Manual Commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations - Volume 1 - Enhanced Version (Calvins Commentaries Book 17)

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Contents:
  1. Listening and Knowledge in Reformation Europe
  2. A Bibliography: Who says that “You can’t have it both ways?
  3. Jeremiah 30 Commentary - John Calvin's Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Bible Study Tools
  5. Food for Thought in a Starving Culture

Hearing Difference and Cultural Construction of Deafness. Practices of Auditory Memory. Listening in the Genevan Temples. Back Matter Pages About this book Introduction This book investigates a host of primary sources documenting the Calvinist Reformation in Geneva, exploring the history and epistemology of religious listening at the crossroads of sensory anthropology and religion, knowledge, and media. For example, John MacArthur has said that Jeremiah and its supposed restriction of the covenant community to a purely regenerate membership is "..

The essence of the New Covenant is everybody in it knows God savingly. Again, the paedo- vs. However, a cursory survey of major representatives from the major positions reveals the central role of Jeremiah and its statement that in the New Covenant, "all of them will know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. But before presenting a more contextually informed interpretation of this phrase in Jeremiah, it will be helpful to survey briefly two of the most common responses to the credobaptist argument from Jeremiah , as well as a third, more recently developed approach.

Traditional Paedobaptist Responses. One common response to a credobaptist reading of Jeremiah is to move to other texts in order to argue that even the New Covenant community is mixed, especially the warning passages in Hebrews and These passages, they maintain, treat apostates who where never truly regenerate as, nevertheless, true covenant members. Here, the distinction between internal and external covenant membership is employed. So, it is argued, the New Covenant community is mixed and therefore, Jeremiah cannot be teaching a purely regenerate membership at least not before the return of Christ to the exclusion of infants in believing households.

Vos's Reformed Dogmatics, as noted above, offers an extensive discussion of this issue. While only citing the warning passages in Hebrews peripherally, Vos's resolution of the problem posed by Jeremiah is essentially the same. He concludes that while Jeremiah may be referring exclusively to the elect, the New Covenant community is mixed, nevertheless.

Listening and Knowledge in Reformation Europe

Vos's treatment is of particular value since, in offering a solution to the difficulty of non-elect covenant membership supposedly posed by Jeremiah , he also marshals the writings of Olevianus, Witsius, Braun, Lampe, Mastricht, A Marck, Franken, A Brakel, Turretin, and Koelman. In fact, he proceeds with his discussion from the conviction that it does citing in support Olevianus, Witsius, Mastricht, A Brakel, and others. Another common paedobaptist response, as hinted at above, is the claim that Jeremiah does indeed teach a purely regenerate membership, but that this will only be realised when Christ returns at his second coming.

Therefore, the nature of the New Covenant community before the return of Christ is still mixed and thus allows for non-regenerate infant members. Now, while these arguments may be sound, it cannot be denied that the most satisfying interpretation of Jeremiah would be one that finds support from the immediate context as well.

A Bibliography: Who says that “You can’t have it both ways?

Moreover, these arguments tacitly capitulate to, or at least leave unchallenged, the assumption that "all of them That is, paedobaptists generally agree that Jeremiah does in fact teach a purely regenerate New Covenant membership. They simply disagree about when that will be realised. It is in regard to these two points that the next proposal moves in the right direction. A third, more recent, interpretation of Jeremiah , as it relates to New Covenant membership and the proper subjects of baptism, while noted by others, has been more fully developed by Neil GT Jeffers.

Jeffers argues that in these parallel New Covenant promises, "from the least of them to the greatest of them" in Jeremiah corresponds to "for their good and their children after them" in Jeremiah Therefore, based on the parallel promise in the following chapter, he argues that Jeremiah cannot be excluding children from the New Covenant community. Moreover, Jeffers' helpfully suggests that "all. However, his argument centres on the claim that "from the least of them to the greatest of them" in Jeremiah is parallel to "their good and the good of their children" in Jeremiah Therefore, his analysis of the phrase focuses on arguing that it expresses the nuance of age distinctions, thereby including covenant children.

In fact, Jeffers actually suggests the possibility that Jeremiah is saying that even infants will know the Lord based on the concept of 'seminal faith. Again, without calling into question the merits of what this argument does have to offer, I want to go one step further and argue that, based on Jeremiah's previous uses of the quantifier, the New Covenant promise that "all of them will know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" cannot be presenting a necessary condition or a sine qua non of New Covenant membership to the exclusion of infants in believing households. A Contextual Interpretation.

At the outset, it is interesting to note that the consensus of commentaries even from Baptist traditions seems to present the democratisation of the knowledge of the Lord beyond demographic boundaries as the main thrust of the promise in Jeremiah More importantly, a survey of the standard reference material on Jeremiah and the collocation in question reveals that they do not characterise it as quantifying a group for which a sine qua non of membership obtains. It turns out that this is for good reason, since Jeremiah employs thematically linked uses of this quantifier consistently in reference to a group about which something is pervasively, though not exhaustively true.

Compare the NET note on Jeremiah which says the phrase should be understood in light of its previous uses citing ; ; and explicitly describes the phrase as referring to "all without distinction. Also see Barclay M Newman, Jr. In reference to Jeremiah to which the note on the parallel phrase in Jer. Similarly from prophet to priest is inclusive, without suggesting different levels of status within the religious order.

Jeremiah 30 Commentary - John Calvin's Commentaries on the Bible

The phrase, "all of them Finally, in , God says that the judgment for his covenant people's apostasy is that "great and small will die. These passages clearly do not mean that no member of the Mosaic Covenant without exception knew the Lord or that every single Covenant Member including the infant had turned aside to unjust profit and deception.

If credobaptist proponents were to interpret this phrase consistently throughout the flow of Jeremiah's message and these previous uses were pressed as presenting the sine qua non of membership in the Mosaic Covenant community, that would mean anyone who knew the Lord, did not pursue unjust profit, or did not deceive and slander was not actually a covenant member. This would exclude Jeremiah himself and the entire Israelite remnant from being true members of the Mosaic Covenant.

Clearly this cannot be what the phrase means. This calls into question the legitimacy of interpreting Jeremiah's use of this same phrase in as presenting the sine qua non of New Covenant membership. Additionally, there does not seem to be any indication that the meaning of this quantifying phrase suddenly shifts in the progression of Jeremiah's message. In fact, the phrase occurs later in Jeremiah at , 8 and with the same force. That is, even these subsequent uses are in contexts where it seems clear that it does not mean all without exception.

Since all the people in this verse included children see , it is doubtful that Jeremiah intended to say that every single member of that assembly without exception, including the infant, was engaged in a verbal plea. The text says, " From the least to the greatest" would die by sword and famine , ".. There are also several other passages in the OT that employ this collocation in the same way. Of particular interest is Jonah , which says, "And the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. In addition to the fact that previous uses cannot be understood as presenting a necessary condition of covenant membership, these previous uses are directly related to the parallel quantifier, Jeremiah The intentional repetition of this quantifying phrase in Jeremiah contributes to a thematic progression culminating in the New Covenant promise in the Book of Consolation Jeremiah , the conclusion of which has Jeremiah as its chiastic centre.

Jeremiah introduces the two-fold message that God will both 'pluck up' and 'break down' but that he will also 'build' and 'plant. This overarching structure of Jeremiah's prophecy and the structure of the New Covenant promise in particular serve to tie it directly to the preceding descriptions of the Old. In other words, Jeremiah clearly seems to intend for his readers to interpret this phrase in in connection with its preceding uses. But now we read of the hope for a future reversal of the pervasive lack of knowledge of the Lord among God's people.

God uses the same language of , , , , and However, this time, God declares that his people will know him - "all of them In the coming days the present situation in Israel would be flipped on its head. While at that time Jeremiah was amazed by the pervasive lack of the knowledge of the Lord even among the great, the time was coming when he could expect to find a pervasive presence of it even among the least. While at that time there was a pervasive lack of knowledge of the Lord among God's people that affected everyone without distinction, the days were coming when such knowledge would be poured out on all without distinction.

But, crucially, each instance of this quantifying phrase in the flow of Jeremiah's message designates a mixed community. In other words, the thing predicated of the group designated by the quantifying phrase "all So, while there are certainly profound new features in the New Covenant, Jeremiah's use of the same quantifying phrase in reference to both Old and New strongly suggests that he does not intend to posit faith as a sine qua non of membership to be one of those new features. Simply put, that's not Jeremiah's point.


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When Jeremiah is approached in this way, the paedobaptist does not have to hurry quickly to other passages that support a mixed New Covenant community though that may be legitimate or point out that the New Covenant community will be purely regenerate at the consummation though that is true. There is no need to posit seminal faith, fides aliena, presumptive regeneration, or to reinterpret "knowledge of the Lord" in some 'non-saving' way in order to squeeze covenant children into the New Covenant promise of Jeremiah Rather, the paedobaptist can simply interpret Jeremiah consistently with the way Jeremiah invariably uses the quantifier throughout his prophesy - in reference to a community about which something is pervasively, though not exhaustively, true.

Bible Study Tools

If, on the on the other hand, credobaptists want to push this quantifier as demanding a necessary condition of New Covenant membership, they must show where in the context of Jeremiah's message the phrase picked up that notion which is absent from every other use. When reading the main sources on the baptism debate, it does not take long to realise the central role played by Jeremiah for the credobaptist argument that the New Covenant has a purely regenerate membership. However, when interpreted in light of the thematically linked uses of this quantifying phrase in the progression of Jeremiah's message, it becomes clear that Jeremiah does not intend to present knowledge of the Lord as a sine qua non of New Covenant membership to the exclusion of infants.

The Baptist may still seek to argue that the New Covenant community is not mixed. However, it seems clear that it can no longer be viably argued from this quantifying phrase in Jeremiah If this phrase is to be used in defining the necessary condition s of New Covenant membership, the credobaptist will need to explain where that meaning comes from, given the numerous, consistent and thematically linked uses of the quantifier in the previous context, where that cannot be what it means. With the contextual evidence in view, it seems that the credobaptists turn out to be the ones who must account for the inconsistency between their view of the New Covenant community and Jeremiah's own consistent use of this phrase in reference to a mixed community - that is, a community about which something is pervasively, though not exhaustively, true.


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Augustine of Hippo New York: Christian Literature Company. Bavinck, Herman Beale, Gregory K Berkhof, Louis Manual of Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Summary of Christian Doctrine. Systematic Theology.

Food for Thought in a Starving Culture

Electronic ed. Stuttgart: German Bible Society. Botterweck, Gerhard Johannes, and Helmer Ringgren Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. He quickly dispels the notion that the life and words of a seventh-century BCE Israelite prophet can have no relevance for the contemporary reader.

Clearly, Jeremiah was every bit as concerned as we are with issues like terrorism, hypocrisy, environmental pollution, and social justice. Like its predecessor, Jeremiah 1—20 draws on the best biblical scholarship to further our understanding of the weeping prophet and his message to the world. Jack R. Lundbom is an internationally respected authority on Jeremiah.

He is a life member at Clare Hall, Cambridge University.