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Mars Hill Apologetic Discussions
RE: Luke 20:38
So many threads, so little time. I'll try to get to your other posts shortly...
MS: That contradicts Luke 20:38. He is not God of the dead even though they were created so long as they will be resurrected.
ROBERT: I'm a bit unclear as to your exact meaning. The "even though...so long as" clauses don't seem to follow. I THINK you're saying that God is not God of the dead, thus I'm incorrect in saying that God is God of all created things. If so, perhaps I should have said "Created beings." Now, I THINK the other clauses of your sentence refer to Jesus' remarks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It seems clear that Jesus is saying that since God is called the God of Abraham, etc., and since God is not God of the dead, then Abraham, etc., are living. This contradicts your theology, I know, so I assume you would say that with respect to dead people, He can be called God of the living because they will be resurrected, is that right? According to my understanding of Scripture, Abraham, etc., are in fact living now (albeit in the spiritual realm), and this explains why Jesus uses the present tense, why Moses & Elijah appear on the mountain during the transfiguration, why Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus depicts existence beyond the grave, why the spirit of Samuel could be called forth by the witch of Endor, etc. etc.
Now, you had asked me how I could reconcile Jehovah being a God of the living, and Jehovah being the God of gods, if the other gods weren't "gods by nature" (i.e, false gods).
My answer is that since God is God to angels, both holy and fallen, He can certainly be both the God of the living and the God of those "gods" who are not "gods by nature."
MS: Your view presumes that these "gods" who did not have the nature of gods are in fact living creatures, something which cannot be proved from the text.
ROBERT: First, do you concede that the contrast in Gal 4:8 is between the True God and gods that are not gods by nature (regardless of your view of the latter), as the WT says?
Now, are these gods living? It's not explicitly stated; however, I think Paul implicitly says as much. First of all, if the gods the Galatians were worshipping were not living creatures, they wouldn't have natures, would they? Doesn't having a PHUSIS presuppose a Being?
The WT material I quoted says: "it was impossible for them to come into such status." Now, I must say, I'm impressed by the author of this article, because he clearly understood the import of ME in the Greek. The ME, as I'm sure you're aware, is emphatic, and gives the sense that the gods not only weren't gods by nature NOW, but that they could never be. Such a statement would be rather silly if the gods in question weren't living creatures, wouldn't it? It would be stating the obvious with a rhetorical cannon, which doesn't seem consistent with Paul's writing at all. It makes sense, though, if Paul is referring to demons. The Chief Demon aspires to God's throne, but Paul is saying that no demon could ever have the nature of God.
Also, we know that Paul considered demons to be standing behind idols that the Corinthians were sacrificing to (1 Cor 10:20-21). The Bible is clear that this demoniac influence is not restricted to Corinth. Most Bibles, including the NWT, reference Deut 32:17 here, and with good reason. In this key convenantal passage, Moses distinguishes Jehovah from demons to whom his wayward people will sacrifice. These demons are called "gods" and "idols" (v 17 & v. 21), and we are told that they are "not God" (v. 21, singular this time, MS!). And what does Jehovah say regarding these gods? He says "there is no God EXCEPT me!" (LXX). I'm aware that some have argued that the Hebrew behind the word "except" actually means "with." I'm no Hebrew scholar, so I'm not prepared to argue one way or the other; however, the LXX translators chose to translate the word using PLHN. BAGD does not include "with" in any definition of PLHN, but renders it "except" for passages in the LXX with the genitive (this is a general reference with no specific verse citations). So, it seems clear that the LXX translators, at least, perceived that Jehovah was claiming ontological exclusivity (ME EP OU THEOU) with regard to the other "gods" - who were living beings - and this seems unaccountable to me if the theology of 2nd Temple Jews was similar to your own with regard to "gods."
So, MS, we have evidence internally in the passage (implicit) and externally from Paul's other work and the OT which to which he alluded (explicit) that living "gods" who are not God/gods are idols to whom the nations sacrifice, and these are the 'gods' to whom Paul refers in Gal 4:8.
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