Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
October 5, 2014
11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all [men], even as we [do] toward you:
13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you:
12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also [do] toward you;
13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints
- I. The God Himself.
- A. The reference has the article "the" before the word "God".
- 1. This is not unusual for Paul in a Gentile setting because of the rampant polytheism of the culture: he deliberately set "The God" above all "gods" so that his readers would recognize that there actually are no other "gods". He is "The God".
- 2. But, for him to write "The God Himself..." means that there are some things that only "God Himself" can do, or, if others actually can do the "thing", "The God" can do it so much better that He is the preferable Actor. "The God" is typically committed to the use of intermediate instruments (angels, men, donkeys, etc.) to accomplish His will, for all the Scriptures present Him commissioning others to do what He wants done. However, there are some things that are so important that He entrusts them to no one else. In these cases, it will be "The God Himself" Who acts.
- 3. It is, therefore, curious that Paul attaches "The God Himself" to the action of "directing our way unto you" (this would not be seen in most cases as an issue of such great import). However, it is clear from the statement of his "night and day" praying and the additional "more abundantly" that he sees God as the One Who will make this decision. Thus, "The God Himself" will be the Actor. A "potent" Actor and a small action combine to elevate a sense that The God wants to be known as The Person to which His people are to turn for any/every need/desire.
- B. This brings a potent sense of immediacy into the relationships sustained by "The God" and His people.
- II. Even Our Father.
- A. The translators of the Authorized Version really dropped the ball here. Their anemic "and our Father" is unnecessarily confusing, given the next "and". There are not "three" (The God and our Father and our Lord, Jesus); there are "two" (The God Who is our Father and Jesus Who is our Lord). The translation should read, "Now the God Himself, namely 'our Father', and our Lord, Jesus ..."). This is a clear cut case of what A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAG) calls an "explicative kai".
- B. Paul ratchets up the identity issue of "The God Himself": He is not "just" The God; He is "the Father of us...".
- 1. "The God" brings the execution of power to the table.
- 2. "The Father" brings the proper motivation to the table.
- 3. When "omnipotence" and "infinite love" are wedded, there is no end to the good that will be done.
- 4. The majority user of "Father" to refer to God in the New Testament is, hands down, the apostle John in the Gospel he wrote (he uses the word "father" in 115 texts, sometimes using the word twice in one text).
- a. This, being the most 'evangelistic' Gospel, signifies that God is most interested in our perception of Him as a "father", but not, as Jesus cautioned (Matthew 23:9), one like any man on the earth.
- b. Within the context of this perception, there is one crowning characteristic of "The Father": He seeks the absolute best for his children within the constraints of their developing love.
- 1) What I mean is this: God does not, can not, will not accept selfishness as legitimate in any sense of the term.
- 2) This immediately runs into this reality: God will "allow" temporary and intermediate "lesser" goods (and some positive evils) in order to accomplish the greatest good of all. In other words, He will allow the process of selfish childishness to play itself out to some degree in order to initiate and establish the selflessness of the "sons" as an outworking of the repercussions of that selfishness. Sometimes "sin" actually has this "good" result: the consequences reveal the superiority of "love" to the degree that "love" actually gets the "nod" the next time around. Those who are forgiven much, love much (Luke 7:47).
- c. Along with that crowning characteristic is an associated reality: the "Father" sets the tone for the "sons"; He is their example and becoming like Him is to be their most fundamental goal for all of their never-ending existence in the "Father's" creation.
- III. And Our Lord Jesus.
- A. Connecting "The God as our Father" to "our Lord, Jesus" in respect to the issue involved (making it possible for us to see you again) is interesting in that it signals a cooperative effort when none is needed (the Father and the Son have always been on exactly the same page about every detail of their activity; there is no need for any "cooperative effort"). This probably means that both of them are involved in the issue at the levels of "father" and "lord".
- B. This actually stacks the deck. Two of the members of the Trinity are directly involved in Paul's intense interest and request.
- C. But, the "lordship" of Jesus does put this "out there": He is viewed as the One Who will make the decision; that's what "lords" do. The God is involved at the power level; the "Father" is involved at the motivation level; the "Lord" is involved at the decision level; and "Jesus" is involved at the "intention" level.
- IV. Direct Our Way Unto You.
- A. The verb is an "optative"; making the issue far less a potential reality than one would really like to have, given the "night and day more abundant prayer".
- 1. That four characterizations are involved (The God, Father, Lord, Jesus) strongly suggests that the outcome will be thoroughly "right".
- 2. That the optative is used also suggests that Paul is fully aware that "His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out" so that no human being should ever have any secure sense that he/she "knows" what ought to happen on any given day, time, or in any given circumstance.
- B. This is an expression of Paul's desire, but it is not an expression of what he actually expects. Why would "The God" allow Satan to thwart Paul on multiple occasions if He was going to turn around and overrule him?
- C. And then there is this: Acts 16:6 clearly declares that "the ministry" has the clear oversight of the Holy Spirit as to where it will take place.