Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 13
September 26, 2010
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
1901 ASV Translation:
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father:
- I. The Apostle's Greeting.
- A. The issues of "grace" and "peace".
- 1. The significance of "grace" [See notes for Aug. 29<018>].
- 2. The significance of "peace" [See notes for Sept. 5<020>].
- B. The focus upon the action of the "Lord Jesus Christ".
- 1. In this text, it was the "Lord Jesus Christ" Who did the "giving" of Himself for our sins [See notes for Sept. 12<022>].
- 2. In this text, the "giving" was designed to "deliver us" [See notes for Sept. 19<024>].
- C. The attribution of the purpose of the actions of the "Lord Jesus Christ" to "the will of our God and Father".
- 1. Paul's use of the word translated "will" is an interesting choice.
- a. The word is used throughout the New Testament to indicate a "desire" that some matter might take its place in historical reality. As such, it is an expression of the values of the "heart" (love). As such an expression, it is a highly complicated matter because the values of the heart are often in conflict with each other as we have regularly seen in the issues of "Justice" and "Mercy". This "conflict" is often submerged and not readily seen until some kind of crisis occurs. When the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cusp of "giving Himself for our sins", He prayed that "this cup might pass from Me" and then immediately turned around and prayed, "Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done." So Jesus had conflicted "desires" and this reveals the complexity of "love".
- b. The word used is "weak" in regard to the question of whether the "desire" will be accomplished. There is another word in Greek that indicates "potent intention". It is found, among its uses, in Romans 9:19 in the objector's complaint that none can resist this kind of "will" when God is the origin of it. The reason is not hard to grasp: a "potent intention" is as "potent" as the power available to enforce it. Since God is omnipotent, none can "resist" His "will".
- c. That Paul would use a "weaker" term in regard to the purpose for Christ's self-giving indicates something, but what?
- 1) The word Paul chose is a word that, expressing "desire", reveals "desire" without regard for "intensity". When it is used, it expresses what a person "would like to see done".
- 2) The "problem" with what one "would like to see done" is that there is a host of things that most persons "would like to see done" (as we said above) and, in the midst of that host there are mutually exclusive "desires" (note the "strait" in Philippians 1:23-24).
- 3) Two very problematical texts in regard to the "will" of our God and Father are 1 Timothy 2:4 (God wills that "all men ... be saved, and ... come unto the knowledge of the truth") and 1 John 5:14-15 (we will receive anything that we ask according to "the will of God"). Neither of the things mentioned in these expressions of "will" regularly occur. Most men are not saved and do not come unto the knowledge of the truth and most prayers of the saints that rest upon some expressed desire of God do not come to pass. This appears to create a contradiction to the claim that God "wills" the thing. If God is "willing" for all men to be saved, can He not "save" them? If I ask "anything" that God has said He "wills", does He not have to give that to me? I believe the resolution to these issues rests not only in the reality of "straits" (Paul's Authorized Version word in Philippians) in which mutually exclusive things are desired, but also in the fact that the "desire" of God is not established "generically", but "specifically". In a "generic" sense, God's "will" may be expressed in Scripture as a "general" reality, but the actual outworking of the plans of God depend more specifically upon what God's "will" is in each specific instance of history. God may "will" all to be saved, but in the reality of each man's historical existence and place in the large plan of God, God may refrain from saving this specific man, or that one. God may express His "generic" will (for example, He may "will" that a man not tell a lie), but in the specificity of historical development, He may well refrain Himself from making a specific man tell the truth in any given specific situation. This means that when I pray "according to His will", I have asked something in regard to what God specifically wishes to see occur, not something toward which God is generally disposed. This raises the bar of difficulty because of the need to be able to discern what He specifically wishes to occur in any given moment. But, in Romans 12:1-2 Paul clearly made my ability to discern what that specific wish involves dependent upon the issues involved in the summons of that text (unrestrained commitment, determined refusal to be conformed to this world, and consistent involvement with the renewal of the mind). This somewhat resolves the difficulty, but only "somewhat". It yet leaves unanswered the problem of how one comes to an understanding of the specific issues in the specific setting. When the Lord Jesus Christ was in the flesh upon this earth, He regularly prayed (sometimes all night) before He took action. This, at the very least, implies that coming to grips with which actions to take is no small matter.
- 4) The bottom line seems to be this: the "will" of the God [Who is] our Father is an expression of His "desire" as both God and Father.
- a) That this "desire" is not "potent intention", the outcome of Jesus' intention to "deliver us" is subject to some other factors. That Paul said what he did in this manner addresses the Galatian situation exactly: the Galatians must exercise their "potent intention".
- b) Since the "Father" in our context "raised Jesus Christ from the dead", we have to assume that in this context, "the will of the God" is committed to a good outcome for those who pay the price of love. Why, then, did Paul not use the term available to him in the Greek language that indicates that "commitment" in terms of potency? Again, this context raises a possible answer: our deliverance from this present evil age is "faith" dependent. Immutable determination, backed by sovereign omnipotence, will result in the determined matter coming to pass, but mutable desire, restrained in terms of power, will only result in the desired thing coming to pass if those involved with it are in harmony at the Love/Faith levels. Jesus, in His rebuke of the sword-bearer in Matthew 26:51-54, made this claim: "...I can... pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels." For that to be true, the self-giving that was "according the will of the God [Who is] our Father had to have been also "according to the will of" the Self-Giver. It may give some of our "theologians" heart-burn to accept Jesus' statement, but Jesus either told the truth or He did not. What Paul is declaring is this: the God [Who is] our Father "willed" what needed to be done on His side of the fence, but actual "deliverance" only comes to those who bridge the fence by accepting His Love and Truth by faith. This does not alter the concept of salvation by grace, but it does elevate the reality that it is also "through faith".