Archive for the ‘Mark Horne’ Category

Ephesians is often treated as a pure type example of the Pauline method that “the indicative preceds the imperative.”

But what Paul does first is pray. Simply reading verse 3 and following involves readers in a prayer of thanksgiving to God–and much more so for those listening to the epistle read out loud in a Church gathering. This prayer then turns into a request for God to grant the Ephesians knowledge of what they have. And that practice, which involves the reader and listeners of the letter, sets the stage for the imperative at the end of the epistle, that the Ephesians should pray for everything.

God doesn’t begin with propositions. He begins by practice and teaching us by practice. That way we are in a position to understand both His propositions and his poems.

Theology should be compared more to dance than to book reading.

By the way, one of the astounding oddities I found reading the English translation of Bavinck’s first volume of Reformed Dogmatics (pp. 34, 35) is that he lists William Ames as a bad guy for defining theology as “the art of living to God.”


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All I can find are three quotations.  The first is from the Bible Presbyterians really good resource on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Matthew Henry has left the following testimony in his Treatise on Baptism: “I cannot but take occasion to express my gratitude to God for my infant baptism; not only as it was an early admission into the visible body of Christ, but as it furnished my pious parents with a good argument (and, I trust, through grace, a prevailing argument) for an early dedication of my own self to God in my childhood. If God has wrought any good work upon my soul, I desire with humble thankfulness, to acknowledge the moral influence of my infant baptism upon it.” (s0urce)

And then there is Alexander Campbell in the Millennial Harbinger:

Matthew Henry. “In baptism,” says he, “our names are engraved upon the heart of this Great high Priest. God doth in this ordinance seal and make over to us all the benefits of the death of Christ. Baptism seals the promise of God’s being to me a God.” Treatise on Baptism, p. 12, 40, 42.

And finally, there is a blogger who posts the following as from Matthew Henry’s “Treatise on Baptism.”

As far as the parents are concerned, we are sure, that the children are not so regenerated, as not to need good instructions, when they become capable of them, and yet are so regenerated, that if they die in infancy, parents may take comfort from their baptism in reference to their salvation: and as to the children, when they grow up, we are sure, that their baptismal regeneration, without something more, is not sufficient to bring them to heaven: and yet it may be urged, (as I said before,) in praying to God to give them grace, and in persuading them to submit to it.

This last sounds uncannily like something I’ve seen from Holifield’s The Covenant Sealed. Does anyone have access to Matthew Henry’s treatise so I can verify these quotations and see the context?

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Yesterday, I took part with my oldest son in a church-sponsored city outreach project (not because I’m especially prone to such behavior but because my son has a Boy Scout requirement that this would help him meet). Before we were sent out on our various jobs, the leader gave a devotional about the following text (unless he used Mark or Luke instead):

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

When we read “sinners,” he pointed out, we tend to universalize the reference to cover everyone who sins–which is, in fact, everyone. But that is not the way the term is being used in this passage, he claimed. “Sinners” was not a term that could be legitimately applied to anyone and everyone who sinned. Rather, it referred to those who were regarded as having abandoned or compromised beyond recognitions the covenant of God the promised the forgiveness of sins–such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and even all non-Pharisees.

(He didn’t mention this, but it is obvious Paul uses the term, “sinner” the same way in Romans 5.8. If Paul had our modern definition of “sinner” in mind, he could not have said that Jesus died for us while we were “still sinners.”)

His point of application was, I thought, quite needful and helpful. By turning everyone into a “sinner” in order to universalize the need to grace, we have, he argued, escaped Jesus’ immediate point. Jesus’ point was that there are people who appear to be outside the pale, but to whom we are supposed to be in direct contact. Jesus wants us not to think of everyone, but especially of the people we would never consider worth spending time with.

I’ve heard people paraphrase Jesus’ last statement in the passage (“For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.“) as a statement that he came not to call the self-righteous, but those who acknowledged themselves as sinners. But there’s no indication that all of Levi’s friends were repentant in this way. I think it is much more probable that Jesus is saying that he, as a righteous man, wants to call sinners, and that if they are righteous, they will go an do likewise.

In my commentary on Mark, I veer away from the generic moral lesson that Jesus might have been teaching, to focus on Jesus’ claims about himself. But I don’t think this eliminates the possiblilty that Jesus is modeling an ethic for anyone who would want to demonstrate righteous behavior. Rather than calling one another, the righteous call those who are social outcasts to the covenant (c.f. Matthew 5.43-48; Luke 14.12-14; John 5.43, 44).

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What follows are from a couple of posts on my blog.  I hoped to do a series.  If I do follow up, I will probably want to do it here on the BH blog rather than my own.  Feedback welcome:

It is no secret that some have been scathingly critical of N. T. Wright, the “New Perspective,” and anyone who would appreciate those things–all in the name of the Reformed Faith or, worse, “the Gospel.” To hear them tell it, there is absolutely no legitimate reason for this appreciation. People are only attracted to the New Perspective because they don’t understand the perfectly satisfactory traditional perspective.

If one wants to understand why the “traditional perspective” has, in certain cases, utterly botched exegesis, one need only look at one example of traditional preaching on Romans 4. Particularly this passage:


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Our own Steven thinks that he has the freedom to post BH quality insights on his own blog.  So I’m linking him.  Let us comment here and teach Steven a lesson.  OK?

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Jeff pointed out that baptism is not Christian circumcision. Looking at the comments, I think it might be helpful to point out that Israel was not the Church.

In the new creation, the idea of an “unbaptized Christian” is either very temporary or an anomaly. Those who came to faith were baptized immediately, together with their children. One does not remain outside the Church as a Christian.

But there were plenty of God-fearing Gentiles in the Old Testament economy who remained uncircumcised and yet whom we will meet at the resurrection in glory. Melchizedek, Potiphera, Reuel/Jethro, Uriah the Hittite, Hiram of Tyre, Naaman, and Nebuchadnezzar are a few, and they are certainly representative of many more.

In the time of Moses, Jesus (aka Yahweh) was quite clear that uncircumcised Gentiles had the same privileges (in almost all cases) as a Jew. Thus we read in Numbers 16:

Thus it shall be done for each bull or ram, or for each lamb or young goat. As many as you offer, so shall you do with each one, as many as there are. Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you….

If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them.

These are laws for uncircumcised residents to be treated just like the circumcised natives. Other than Passover, which required circumcision and, therefore, naturalization (“he shall be as a native of the land”–Exodus 12.48).


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If you are, say, leading a Bible study in Genesis, you might notice that right after the covenant is renewed and circumcision is established (ch 17) that we see Abraham eating and drinking with God (ch 18). After that meal, God makes a point of saying the he should share all his business with Abraham because of their relationship, and informs him of his intentions to judge a culture. Abraham immediately starts lobbying for concessions to spare the culture and wins them.

The story leaves Abraham for a chapter (19) and then comes back where we read God say this: “Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live.”

This is the first time the word, “prophet” is used in the Bible and it is associated with intercession rather than relaying messages from God. The role description certainly makes sense of what we see Abraham doing in interceding for the nations earlier in chapter 18.


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