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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Double Crucifixion. Part XII - What is a Partaker?
If you haven't done so already, you may want to read the posts which preceded this one (for some context):
     I, II,III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI.


We started looking at the shopping list in Hebrews 6:4-6, to determine, honestly and with all care, whether the hypothetical person being described is supposed to represent a genuine believer or not.

The criteria we hope to examine today is this one:

He or she was *made* a partaker of the Holy Spirit (...whatever that means)

The word translated "partaker" here describes a participant in something, or perhaps (by extension) an associate or partner of someone. I think partaker is a good translation of the word (in that it envelopes much of the semantic range) so I am not going to fiddle with it as though there was some nuance we could be overlooking in the word - I don't think there is. Partaker means, plain and simple, one who partakes of something.

In the original 2009 post I messed up in my translation of this passage, so I'm replacing what I messed up then what what you see below (- Doulogos, Feb 2017)

To understand the author's meaning, I want to examine similar expressions from earlier in this epistle, and weight the possibility that he is being consistent in his usage of such phrases:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, - Hebrews 2:14 [NASB]
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,. - Hebrews 3:14 [NASB]

When the author of Hebrews writes that Christ partook of the same flesh and blood as the children whom God had given Him (c.f. Hebrews 2:13-14)  - he was saying that Jesus possessed the same flesh and blood as His followers.

When the author of Hebrews remarks that his brothers (the antecedent of "we" in Hebrews 3:14) have become partakers of  Christ (already) if they (continue to) hold fast the beginning of their assurance firm to the end - he is saying that what they are experiencing right now (if their faith is genuine) is a sharing in the life of Christ.

In both instances the idea runs the same in the Greek as it does in the English, and so we see the same thing in Hebrews 6:4 - this is describing one who has become a companion of, or sharer in the Holy Spirit.

The language in the NASB suggests that someone -made- us partakers of the Holy Spirit, and that may be the best rendering of the thought in the Greek, but it isn't the only rendering.  Some translate the underlying verb as simply as having become partakers - without including an implicit reference to an assumed cause.  If the cause of their becoming partakers was relevant, our expectation is that the author would have made an implicit causal relation, explicit.

The author is describing a person who has experienced some sort of intimacy with, or benefit from the Holy Spirit (on some level).  We don't have enough information here to insist that the author is describing a person who has received the Holy Spirit in salvation;  but we likewise do not have enough information to dismiss such a claim.

If we look at the text alone, we cannot conclude one way or the other whether this is speaking of a genuine believer or a false one.

Consider Judas.  Whatever is being described by the notion of partaking of the Holy Spirit, we can be certain that Judas Iscariot was someone who "partook of the Holy Spirit".   Because he was chosen as an Apostle, many Christians imagine he must have therefore been a believer, but Jesus Himself clearly says otherwise in John 6:64-65,
But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Yet in Matthew 10:5-8, we see that Judas was sent out along with the other Apostles and given authority by Christ to preach the kingdom at hand, and to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons:
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
We remember from John 6 above that Judas was never at any time a real believer. Yet he was not only chosen as an Apostle, but given authority to do miracles.  Later in the same passage where Jesus gives the Apostles this authority He explains that when they speak, it won't be them speaking, but the Spirit of the Father speaking through them (c.f. Matthew 10:20)

In Judas we see a man who was never a believer, but was nevertheless chosen and given authority to perform miracles and to preach the gospel in the power and strength of the Spirit of the Father.

From this we reason that whatever it means to partake of the Holy Spirit - it certainly doesn't mean that you must be saved.

Thus, on this point, even though I am inclined personally to think that one who partakes of the Holy Spirit is more often than not going to be a wheat,  yet because the scriptures make it plain that this isn't always the case, I have to conclude that this condition remains inconclusive - it doesn't prove one way or the other the authenticity of the hypothetical person's faith.

I believe Judas partook of the Holy Spirit (whatever that ends up ultimately meaning), and so should you, since the scriptures make that case.

But I don't think Jesus was lying or deceived when He described Judas as a non-believer in John 6, before John goes on to tell us that Jesus said these things concerning the one who would betray him in order that when that betrayal came the rest would know that this was the plan from the beginning, and that Judas hadn't hoodwinked anyone, nor had Jesus made a mistake or any such thing.

So chalk this one up as inconclusive.
posted by Daniel @ 9:00 AM  
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