Friday, March 11, 2011

The Oracles (λογια) of God vs. the Orator (Λογος) of God

In Romans 3:2, Paul is answering his own question about the advantage of being a Jew if the salvation of God extends to the Gentiles and the judgment of God comes upon the Jews under the same conditions. One of the advantages he offers is that
“the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God”
The word translated “oracles” is the plural form (it only occurs in the plural in the NT) of the Greek word λόγιον (lōgion) which is clearly related to the more common world logos (λόγος).
It is significant that Paul uses this word to point out the advantage that the Jew has over the Gentile. Even though Jesus, the Divine Logos, was a Jew, he does not belong uniquely to the Jews so as to give them an advantage when it comes to the righteousness of God (a major theme in Romans). Rather they have an advantage in possessing the “oracles” of God. This term is used three other times in the NT
Acts 7:38 (ESV) — This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.
Hebrews 5:12 (ESV) — For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,
1 Peter 4:11 (ESV) — whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The “oracles'” of God then are the specific revelations of God whether in the Mosaic Law or through the apostolic and prophetic ministry within the church. They are the teachings about and from God given to His people to instruct them how to live. λόγιον is this Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word (אִמְרָה imrah)translated “word” in English in Psalm 119 (Ps. 118 in the LLX; verses 11, 38, 41, 50, 58, 67, 76, 82, 103, 116, 123, 133, 140, 158, 162, 170, 172)
The ethical implications of the “oracle” can be seen sharply in Ps. 119:11:
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you”
The Hebrew is singular, but translated with the plural neuter in the Septuagint. The LXX reads, “in my heart I hid your oracles that I might not sin against you.” The revelations, or words of God, given to His special people, the Jews, have an advantage of restraining sin through law (by law, I do not mean simply the Mosaic Law as a set of rules to followed, but law as revealed principles about what is good for mankind as a creature in the image of God). They are, according to the author of Hebrews, the milk, or basic principles, of the truth.
God’s self revelation in terms of man’s good (ethics/morality) is a far cry from His revelation of Himself in the Divine Logos, Jesus Christ. The Logos is not a revelation about man, but a self-disclosure of God to man, to save man from himself. Jesus is not just another saying from God, but the very presence of God in human form, Emmanuel, God with us.
The Logos is not particularly Jewish, though he “was descended from David according to the flesh” (Rom 1:2). He is the universal, timeless, revelation of the true nature of God as God. In Him alone is salvation, and not in any logia (oracles) from God. Salvation is not found in specific formulations traced back to specific prophets. It is not found in a truth about God, no matter how orthodox. It is found only in His unique Son, Jesus Christ, the Logos who from the beginning was with God and who was God.