Praise Content: Trinity
1 Peter 1:3
1 Peter Lesson #013
April 23, 2015
“Father, what a privilege it is that we can come before your Throne of Grace because the Lord Jesus Christ has split the veil, opened the way; and we have direct access to You because of our relationship to You through His High Priestly ministry. Father, we’re thankful we can come together to fellowship around the Word, to focus on what You have to teach us. Help us to understand the implications and the applications of the Scripture that we’re studying this evening. We pray that we would be responsive to the challenges that are there to understand Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
One of the things I continually run into as a pastor is dealing with the issue of application. And dealing with the issue that people, especially in our culture that is such a quick-fix culture and a drive-through window culture, that we expect instant gratification on everything, and that this is carried over into the Christian life. We should just go to church and be given ten points on how to do this or how to do that, and somehow that’s going to straighten everything out. The desire to really know the Word, just to study the Word for the sake of just knowing the Word, is falling by the wayside because of this kind of cultural influence that we have.
If you just stop and think about certain things in life… I think of two areas of analogy. One is how we eat, and the other is how we exercise. Now I don’t want to say too much about either one because that may be too convicting for some people, but if you go to the doctor, and you’re diagnosed with a major health problem, it’s too late to redirect your nutrition. You already have the problem. A lot of people, when they have problems in their life, just want to go to church and get some kind of quick-fix solution. “I’m going to nod to God and He’s going to give me a little shot of blessing, and I’m going to get past this,” they think. Then you don’t see them anymore.
The issue in nutrition is to eat well all the time over a period of years, and this produces a healthy physical life. It helps lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. You don’t weigh as much. All of those different factors come into play. It’s the same thing with exercise. If you have a problem, and you wake up in the morning, and you have a crick in your neck or your back is out and it’s not a problem related to something that might need surgery, then you need to fix it. And you end up spending so much money going to a chiropractor or going to a massage therapist to try to work on it. Eventually that gets fixed. You may do some stretching exercises for a little bit, and then that goes by the wayside because you’re just too busy. When you look at what you should be doing, it’s working out on a regular basis, working out in such a way that it builds muscle, strengthens the core and strengthens all of your musculature, and you know it’s not just a quick-fix solution. It takes time to develop that. It takes discipline, and then when something happens, you’ve already provided the framework either through your nutrition or through your regular exercise to handle whatever the challenges are that come your way.
Studying the Word is the same thing. You don’t sit down and say you’ve got a problem with your back up around your shoulder blades somewhere, so I just need to know what that muscle group is and then you’ll work that muscle group. You know that’s foolish. Those muscles are connected to other muscles. Those muscles have tiny fibers of muscles within them. You need to work them all out, not just one area or one muscle group. By analogy, that’s how a lot of Christians face their spiritual life. They have a problem, and they just want to work out one area.
When you are building your spiritual life, you need to learn a tremendous amount about the Scripture so you can read the Scripture more knowledgeably, for one thing, and because all or this eventually pulls together to help you look at and interpret the realities of life from a divine viewpoint. It takes time to develop that. Over the course of time you will study a lot of doctrine that may seem to have no relevance whatsoever to your life or to your thinking. Then five years later, all of a sudden the light goes off, and you realize that this is significant.
I’m just trying to encourage you. Y’all are here most Tuesday and Thursday nights, and I just wish more people would recognize this. You don’t just get there by showing up on Sunday morning. Sometimes I want to say, “Those of you who just show up on Sunday morning, why do you bother?” Why are you playing games with God once a week? If you just ate once a week in your life, you might be thinner, but you certainly wouldn’t be healthier, and you’d be starving to death the rest of the time. You probably wouldn’t even know it.
It’s the same way in the Christian life. We need to develop that discipline to always be involved and to always be coming and to always be studying the Word because when, as the writer of Proverbs says many times, when the crisis comes, it’s too late to fortify your soul.
That applies to memorizing Scripture as well. I often remember reading a book about a Vietnam POW called “In the Presence of Mine Enemies”. He was in the Hanoi Hilton. A lot of these men that were captured knew bits and pieces of Scripture. Some knew a lot. But a lot of them just remembered a few promises and a few Scriptures here and there from their Sunday School classes. They figured out how to tap out a code and they would get to the point where they could reconstruct large passages of Scripture just by tapping it out. They had a lot of trouble at first because a lot of them had never memorized any Scripture. They just knew bits and pieces of this and that and the other thing.
That’s a great lesson. We need to fortify our soul by memorizing Scripture. I know some little kids in this church who listen pretty regularly, or their parents or grandparents listen, and they’ve memorized a tremendous amount of Scripture. I know some adults here who because of my emphasis on Bible memory over the last five or six years have memorized several books of Scripture that they’ve committed to memory. Not books like Jude. Books like Hebrews, Romans, and 1 Corinthians. They’ve memorized the whole book and they can recite it from chapter one unto the last chapter and the last verse. That is the standard. That’s what we should all be striving for.
Okay, we’re going to continue our study tonight in 1 Peter. Open to 1 Peter, chapter 1. (Slide 3) We have covered the introduction; and now we’re going into the first part. Last week we did a summary of the first part, and now we’re going to start with verse 3, breaking it down very simply as we saw in our study of the first couple of verses. It’s from Peter the apostle, identified as the apostle of Jesus Christ, and he writes it to a group of Jewish-background believers. In the early Church there was quite a high percentage of Messianic Jews, which is what we call them today. They lived in the area of Asia Minor (or modern Turkey) in the area of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. He identified them as the choice ones according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father.
Notice the Trinitarian emphasis there when it says “the foreknowledge or prescience of God the Father by means of the sanctification of God the Holy Spirit for the purpose of obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Then he says grace to you and peace be multiplied; and then we go into our opening introduction, which goes from verse 3 down through verse 12. (Slide 4) Summarizing it, I said that what Peter is saying is that living in light of eternity means we can rejoice in the midst of the present, fiery trial because our love for God enables us to focus on the glories to come. Right in the middle of that introduction we have the phrase “love for God”. That tells us that we have to know something about God.
Knowledge of God is at the core of understanding a lot of what Peter says in these verses. We have to know God. You cannot love someone you don’t know. To come to know God, both in an academic sense because we study the Scripture, that academic sense always leads us into a deeper, personal relationship and this causes us to praise God for who He is. We need to focus on identifying the attributes of God, the character of God, and understanding how that relates to His plan and purpose, especially for us. This is how Peter starts. He’s introducing the main things that he’s going to cover and re-emphasize throughout this epistle in this opening introduction.
(Slide 5) If you read through this section, the first three verses, verses 3, 4, and 5 of this section, are all one sentence in the original Greek. I’m going to just read them and point out a couple of things as we go from a large broad perspective to drill down in the verse and understand some of the specifics and the implications of these specifics. He begins by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” That is a sentence that is loaded with important information. In order to really understand it, we have to take some time just to break it down and pick it apart.
(Slide 6) What I’ve done through the use of a few colors here is to try to bring out some of the different relationships within this opening sentence. We have the noun here at the beginning, which is the subject of this long sentence. This is all one sentence. This is our subject. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” The “be” there in the original is in italics. Some of you will have that in your Bible. You’ll see some words that are in italics. That means there’s no word for that in the original Greek. It’s just supplied so that it makes sense reading it in English.
I tried to highlight in the green there the main thought: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has begotten us again to a living hope.” That’s his main thought. Everything else here feeds into that main thought, and we have to understand what that means. Then you have a couple of prepositional phrases that this “being born again” is “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” So what is the relationship between Jesus Christ’s resurrection and our regeneration? How does that connect? What’s the significance there? It’s not just the fact of looking back to the reality that you and I were born again at some point earlier in our life when we trusted Christ as our Savior; but it also looks forward in that fourth verse that this is “to an inheritance”.
Four things are said about that inheritance. It’s incorruptible. Second, it’s undefiled. Third, it will not fade away. And fourth, it is “reserved in heaven for you.” We have something reserved in heaven that’s got our name on it. There’s an inheritance package that is set aside with your name stenciled on it. Then we’re told something about the fact that we don’t have to worry about losing it totally, in terms of a loss of salvation and losing our eternal destiny because, verse 5, we’re “kept by the power of God”. This is a great verse for eternal security. Kept by the power of God, how? “Through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.”
I ran across a video today that was kind of interesting. It was a video by Josh McDowell. I don’t know how many of you know Josh McDowell. I’ve always had a special appreciation for Josh McDowell. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I looked at him and thought, “Boy, Josh, you’ve gotten old. All white-haired and everything.” The first time I heard of him, I didn’t get to see him; but he was speaking at Stephen F. Austin University when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know anything about him, but I knew a couple of people who heard him and heard about it. His whole ministry has primarily been focused on dealing with the evidences for Christianity. His great book that he wrote years ago is called “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”. There’s a part one and a part two; and he has modified it and improved it; and they’re joined together in one volume now. I think every high school kid ought to read through those books. If you never have, then you should. Someone who’s in college in an environment where there’s constantly an intellectual assault on the gospel and the truth of the Bible, they need to work their way through those books.
When I was a junior in college, although I had spent a lot of time studying the Word and learning a lot of doctrine when I was in junior high and high school, I didn’t have a foundation for understanding the veracity of what I believed. Why do you believe what you believe? What is the evidence that it’s true? This was many years ago, and it’s much, much worse now. You go into a college or university classroom, and there are numerous professors who make it their very objective to identify who the evangelicals are and to see if they can totally destroy their faith within the first six weeks of school. They are largely successful. We don’t send our kids off intellectually prepared to answer these kinds of assaults.
You always have some kids who just say, “Whatever. I’m not going to think about what he says. I’m just going to move on and put down whatever he says on the tests.” That’s fine, but if you’ve got someone who’s really thinking and they’re hearing questions they never heard before, they’re going to say, “How do I know that’s true? This is a man who’s teaching this class, or a woman, and they have their PhD, and they’re saying things I’ve never heard before. How do I know what those answers are?”
A lot of times, if high school kids and college kids just know that they’ve heard an answer, it helps. That was one of the things I held on to when I was in school – was that I knew that I had heard people address the issues, and I knew that there was an answer to those things being raised in the classroom. So that gave me a measure of stability. I was still fairly rocked by a lot of things intellectually. How do I really know the Bible is true? How do I know that things didn’t change over the years?
I was up at a weekend camp at Camp Peniel at the end of my junior year, and it was a high school camp. Randy Price, who was finishing up at U.T., had a copy of “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” and we were talking about these things. He said, “Here, you take my copy and read that.” I read it during the next week. I never had an intellectual concern about the Scripture again. It’s just a tremendous resource. Anyway, that’s who Josh is. I saw this thing today that was a YouTube video. He stated things rather inflammatorily. He was saying, “The biggest heresy in Christianity is that a person is saved by faith. You can’t go anywhere if you just have faith.” Of course, what he was saying [although I think he was overstating it just to get people’s attention], is that the Bible doesn’t say we’re saved by faith. The Bible says we’re saved by grace through faith, which is the same phraseology we have down here in 1 Peter 1:5. We’re saved through faith.
Now this is playing a little word game, a little semantics in English, because we use the word “by” often as a synonym for “through” in English. So when we say we’re saved by faith, what we’re saying in normal usage is that faith is the means by which we are saved, but the object is Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. You’ll hear this from a lot of people. Maybe you’ll be tuned to this now. People say, “Oh, you just have to believe.” Right. Believe what? It’s not that you believe. Everyone can believe. Everyone believes something. Some people believe it very fervently. You have people in the White House who believe what they believe very fervently, but it’s not going to get them anywhere close to Heaven. You have other people who believe very firmly in their religious convictions. It’s not going to get them anywhere. Faith won’t get you anywhere. It’s faith in Jesus Christ. It’s got to have the right object in order to be saved. That’s what has to be made clear in evangelism. That’s why I appreciate people like Franklin Graham and others who do make the issue very, very clear.
Anyway, this was an interesting little three or four minutes YouTube video that was going around today. I thought Josh did a great job bringing out that particular point. Let’s go back and look at this just a minute. (Slide 7) As we look at this particular passage, we need to just start breaking it down. (Slide 8) We’re going to start with the first part of this sentence in verse 3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection from the dead.” Now it’s interesting to look at this. The first word we run into here is that word “blessed”. There are a couple of different words that can be translated “blessed”. One of them is MAKARIOS. MAKARIOS borders on a sense of happiness. It’s not just a personal exhilaration over things going well in life. MAKARIOS is something that is much deeper than that.
(Slide 9) This, though, is the word EULOGETOS, and if you like words and you like to trace out the meaning of words, this is the word from which we get our English word, eulogy. It is a compound word. The “eu” at the beginning is a prefix, or if you want to get technical, it’s a morpheme. A morpheme is the smallest letter or combination of letters that convey meaning. For example, “s” is a morpheme that indicates plurality. “Ed” is a morpheme that indicates past tense. There’s all kind of prefixes and suffixes. “Un” is a prefix that indicates negation. “Eu” at the beginning of a word indicates something that is good, or something that is pleasing. If we feel good and we’re in sort of a manic state, we might say that we’re euphoric. That “eu” at the beginning comes from Greek, and it means we feel good. That’s the idea here. “Eu” means something good or well, and the word LEGATOS comes from LOGOS and means a word. So it is a word of good, a word of praise, and a word that means to speak favorably about someone. It has the idea of praising them. Why it is translated “blessed be God” is a little beyond me. The main idea in a eulogy is to do what? You’re going to forget about all the nasty things that person did in their life, and you’re just going to talk about the good things they did, even if you have to make them up. You’re going to give that eulogy and praise them for the things that they did in life; and that’s what this means.
One of the things we should remember is that creatures can’t bless God, which is blessing God in the sense of providing something that God doesn’t have. But we can praise God, and if you read through the Psalms, you have numerous statements like “blessed be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” “blessed be the Lord our God,” over and over again you have that statement in the Old Testament.
How do we as creatures bless God? You can’t do that. The idea really isn’t to bless. The idea is to praise. Now some of you will find the Hebrew counterpart to this interesting. That’s the word that’s in the right panel on the screen. It’s the word BARAK. It means to kneel; that’s the core sematic meaning of the word, but out of several hundred uses in the Old Testament, 415 times, it’s only used with the meaning to kneel three times. It’s usually used to indicate the idea of blessing someone. In 214 times in what is called the piel stem which intensifies the meaning, it means to bless. It means to praise. It means to salute someone; and in some cases it’s used euphemistically as a curse.
The noun form of this word is blessing. The Hebrew is pronounced BERAKAH, which would be the correct spelling because it doesn’t have a “ch” or an “hth” in there. It has a “k.” So those people who spell it berachah have misspelled and mistransliterated the word. Just thought you’d want to know that. It’s pronounced b’raka. In Israel, you will find that this is a woman’s name. In fact, the recent Consul General here is married to a woman whose name is Braka. It’s a woman’s name. And it means blessing. In the Hebrew it means the same thing. It means to praise someone. It has a rich background coming out of the Old Testament.
Now who is Peter writing to? He’s writing to Jewish-background believers. Paul writes to a lot of Jewish-background believers in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians. He uses the exact same expression there as we have here. (Slide 10) It’s also used in 2 Corinthians 1:3. There were some Jews there in Corinth, but not many. It’s more of a group of Gentiles there, but in both of those passages, 1 Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3, we have this same opening statement, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” To me, this is a significant statement. It’s one we need to spend a little time thinking about because it’s real easy to just read past this and not catch the significance of the thoughts that underlie this particular phrase. It should be translated “Praise be to the God and Father of Lord Jesus Christ.” Now what is significant about the phrase, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Actually that phrase is used also in a number of other passages in the New Testament (Slide 11) In 2 Corinthians 11:31 we read, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is blessed forever.” That’s almost the same kind of language we read in 1 Peter 1:3. Romans 15:6 says, “that with one mind and one mouth glorify [very close idea to praise] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We might scratch our heads a little bit and say, “What’s the relationship between God and the Father? Where does the idea of the Fatherhood of God come from? What is its source of information? What is it trying to emphasize?” Before we get there, we have to look a little bit at the Old Testament and see how this is used in the Old Testament. (Slide 12) In Genesis 14:19 we also see this same kind of blessing statement, this b’raka, “And he blessed him and said blessed be Abraham of God most high, possessor of heaven and earth.” The person who is speaking here is Melchizedek who is the King of Salem, otherwise known as Jerusalem. This is after the event where Abraham has gone north and defeated the armies of the kings of the east and captured Lot and all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plains; and they made sure they hooked around the southern end of the Dead Sea and headed north.
Somewhere up toward Tel Dan, a place where some of you have been in the northern part of Israel and the ancient Canaanite city is Lachish, Abraham had a battle. There’s a wonderful archeological discovery there of the gates to the city of Lachish which goes back to the time of Abraham. Think about that. That’s about 2100 BC, so this gate is over 4,000 years old. It gives some supporting evidence or correlation of what is taught in Scripture. After Abraham defeated that army, he came down to Jerusalem, and he went to offer an offering of a tithe [10%] of the booty or plunder he had taken from this foreign army. He gives this to Melchizedek who responds by saying, “blessed be Abraham of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High…”
This is the first reference you have to this phrase in the Old Testament. “Blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand and he [Abraham] gave him a tithe of all.” I want you to think about this verse a minute. The first line uses the word “blessed” and says this is a verbal statement invoking the goodness of God upon Abraham. Melchizedek is the one saying this, and so by blessing him, he is making this kind of verbal statement.
The other night, I don’t know if you were listening, we dealt with 1 Samuel a little bit. We were taking about Esau and Jacob. Esau sold his birthright for just a bowl of red lentil soup, and there was some deception that went on in the process. Jacob had disguised himself as Esau and went in and prepared a meal for his father to get the blessing. Afterwards, Isaac couldn’t do anything about it because a blessing was a legal thing. When it was once given, it couldn’t be retracted. It had to do with inheritance. It involves a verbal statement. This statement is focused on Abraham. “May God bless or bestow his bounty on Abraham.”
In verse 20 it changes. He says, “Blessed be the Most High God.” What we’ve seen looking at the word is that what it means is “Praise be to God Most High.” We live in an era when a lot of people think you have praised God when you do what? When you just say Praise God. Praise God in English translates back into English as hallelujah. Halel is the word for praise. The u is the imperative form, second person plural, imperative form saying “You all praise”; and yah is the first syllable in Yahweh. So it means praise God. A lot of people think they’ve praised God by saying praise God.
What I want to point out as we go through this, is that we’ll see how God is praised. Melchizedek says “Praise to God Most High”. There’s content there to the praise. “Who has delivered your enemies into his hands.” He’s specifically describing a situation where God has delivered Abraham and delivered the people. God has protected Abraham and delivered the people into his hand and rescued Lot and his family and the other captives. So praising God means to describe what it is God has done in as specific a language as you can come up with. It’s not just a generic statement of “praise God”. We’ll see this in some other passages.
Another passage I want you to look at is in 1st Chronicles. (Slide 13) Let’s turn to 1st Chronicles. This is another one of those sections in your Bible where the pages aren’t very well turned. We see David using this term. This is a really important passage for understanding what Peter is saying. Peter is Jewish, and he’s writing to Jewish-background believers; and he’s using the phrase that comes out of the Old Testament and is rich with meaning. At this time, David knows he’s not going to get to build the Temple; but he’s setting things up for his son Solomon who will build the Temple. And in 1 Chronicles 29:10, David has written a special Psalm to praise God. In verse 10 we read, “Therefore David blessed the Lord before all the assembly…” David praised the Lord.
How does he praise the Lord? Does he just go out and say, “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah?” No. Look at the content here. I only put the first two verses up here to focus our attention. Let’s retranslate this so we get it correctly. “Therefore David praised Yahweh before all the assembly; and David said, ‘Praise You, O Lord God of Israel…’ ” See? He’s defining who God is. He doesn’t just say, “Praise God.” Well, which God? Are we talking about the god Baal or Ashura, or are we talking about just some generic deity, some civic god that the United States worships, the Supreme Being, or some sort of generic non-descript matter? No.
We want to define who this God is to whom we are praying. He is the God of Israel. He is the God who has entered into a special relationship with Israel. This is not an exclusive statement saying that God is not the God of all people, but it is exclusive in the sense that God, and God alone, has entered into a covenant relationship with the Jewish people. So he’s praising God because of who He is. He’s the God who is specifically focused on Israel.
By the way, today is the anniversary of the modern state of Israel, their Independence Day. They’re 67 years old today. This is the nation, the Israelite people. God’s choice of the Jewish people did not end because they rejected the Messiah. They are still God’s people because that’s grounded not in the Mosaic Covenant, but in the Abrahamic Covenant. “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.” Now what’s significant about that verse? This is the first time in the Old Testament that God is described by the term Father. Here we have two terms we’re finding over in 1st Peter. We’re finding the term “blessed [or praise]” and “God the Father.” All of those terms are found here. He is further defined by His attribute of Eternity. He is Our Father forever and ever. It is unending.
I think that David uses the term Father because he’s going back to Exodus 4:19 where God promises Moses that “Israel is my firstborn” indicating a special, preeminent relationship with Israel. David is reminding the people that God has this special relationship with Israel that is eternal. The Abrahamic covenant doesn’t end. It is an eternal relationship whether they’re obedient or disobedient. In 1 Chronicles 29:11 he says, “Yours, O Lord [directly to God] greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty…” He uses five different terms there to describe what he is praising about God. Then he further explains it by saying, “For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours.” That’s the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
The sovereignty of God is always connected to the fact He is the Creator. He is the Creator God who made everything. Therefore, He has the right to rule and govern His creation as the Creator. “All that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord.” God is the one who will rule, and God is the one who will establish His kingdom. He says, “And You are exalted as head over all.” That is absolute authority. This last part all focuses on the authority of God as the Father of Israel, His authority over His creation. That’s important because when we get to the statement in 1 Peter 1:3 about “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ”, whenever the Fatherhood of God the Father is emphasized, it has something to do with His sovereign authority to rule over His creation.
Even in the Godhead, where Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal, even in the Godhead, where they are identical in essence, there is still an authority structure. God the Father is the one in authority in the Godhead. He delegates authority to the Lord Jesus Christ and to God the Holy Spirit. If we look down and continue to read this, which I encourage you to do because I won’t go through the whole section tonight, we see how David continues to develop his praise of God. In verse 13 he says, “Now therefore our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.” That’s not just saying that the name, the nomenclature, the label, that is given to God is what they praise. Name, in Hebrew, always has to do with the character or essence of someone. So you think through the essence of God, all the different attributes of God; and the ten attributes we summarize in the Essence box are not limited. There are many other synonyms in the Scripture that are used to identify God. Think through that. Then David says, “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer so willingly as this, for all things come from You and of Your own, we have given You.” So he’s saying that all of this flows out of understanding of the Fatherhood of God.
That’s what we ought to be thinking through when we come to this opening line in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to be God? What does it mean to be Father, Father God, and in turn, what does that relate to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ? We’re going to get into all of that. (Slide 14) Now 1 Chronicles 16:36 is another important passage where it says again, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.” How should we translate that? “Praise be the Lord God of Israel.” What are they praising Him for? “From everlasting to everlasting.” This is His eternity. That’s one of His attributes. “And all the people said, ‘Amen’ ” which means “I believe it” and they “praised the Lord.” If you go on and read through that passage you get another idea of what it means to praise God.
(Slide 15) Another example of this language is in Psalm 106:48, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!” Notice how similar that is to 1 Chronicles 16:36. Psalms 41:13 says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and amen.” Notice the similarity in the language focusing on the attributes of God.
One thing that has happened after the New Testament period as the rabbis, mostly Pharisees, came together in Israel, is they began to solidify Pharisaical theology at the Council of Jamnia, often pronounced Yamnia, since there’s no “j” in Hebrew. Over the next two or three centuries, Rabbinic Judaism solidified a lot of their rituals and their prayers; and they refer to blessing prayers as one particular category called an amidah. If you’ve ever been to a synagogue, you will have recited an amidah in their prayer book.
(Slide 16) Here’s one from one of the prayer books. “Blessed art thou…” Notice how it starts off very similar to what we read in 1 Peter. The point that I’m making in all of this is that this just doesn’t pop out like holy language. A lot of times in Christian circles when people say “bless God” or “praise God” we think this is just nice and holy sounding language. My problem with that is that people say it in a mindless manner, and they don’t understand the rich depth of this content and what it means. These terms should not be used frivolously or in a superficial manner. Yet that’s how we often find it.
The Ten Commandments say we’re not supposed to take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people, wrongly, think that means that you don’t take the name God and stick it in front of some curse word, or if you hit your hand with a hammer, you don’t shout out, “Jesus Christ”. It’s not a prayer and many other things like that where the name of God is used as an expletive. That might fit under the category, but that’s not what the Ten Commandments is talking about. It’s talking about not taking the name of God in a frivolous or light manner. Don’t treat it disrespectfully. If you’re going to stand up in a courtroom and say, “I swear on God that I will not do this”, then you take that oath extremely seriously. You don’t take the name of God in a loose manner. We often hear people say, “Praise God” and this and that and the other thing, and it’s just using the name of God in a loose, frivolous, superficial manner. I think that’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. They are using it too loosely. They don’t even think about it. But that’s just me.
(Slide 16) “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.” See? This is a modern amidah, very similar language to what we’ve been reading, not only in the Old Testament, but also these statements in the New Testament. “The great, mighty and revered God, the most high God, who bestowest loving-kindnesses, and possesses all things; who remembers the pious deeds of the patriarchs and in love will bring a redeemer to their children’s children for their name’s sake.” Isn’t that last part interesting? Looking for the Messiah still and not realizing He’s already here. The idea of the Fatherhood of God is rather limited in the Old Testament. We just looked at one passage in 1 Chronicles 29:10.
(Slide 17) Here we have two other passages. The second one doesn’t count because it’s a bad translation. Psalm 89:26, “He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ ” Psalm 89 is a meditation on the Davidic covenant. God is speaking to David, and says that He [David] shall cry to me, “You are my Father.”
There are two verses in the Old Testament that I’ve been able to identify. What I did was a proximity search where Father and God are used within five words of each other in the Old Testament. Many times it’s the God of our fathers, Abraham. All but these two verses indicate that God is a father, so this isn’t a well-developed idea in the Old Testament. Isaiah 9:6 says that the Messiah, the child who is born, will be called Everlasting Father. You’ve heard me teach on this numerous times – that this idiom in the Hebrew should be translated “Father of eternity”, indicating that He is eternal. The child that is born is a child who will be eternal.
(Slide 18) When we get into the New Testament and we get into one of the most significant conflicts [John 8:41] between Jesus and the Pharisees, in John 8 down around verse 37, we see that the Pharisees actually have a concept of God as Father. This developed, apparently, during the intertestamental period. In John 8:37, we read Jesus speaking, “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me because My word has no place in you.” He’s really slapping them in the face that they’re just physical descendants and not spiritual descendants. He says, “I speak what I’ve seen with my Father…” Many times, in John especially, Jesus refers to God as His Father. He says, “I speak what I’ve seen with My Father and you do what you have seen with your father.” Who is their father? “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children you would do the works of Abraham [verse 39]. But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.’ ”
Then they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one father, God.” So obviously the Pharisaical rabbinical theology in the Second Temple period understood God to be their father, probably in that Mosaic sense, where God said they were His firstborn. Then of course Jesus goes on and tells them in John 8:44, “You are of your father, the devil.” Jesus never heard of how to win friends and influence people.
John 5:18 (Slide 19), which comes before the event I just talked about, says, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, [Remember Matthew 12] but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” By Jesus claiming that God is His Father, they understood that He was making a.) a claim to Deity and b.) a claim to be equal to God. Now that’s important, because when we look at the term “Son of God”, we realize we can’t talk about the Fatherhood of God without talking about the Sonship of Christ. When we talk about the term Son of God, this is a Hebrew idiom. It doesn’t mean God is His daddy in the sense of somehow generating Him or giving birth to Him. There’s a heresy called Arianism, and in the modern church, it is called Jehovah’s Witness. They believe there was a time before creation when Jesus began. They think He was begotten at that time and that He’s not eternal. Jesus is the Eternal Son of God. The doctrine is the Eternal Sonship of Jesus. The term father and son are simply terms we use to describe the relationship, the economic or functional relationship, between the father and the son. Even though they are equal in essence, they have distinct roles.
(Slide 20) In John 6:27 Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you.” That term Son of Man emphasizes humanity. Son of God is Deity. These terms “son of something” describe a certain characteristic. So if you’re a fool, you’d be called the son of a fool. If you’re a murderer you’d be called the son of a murderer. If you’re a thief, you’d be called the son of a thief. The noun which is the object of the preposition “of” is really describing a characteristic. If you are foolish, then when you take that idea of foolishness and you’re displaying that in your life, you’re a son of a fool. If you are a murderer, you’re described as a son of a murderer. So a son of God would be what? That you’re God. It doesn’t necessarily mean the idea of generation. Son of Man also indicates Jesus is fully human. That’s what it’s saying when Jesus says He is the Son of Man. He’s a full human being. So Son of God indicates He’s 100% Deity. Son of Man means he’s 100% humanity.
In John 6:46 (Slide 21), Jesus ratchets things up a little bit and says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.” He’s speaking of Himself. He has seen the Father. So this intimacy between the Father and the Son, between the second person of the Trinity and the First Person of the Trinity is clearly emphasized.
(Slide 22) Then in John 8:42, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me’.” God the Father sent the Son, but He is one with the Son. In John 10, He says, “I and the Father are one.” One of the most interesting verses dealing with the Sonship of Christ and the Fatherhood of God, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity, is stated in a passage when Jesus is talking to Mary Magdalene just after the resurrection. (Slide 23) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. She just wants to come over and give Him a big hug and He says, “No, no, no. Don’t cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.” In other words, He’s saying He can’t stay, but that He’s got to go home to the Father. “But go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and Your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” This is the message to the disciples – that He’s ascending to His father and to their Father. What’s He saying? He’s saying that God the Father is not only My Father, but He’s your Father. He’s connecting those two relationships: that in some ways, the relationship of the 1st Person of the Trinity to the 2nd Person of the Trinity is analogous of the 1st Person of the Trinity to us as believers. I think that’s probably because we’re in Christ as Church Age believers. Then He says, “My God and your God.” Jesus connects the Fatherhood of God to God the Father and the authority of God the Father.
The last thing I want to touch on tonight is understanding the significance of this particular phrase. This phrase, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a distinct grammatical construction in the Greek. Usually if you’re talking about several things, you would say, “the ball and the bat and the glove,” and you would repeat the article before each noun. (Slide 24) But in Greek in certain types of construction when you have an article “the” and then a noun and then a conjunction “and” and then another noun without repeating the article, that one article at the beginning is tied to both nouns, and is an identity of those two nouns. This was discovered by a man who was a British scholar. He wasn’t an academic, but he had studied Greek and he continued to read his New Testament. He had such great powers of observation that he studied and formulated this rule. It’s named after him and it’s called the Granville Sharp Rule.
Many of you have heard of William Wilberforce, who was a member of Parliament and was instrumental in ending the slave trade in the British Empire. The law was passed in the 1830s, but there was some legislation before that which gradually ended the slave trade in the British Empire starting in the middle of 1813–1819. Wilberforce and Granville Sharp were close friends. Granville Sharp, though he wasn’t a member of Parliament, was instrumental in ending the slave trade, probably more so, as a boots-on-the-ground man, so to speak, than William Wilberforce. You never probably heard too much about Granville Sharp, but he was instrumental, the individual who founded the country of Sierra Leone in Africa, although he never left Britain. Sierra Leone has been in the news recently because of the outbreak of Ebola. Granville Sharp founded Sierra Leone as a refuge for freed African slaves in the early 1800s. He formulated this particular rule (Slide 24). He says, “When the copulative KAI [the conjunction and] connects two nouns of the same case…of personal description [talking about people, not things or ideas] respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connection, and attributes, properties, etc., if the article TAU [ the in Greek] or any of its cases, precedes the first of the two nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle.”
(Slide 25) So you have this construction that I’ve stated at the top: article-noun-AND-noun. Here what we have is an article, then THEOS for God, then the conjunction, and then the word Father. God refers to a person. Father refers to a person, so that’s the first criteria. If either noun is impersonal, then that’s an exception, and it doesn’t fit. So both are personal. Neither is plural. God is a singular noun. Father is a singular noun.
Then I’ll tell you something you’ve probably never heard before. The third case is that neither can be a proper name. You say, “Well, God’s a proper name.” No. Yahweh is a proper name. God is a noun. How do you know the difference between a proper noun and a common noun? A proper noun doesn’t have a plural. You don’t talk about “Texases”. You don’t talk about “Houstonses”. But God, THEOS, has a plural THEOI, which is gods. So you have God, which is not a proper noun, and Father. So this fits this rule by Granville Sharp.
Another famous passage is Ephesians 4:11, “God gave pastors and teachers”. What’s pastors? It’s a plural, and it doesn’t apply to plurals. What’s teachers? A plural. A lot of people have mistakenly identified that as a Granville Sharp Rule. There are a lot of plurals joined in this kind of construction that might fit, but it’s not an absolute. It only applies, as Granville Sharp said, to singular personal nouns. So that fits it. And this is great, because it identifies God and Father as one individual.
What we’ve done is looked at the first part of this, understanding that when Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” he is saying something that is in the stream of doctrine going all the way back to Melchizedek saying, “Blessed be the God of Abraham” back in Genesis 14, and developed all the way through the Old Testament. It is stated in the New Testament by numerous passages, indicating the identity of the 1st Person of the Trinity as God, and also the Father in a unique sense of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in the sense that applies to humans. It’s distinctly related to the Lord Jesus Christ. But then Jesus said that God is also His Father and our Father. There is an analogous aspect to this that is significant.
Next time I’m going to come back and I’m going to look at this in terms of the Trinity. This is a foundational passage and phrase that reinforces not only the Trinity, but also the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, a doctrine that continues to come under attack by many people in our culture today. We need to be able to say to people when they ask us why we believe Jesus is God, as we’ll see when we get to 1 Peter 3:15 – that we need to give an answer for the hope that is within us. It’s not good enough to say “because the Bible says so”. That’s true. That’s our authority, but that’s not the answer. We’ll come back and look at that next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to reflect upon them; and to be reminded of how great and magnificent You are, and of the tremendous relationship, the significant relationship, between the 1st Person of the Trinity and the 2nd Person of the Trinity. That You are the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and how for this we should praise You. As we’ll see, it goes beyond simply praising You in reference to this relationship, but the impact of that relationship on each one of us. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”