John 1:12

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John 1:12

nikolai_42
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03 Oct 2017, 21:39 #1

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
  John 1:12

 Very straightforward question. Is there anything improper with exegeting the term for "power" in the verse as "privilege"? In my bible and in Strong's, the explanation for the term looks a little like a thesaurus entry - citing power, authority, right and privilege all as approximations to the word. Power and authority tend to imply that the ability is present while the others seem to imply, rather, the nature of the conveyance (something like a ticketed reservation as against a gifted place of honor etc...). I can see the semantic domain here, but is there something that would make it inadvisable (if not outright wrong) to emphasize this ability as being a privilege (over the other descriptions)?
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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04 Oct 2017, 21:59 #2

I think "right" or "claim" would be fine here. That said, the word "power" is no real issue. The anti-Calvinist misappropriates this single word to claim "free will". Of course they omit the very next verse which immediately explains how exactly one becomes a son while destroying the claim the anti-Calvinist thinks "power" here means.
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nikolai_42
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04 Oct 2017, 23:01 #3

Ask Mr. Religion wrote: I think "right" or "claim" would be fine here. That said, the word "power" is no real issue. The anti-Calvinist misappropriates this single word to claim "free will". Of course they omit the very next verse which immediately explains how exactly one becomes a son while destroying the claim the anti-Calvinist thinks "power" here means.
I certainly didn't mean to imply free will would be in view in terms of one's being born again (and I didn't read that you implied I did), but there seems to be a coloring of the (Greek) word here that I have no ability to assess. And the following verse is one which I have always felt strengthens this one (instead of the other way around). What prompted the question was hearing the testimony of Helen Roseveare who was a doctor and missionary in the Congo in the 60's (and 70's, I think). When she was converted, one of the first scriptures that was brought to her attention was Philippians 3:10. And before she had any clue about anything spiritual, she was being told she could (and should expect to) suffer as a Christian - and the term used in connection with that suffering was privilege. Her experiences as a missionary (which were quite difficult at times - to say the least) taught her what that really meant. And it became the thing she always clung to even in the times when she wasn't suffering persecution, but was suffering through the usual boredom of life that seems (to us) to be pointless. She recognized all that God was doing (including her suffering) was a privilege that the Lord entrusted His saints with. It (deep suffering) is not given to those who can not bear it but to those who can, it becomes a privilege. And even to those who may not (be able to?) endure great persecution, still the smaller struggles of life become avenues in which we are caused to triumph in Him (2 Corinthians 2:14). Our testimony derives from that as we are seen even being faithful in the seemingly small things (being the savor of life unto life and death unto death). The point I am getting at is that even in our being chosen by God, it is a great privilege not only to be so chosen, but a great privilege to live the life He lays out for us (come what may). It is His life being expressed in and through us (Gal 2:20).

 So in that sense (generally, at least), could one justify bringing out the understanding of privilege in John 1:12?

EDIT : I say all that recognizing that the privilege of suffering for Christ in the sense I have tried to give and the privilege that could be read into John 1:12 may not necessarily refer to precisely the same things (i.e. being born again and walking out the life of perseverance).
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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05 Oct 2017, 04:25 #4

Yes, of course I did not assume you were taking up some Arminian free will argument, Nikolai. I only mention the point as it is often mounted by the anti-Calvinist and it is worthwhile noting to all readers here the error made.

I think "privilege" is going too far in this instance. In fact, the very word privilege does not appear anywhere in most literal worthy translations. Even the more less than literal translations do not use the word privilege here.

The word most often translated in the passage as power or right here deals with one's capacity to do something, that is, the thing one is able to do. The word privilege carries with it some grant of special right, as in the privilege of printing a book, or some privilege of a manor or town. The word privilege often attaches to immunity.

The writers of the Geneva Bible translate the word as "prerogative" and provide the following helpful note to John 1:12: 
The Son being shut out of the most of his people, and acknowledged but of a few, doth regenerate them by his own virtue power, and receiveth them into that honor which is common to all the children of God, that is to be the sons of God.
That someone would see being chosen by God, along with the blessings and trials that come with His choosing, as a privilege entrusted to him or herself is not out of order, especially when expressed in the degree of piety in the account you provided. Indeed, we should rejoice that we are able to suffer in some small way as did Our Lord. What a privilege indeed. Here however we have went beyond the text before us into matters dealing with one's walk of faith. Exegetically, I am finding it difficult to find privilege as an appropriate substitution in John 1:12 given its soteriological (not sanctification) context.
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nikolai_42
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05 Oct 2017, 12:49 #5

Ask Mr. Religion wrote: Yes, of course I did not assume you were taking up some Arminian free will argument, Nikolai. I only mention the point as it is often mounted by the anti-Calvinist and it is worthwhile noting to all readers here the error made.

I think "privilege" is going too far in this instance. In fact, the very word privilege does not appear anywhere in most literal worthy translations. Even the more less than literal translations do not use the word privilege here.

The word most often translated in the passage as power or right here deals with one's capacity to do something, that is, the thing one is able to do. The word privilege carries with it some grant of special right, as in the privilege of printing a book, or some privilege of a manor or town. The word privilege often attaches to immunity.

The writers of the Geneva Bible translate the word as "prerogative" and provide the following helpful note to John 1:12: 
The Son being shut out of the most of his people, and acknowledged but of a few, doth regenerate them by his own virtue power, and receiveth them into that honor which is common to all the children of God, that is to be the sons of God.
That someone would see being chosen by God, along with the blessings and trials that come with His choosing, as a privilege entrusted to him or herself is not out of order, especially when expressed in the degree of piety in the account you provided. Indeed, we should rejoice that we are able to suffer in some small way as did Our Lord. What a privilege indeed. Here however we have went beyond the text before us into matters dealing with one's walk of faith. Exegetically, I am finding it difficult to find privilege as an appropriate substitution in John 1:12 given its soteriological (not sanctification) context.
Thank you Patrick. That is precisely what I was wondering (and it only took me 2 posts to get out!)
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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05 Oct 2017, 13:08 #6

You are welcome Nikolai. I like the Tyndale quote in your sig. 

Jesus, made both Lord and Christ -- the Destroyer

Acts 2:36
Acts 2:36  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:9-10
1 Corinthians 10:9  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
1 Corinthians 10:10  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

1 Corinthians 15:22-26 
1 Corinthians 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
1 Corinthians 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1 Corinthians 15:25  For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:26  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Hebrews 2:9-15
Hebrews 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Hebrews 2:10  For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Hebrews 2:11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Hebrews 2:12  Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
Hebrews 2:13  And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
Hebrews 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Hebrews 2:15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

1 John 3:8
1 John 3:8  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

James 4:12 
James 4:12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 
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