Habakkuk 2:4 and Matthew 22:32 on Exodus - Good and necessary consequence?

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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I had deleted my original post, but Pr. Buchanan had replied, and it showed up after deletion. Here is a reconstruction of the essence of the OP.

Essence of the OP was, just what constitutes good and necessary consequence, and whether Habakkuk 2:4 as quoted in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 are examples. In the original context, Habakkuk 2:4 applies living by faith to the prophet being patient, calm, even rejoicing while the Babylonians are coming to invade Judah, so the question was whether justification by faith alone comes from this passage by good and necessary consequence, or if it should be seen in a light besides GNC.

I had also mentioned Calvin's commentary on Habakkuk 2:4, where he addresses the cavil that Paul is making a strange and unfounded application to justification by faith alone, and explains how JFO comes naturally from the text. He also sees the elevated one whose soul is not upright, as the one who through unbelief (rooted in pride and self-elevation) is tormented and anxious. You can read for yourself here: it's edifying.

The other example is Christ quoting Exodus 3 and confounding the Sadducees, "I am the God of thy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." It is not directly talking about the resurrection, but no one objects to Christ's usage by saying, "What an obscure text to prove such a big doctrine like the resurrection!" Rather the opposite: they are astonished.

So the question again, does the doctrine of the resurrection come from the text by good and necessary consequence, or is there another way to look at it?

The reason I ask about GNC is because in both cases, the applications made by Christ and Paul don't seem to be the ones lying immediately at the surface of each text quoted, and seemed to be more reasoned from the text, or things underlying the propositions.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
In ch.1, Habakkuk asks God a question, based on the terrible injustices he sees all around him. The answer comes back, a bit obliquely, that God is bringing judgment against such in his own time, and by means that are absolutely shocking. He is bringing a terrible foreign army against his own covenant house. This quite naturally brings the prophet to a fresh question: Why would you do it that way, with those people?

Now the stage is set for the divine answer that comes more directly. In ch.2, Habakkuk readies himself for the LORD's response, v1; vv2-3, the LORD states that he is about to give a plain teaching here, but that it may require the reader/hearer/seer to meditate on the matter.

v4 is a programmatic statement. It is a statement that is true, all by itself and axiomatic. So, from that basis or with that statement firmly set comes the rest of the divine counsel.

Israel's (Judah's) problem with wickedness has its foundation in pride. The answer to pride is true and proper humility.

The proud man, whether he is "religious" in any way or not, thinks he's upright, but he isn't. His soul is bent, and he does not occupy the place he thinks he does. If he attributes any of his sense of advantage to connection with his religion, it is on account of his work: either his alms or his sacrifices. He may not think of himself as "sin-free," but his uprightness looks good to himself, especially as he compares himself to other men.

The drunk, the greedy man, the covetous man, the murderer, the lewd--these are all obviously proud (even if not to themselves, they are to the observer). So is the idolater. These are lies, made by liars and worshiped by them. If one's religion is attached to such, even if lip-service is given to the Law it is all pride. the Chaldean king, if he is referred to at all, could be understood as the apotheosis of the proud man.

But I tend to think he's not in view at all. I didn't check Calvin myself, but in this case I might not agree with him beyond that point, if he is saying the elevated/proud man is the one who is in turmoil over, for instance, the Chaldean/Babylonian threat, ala 2:17, "For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you," or simply God's indignant fury. I think that interpretation misses the programmatic/axiomatic nature of the statement of 2:4.

In contrast to the proud man, the humble man lives by faith; he will live, even through the coming judgments. Should he die in the flesh, he will still live in the presence of the LORD, see the end of ch.3. I don't think 2:4 is in reference to "sanctification." I don't think, for example, "faithfulness" would be a legitimate translation of אֱמוּנָת֥ (emuna). The man who is truly righteous or just in God's sight will not live because he is faithful or does legitimate works according to the Law.

But the tsadik, the righteous man (as God views him) will live by or in or through faith as his foundation. I think the text is perfectly chosen by Paul, and not really requiring significant development theologically to get from it the point he wants.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
In ch.1, Habakkuk asks God a question, based on the terrible injustices he sees all around him. The answer comes back, a bit obliquely, that God is bringing judgment against such in his own time, and by means that are absolutely shocking. He is bringing a terrible foreign army against his own covenant house. This quite naturally brings the prophet to a fresh question: Why would you do it that way, with those people?

Now the stage is set for the divine answer that comes more directly. In ch.2, Habakkuk readies himself for the LORD's response, v1; vv2-3, the LORD states that he is about to give a plain teaching here, but that it may require the reader/hearer/seer to meditate on the matter.

v4 is a programmatic statement. It is a statement that is true, all by itself and axiomatic. So, from that basis or with that statement firmly set comes the rest of the divine counsel.

Israel's (Judah's) problem with wickedness has its foundation in pride. The answer to pride is true and proper humility.

The proud man, whether he is "religious" in any way or not, thinks he's upright, but he isn't. His soul is bent, and he does not occupy the place he thinks he does. If he attributes any of his sense of advantage to connection with his religion, it is on account of his work: either his alms or his sacrifices. He may not think of himself as "sin-free," but his uprightness looks good to himself, especially as he compares himself to other men.

The drunk, the greedy man, the covetous man, the murderer, the lewd--these are all obviously proud (even if not to themselves, they are to the observer). So is the idolater. These are lies, made by liars and worshiped by them. If one's religion is attached to such, even if lip-service is given to the Law it is all pride. the Chaldean king, if he is referred to at all, could be understood as the apotheosis of the proud man.

But I tend to think he's not in view at all. I didn't check Calvin myself, but in this case I might not agree with him beyond that point, if he is saying the elevated/proud man is the one who is in turmoil over, for instance, the Chaldean/Babylonian threat, ala 2:17, "For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you," or simply God's indignant fury. I think that interpretation misses the programmatic/axiomatic nature of the statement of 2:4.

In contrast to the proud man, the humble man lives by faith; he will live, even through the coming judgments. Should he die in the flesh, he will still live in the presence of the LORD, see the end of ch.3. I don't think 2:4 is in reference to "sanctification." I don't think, for example, "faithfulness" would be a legitimate translation of אֱמוּנָת֥ (emuna). The man who is truly righteous or just in God's sight will not live because he is faithful or does legitimate works according to the Law.

But the tsadik, the righteous man (as God views him) will live by or in or through faith as his foundation. I think the text is perfectly chosen by Paul, and not really requiring significant development theologically to get from it the point he wants.

Thank you for these thoughts. Main thoughts are on good and necessary consequence, but this does open other questions.

So then, "the just shall live by faith" is to be understood as a truth that can stand on its own--makes sense. Seen in that light, it applies to the initial entrance into salvation. So then, that would not be GNC to apply to justification. It's what the verse itself means. For myself, GNC was because that application is not so immediately out in the open.

Digression from GNC
I may have erred in my explanation of Hab 2:4, as I don't intend that "faithfulness" would be a good translation in Hab 2:4, as if the prophet's patience is why he lives. That'd indeed be heresy. My thought is more, since both the entrance and the continuance come by faith, might Hab 2:4 still extend to Christian living itself? Looking at Hebrew 10, where it's quoted, context is similar to Habakkuk's in that believing perseverance is in view, and Hebrews 10 doesn't have justification (at least immediately) in view. Not that one lives because he is faithful, but he perseveres he trusts God. ie. because Habakkuk believes, he may rejoice and be patient. Because the Hebrew Christians believe, they will persevere and reach the heavenly Canaan. The proud and self-sufficient (the one who trusts their own faithfulness) will not.

Another small aside... Perhaps it was a commentary I read which states Hebrew 10 in some part restates the intent of the first clause of Hab 2:4 when it says, "And if any man shrinks back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him"? That's one reason that inclines me to think Calvin was on to something (btw I linked to Calvin in my OP again after initial deletion). That is, because of pride and self sufficiency, not trusting God, one shrinks back and the Lord takes no pleasure in them. But I'm out of my depth here.

Back to GNC....

What would be your thoughts on Christ's use of Exodus 3, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? Again, the doctrine of the resurrection isn't out in the open waiting to be grabbed, but it certainly comes from the text. My thought was that this would be GNC.

But supposing that's not either, what makes GNC to be what it is? I had broadly thought of GNC in terms of things that aren't sitting out in the open, but must logically follow from the text, or a combination of Scriptures. What might be a better way to think of these two passages? Perhaps the problem is trying too hard to press the process of exegesis into tight categories.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Thank you for these thoughts. Main thoughts are on good and necessary consequence, but this does open other questions.

So then, "the just shall live by faith" is to be understood as a truth that can stand on its own--makes sense. Seen in that light, it applies to the initial entrance into salvation. So then, that would not be GNC to apply to justification. It's what the verse itself means. For myself, GNC was because that application is not so immediately out in the open.

Digression from GNC
I may have erred in my explanation of Hab 2:4, as I don't intend that "faithfulness" would be a good translation in Hab 2:4, as if the prophet's patience is why he lives. That'd indeed be heresy. My thought is more, since both the entrance and the continuance come by faith, might Hab 2:4 still extend to Christian living itself? Looking at Hebrew 10, where it's quoted, context is similar to Habakkuk's in that believing perseverance is in view, and Hebrews 10 doesn't have justification (at least immediately) in view. Not that one lives because he is faithful, but he perseveres he trusts God. ie. because Habakkuk believes, he may rejoice and be patient. Because the Hebrew Christians believe, they will persevere and reach the heavenly Canaan. The proud and self-sufficient (the one who trusts their own faithfulness) will not.

Another small aside... Perhaps it was a commentary I read which states Hebrew 10 in some part restates the intent of the first clause of Hab 2:4 when it says, "And if any man shrinks back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him"? That's one reason that inclines me to think Calvin was on to something (btw I linked to Calvin in my OP again after initial deletion). That is, because of pride and self sufficiency, not trusting God, one shrinks back and the Lord takes no pleasure in them. But I'm out of my depth here.

Back to GNC....

What would be your thoughts on Christ's use of Exodus 3, "I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? Again, the doctrine of the resurrection isn't out in the open waiting to be grabbed, but it certainly comes from the text. My thought was that this would be GNC.

But supposing that's not either, what makes GNC to be what it is? I had broadly thought of GNC in terms of things that aren't sitting out in the open, but must logically follow from the text, or a combination of Scriptures. What might be a better way to think of these two passages? Perhaps the problem is trying too hard to press the process of exegesis into tight categories.

In my reply, I simply offered an exposition of the Habakkuk passage, and how it appears to me should be read and to have reference/coherence. So doing, it seems to me the contrast that's being set forth is between someone proud, who is confident in self and/or his work. Versus, the man who is humble and finds life by faith. Various commentators (not you) play up the "faithfulness" angle, but if it some sort of practice is in view, I would argue that it is the ongoing believing in God, still opposite of someone having any confidence in the flesh or his work. The one who is righteous in God's sight is a believer, and thus lives. Besides, as I regularly teach: the person described as truly righteous/just in the Bible (other than Christ) is always also a forgiven person--and he knows it.

I can see what you mean about faith's persistence in Heb.10. I think that fits with the read of "ongoing" faith. The Heb.10 passage takes its cue from the LXX rendering. So there's a concomitant question about how the Gk comes to be rendered (of the other part of the verse), which is markedly variant from the Hb original. As a translation, and an ancient one, there are many places in the LXX that seem to be a "Living Bible" paraphrase. I do not think using another NT passage's use of Hab.2:4 will necessarily provide us with an unfiltered view of, or the best "angle" on the original. Calvin apparently takes advantage of the Heb.10 passage in his interpretation of the prophet; if I preach Hab.2, I'll save references to Heb.10 for some form of application. :2cents:

On GNC, I think there's some defense of the idea coming from Jesus use of Ex.3, for example. There is the nature of God himself in play, along with his manner of speech--what he does say, as well as what he avoid saying. He doesn't say along the lines of: "You can count on me now, because I was [past] God to them [your fathers]." But that he is who he is, and he is their father's God, therefore Israel should trust him as he declares for them and against their oppressors, and is in a sense about to resurrect Israel itself. Jesus points to the nature of God and the nature of his statement, and invites the hearers to admit his conclusion: that the passage proves individual, bodily resurrection (as the fathers live now, and resurrection is the kind of thing God does).

I'm in favor of GNC being demonstrated in Ex.3. I don't think GNC is quite needed in Hab.2.

Editing to include this final thought: the bulk of ch.2 (after v4) is taken up with a rundown of the wicked man's (an Israelite) behaviors. It is a generic condemnation using a variety of wicked behaviors, as in my first post I highlight how they map to various of the 10Commandments. Most of ch.3 then follows with a prayer concerning the righteousness and devastating effect of God's justice. The coda, vv17-19, is the prophet's pledge... to what? To honor the Law? To obedience? To watch his footsteps in order to keep on the straight and narrow, or sidestep the rain of wrath? No, none of that.

The prophet closes his prophecy with a pledge to believe in the God of Covenant no matter what he must endure. He will "rejoice in the LORD" and in his salvation. He makes no appeal to his worthiness to be spared either in this life or the next. His strength is of the LORD, as is his preservation. In other words, the prophet by faith shall live.
 
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