Monday, January 5, 2009

January 5th

This morning I read the first part of Matthew 3, and was struck by John's rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You may remember the situation. John is baptizing people, preaching about the coming of Jesus, and out come some of the religious leaders from Jerusalem. John asks them 'who warned them to avoid the wrath to come?' which, I think, indicates that he knew the Lord Jesus Christ would be displeased with the emptiness of some of their hearts. John then points out that their parentage wasn't enough, telling them "Do not say we have Abraham for our father." He points out that "God is able out of stones to raise children of Abraham." What struck, which is probably more about type setting than Greek, because it's all one sentence, but just the phrase "dunatai ho theos." Why might it be about typesetting? My Greek New Testament has that phrase right at the end of a line.

What does that phrase mean? "God is able" or "God is capable" would be normal translations, also "God has the capacity to...."

I saw that phrase, and then the next line, 'to raise up children for Abraham from stones,' which gives John's full sentence, and shows what he was talking about. But I'm still hung up on "God is able...." "God is capable...." "God has the capacity to...." as an open-ended statement. Whatever it is, God is the one capable.

A side note: the word 'dunatai' is related to the word 'dunamis,' and both words typically come into English script with y instead of u so they look like dynatai and dynamis. Dynamis means, generally, power or ability. We get such words as "dynamo" and "dynamite" from this Greek word. But don't read dynamite back onto Scripture. They didn't use dynamite, because it wasn't invented. And besides, dynamite is the power to do one thing: destroy stuff. True, it may be to destroy something that needs it, like excavating a tunnel or removing a building, but it's a one-sided power. When dynamis is found in Scripture, it's frequently refering to the power of God or the power of the Gospel, which are typically powers to heal, strengthen, or build. The Gospel isn't dynamite, the Gospel is the power of God to heal a relationship.

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