Posts Tagged ‘Christ’
Find out Friday is something that I built into my apologetics curriculum last year. I wanted to know where the students were in there understanding and acceptance of Christian Doctrine, so I asked if they would write down for me anything that they either struggled with, didn’t understand or didn’t believe. That request produced 89 unique questions . . . 89. Apologetics classes are first for the students, for you cannot guide another toward a truth that you, yourself, to not embrace or understand. Truly, truly, I say to you, one cannot make a disciple of Jesus unless the ARE a disciple of Jesus. So, I set to dialoguing with them over these questions and now do it for each upcoming class. It proves to be a highlight of our educational journeys.
This is the first installment of the 2012-2013 year. Even though we didn’t get passed the first questions in two of the classes, here is the entire pack. Maybe an ambitious beginning . . .
Our fellowship, Sovereign Christ Church is using John Piper’s Passion of Jesus Christ, or Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die as a 50-Day devotional before Resurrection Sunday (Easter). This is such a rich exercise and I recommend it to everyone. Click the link above to download a free PDF.
After reading Day Three: Christ Suffered and Died. . . To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected, one person asked how His learning obedience and becoming perfect was possible. Here is the answer I gave:
This is an excellent question. In the Book of Hebrews, there are a fair number of complexities. Taking a text from Hebrews and slowing down and asking a lot of questions is wise.
In the passage of Hebrews 5:8-9, there are a few minor things going on, as well as some clarity in how one handles words. Hidden in the Greek, which is of little importance for us in my opinion, is a play on like-sounding words between what is translated “learned” (Greek= emathen) and “suffered” (Greek= epathen). This may have influenced the use of those particular words for the original readers. The meaning though is wrapped up in a bit of a language discussion.
When looking at these Ancient Middle-Eastern languages, we avoid simply looking for a word-for-word translation – as if there is a one-to-one relationship between Koine Greek words and English words. We are tempted to say, “The Greek word ‘X’ means ‘Y’ in English; where The Greek word ‘R means ‘S’ in English”. Rather, we should see the words in what is know as semantic domains, or groupings of somewhat synonymous words that are influenced and flavored by one another – even serving to be interchangeable at times. See here:
for more of a discussion on this and look at footnote number 31. This will be a bit of a thick read, but worth it. Tell me if more questions arise out of it.
So, what I mean is that the definition of the word is often wider than we might think and is often driven by how the word is used, more than a lexical meaning in a language dictionary. This does not mean that the definition is up for grabs. It is just a bit more philological than lexical- that is, how a word is used, its function, can overule a decided dictionary definition.
This is the case with these two words, one more than the other. The word for “learned” carries with it strong connotations of experience. That is, Jesus “learned” the experience of obedience through bodily physical suffering. This is not just a cognitive understanding, but something that He would experience so that He would become for us what we needed. (Hebrews 4:15) Granted, this semantic flexibility is not as flexible as we will see in the word translated “perfected” (teliow), but together, this understanding of “He learned the experience of” is preferred. This is why the intro of “Although He was a Son (of God)” . . . is there. Because He is the Son of God, this discussion might seem a bit unusual.
In verse 9, “been made perfect” is a phrase that also carries the nuances of fulfillment or completion . . . and in some cases maturity (see James 1:4). I believe that is what is at play here- namely, Jesus wanted to do all that fulfills what we needed Him to be by God’s design to be what Hebrews 4:15 says He became for us. This is much like what Jesus said to John the Baptizer in Matthew 3:15. He was to fulfill the plan and be what God had determined. See Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28 on this.
So, Jesus obeyed the Father in the way He always does (John 8:28 & 12:49), yet, here, in the Incarnation and as one who suffers – there is a great mystery here that God can suffer, a mystery which is the Incarnation. He experienced the obedience through suffering (learned) such that He would fulfill or complete (be made perfect) all that was to be completed according to the predetermined plan.
He certainly did not add to His essence or eternal wisdom.