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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Defining Lordship

As I've stated earlier, συνηγερθητε can open our eyes to Lordship. We should not approach "you-have-been-raised-up" lightly, for Paul is the only one who used this term in the New Testament. Even then, he only used it three times total (including this passage). We will understand His Lordship better, if we delve deeply into this term.

So let's take a look at "sunegeiro."

LXX

LXX is the abreviation for the Septuagint. (LXX is the roman numeral for 70.) This comes from the exaggerated story that 72 scribes translated the Old Testament into Greek in 70 days. The most extreme legend states that at at the commission of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, these 72 scribes each created identical translations while working separately. Such mythical stories caused some to see the translation as divine. It was the original "Authorized Version."

While we acknowledge it is merely a translation, and the LXX is not "God-breathed," there still is much that can be gained from observing this text. We can learn what Greek words the scribes considered similar to the original Hebrew, thus helping us better understand the Greek word its context. Paul would have been privy to this translation, therefore he would also understand the history of the words he used. There are three places we see "sunegeiro" (or a derivative):

Exodus 23:5--If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying {helpless} under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release {it} with him. (emphasis added) The LXX renders "sunegeiro" as lifting a completely incapable animal up. Your enemy's donkey has fallen under a load. The owner cannot lift it on his own. Therefore, you are to "sunegerio" it with him.

Isaiah 14:9--Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. (emphasis added). In this taunt from Israel, Babylon joins the ranks of kings who once ruled Israel, only for God to lay them low. Sheol will "sunegeiro" the dead leaders of the earth to welcome Babylon into their fold.

4 Maccabees 2:14--Do not consider it paradoxical when reason, through the law, can prevail even over enmity. The fruit trees of the enemy are not cut down, but one preserves the property of enemies from the destroyers and helps raise up what has fallen. Similarly to Exodus 23:5, this passage speaks of treating enemies well. One helps "sunegerio" that which has fallen at the hands of his/her enemy's destroyers.

From the LXX, "sunegerio" denotes lifting up that which is helpless, destroyed or even dead. No one "raises up" one's own self, for the term is used to assist that which can't rise up alone.

New Testament

"Sunegerio" only shows up three times in the New Testament, each time at the pen of Paul. Let's examine the other two times to see if they shed light on Colossians 3:1:

Ephesians 2:4-7--But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (emphasis added). Paul says that we were dead in our transgressions when God made us alive together with Christ! He raised us up with Him to be seated with Him in the heavenly places. This will be fully realized in eternity future, though we experience being raised to life even today.

Colossians 2:12--having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (emphasis added). Like Romans 6, Paul lays out that our baptism is a picture of our faith. We have been buried with Him, and raised to life with Him. This picture is clear in that Paul uses one of the roots of this compound word when he says "raised Him from the dead" at the conclusion of the verse. In fact, the next verse give tremendous insight:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

The other two times that Paul uses "sunegerio" it refers to resurrection from the dead. What could possibly be a more helpless state than being completely dead, dependant upon God to give you life. And when He raised Christ, He raised us up with Him!

Summary

Therefore, we find ourselves at Colossians 3:1, being told we have been "sunegerio" with Christ. According to the context of the passage, and the usage of this term, it must be understood that we have been raised to life with the resurrection of Christ. Since we were dead in our sins, God then raised us up with the resurrection of Christ.

It cannot be overstated that Paul uses "sunegerio" in close proximity to trangressions. Paul is not merely speaking to a resurrection from the dead that is coming for believer's some day. Paul speaks that this resurrection is from being dead spiritually, for we were lifeless in sin.

So what does this have to do with Lordship?

Today, people usually mean something different when they speak of being raised up with Christ. No longer is it that a corpse has been given life, but instead, it simply means Christ has given them a boost. We preach a gospel that won't damage the self-esteem. Being "raised up" simply means that your life is improved.

Christ is presented as giving you possibilities.
Christ is presented as offering you your best life, now!
Christ is presented as bringing purpose to your life.

(And now I've just upset some.)

I am not arguing that these men deny the wages of sin is death. At least with one of them, I do not believe that is the case at all. This is not an argument of the motive or faith of these individuals. It is an examination of their message.

And I'm not even going to argue that their statements are wrong, for Christ can grant each of these things (though I honestly do not even know what Schuller's means). These things are not contrary to Christ being Mighty, for you must have power to provide these things. With some clarification, they may be accurate statements. However, the question must be asked:

Do these statements present the unbeliever as dead?


Adam was just a lump of clay until God breathed the breath of life into him (Genesis 2:7)!

Ezekiel just preaching at skeletons until they received the breath of life (Ezekiel 37:1-14)!

Christ's voice brought dead Lazarus back to life (John 11:43)!

Christ the Improver of Life or Christ the Author of Life?

A felt needs gospel message will not present Christ as Lord, but simply as Life Coach. A gospel that is not centered on our sin and deserved death is void of power. Paul was not telling us that Christ offers to "raise us to the next level." Paul is telling us that Christ raises sinful men from death into life.

How can we expect our people to avoid legalism and antinomianism if they do not see Christ as Lord? We can tell ourselves that we will present the Lordship of Christ to them later, but we must ask, "How can we expect them to see Christ as Lord if they were not brought to Christ as Lord?"

We must preach that man is dead in his sin, for being "raised up" is about a resurrection from the dead!

But that's not all that συνηγερθητε says...

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