Monthly Archives: December 2016


Luke 2:1-13 – Lost “Inn” Translation

Luke 2:1–7 (ESV) — 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.




Traditional Story:

How is the birth narrative traditionally told?

  • Joseph and Mary showed up in Bethlehem in the middle of the night.
  • Presumably, Joseph was a bit of an idiot.
  • He had not planned ahead and made arrangements.
  • Their only option was to hope for vacancy in the Bethlehem Inn.
  • Unfortunately, it was booked solid; the no vacancy sign was on.
  • Dejected, and Mary about to give birth at any moment, Joseph was left with the worst of all choices.
  • He had to take is pregnant fiancé to a lovely cave or stable.
  • Mary then gave birth that night, outside of town, in a cave…full of animals.



The Problem:

Unfortunately, this depiction of the narrative has at least (5) problems.

  • (1) An unfortunate mistranslation of “katályma”.
  • (2) A failure to account for Luke’s Good Samaritan Narrative.
  • (3) A misdirection that occurs with the translation of “topos”.
  • (4) A failure to account for the animal husbandry practices of 1st century Palestine.
  • (5) A failure to account for the honor/shame culture of 1st century Palestine.


Let’s dive in and see what happens to the narrative when these are given their proper considerations.



(1) Lost “Inn” Translation:

The first problem is found in the English translation of “inn” in Luke 2:7.

  • there was no place for them in the inn” – ESV.
  • The Greek is “katályma”.


It is no surprise that most popular Bible translations translate this as “inn”.

  • NRSV – “no place for them in the inn”
  • NIV84 – “no room for them in the inn”
  • NET – “no place for them in the inn”
  • NASB – “no room for them in the inn”
  • KJV – “no room for them in the inn”


So what’s the problem?


The problem is that in Luke 2:7 “katályma” doesn’t mean “inn”.

  • A “katályma” is not a place that rents out rooms to the public.


A couple of Bible translations are sensitive to this translation problem.

  • NLT – “no lodging available for them”
  • HCSB – “no room for them at the lodging place
  • YLT – “not for them a place in the guest-chamber


So to find and unpack the correct meaning of “katályma”

  • We’ll look at Greek lexicons.
  • We’ll look at the Bible.



Lexicon Definitions – katályma (κατάλυμα):

The BDAG considers the context of Luke 2:7 and says this:

  • “is therefore best understood here as lodging or guest-room” – BDAG.
  • In other words, not “inn” but a generic “lodging” or more specific “guest-room”.


The EDNT says much the same:

  • “probably lodging in general; guest room would also be possible” – EDNT.


Greek Scholar Bill Mounce is a little more specific when considering the context of Luke 2:7.

  • He says “katályma is “a guest-chamber”.


Scholar Kenneth Bailey is even more specific.

  • A “guest room in a private home” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).
  • Wow…this sounds intriguing!


Interestingly, the ESV Bible has an asterisk beside the English word “inn”.

  • This refers you to a note that says, “or guest room”.



Bible Clarification:

We have two other uses of “katályma” in the NT.

  • Mark 14:14 (ESV) — 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
  • Luke 22:11 (ESV) — 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’


The relevance of the above passages is simple enough:

  • In each of them “katályma” is rightly translated as “guest room”.


And don’t forget, as we saw already, this is the same translation of Luke 2:7 found in the YLT:

  • Luke 2:7 (YLT) — 7 and she brought forth her son—the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.


You may be asking, “so what?”

  • This change from “inn” to “guest-room” only gives us the following paraphrase:
  • “There was no room for them in the guest-room”.


How does this really change anything?

  • This could still refer to a room in a public inn.
  • Unless…


The thing to notice is where the guest room is located in our above examples.

  • In both Mark 14 and Luke 22, the guest room is in a private home.


Is the guest-room in Luke 2 also in a private home?

  • Kenneth Bailey, Ben Witherington III and others sure think so.


Let’s keep digging and find out.





(2) Good Samaritan Narrative:

Luke’s Good Samaritan narrative sheds some much-needed light on the “guest-room/private house” vs. “inn” issue.

  • Luke 10:34-35 (ESV) — 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’


The Good Samaritan took the injured man to a public inn – this is obvious by the context.

  • We are even told the inn had an innkeeper.
  • These two verses give us some much-needed clarity about Luke’s vocabulary.


The question is what word did Luke use for “inn” in Luke 10?

  • Guess what…it wasn’t “katályma”.
  • It was the Greek word that actually means “inn” – pandocheíon.


Kenneth Bailey unpacks this for us:

  • The Greek word “pandocheíon” literally means a “place that receives all” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).
  • And it was the word for a commercial inn that was “the most widely known across the Middle East” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


What is even more telling is that the word for “innkeeper” used here is derived not from “katályma”…

  • It comes from “pandocheíon” – and it is “pandocheús.


So what is the point with this Good Samaritan detour?

  • Concerning Luke’s description of the birth narrative…

“If Luke expected his readers to think Joseph was turned away from an ‘inn’ he would have used the word pandocheíon, which clearly meant a commercial inn” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


So this gives us yet another piece of intel from Luke himself.

  • His birth narrative really does refer to a private house and not a public inn.
  • Why…because he knows what words mean what.



(3) Room or Place?

We have another problem with translation – or at least a misdirection problem.

  • It involves the Greek word “topos” in Luke 2:7.


It is often translated as “room”.

  • This translation conjures up a specific image or idea for the modern reader.
  • A room in a public inn, hotel, motel, etc.


Let’s look at the YLT translation again:

  • Luke 2:7 (YLT) — 7 and she brought forth her son—the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.
  • Where many translations (NIV84, NASB, KJV, NKJV, NAS, HSCB) say “room” the YLT (and ESV) says “place”.


So why is this significant?

  • The “place” translations are trying to bring clarity.


This is because “topos” (τόπος) doesn’t necessarily refer to a literal room.

  • The word has to do with “having space” or “enough room”.


Kenneth Bailey puts it like this:

“But the Greek word does not refer to ‘a room in an inn’ but rather to ‘space’ (topos) as in ‘There is no space on my desk for my new computer’” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


The WSNTDICT agrees when it says the idea with “topos” is:

  • “means to make room” – WSNTDICT.


Again, so what?

  • Another paraphrase will help us here.


Luke is telling us that:

  • “There was not enough space for them in the guest-room”.
  • That is quite a bit different from no room at the inn.


So these three considerations make it fairly clear that:

  • We are dealing with a guest-room of a private home and not a public inn.
  • And the problem was not that the inn was booked solid.
  • The problem was that the house’s guest-room didn’t have enough space for Joseph and Mary.


So what to do?

  • Did Mary and Joseph actually head out into the countryside and find a cave?
  • We are going to see with our 4th and 5th considerations that they never left the house!



(4) Contextual Animal Husbandry Practices:

We know that Jesus was laid in a manger – an animal-feeding trough.

  • Certainly all 1st century mangers were in caves or structures built outside of town.
  • Actually…nope!


The Bible reveals an interesting practice in the ancient Near East.

  • Some village folks kept their animals in their houses.


Let’s take a look:

  • 1 Samuel 28:24 (ESV) — 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it,
  • Judges 11:31 (ESV) — 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
    • Jephthah assumed it would be one of his animals and not his daughter.
  • Luke 13:15 (ESV) — 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?
    • We know that the animals were taken out of the house (untied) every morning and led out of the house – even on the Sabbath (JTME).


Additionally, there is this Near Eastern translation of Luke 13:15 from a 9th century Arabic NT.

  • does not every one of you untie his ox or his donkey from the manger in the house and take it outside and water it?” (JTME)


So according to these Scriptural references, where were mangers?

  • They were in houses.
  • This sounds crazy.


See below picture (Kenneth Bailey – Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes):


 We can see in the picture that in peasant homes of the time mangers were located in the main part of the house.

As Kenneth Bailey points out, “Each night into that designated area, the family cow, donkey and a few sheep would be driven. And every morning those same animals were taken out and tied up in the courtyard of the house. The animal stall would then be cleaned for the day” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


Why put the animals in the house?

  • The animals are put in the house because, “they provide heat in winter and are safe from theft” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


So was Jesus born in a house or somewhere full of animals and a manger?

  • Answer – YES!


We have one final consideration that will shed still more light on where Jesus was actually born.



(5) Honor/Shame Cultural Pressure:

In Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (JTME), Kenneth Bailey points out three places in our story…

  • That the cultural realities and pressures of 1st century Palestine would have held sway.


The Shepherds:

Let’s look at the response of the shepherds to Jesus’ birth.

  • Luke 2:16–20 (ESV) — 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


The shepherds left without Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

  • “If, on arrival, they had found a smelly stable, a frightened young mother and a desperate Joseph, they would have said, ‘This is outrageous! Come home with us! Our women will take care of you!’ Within five minutes the shepherds would have moved the little family to their own homes. The honor of the entire village would rest on their shoulders and they would have sensed their responsibility to do their duty. The fact that they walked out, without moving the family, means that the shepherds felt they could not offer better hospitality than what had already been extended to them” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).




We know something rather remarkable about Joseph.

  • Luke 2:4 (ESV) — 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
  • This was a big deal – and not just because of its importance for Jesus.


Kenneth Bailey tells us why:

  • “Joseph was a ‘royal.’ That is, he was from the family of King David. The family of David was so famous in Bethlehem that local folk apparently called the town the ‘City of David’ (as often happens). The official name of the village was Bethlehem. Everyone knew that the Hebrew Scriptures referred to Jerusalem as the ‘City of David.’ Yet locally, many apparently called Bethlehem the ‘City of David’ (Lk 2:4). Being of that famous family, Joseph would have been welcome anywhere in town” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).
  • “To turn away a descendent of David in the ‘City of David’ would be an unspeakable shame on the entire village” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).


In other words…

  • The town of Bethlehem would have not rejected Joseph.
  • They would have never sent a hometown descendant of David to a damp cave.
  • This would have been unthinkable in 1st century Palestine.




The final cultural consideration is cultural context and birthing.

  • Out of a sense of honor and to avoid shame, any 1st century ancient Near East town, such as Bethlehem, would have…
  • “sensed its responsibility to help Joseph find adequate shelter for Mary and provide the care she needed” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).
  • A pregnant Mary would have never been sent off to a damp cave – whatever Joseph’s connections.




So how did that night play out?

  • That special night that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.


It is likely that…

  • At the invitation and hospitality of a family related to Joseph…
  • Jesus was born in a typical peasant home of the day.
  • “The manger was in a warm and friendly home, not in a cold and lonely stable” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).
  • Joseph was not a bumbling idiot and Mary was not alone.
    • Though the men would have left during the birth.


This is the understanding that is “most authentic to the geography and history of the Holy Land” – Kenneth Bailey (JTME).

  • Tradition must be evaluated against Scripture and its context!
  • Do you think it matters?



Romans 8:31 – Who Are the Who?

Romans 8:31–32 (ESV) — 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?



This is the second verse from Romans 8 that is ripped out of context on a regular basis.

  • The first, of course, is verse 28.


To convey the severity of this problem, let’s look at a couple of examples.


Joseph Prince (prosperity Gospel preacher) said the following about this verse:

  • “Beloved, God sent His Son to die for you. And Jesus gave you a blood-bought right to an abundant life full of meaning and purpose! He gave you a blood-bought right to walk in divine health all the days of your life! He gave you a blood-bought right to His supply even when the economy goes down!” – Joseph Prince


Ray Lewis (of the Super Bowl XXV Champion Baltimore Ravens) said this when asked about his win:

  • “It’s simple: when God is for you, who can be against you? It’s no greater way as a champ to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates, and you looked around this stadium and Baltimore, Baltimore, we coming home, baby. We did it!” – Ray Lewis.


N.T. Wright gives some needed perspective on such misuses.

“The claim in verse 31 that ‘God is for us’ sounds glib when we think of armies going to war and claiming divine protection for their side [or prosperity Gospel preachers and atheletes]. It sounds very different when made by an apostle who has faced hardship, persecution, danger and death” – N.T. Wright.

  • This is a helpful way of reminding us of the context.


So to avoid mistakes like these, we need to keep this verse where it belongs.

  • Context, context, context.



Verse 31:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?


In order to properly mind the context…we need to answer 3 questions about verse 31.

  • (1) What are “these things”?
  • (2) How is God “for us”?
  • (3) And, the oft overlooked, who are the, “who can be against us”?



These Things:

What are “these things”?

  • The answer usually goes something like this:
  • It is certainly verses 28-30…
  • But more than that, it is all of Romans 8…
  • But even more than that, Paul is thinking all the way back to Romans 5.


Doug Moo says as much:

  • These things “should not be confined to what Paul has just said in vv. 28–30, or even in chap. 8 as a whole, but embrace all the blessings ascribed to Christians in chaps. 5–8” – Douglas Moo.


So at a minimum “these things” include Roman 8’s:

  • Work of Christ
  • Spirit mindset
  • Our adoption and status as heirs
  • Indwelling of the Spirit
  • Glorification – Future glory
    • Our new nature
    • Our new status
  • The predestined and foreknow plan the Father had for putting us right with Him


And then continuing backwards…

  • It includes all of the “new address” stuff.
  • All the grace stuff…
  • And all the Gospel indicatives.


Personally, I think “these things” center on the assurance of our “future glory” from Romans 8:28-30.

  • What we called the Triad of Assurance.


John Piper agrees:

  • They very well might refer to Paul’s larger context, “…but especially 8:28-30”.


Now we know what “these things” are.

  • This obviously sets some boundaries for understanding our text.


It is clear then that…

  • Paul is not talking about money, health, football or military victories.
  • Paul is not trying to comfort us with an assurance of comfortable circumstances.
  • This is not Paul’s Gospel.
  • And what a flimsy, cheap Gospel it would be.



God Is for Us:

Moving on, then, Paul asks about the “these things” we just talked about.

  • What are we to say of them?


His answer:

  • If God is for us, who can be against us?
  • Let’s unpack the “God is for us” bit.


It seems fairly straightforward that the “these things” are what convey to Paul that…

  • God is for us”.


This means that “God is for us” is a recognition of all the Romans 8 stuff:

  • From the “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – 8:1.
  • To the, “…those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” – 8:30.


So we can paraphrase 31a “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us…” as follows:

  • What follows from the truth that God is with all those who are in Christ Jesus…
  • And so receive all the benefits of Union with Christ…
  • Such as justification and future glory?


Paul’s answer:

  • Who can be against us?


Or to paraphrase Paul’s answer:

  • Who can be against “us” and the truth that we have and will receive “these things”?


The answer that Paul wants to illicit:

  • Nobody.
  • Nobody can thwart “these things” – NOBODY.


In other words…

  • Because our Union with Christ puts us positionally in receivership…
  • Of all the Romans 8 blessings (like justification and future glory)…
  • There is no “who” that can successfully “be against us”.


Jesus says this in the Gospel of John:

  • John 10:28–29 (ESV) — 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.


This is easy enough to understand.

  • But who are the “who”?
  • Both Paul and Jesus talk about the who.



Who Can Be Against Us:

Paul and Jesus speak as if there is some type of warfare or kidnapping threat to the believer.

  • Are there really “whos” trying to “be against us”?
  • Are there really “whos” trying to thwart God’s purposes for us?
  • Are there really “whos” trying to steal us away?


The answer is, “yes”.

  • And Paul refers to them in verse 38 – “nor angels nor rulers”.


We will pull on this peculiar, and awesome, thread when we deal with verse 38.

  • And it is a huge thread!


For now, we will tease with this:

  • Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) — 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
  • “Paul considered these beings real and dangerous” – Michael Heiser.



Final Question:

Paul says God is for “us”.

  • “Us” clearly being those Paul has just described in vs. 28-30.
  • those who love God” – vs. 28
  • those who are called” – vs. 28
  • Those part of God’s plan to make us like Christ – vss. 28-30.
  • The justified – vs. 30


But, does this mean that God is against everyone else?

  • Or, is He “for” everybody but in different ways?


I love how John Piper deals with this question (4:00 in):



Romans 8:30 – Triad of Assurance Complete

This text is often referred to as the “golden chain” of salvation.

  • Like and with verse 29, it is often used to argue for a certain doctrine of salvation.


The chain, which begins in verse 29, is this:

  • Foreknew
  • Predestined
  • Called
  • Justified
  • Glorified


Today we will try to understand verse 30 in context.

  • Laying aside any baggage we may bring to the verse.


Before we begin, it will help to remind us of our paraphrases of verses 28 and 29.

  • “We know that groanings and present sufferings do not negate or thwart God’s purpose of future glory for all believers” (vs. 28).
  • This is “Because God determined before the creation of the world to create by, in and through Jesus Christ – His preeminent Son – ‘a Christ-shaped family’ consisting of both Jew and Gentile” (vs. 29)


The question now is this:

  • What is verse 30’s relationship to the point Paul has been making in verses 28 and 29?


It seems to me the most likely answer to this is the most obvious.

  • Verse 30 completes what one might call the triad of assurance.


Specifically, verse 30 completes a triad that Paul has been building since verse 28.

  • (1) What we know about our future (vs. 28).
  • (2) Why we know this about our future (vs. 29).
  • (3) How the “what” and the “why” have legs (vs. 30).


Using our paraphrases, we can frame the third leg of the triad with the following question:

  • Given what we know about our future glory, and why we can be assured of its reality – given that God determined to make it so, not fate – how does God actually connect our “now” to our “not yet”?



Verse 30:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.


Last week we dealt with the first two links of the so-called Golden Chain:

  • Predestined, and the thing that precedes it…
  • Foreknowledge


Both of these are wrapped in the fact that before creation God knew…

  • He would create for Himself a people in and through Jesus Christ.


With this in mind…

  • Let’s deal with the meat of verse 30 – called.
  • Greek “kletos”.




The BDAG defines “called” as follows:

  • Set apart or “choose for receipt of a special benefit or experience”.


When we dealt with this word in verse 28, we saw:

  • “Paul’s own audience would think of Israel as the people God had chosen…” – Craig Keener.


In other words, “called” is OT, ethnic Israel language.

  • God set apart Israel from the nations to be His people.
  • Israel was God’s inheritance.


But in Romans, Paul was turning this limited idea of “called” on its head.

  • Keener says the church at Rome would, “…recognize that Paul’s argument was designed to show that God was so sovereign that he was not bound to choose (with regard to salvation) based on Jewish ethnicity” – Craig Keener.


In other words, “called” is about God’s inclusion of the nations with Israel.

  • It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
  • God has set apart Jew and Gentile to experience the Gospel and its benefits.


And importantly…

  • The idea behind this take on “called” is that it is corporate-centered.


But there is also a take on “called” that is individual-centered.

  • It sees “called” as really referring to an “effectual call” of a person in the salvation process.


An “effectual call” refers to God’s determining that an individual person will be saved.

  • It is a sure thing.
  • God has set apart this person “A” and made sure they respond with faith to the Gospel.
  • (And it is also, arguably, an individually minded idea that is anachronistic to the Bible).


Doug Moo thinks we are dealing with an “effectual call” in verse 30.

  • He says, it “…denotes God’s effectual summoning into relationship with him” – Doug Moo.


Let’s look at Paul’s use of “called” in Romans prior to our text to flesh this out some more.

  • Romans 1:1 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
  • Romans 1:6 (ESV) — 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
  • Romans 1:7 (ESV) — 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul is obviously an individual.

  • And as an individual, he was set apart by God to belong to Jesus Christ.


Was Paul set apart in such a way that he would not refuse to follow Christ?

  • We don’t know from this text, but it certainly seems like a possibility.
  • So this could be an example of an individual-centered effectual call.


You [in Rome] who are called” and “all those in Rome” are both corporate statements.

  • Corporately they were set apart by God to belong to Christ and be saints (a future promise).


These seem to be general comments about God’s purposes:

  • God has set apart Jews and Gentiles – even in Rome – to experience the Gospel and its benefits.
  • They “belong to Jesus Christ” and so will be “saints”.


What about our text?

  • Is it individually-centered or is it corporate-centered?
  • Romans 8:30 (ESV) — 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.


It not only seems to be a corporate-centered use.

  • It seems to be even more broad than the “called” in Romans 1.
  • Paul’s message here is to all believers.


In fact, I think a context observation brings clarity.

  • Is Paul’s point in 8:28-30 to give assurance of individual salvation – we are effectually called?
  • Or is his point to give full assurance that “already” believers will be glorified?


I think it’s pretty obvious.

  • It’s the second.


BTW – The critique I would make is…

  • How can there be assurance if there is no effectual calling?
  • Great question.
  • In verses 28-30, I don’t think he addresses this question – so why read it into the text?


So why make Paul say more than he is saying?

  • Especially when he is not obviously saying anything more.


Moo and others do this because they have a certain presupposition about foreknowledge.

“If, then, [foreknowledge] means ‘know intimately,’ ‘have regard for,’ this must be a knowledge or love that is unique to believers and that leads to their being predestined. This being the case, the difference between ‘know or love beforehand’ and ‘choose beforehand’ virtually ceases to exist” – Doug Moo.


Moo’s presupposition is that foreknowledge equals predetermined.

  • Though he does hedge a bit when he says the difference between the two “virtually ceases to exist”.


We saw last week that foreknowledge does not necessarily lead to being determined.

  • And so the difference would not “cease to exist”.


Furthermore, given the fact that God knows all true facts – even the ones that don’t obtain (counterfactuals)…

  • God has knowledge of people that He had “a knowledge or love” for in a possible world, but who aren’t believers in the actual world.


Just like he had knowledge of David being handed over to Saul in a possible world that didn’t obtain.

  • This goes against Moo’s “must be a knowledge…that leads to their being predestined”.


We have also seen that the context here is not how person “A” is “saved”.

  • The context is why God’s people can have full assurance of a glorified future in the midst of sufferings.
  • And how this full assurance is grounded, generally, in the Gospel.


So, I just don’t see how our text can be taken as an effectual call.

  • Our text is concerned with how “already” believers can be sure that verses 28 and 29 will be an actual and real experience.


Given all this, I would paraphrase Paul’s use of “called” as follows:

  • The predestined were also “set apart by God to participate in, and experience the benefits of” the stuff of verses 28 and 29.



Rest of the Chain:

…and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.


Paul then completes the chain by referring back to Romans 1-4’s emphasis on justification (Moo).

  • Romans 3:23–24 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,


An emphasis that is summed up in 5:1.

  • Romans 5:1 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Notice, just like last week’s emphasis:

  • The grounding of justification is “in Christ Jesus” and “through our Lord Jesus Christ”.


So those who were called are also justified – made right with God – in and through Jesus Christ.

  • A necessary reality, or “what”, to have the assurance of future glory.


And fittingly, Paul ends where he started off his Triad of Assurance.

  • …he also glorified
  • He also gave a new nature and new status.


So back to our question:

  • Given what we know about our future glory, and why we can be assured of its reality – given that God determined to make it so, not fate – how does God actually connect our “now” to our “not yet”?



  • God connects the believers’ suffering “now” with the glorified “not yet”…
  • By making a way for those who love him to be made right with Him through the person and work of Jesus Christ.


To wrap this triad of assurance up, let’s finish up once again, with a paraphrase.

  • We know that groanings and present sufferings do not negate or thwart God’s purpose of future glory for all believers” (vs. 28).
  • Why? “Because God determined before the creation of the world to create by, in and through Jesus Christ – His preeminent Son – ‘a Christ-shaped family’ consisting of both Jew and Gentile” (vs. 29)
  • How? “Because God saw to it that His ‘Christ-shaped family’ was set apart to participate in, and experience the benefits of their future glory, by making them right with Him in and through our Lord Jesus Christ – not leaving their future up to fate or ethnicity” (vs. 30).


I think these paraphrases get at the meat of Paul’s meaning.

  • You will be glorified.
  • It is a certainty because God has made it a certainty.
  • Your future does not depend on you.
  • Your future does not depend on your current suffering and groanings.
  • Your future does not depend on fate.
  • It is Jesus Christ who secures your future.
  • This was always God’s plan.