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  • Love and Liberty

Was Judas Predestined to Betray Christ? (3)


The words so frequently used in the Scriptures, “that it might be fulfilled,” very often signify that we have here only another illustration of something uttered on a different occasion; or that the language of Scripture here finds a pertinent application; as we often say, in like cases, “The words of Shakespeare are thus fulfilled,” or, “Here is another illustration of the saying so common among us,” recognizing at the same time that the event referred to is a mere coincidence. Dr. Nathaniel West writes: “Everywhere through the Scriptures the catastrophes of later date are described in symbolical language drawn from the literal facts of earlier times. For example, Jeremiah describes the ruins of the Jewish state, under Nebuchadnezzar, in terms of Chaos: ‘I beheld, and, lo, the earth was without form and void, and the heavens, they had no light.’ Isaiah describes it in terms of the Deluge: ‘The waters shall overflow your hiding-place.’ The language that describes the judgment on Jerusalem portrays the end of the present dispensation.” Albert Barnes says that the phrase, “that it might be fulfilled,” sometimes means, not that the passage was intended to apply to the particular thing or event spoken of, but that the words do aptly and appropriately express the thing referred to, and may be applied to it. Dr. S. T. Bloomfield says that “this Scriptural expression sometimes means that such a thing so happened that this or that passage would appear quite suitable or applicable to it.” Moses Stuart says that “the New Testament writers often use Old Testament phraseology, which originally was applied in a very different connection. And they do this because such phraseology expresses, in an apt and forcible manner, the thought which they desired then to convey.”

We cite the following illustrative examples: Isaiah says, “And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed.” “This noted prophecy,” observes Mr. Stuart, “about the blindness and obduracy of the Jews, had a true fulfillment before the Babylonish captivity, but it was again fulfilled in the times of our Savior. But though he had done,” says John (xii, 37-40), “so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, Lord who hath believed our report?” Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted and I should heal them.” They believed not on the Savior, and the consequent blindness and obduracy, brought upon them as a punishment for (or as a result of) disobedience to known duty and truth, furnished but another illustration of that memorable case of divine displeasure spoken of by Isaiah, and with which the Jews were so familiar. And this instance of retributive blindness and hardness would be rendered the more impressive by associating it with an earlier and memorable example of the judgment of an offended deity coming upon a disobedient people. That is, what the prophet had said of the Jews of his day, Christ considered as applicable to them in his own times. “From the wicked,” says Job, “their light is withholden”; and “For thou hast hid their heart from understanding.” Light persistently rejected darkens the mind and lessens its susceptibility thereto.

Scholars no longer question the frequent use, in an ecbatic sense, of the particle translated that; and, therefore they very often translate the phrase under consideration “so was fulfilled,” or “thus was fulfilled.” This Greek particle often means so that or that merely. It is frequently used not as expressive of design or purpose, even when it refers to the most explicit of the prophecies. And therefore in Matt. ii, 23, we should read “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, so that it was fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Matthew (ii, 14) says that Joseph “took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” But the Scripture to which Matthew here refers and quotes, has no reference whatever to Christ. Hosea (xi, i) speaks simply of God calling his son out of Egypt. The end proposed by Joseph and the end accomplished by staying in Egypt, were not the fulfillment of these words of Hosea, “When Israel was a child then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt.”

Dr. Edward Robinson (Greek Lexicon of New Testament) says that this frequent phrase or a similar one is used as a formal quotation, and implies “that something took place, not in order that a prophecy might be fulfilled, but so that it was fulfilled; not in order to make the event correspond to the prophecy, but so that the event would and did correspond to that prophecy. The phrase is often used to express historical or typical parallelisms.” He then gives a long list of passages in which this phrase must be so construed. For example, “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John xv, 24, 25.) But the Scripture to which reference is here made is Psalm xxxv, 19: “Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.” Again (John xix, 36): “These things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” The reference here is to Psalm xxxiv, 19, 20. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken.”

Again, “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.” The reference here is to Matt. xx, 18. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him.” And hence, John xviii, 32, cited above, should be rendered “so that was fulfilled the saying of Jesus.” After giving this list of quotations Dr. Robinson says that such passages place the ecbatic use of the phrase in question “beyond any reasonable doubt.” He affirms too that “those Biblical critics, who insist on the telic sense of the word rendered that (ina) in all cases that is, those who maintain that the later event was fixed and predestined and foreordained by the prophecy, to which reference was made not only introduce a new element of interpretation, but also destroy the force of the language.”

The telic use of this word marks the final end or purpose, to the end that or in order that. The ecbatic use marks simply the event, the result, or upshot of an action, as expressed by the words so that or so as that. The telic use implies purpose, determination, prediction, and foreordination, while the ecbatic use implies only consequence, parallelism, application, or mere illustration. The telic use of this particle corresponds exactly with the theory suggested in this book; namely, that the minds of prophets in uttering prophecy and the minds of instruments in fulfilling prophecies are placed, through supernatural agency, under the action of the law of cause and effect. When, therefore, the connection in the Scriptures requires the telic sense or force, then the phrase in question is to be translated “in order that it might be fulfilled,” but not otherwise.

This well established rule of interpretation helps to explain many Bible texts which have occasioned great perplexity and incertitude to exegetical writers. Take, for example, the passage, “I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” (John xiii, 18.) The Scripture to which reference is here made is Psalm xli, 9: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” Christ here applies to Judas that which David had applied to Absalom. The case is so manifest that the particle in question, that, is not here used in a telic sense that Albert Barnes says, “It is difficult to tell whether the text has any reference whatever to Judas Iscariot. Dr. Robinson says that the particle translated that in this passage must evidently be taken in the ecbatic sense. And if the words “that it might be fulfilled,” in Matthew ii, 15, as already shown, refer to a text of Scripture, which undeniably and confessedly has no reference at all to Jesus Christ, we are allowed to assume, there being no reason to the contrary, also that in this text they refer to a passage of Holy Writ which may contain no prophetic reference to Judas Iscariot. The application of these words by the inspired writer to Judas, is no proof that he was referred to in the prophecy.

Again, in the passage John xvii, 12, “None of them is lost save the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” The phrase, “the son of perdition,” means one who has been given over to destruction. The Scripture to which reference is here made is probably Psalm cix, 8, “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” Adam Clarke translates the text under consideration “The Scripture is thus fulfilled.” He also translates John xii, 38: “Thus the word of the Lord was fulfilled.” He says the Scripture thus fulfilled was spoken of the treachery of Ahithophel (Psalm xli, 9,) and the rebellion of Absalom was illustrated in the treachery of Judas, and that “these Scriptures, though spoken of others may be appropriately and forcibly applied to him.” He also remarks that “the treachery of Judas was not the effect of prediction, for the said prediction related to a different case; but as this instance was of the same nature with that of the other, to it the same Scriptures were applicable, and therefore were so applied.” Dean Alford says, that “these words were in the plural number, and referred to all the enemies of God and of righteousness, but were here applied to Judas Iscariot, he being of such a character in an eminent sense and degree. But the change here from the plural number to the singular proves that John used the quotation in the ecbatic sense and not in the telic. John xiii, 18, therefore, in the light of this criticism, would read, if our English idiom be substituted for that of the Hebrew, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but thus is the Scripture fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” And John xvii, 12, would read, “Those thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost save the son of perdition. Thus the Scripture is fulfilled [or, again, illustrated). Let his days be few, and let another take his office.” Again, take Matthew xxvii, 9: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.” (note: The quotation here is from Zechariah (xi, 12, 13) and not from Jeremiah. But Meade, Bishop Kidder, and Hengstenberg think that Zechariah borrowed this statement from some prophecy that was current among the Jews, as being an original prediction of Jeremiah....

.....(Dean Alford says) “the principal point stated by Matthew namely, the casting down of the money is wanting in Zechariah, and Zechariah does not admit the subjoined statements made by Matthew.” Olshausen freely admits that “the immediate reference of this text is not in the least traceable to the person of the Messiah, and that there is only a very remote similarity between the two passages.” Albert Barnes says, that “the passage in Zechariah is not quoted literally, and by its being ‘fulfilled,’ can only be meant that the language used by Zechariah, on a somewhat similar occasion, would be applicable to and express very appropriately the events here narrated.” We thus see that this passage of Holy Writ may naturally and fairly be interpreted to denote that the event described by Matthew was in accord with an Old Testament occurrence, and is thus interpreted in entire harmony with the theory respecting divine foreknowledge advocated in this book. And this interpretation has the support of the very best exegetical authority.

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