed. This opening reference to ‚Äúseventy years‚ÄĚ (v. 2) is connected to the ‚Äúseventy-sevens‚ÄĚ that anticipate the future (v. 24). A covenantal theme is obvious in this context. Daniel‚Äôs prayer begins with a statement concerning God‚Äôs covenant mercy:
And I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, ‚ÄúAlas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments‚ÄĚ (Dan. 9:4 NASB).
Gabriel‚Äôs answer also contains a covenantal theme. His answer looks forward to a time when God would restore his people and consummate the goal of his covenant of grace in the coming of the Messiah. Meredith Kline observes that Daniel‚Äôs prayer (vv. 4-19) has a repeated use of the covenant name of God (Yahweh) along with the repeated use of adonay, the ‚Äúcharacteristic designation of the dominant party in the covenant.‚ÄĚ39 It is also important to note that Daniel repeatedly mentions that Israel had broken God‚Äôs covenant and the covenant must be renewed.
The larger biblical-theological context is also important for the interpretation of the ‚Äúseventy-sevens.‚ÄĚ The seventy years of Israel‚Äôs captivity was determined because Israel neglected the sabbatical-year principle. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 states:
20. And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia.
21. to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete (NASB).
This concept of the people being exiled until the land enjoyed its Sabbaths goes back to the covenantal curse given in Leviticus 26. Leviticus 25 set forth the pattern of the Sabbatic year and the year of the Jubilee. Every seventh year the land was to have a Sabbath rest. After seven cycles of this pattern, the fiftieth year was to be a jubilee year. In Leviticus 26, God warned that if the people neglected this sabbatical-year principle, then they would be exiled from the land until the land enjoyed the neglected Sabbaths. Leviticus 26:34-35 states:
34. ‚ÄúThen the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
35. All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it (NASB).
Leviticus 26:40-42 states that if the people confess their sins and humble their hearts, then the Lord will remember his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verses 44-45 mention that God will not reject them, but will remember his covenant with their ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt. Daniel‚Äôs prayer of confession in Daniel 9:4-19 corresponds to the covenantal administration pattern and confession of Leviticus 26:40-42. The prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 corresponds to the covenant restoration of Leviticus 26:44-45.40 This biblical-theological context provides the larger context for understanding the terminology of the seventy sevens in Daniel 9.
In light of the larger Sabbath concept associated with the seventy sevens of Daniel 9, the terminology might be considered to be purely symbolic language. O. Palmer Robertson comments on this:
Indeed, the symbolic character of the number seven as an aspect of the Sabbath concept must not be ignored. The perfection of sevens as embodied in the ‚Äúseventy sevens‚ÄĚ speak of the movement toward the final climax of the Covenant Lord‚Äôs redemptive work in the world. The Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God must be seen as the ultimate goal of the seventy sevens (Heb. 4:9).
At the same time, the context in which Daniel‚Äôs prophecy is found inevitably points to an actual chronological ordering in the purposes of God. Jeremiah did not predict Israel‚Äôs banishment from the land to be, for example, twenty-three years or forty-one years in length - he predicted seventy years.41
Therefore, while there can be symbolical significance to the seventy sevens, the seventy years of captivity Jeremiah predicted which were reiterated in Daniel 9:2 indicates that the seventy sevens have some chronological meaning. A chronological interpretation also gives meaning for the structural pattern of the seventy sevens given in Daniel 9. The seventy sevens are structured in three periods consisting of seven sevens, sixty-two sevens, and one seven. A purely symbolic interpretation cannot explain this pattern that obviously has meaning in the Daniel 9 prophecy. The sevens are best understood through an inclusion of the symbolic with the chronological.42
Since the pattern of the seventy years of captivity represent the seventy neglected Sabbath years, then the seventy weeks should be understood as years, thus equaling 490 years. This raises the question of where to begin the chronological count of the seventy sevens. The decree of Cyrus allowing the return of the Jews, which had a specific focus toward rebuilding the temple, occurred in 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-4). The specific language of the decree of Cyrus on the Cyrus Cylinder confirms the specific decree to rebuild the temple:
‚ÄúI returned to (these) sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which (used) to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations.‚ÄĚ43
If 536 B.C. is the initiation point of the 490 years, then they only reach to 47 B.C., a date that has no significance. O. Palmer Robertson points out that Daniel 9:25 states that the decree is not just to return and rebuild the temple, but ‚Äúto restore and rebuild Jerusalem.‚ÄĚ It was the decree of Artaxerxes in approximately 445 B.C. which allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 1:1-3; 2:3-8, 17). He contends that 445 B.C. should be the chronological starting point of the seventy weeks. Using this date as the starting point, the first seven week period, or 49 years, ends at approximately 400 B.C. This date corresponds to the time when old covenant revelation concluded. The next period of sixty-two weeks, corresponds to the approximate time of the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah.44 If a regular 365 day year is used, the starting date of 445 B.C. makes the 69 weeks end at A.D. 39 (one year is subtracted since there is no year 0). However, some interpreters hold that a ‚Äúyear‚ÄĚ in this prophecy should be based on a 360 day year. 483 years based on a 360 day year comes to approximately
A. D. 32 or 33 if the starting date is 445 or 444 B. C. This would correspond to the later date for the date of the crucifixion. This use of a 360 day year is supported by the use of 1,260 days being used to equal three and a half years in Revelation 11:2 and 12:6
Another possibility which has been proposed is that the starting date is associated with the coming of Ezra in 458 B.C. (Ezra 7:1-28). This decree makes provisions for ‚Äúmagistrates and judges‚ÄĚ (Ezra 7:25) and, therefore, implies that the city will be restored.
This perspective would use a regular 365 day year and the 69 weeks would end in A.D. 26. If half the seventieth week is added to that, then the weeks predict the time of the crucifixion (taking the early and traditional date for the crucifixion). This also fits with Daniel 9:27 that in the middle of the seventieth week, the Messiah will bring an end to sacrifice and offering. Through his work of atonement, all sacrifice was ended. The starting date of 458 B.C. also fits the same pattern of the first 49 years ending at approximately the time Old Covenant revelation concluded. It also fits the general time period in which the restoration of Jerusalem as well as the temple occurred. While there are still some elements of approximation in both dates, based on how a year is understood, both dates point to the crucifixion of Christ. Since Revelation 11:2 and 12:6 both use a 360 day year to indicate the three and a half years the date of 445 B. C. seems to have the greater support. The seventieth week is examined more fully below. Therefore, this is a remarkable and specific prophecy predicting the time of the coming of the Messiah. O. Palmer Robertson writes:
Obviously this kind of detailed anticipation of the course of human history cannot be entertained for one instant by modern negative criticism. In the contemporary context in which the idea that God has a plan for this world is totally denied, the inevitable conclusion must be that to the degree that this material describes the actual course of human history, it must have been composed after the event. But taken in the form in which it actually appears as a detailed, long-term prediction of the course of human events as they relate to God‚Äôs purposes of redemption, the prophecy of Daniel concerning the seventy sevens is indeed remarkable. It by no means stands alone among biblical anticipations regarding the work of the coming Messiah. But it should call forth a firm, well-grounded faith in the God who orders the course of history so that it serves his greater redemptive purposes.46
Daniel 9:24 sets forth six works of redemption which will occur within the seventy sevens: ‚ÄúSeventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place‚ÄĚ (NASB). Six infinitives are used to express the purpose or goal of these works.
The first three of these redemptive works address the removal or atonement of sin. Daniel‚Äôs prayer of confession in Daniel 9 acknowledged sin ten times (9:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16). This threefold description of God‚Äôs redemptive purposes and work anticipate the substitutionary atonement of the Messiah (cf. Isa. 53). Christ‚Äôs passive or penal obedience finished transgressions in that he broke the power and slavery of sin over his people (Rom. 6); his work of atonement on the cross removed sin‚Äôs condemnation (Rom. 3:25; 5:12-19; 8:1, 34). Christ‚Äôs perfect and complete work met all the exigencies of the sins of his elect.47 The complete removal of all iniquity will take place at the consummation of God‚Äôs redemptive purposes in the second coming of the Messiah.
The second three items describe the establishment of righteousness: ‚Äúto bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place‚ÄĚ (9:24b). This anticipates the Messiah fulfilling the offices of priest and prophet. As the great high priest, the Messiah brought ‚Äúeverlasting righteousness‚ÄĚ through his perfect obedience (Rom. 5:12-19) and his work of atonement. The sinner who is justified by faith in Christ alone (Rom. 3:21-28; 4:1-8; 5:1) has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. The Messiah accomplished a perfect work of atonement (Heb. 10:10-18), anointed the holy place with his blood (Heb. 9:11-12) (this is best understood as being accomplished in his work of atonement), rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven where he makes intercession for his saints (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34). The Messiah is also the final prophet. He spoke the final and definitive word from God to men (Heb. 1:1-2). Therefore, after his apostles and prophets transcribed and interpreted his word, no further need for additional vision and prophecy remained. The Scriptures are God-breathed, complete, and sufficient for faith and practice. Edward J. Young states that these things ‚Äúare all messianic. . . . The termination of the 70 sevens coincides then, not with the time of Antiochus, nor with the end of the present age, the second Advent of our Lord, but with his first Advent.‚ÄĚ48 The six items mentioned in Daniel 9:24 depict the redemptive work of the Messiah. This is perfectly consistent with the previous visions in Daniel 2 and 7, each of which culminated with the Messiah‚Äôs coming and the establishment of his worldwide kingdom.
The last week is set apart from the previous sixty-nine weeks. This implies a unique quality to the seventieth week. This last week must be understood within the context of a broader biblical-theological perspective. Dispensational theology contends that the seventieth week is chronologically separated from the previous sixty-nine weeks. This temporal separation consists of the period between Christ‚Äôs first coming and the last seven years before his second coming. This gap or separation between the previous weeks and the last week will last until the end of the church age. Dispensational theology points to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple almost forty years after the death of Jesus and argues that this is too long of a time period for the last week.49 However, Daniel 9:24-27 does not indicate any gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week. The language of this passage supports the idea a regular succession of the weeks with the seventieth week following the sixty-ninth.50 James E. Smith writes: ‚ÄúThe existence of a gap of two thousand years is a strange intrusion into the text.‚ÄĚ51
It is exegetically better to view the seventieth week as normally following the sixty-ninth week. However, the last week is divided into two halves. Daniel 9:27 states that in the seventieth week ‚Äúhe will make a firm covenant with the many.‚ÄĚ What is the identity of the individual who will make this covenant with many? Dispensational theology argues that this individual is the antichrist who will make a covenant with national Israel. Meredith Kline comments: ‚ÄúThe whole context speaks against the supposition that an altogether different covenant from the divine covenant which is the central theme throughout Daniel 9 is abruptly introduced here at the climax of it all.‚ÄĚ52 The hermeneutical presuppositions of dispensationalism cause dispensationalists to insert a gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks and find a completely different covenant in verse 27.
An approach that is more consistent with the context of Daniel and the passage is to view the identity of the one making the covenant in verse 27 as the Messiah who was mentioned earlier in the passage. Verse 24 mentions a series of redemptive acts the Messiah will accomplish. Verse 26 states that the Messiah will be ‚Äúcut off.‚ÄĚ The verb used to describe the Messiah being cut off is karat, which is the term used to describe the ‚Äúcutting of a covenant‚ÄĚ in the ritual associated with the ratification of covenants. This covenant language of ‚Äúcutting off‚ÄĚ connects the Messiah of verse 26 with the one making or confirming a covenant in verse 27. The term, karat, in verse 26 is the usual term associated with the making of a covenant. However, in verse 27, the verb, higebir (hiph. pf.), which means ‚Äúto make strong, cause to prevail‚ÄĚ is used. This indicates that the covenant of verse 27 is not a different covenant from the one implied in verse 26, but is a confirmation of a previously existing covenant.53 Therefore, the Messiah, in his work of redemption (v. 24-26) will confirm the covenant of grace established after man‚Äôs fall into sin. In fact, he will fulfill the old covenant shadows and types of the covenant of grace and establish the new covenant realities of the same covenant of grace. O. Palmer Robertson writes, ‚Äú‚ÄėMaking [a covenant] to prevail‚Äô with ‚Äėmany‚Äô in one seven by an ‚Äėanointed one‚Äô (9:27a) does not introduce a different ‚Äėanointed one‚Äô in addition to the one mentioned in the previous verse. Instead, the same anointed one strengthens his covenant with his people.‚ÄĚ54 This also speaks against the dispensational interpretation of verse 27 that it is the future antichrist that makes an entirely new covenant verse 27. E. J. Young writes:
. . . this entire passage is Messianic in nature, and the Messiah is the leading character. The general theme of the passage, introduced in vs. 24, is surely Messianic. The blessings therein depicted were brought about by the Messiah and they form their climax in the ‚Äúanointing‚ÄĚ of a holy of holies. Furthermore, in vs. 25 the appearance of the Messiah is the great terminus ad quem of the 69 sevens. They lead up to Him, who is their goal. . . . In vs. 26 two principle themes are introduced: 1) the death of the Messiah and 2) the consequent destruction of the city and sanctuary by a people of a prince (not the prince) who will come. In this vs. therefore, the principle characters are the Messiah and the people ‚Äď not the prince. As the exposition will endeavor to bring out, what is related in vs. 27 also has reference to the Messiah.55
Daniel 9:27 also states that the Messiah will ‚Äúput a stop to sacrifice and grain offering‚ÄĚ in the middle of the seventieth week. This corresponds to the accomplished work of the Messiah. He makes atonement for iniquity and brings everlasting righteousness (v. 24). The Messiah‚Äôs work of atonement was accomplished and complete and, therefore, once for all time. Because his work is perfect, all symbolic sacrifice of the old covenant became improper and ended (Heb. 9:23-28; 10:10-18). E. J. Young writes:
In what sense, however, may it be said that the Messiah causes a covenant to prevail for many? The answer to this question, it would seem, is to be found in the fact that the Messiah during His earthly ministry and by means of His active and passive obedience to the Law of God, did fulfill the terms of that covenant which was in olden times made with Abraham and his seed. Romans 15:8 speaks of this covenant as ‚Äúthe promises made unto the fathers.‚ÄĚ56
This action of the Messiah occurs half way through the seventieth week, or 3.5 years into that last week. This leaves a final period of 3.5 years to complete the seventy weeks.
This figure is used elsewhere in an eschatological context as a symbolic figure. O. Palmer Robertson writes of this use:
The figure of 3.5 years receives further development in the final chapter of the book of Daniel and even more extensively in the book of Revelation. In his final interview with the revealing person, Daniel overhears the question, ‚ÄúHow long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?‚ÄĚ (Dan. 12:6 NIV). The man clothed in linen takes a solemn oath that the period will be ‚Äúfor a time, times, and half a time,‚ÄĚ reflecting the same earlier measurement of the time that the saints will suffer at the hands of the little horn of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 (12:7; see also 7:25). This same measurement recurs in the form of 1,290 (or 1,335) days that are to expire between the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up (12:11-12).
The various ways in which this last half of the final week is designated suggest that the time measurement has been modified from the chronological/symbolical to the purely symbolical. The book of Revelation reflects the same diversity in referring to an identical period as a symbolical device: 1,260 days, 42 months, and ‚Äútime, times, and half a time‚ÄĚ (Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). The last half of the seventieth week of Daniel may thus be regarded as a different form of time measurement.57
Therefore, the last 3.5 years of the last week should be interpreted in a symbolical sense as representing an indefinite period. This period would extend from the Messiah‚Äôs work in ending sacrifice through his work of atonement until the end of the present age. Kim Riddlebarger writes:
. . . the forty-two months [of Revelation 13:5] are most likely a reference to the inter-advental age. Taken from Daniel 7:25 (‚Äúa time, times, and half a time,‚ÄĚ see also Dan. 12:7), this same period of time appears in the preceding chapters of the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 11:2-3, the Gentiles are said to ‚Äútrample the holy city‚ÄĚ (the church - i.e., the dwelling place of God in the new covenant) for forty-two months or 1,260 days. This is the same time period in which the two witnesses proclaim the gospel (Rev. 11:3). In Revelation 12:6, John refers to the time of the protection of the woman in the wilderness (the church) as spanning 1,260 days and then again later as ‚Äúa time, times, and half a time‚ÄĚ (Rev. 12:14).58
G. K. Beale, in commenting on Revelation 13:5 states:
That the ‚Äúforty-two months‚ÄĚ is based on Daniel 7:25b (and 12:7) is evident from its close association with other allusions to Daniel and the clear allusions to the Danielic time period in Rev. 12:6, 14b and earlier 11:2-3. These three earlier references to the period show that the duration of the period spans the time from Christ‚Äôs death and resurrection to the culmination of history. Likewise, the analysis of 12:12 and 13:3 above shows that the period in 13:5 covers the same time. 13:3 identifies the beginning of the figurative period as Christ‚Äôs death and resurrection, which caused the beast to be ‚Äúslain unto death.‚ÄĚ Our study of [Revelation] 12:7-12 confirms that it is Christ‚Äôs redemptive work that dealt the fatal blow to the devil and his agents. Therefore, the events of 11:2-3; 12:6, 14b; and 13:5 are parallel in time.59
Further support of this position is found in the previous noted Sabbatical-year principle present in this passage. The seventy-sevens of Daniel 9:24-27 equal ten jubilee eras. An emphasis is placed on the ultimate jubilee after the 490 years were completed. This ultimate jubilee depicts the consummation of the messianic age.60 Meredith Kline writes:
The last week is the age of the church in the wilderness of the nations for a time, a times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14). Since the seventy weeks are ten jubilee eras that issue in the last jubilee, the seventieth week closes with angelic trumpeting of the earth‚Äôs redemption and the glorious liberty of the children of God. The acceptable year of the Lord which came with Christ will then have fully come. Then the new Jerusalem whose temple is the Lord and the Lamb will descend from heaven (Rev. 21:10, 22) and the ark of the covenant will be seen (Rev. 11:19), the covenant the Lamb has made to prevail and the Lord has remembered.61
This prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 explicitly predicts the time of the coming of the Messiah and his kingdom into the world. It also predicts the atoning work of the Messiah which will put an end to sin, bring everlasting righteousness, end prophecy and vision, and anoint the heavenly most holy place with his blood (Heb. 9:12). It also anticipates the spread of his kingdom throughout the earth through all the ages until his return and the consummation of his kingdom and redemptive purposes. Finally, this passage demonstrates the supernatural quality of the inspired Scriptures in that it accurately predicts the exact time of the coming of the Messiah.
38Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 194.
39Meredith G. Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, ed. John H. Skilton (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 456-457.
40Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ in The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, 461.
41Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 339.
42Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 340-341.
43James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 316.
44Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 341-342.
45 For a defense of the early traditional date of the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus, see Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke,194-199.
46 Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 342.
47 Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 199.
48 Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 201.
49 John F. Walvoord, Daniel, The Key to Prophetic Revelation: A Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1971), 230.
50 Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 344-345.
51 Smith, What The Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah, 393.
52 Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, 463.
53 Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, 465. See also Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 209.
54 Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 346, n. 30.
55 Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 209.
56 Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary, 212.
57 Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, 345.
58 Kim Riddlebarger, The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About The Antichrist (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006), 97.
59 Beale, The Book of Revelation in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, 695.
60 Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, 459.
61 Kline, ‚ÄúThe Covenant of the Seventieth Week,‚ÄĚ The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis, 469.
More releases in Doctrines of Salvation
Doctrines of Salvation : THE ORDER OF THE APPLICATION OF SALVATION
|Posted by webmaster on 2009/5/25 15:10:00 (7925 reads)
THE DOCTRINES OF SALVATION SERIES - PART 1
THE ORDER OF THE APPLICATION OF SALVATION
I remember watching a program a few years ago in which a huge maze of dominos was assembled. Lines of stacked dominos ran every direction in a large warehouse. The dominos went up little ramps and crossed each other. It took over a month to construct the intricate rows of dominos. At a signal, carefully positioned cameras began to film and the first domino was pushed over into the second one in the row. A massive chain reaction took place as the rows of dominos began to fall. Some rows split into three and four rows that fell simultaneously. The room was filled with the loud clatter of falling domino tiles. In just a few minutes, every domino had fallen. The stunt was dramatic and illustrated how closely related objects affect each other.
The domino stunt is a reminder that the Bible contains a unified system of truth. Scripture interprets Scripture and the Bible does not present truth in terms of contradiction. Consequently, when an error is made in one area of our theological understanding of the Word of God, that error does not remain in isolation for long. The error cascades throughout our theology and, if not halted at some point, produces greater and greater falsehood. Theological error is not just an intellectual issue; theological error can result in the loss of one‚Äôs soul. At the very least, it quickly spills over into the way we live our Christian lives. B. B. Warfield said that a mutilated gospel produces mutilated lives. Bad theology is a cruel taskmaster. This principle is especially important in understanding the application of Christ‚Äôs work of salvation to the elect of God. A proper understanding of the logical order of the application of salvation is vital to a right understanding of the gospel.
This little book is a study of the various doctrines of salvation and their relationship with each other. Christ‚Äôs work on the cross met all the needs associated with our salvation. His accomplished work stands before us. The question is how is the sinner made a partaker of the work of atonement that Christ accomplished? This question addresses the issue of the application of Christ‚Äôs work and leads us to a study of the doctrines of salvation. In speaking of our salvation, the New Testament teaches that behind a sinner‚Äôs faith in Christ and every other spiritual grace he possesses is the sovereign saving activity of the Triune God. The New Testament also teaches that the application of salvation is not one act. John Murray writes: ‚ÄúWhen we think of the application of redemption we must not think of it as one simple and indivisible act. It comprises a series of acts and processes. To mention some, we have calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification. These are all distinct, and not one of these can be defined in terms of the other. Each has its own distinct meaning, function, and purpose in the action and grace of God.‚ÄĚ1 These ‚Äúseries of acts and processes‚ÄĚ follow an order in their application to the sinner. Historically, Reformed theologians have spoken of this as the ‚Äúorder of salvation‚ÄĚ or ordo salutis. It is important to note that this order of salvation is a logical order and not a chronological one.
SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE LOGICAL SEQUENCE OF THE DOCTRINES OF SALVATION
For our purposes now, we are simply examining the Scriptural basis for the logical sequence of the act of salvation. The meaning of the terms will be considered later. Romans 8:28-30 serves as a good starting point for discerning the Scriptural basis for the logical sequence of the doctrines of salvation:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
These verses contain a chain of unbreakable links that begin with foreknowledge and end with glorification. We have in this passage three acts in the application of salvation: calling, justification, and glorification. This passage also contains evidence that the order in which these acts are presented is intended to be a divine order of sequence. The first implication of a logical sequence is found in verse 28 in the expression ‚Äúcalled according to His purpose.‚ÄĚ This phrase indicates that a divine purpose is behind the order given in verses 29 and 30. This purpose is expressed in verse 29 as foreknowledge and predestination. Therefore, this purpose is an eternal purpose. This progression of thought is from foreknowledge to predestination. According to the construction of the passage, foreknowledge and predestination are prior to calling, justification, and glorification. The final three acts of salvation (calling, justification, and glorification) are obviously meant to be understood as sequential in order. Glorification is the final goal of the Christian‚Äôs salvation; it could not be logically prior to calling and justification. Since the passage gives clear indication that at least some of these acts are presented in a sequential order, it is proper to conclude that the order in which calling and justification are presented is an intended order of logical progression. Therefore, Romans 8:28-30 provides a broad outline of the order of salvation. The sequential order that is given is: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The acts of salvation presented in this passage, however, are not exhaustive. Scripture speaks of other acts in the order of salvation, but Romans 8:28-30 gives us a basic framework into which the other acts of salvation may be placed.
The next issue in discerning the order of salvation is the position of faith in the broad outline we have considered. The Scriptures are clear that faith in Jesus Christ is the instrumental precondition of justification. For example, Romans 5:1 states: ‚ÄúTherefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .‚ÄĚ Galatians 2:16 strongly states the same idea: ‚Äúnevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.‚ÄĚ John Murray writes:
. . . the Scripture undoubtedly states that we are justified by faith, from faith, through faith, and upon faith (see Rom. 1:17; 3:22, 26, 28, 30; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:24; Phil. 3:9). It would surely seem impossible to avoid the conclusion that justification is upon the event of faith or through the instrumentality of faith. God justifies the ungodly who believe in Jesus, in a word, believers. And that is simply to say that faith is presupposed in justification, is the precondition of justification, not because we are justified on the ground of faith or for the reason that we are justified because of faith but only for the reason that faith is God‚Äôs appointed instrument through which he dispenses this grace.2
Therefore, faith is the antecedent to being justified and justification is dependent on the presence of faith. The logical sequence is that faith precedes justification. Many Scriptures state that faith is the response of our heart and mind to the divine call to believe in Christ (Acts 16:31; 1 Cor. 1:9). Therefore, faith should be positioned in the broad outline between calling and justification. Therefore, in the application of salvation, this gives us the logical sequence of: calling, faith, justification, and glorification.
Closely related to faith is repentance; there is a coordination between repentance and faith. In Acts 20:21, Paul told the Ephesian elders at Miletus that he had taught them publicly and from house to house: ‚Äúsolemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.‚ÄĚ Faith and repentance are interdependent graces. John Murray writes: ‚ÄúRepentance is the twin sister of faith - we cannot think of the one without the other, and so repentance would be cojoined with faith.‚ÄĚ3 Therefore, repentance and faith are joined together as coordinate acts in the logical sequence of salvation. This gives us the order: calling, faith and repentance, justification, and glorification.
The place of adoption in the order of salvation may be discerned from an exegesis of John 1:12,13: ‚ÄúBut as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.‚ÄĚ First, it is important to note that in this passage the act of ‚Äúreceiving‚ÄĚ Christ (aorist tense in the Greek) and the continuous ‚Äúbelieving in his name‚ÄĚ (a present participle) both refer to faith in Jesus Christ. The first idea of receiving Christ refers to initial faith in Christ and the later idea of continually believing in his name refers to the instrumentality whereby the Christian continues to appropriate Christ‚Äôs benefits throughout his life.4 John states that as many as received him are given the right to become children of God. The Greek word translated as ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ (exousian) has the meaning of the legal word ‚Äúauthority;‚ÄĚ it is refering to the legal act of God‚Äôs grace in adoption. Therefore, John is teaching that faith is the necessary logical precondition to adoption. Since being adopted into God‚Äôs family would presuppose that a person‚Äôs sins are forgiven and he is accepted by God as righteous, it is logical to assume that adoption follows justification. John Murray writes: ‚ÄúAdoption would obviously come after justification - we could not think of one being adopted into the family of God without first being accepted by God and made an heir of eternal life.‚ÄĚ5 This gives us the logical order: calling, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, and glorification.
A crucial question in the order of the application of salvation is the position of regeneration in the ordo salutis. John 1:13 indicates that those who receive and continually believe in Christ are those who have first been born of God. Robert Reymond writes,
Why do some people repent and respond by faith in Christ to the divine summons to faith while others do not? Concerning those who believe in Christ‚Äôs name John immediately says in John 1:13: ‚Äú[These are they] who have been begotten [egennethesan], not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of a husband, but by God.‚ÄĚ By this particular reference to God‚Äôs ‚Äėbegetting‚Äô activity John refers to regeneration, and clearly suggests by his statement that, while faith is the instrumental precondition to justification and adoption, regeneration is the necessary precondition and efficient cause of faith in Jesus Christ. In short, regeneration causally precedes faith.6
This is a crucial point in the debates between Arminian and Reformed theology. The idea that regeneration precedes faith relates closely to the biblical teaching concerning the nature of sin and its effect on man. The Bible teaches emphatically that sin corrupts the totality of man's heart; a person's will and desires are under the slavery of sin (Titus 3:3-5), he is dead in sin without spiritual life or any inclination toward Christ (Eph. 2:1-3), he does not have the moral ability to choose Christ apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12,13; 6:44,45, 63-65), and the things of God are foolishness to him (1 Cor. 2:14). For saving faith and repentance to be present, a prior work of regeneration must take place. Scripture is clear and consistent on the point that, because of man's radical falleness, God is the divine initiator of salvation (John 3:1-10; Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13). This relationship between regeneration and faith and repentance is crucial for a proper understanding of the grace of God. If it is taught that man has the moral ability to come to Christ on his own and he takes the first step, then, not only is the Scriptural teaching concerning man's sin denied, but the grace of God in salvation is diminished and a false view of salvation is held. This ultimately leads to a concept of salvation in which man's merit becomes the necessary condition for salvation to be present; therefore, a person believes in Christ because he is somehow intrinsically more righteous than someone else. Consequently, what may seem to be a small theological point concerning the relationship of regeneration and faith and repentance has large ramifications concerning the grace of God and the nature of the gospel itself. In the following chapters, we will examine the key debate points and Scriptures that show the idea that regeneration precedes faith and repentance. In terms of the relationship between calling and regeneration, Roman 8:30 teaches that glorification is the last act in the application of salvation. This implies that calling is the first act in the application of salvation. Therefore, calling either precedes regeneration or regeneration is the work of God that makes calling effectual. This now fleshes out our order of the application of salvation gives us the following order: calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, and glorification.
The concept of sanctification is usually thought of as a progressive work that follows justification and adoption. The New Testament, however, also speaks of a type of sanctification that is a definitive act. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:11 states: ‚ÄúAnd such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.‚ÄĚ (see also: Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:2). These passages speak of sanctification in the same definitive terms as justification. Definitive sanctification is an act that follows faith (Acts 26:18: ‚Äú. . . those who have been sanctified by faith in me.‚ÄĚ). Therefore, it should be positioned in the order of salvation as a concomitant act with justification and adoption. We now have this order: calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, definitive sanctification, and glorification.
The final aspect of the order of salvation to be considered is progressive sanctification. As its name implies, it is a continuous process rather than a momentary act like calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, definitive sanctification, and glorification. John Murray writes: ‚ÄúSanctification is a process that begins, we might say, in regeneration, finds its basis in justification, and derives its energizing grace from the union with Christ which is effected in effectual calling.‚ÄĚ7 A life-long process of dying more and more to sin and ‚Äúgrowing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ‚ÄĚ (2 Pet. 3:18) begins when the sinner is regenerated. Part of this life-long process is God‚Äôs enabling the redeemed to persevere (Philippians 1:6; 3:13,14; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). Therefore, perseverance is placed in the order of salvation as a concomitant of progressive sanctification. This completes our order of the application of salvation and gives us the following order: effectual calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, definitive sanctification, progressive sanctification (perseverance), and glorification.
Robert Reymond gives this explanation and chart of the order of the application of salvation:
From all this, the following order of application has emerged. Concomitant aspects of the order are highlighted by arranging them in vertical columns under five headings indicating which aspects are entirely divine acts and which aspects entail human activity working both in response to and in conjunction with accompanying divinely initiated activity. It should be noted that the first three columns to do not reflect chronological occurrences, since the moment the sinner is regenerated, in that moment he repents and places his confidence in Christ‚Äôs saving work, and in that same moment God justifies, definitively sanctifies, and adopts and seals him. These columns reflect the logical (or causal) connection between the several aspects.
In the chapters that follow, we will examine the biblical teaching concerning each of these doctrines as well as further examine the biblical warrant for this order of the application of salvation.
1John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982 reprint of 1955 edition), 79, 80.
2Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, 85.
3Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, 87.
4Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 708.
5Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, 87.
6Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 708.
7Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, 87.
8Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 711.
More releases in Doctrines of Grace
Doctrines of Grace : Total Depravity
|Posted by webmaster on 2009/5/25 11:59:44 (3704 reads)
Total depravity does not mean that man is as bad as he can possibly be. It means that man's depravity extends to the total man. Sin influences our mind, heart, and will-- the total man.
The degree in which man is a sinner:
1. Some say man is basically good but has learned bad habits.
2. Some say man is sick in sin.
3. Total depravity teaches that man is incapable of spiritual goodness. Man never does acts of righteousness, and can‚Äôt do it in and of himself in his unregenerate state.
As a result of Adam‚Äôs transgression, men are born in sin and are by nature spiritually dead. Therefore to become God‚Äôs children and enter His kingdom we must be born again.
NAS Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--
NAS Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
NAS Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Because men are born in sin and are by nature spiritually dead, Jesus taught that man must be born again if they are going to enter God‚Äôs kingdom.
NAS John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 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 the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
You can‚Äôt see or enter the kingdom of God until you‚Äôre first born again. To be born again means you have been given a regenerate heart, and are born from above. You can‚Äôt have saving faith or even want to repent until you have been born from above. Jesus says that being born of the Spirit is like the wind blowing. Can you cause the wind to blow? You can‚Äôt cause yourself to be born again either. Let me ask, did you chose to be born the first time?
NAS 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
As a result of the fall, men are blind and deaf to spiritual truth. Their minds are darkened by sin; their hearts are corrupt and evil. See Genesis 6:5, Genesis 8:21, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 64:6, Mark 7:21-23, John 3:19, I Corinthians 2:14 - cannot understand, Ephesians 4:17-19, Ephesians 5:8, Romans 8:7-8 - are not able to submit to the law of God; cannot please God.
Before sinners are born into God‚Äôs kingdom through the regenerating power of the Spirit, they are children of the Devil and under his control; they are slaves to sin. See John 8:43-45, John 8:34-36, 2 Timothy 2:25-26-Repentance is a gift. 1 John 3:10-You are either a child of God or the Devil, 1John 5:19, Romans 6:20, Titus 3:3-6.
The reign of sin is universal. All men are under its power; none are righteous, not even one. See 1 Coronicles 6:36, Ps 130:3, Ps 143:2, Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 64:6, James 3:2-8, 1 John 1:8-10, Romans 1:18-25, Romans 3:9-12.
NAS John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Verse 12 and 13 is all one sentence. Verse 13 clarifies the people who believed and received Him. The people who received and believe on Him are the ones who have been born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. The people who are born of God are the ones that believe on and receive Him (Christ).
A person will never choose God unless God changes his heart of stone. We are slaves to sin. Man does not have within himself the power or ability to choose God. Man does not have or want God until he is born from above. Remember being born is not something that a person can do themselves. You did not choose to be born. See 1 Peter 1:3-5, John 3:3-8.
Man left in his spiritually dead state is unable of himself to repent, to believe the gospel, or come to Christ. He has no power within himself to change his own nature or to prepare himself for salvation. See 1 Corinthians 2:14, John 6:63-65 No one can come to Jesus unless it has been granted him from the Father. John 6:37-40 All that the Father gives Jesus will come to him and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44-Draw is the same Greek word as drag that is used in James 2:6. God makes the heart willing to come to him. God must act first in salvation. See Eph. 2:1-5, Acts 13:48, Acts 16:14, Acts 18:27, Phil 1:29, 2 Tim. 2:25-26, Eph 2:8-9 - Faith is a gift.
After we are regenerated, God gives us faith and repentance, gifts of His grace. Regeneration (being born again) is a monergistic work where God alone acts. After being quickened by the Holy Spirit, the regenerated man is enabled to do that which is good and willingly responds to God's effectual call, embraces the grace offered by God and exercises saving faith and repents. This is called a synergistic work where man and God act together.