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Romans 10 & Joel 2


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 10:15 AM

The following exchange took place at the Theology Online Website (TOL) between myself and Ronald Fay (Teaching Fellow of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois.)

Fay’s arguments appear in the quotation boxes; my replies follow in regular text:



Yet Another Trinitarian Proof Text.

This is for Evangelion, since we have not debated in a while.

Romans 10 says:
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

I think we all can agree that "Lord" in this context is Jesus, as there is no other name by which we are saved, obviously referring to Jesus.  Not only that, 9 makes it explicit that "Lord" in this context is Jesus.

However, the passage being cited is Joel 2:32, which uses the Tetragrammaton.  Therefore, Jesus is Lord, which means Jesus is the tetra.


Let's take a closer look at the passage in question:Romans 10:9.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
OK, so we have to confess Jesus as Lord. No problems there. It is obviously possible to confess Jesus as Lord without confessing that he is truly God, let alone that he is Yahweh.

Notice that we must also confess "that God raised him from the dead." (The person "God" being clearly delineated from the person "Jesus".) Again, I see no problems here.Romans 10:10-11.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Paul testifies that a faithful confession leads to salvation - in support of which he quotes the LXX directly:Isaiah 28:16. (LXX)
Therefore thus saith the Lord, even the Lord, Behold, I lay for the foundations of Sion a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious stone, for its foundations; and he that believes on him shall by no means be ashamed.
The words "on him" are not found in the original text, but Paul reads them in, because they are clearly implied by the context. What is his point? That a faithful confession leads to salvation. The one on whom we believe (Isaiah 28:16) is obviously the Son, for it is the Father Who establishes him as the cornerstone. Notice also that the cornerstone (Christ) is clearly delineated from Yahweh (the Father.)

Jesus confirms the truth of Isaiah 28:16 when he says...
  • John 5:24.
    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

  • John 12:44.
    Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
...thereby (a) qualifying the words of the prophet and (b) providing an exegetical template for our analysis of Paul's own use of this verse in Romans 10.

Thus, John Burton Coffman in his Commentary:Confess with the mouth ...

Referring to this, Barrett wrote:


“The verb suggests that Paul may be using a recognized formula, and this is confirmed by 1 Cor. 12:3. The form of the sentence, "If thou shalt confess ... and believe ... thou shalt be saved," suggests that the formula may be a baptismal confession.

Therefore, Rom. 10:9-10 refer to primary obedience to the gospel of Christ, the big point that Paul was making being that the message of salvation is "nigh" unto people, one which was then (and ever afterwards) being preached to them, and a message which they were already obligated to accept and obey, and which needed not to be any further confirmed (as by Christ's coming down from heaven, or back from the dead), because it had already been overwhelmingly authenticated.”

He continues:Verse 11 is thus Paul's way of saying that a Christian (a believing, penitent, confessed, baptized member of the body of Christ) shall not be put to shame. The mention of shame indicates that Paul was still thinking of the confession mentioned a moment before, and of what Jesus said of the confession, thus:

“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38).

There is no argument for the deity of Christ here.Romans 10:12.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
The "Lord" here referred to, is the Father, not the Son...Romans 10:13.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
...which is confirmed by the fact that the word "the" is not found in the original text, thereby presenting us with the Tetragrammaton (Yahweh), as found in Joel 2:32 (from whence this citation has come.) The Trinitarian reading favours "the Lord", by which it is argued "the Lord Jesus" must be referred to. But there is no justification for making such a claim.

Writing in his Word Studies in the New Testament (1834-1922), Marvin R. Vincent gives his opinion on the identity of the “Lord” in verse 12, but admits that there is no consensus among scholars on this point:Lord ( κύριος )
See on Mat_21:3. The reference is disputed: some Christ, others God. Probably Christ. See Rom_10:9, and compare Act_10:36. The hearing which is necessary to believing comes through the word of Christ (Rom_10:17, where the reading is Christ instead of God).

As tempting as it might be to agree with Vincent, let us rather be guided by the inspired apostle Peter, who, at Pentecost, quoted this same verse (Joel 2:32) and applied it to the Father – not to the Son:Acts 2:21-27.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
For David speaketh concerning him, [Christ] I foresaw the Lord [Yahweh] always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
At this point the average Trinitarian reader almost beside himself with delight, hoping to prove that David's reference to "the Lord" constitutes an OT application of Yahweh to Christ. But "the Lord" here is the Father, not the Son.

Hence the following words...Acts 2:27-31.
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
...thereby demonstrating that "the Lord" who was "always before" David's face, is Yahweh (the Father), who raised Christ from the dead.

Since we now know that Joel 2:32 has already been applied to the Father, in a context which delineates “the Lord” from the Son, we can be sure that Peter's speech harmonises with Romans 10, in which the apostle Paul (using the very language of Acts 2!) tells us that......if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
See also:Acts 2:36.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Peter understood that the Messianic title of “Lord” was given to Christ. It is not synonymous with the name of Yahweh, which is here delineated from the title that is given to the Son by the Father. Peter’s own use of Joel 2:32 (establishing the necessary precedent for Paul’s use of it – which in turn agrees with Peter’s), simply will not bear the weight that the Trinitarian argument places upon it.

Nowhere are we required to confess Jesus as Yahweh (though Christ certainly bears this name in his capacity as God's representative, just as we bear the name of Christ in our capacity as his representatives.) Just as Christ is not God simpliciter, nor is he Yahweh simpliciter.

Writing in his Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments (Abilene Christian University Press; 1983-99), James Burton Coffman makes no argument for the deity of Christ, realising that the context is soteriology, not Christology. During the course of his analysis, Coffman appeals to John Locke – the famous Unitarian philosopher – who does not even bother to engage with the (purely semantic) Trinitarian argument from this passage.

Thus:Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved ...
is a quotation from Joel 2:32 and formed THE TOPIC of Peter's opening sermon of the gospel age on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21). The thesis maintained here, that calling upon the name of the Lord has reference to obeying the gospel (in its four primary steps), is remarkably supported by the apostle Peter's interpretation of what his sermon topic really meant.

When the people cried out, "What shall we do?" (the obvious meaning of their question being "How shall we call upon the name of the Lord and be saved?"), Peter commanded them to "repent and be baptized, etc." (Acts 2:21,37,38).

Paul's prior mention, only a moment earlier (Romans 10:9-10) of such a thing as the confession with its known relation to baptism and primary obedience, also indicates that the quotation from Joel is a synecdoche for all the things required of converts. And why not? Peter's interpretation of Joel's quotation was perhaps the most universally known and the most frequently repeated sermon of the entire New Testament age.

Locke took the same position, thus:

“Whosoever hath with care looked into St. Paul's writings must own him to be a close reasoner, that argues to the point; and therefore, if, in the preceding three verses, he requires an open profession of the gospel, I cannot but think that "all that call upon him" (Romans 10:12), signifies all that are open professed Christians; and, if this be the meaning of calling upon him (Romans 10:12), it is plain it must be the meaning of ‘calling upon his name’ (Romans 10:13); a phrase not very remote from ‘naming his name’ (2 Timothy 2:19), which is used by Paul for ‘professing Christianity.’”

Since the apostle Peter clearly believed that “the Lord” here referred to is the Father (not the Son), I conclude that the apostle Paul believed the same, since this presents us with a perfect harmonisation – unlike the Trinitarian reading, which sets Peter at odds with Paul, and wrenches the quote out of its pre-established context. (The very same context in which Paul himself has used it.) The emphasis is on the saving work of Christ and our acceptance of God through Christ. Paul makes no attempt to prove that “Jesus is ‘the Lord’, ergo Jesus is Yahweh and therefore God simpliciter.

Nodding briefly to the standard Trinitarian argument from this passage, Adam Clarke nevertheless agrees that soteriology is the key feature here:Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call, etc. -
Nor shall any one who hears this doctrine of salvation, and credits it as he is commanded, be permitted to pray or supplicate the throne of grace in vain: for the Prophet Joel hath declared, Joe_2:32 : Whosoever shall call upon, invoke, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, shall be saved - shall have his guilt pardoned, his heart purified; and if he abide in the faith, rooted and grounded in him, showing forth the virtues of him who was called him out of darkness into his marvellous light, he shall be saved with all the power of an eternal life.

“Believing in Christ, or God, Rom_10:11, and calling upon God, Rom_10:12-14, are in effect the same thing; as calling upon God necessarily connects and supposes faith in him: and he who duly believes in Christ has such a sense of his dependence upon Divine grace, that he looks unto God and trusts in his power and goodness alone for happiness: which is the true religion of the Gospel.”
Dr. Taylor.

It is evident that St. Paul understood the text of Joel as relating to our blessed Lord; and therefore his word κυριος must answer to the prophet’s word יהוה Yehovah, which is no mean proof of the Godhead of Jesus Christ.

If the text be translated,

Whosoever shall invoke in the name of the Lord,

which translation יקרא בשם יהוה yikra beshem Yehovah will certainly bear, yet still the term Yehovah, the incommunicable name, is given to Christ; because invoking in the name signifies soliciting one in the name or on the account of another. He who is invoked is God; he, in whose name he is invoked, is Jesus Christ, who is here called Yehovah. He who asks mercy from God, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, shall get his soul saved.

I disagree with Clarke (for the reasons already stated) that Yahweh is here applied to Christ, and argue that even if it is, the deity of Christ cannot be proved by it. At the very most, I can accept that Christ bears the name of God as His representative, and that, in this capacity, we may invoke the name of Yahwehthrough His appointed mediator – “the man, Jesus Christ", as Paul calls him in his epistle to Timothy – which harmonises not only with Dr Taylor's sound exegesis, but also with the words of Christ himself.

Thus:
  • John 5:24.
    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
  • John 12:44.
    Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
The formula is simple:
  • Confess the Lord Jesus.

  • Believe that God has raised him from the dead.

  • Believe in the God of Israel – the Lord who spoke through Isaiah and Moses – and call upon His name.
I see nothing in Romans 10 which might be advanced in support of the Trinitarian claim that Jesus is God simpliciter, nor do I see any reference to Jesus as Yahweh. Semantic parallels are of no interest to me whatsoever – especially when they must be interpreted in contradiction to their original use by the apostle Peter before any argument for the Trinity can be made.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 10:19 AM

Fay's response was not long in coming. It resulted in the following exchange:


You argued against Isaiah convincingly, which is great


Thankyou.

but I did not refer at all to that text.


I had to include it because (a) it's part of the context, and (b) it has a direct bearing on Peter's announcement at Pentecost, which in turn sets the scene for Paul's comments in Romans 10.

Your argument against the Joel citation is very weak


"Very weak"? I beg to differ - although I admit that I could have said more about Peter's use of Joel 2:32.

So let's do that right now:
Acts 2:14-21.
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Here Peter cites Joel 2:32 and substantiates his claim that the disciples are fulfilling prophecy. He does not make any attempt to apply the Tetragrammaton to Christ. This is consistent with his use of Psalm 16, in which (once again) he accepts that the Tetragrammaton refers to the Father, and makes no attempt to apply it to Christ.

as you quote Trinitarians and say you disagree without making a substantive case.


With Peter and Paul on my side, I obviously don't need Trinitarian exegetes. Nevertheless, I have quoted Vincent (who conceded that the reference to “the Lord” could be applied to either Christ or God; the distinction is not entirely clear), and Clarke (for the sake of objectivity.) I have also shown that both Clarke and Coffman understand that the context of this passage is soteriology rather than Christology. (Although Clarke highlights the Joel 2 citation as a circumstantial "proof" for the deity of Christ, while Coffman simply ignores it.)

I have demonstrated that in calling on Jesus we do not really "call on Jesus", but actually call on the Father (as Jesus himself affirms), and I have shown that this precludes Christ from being the "Lord" of Joel 2:32, on whom we are to call. I have quoted the apostle Peter, observing that his use of Joel 2:32 establishes the necessary precedent for my interpretation of this quote in Romans 10.

Let’s read it again:Romans 10:9.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Fits in nicely with Peter’s speech (Acts 2.)Romans 10:10-11.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
There’s the Isaiah reference. I presented an argument for this, but you've already waved it past - which is great - so let’s move on to the key verse…Romans 10:12.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
…which, consisting largely of a quote from Psalm 145:18…The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
…refers to the Father – not the Son – as we see from the connexion with Joel 2:32, which follows immediately and finds an appropriate precedent in Acts 2. (Hence the comments in my original rebuttal.)

Yes, people did indeed call on the name of the Lord Jesus in the NT. But the name they used was not “Yahweh.” It was “Jesus” – and in some cases, “Jesus Christ.”

Thus:I Corinthians 1:2.
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
So when we read this…Romans 10:13.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
…we must take the words of Jesus and Peter into consideration, and resist the urge to fudge the passage by applying the words of Joel 2:32 to Christ, when there is absolutely no reason to do so, and every good reason to do otherwise. God (the Father) has been the subject since verse 12, and here He is referred to directly (without the definite article), just as we find in Joel 2:32. (Hence my previous citation from Vincent.)

I think that the very best you can do here, is present an alternative reading. You certainly can’t fault my argument on exegetical or grammatical grounds. Sure, you’ve accused it of lacking substance – but on what basis? None that I can see.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Phebe_*

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 02:18 PM

Go Evangelion!! Good Stuff!! B)

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 04:04 PM

Ta. :)
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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