|2 TIMOTHY 2:25
2 Tim 2:25: "with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth..."
What does it mean when God "grants"
This question emanates from 2 Tim. 2:25, where the believer is exhorted to continually correct those who are in opposition (to the truth) IF PERHAPS God may grant them repentance leading to the full-knowledge of the truth.
The first factor recognizes that Paul has in view the end result of a process that God enables, but is not directly produced by God. The words, "if perhaps" translate the particle, māpote, which most frequently expresses the idea of purpose or result. The word, perhaps, is an interpretive translation which is not required or necessary. The reason that "perhaps" is added is because of the subjunctive mood with the verb (aorist active subj. of didomi), but that is the mood that is used to indicate purpose or result, because the desired action is indeed, a potential. That is, They may or may not respond to the message and change their minds. The grammar easily allows for, "SO THAT God might give." In other words, the communicator of truth is going to speak words to those who are in opposition so that they can be convicted and BE ENABLED through that conviction to change their minds (repent).
The "enablement" or "giving of repentance" is not an ability that God sovereignly produces in someone, but rather an ability that is triggered when and because truth is taught. This enablement is called "the kindness of God" at Rom 2:4, "the KINDNESS of God leads you to repentance." This does not say that God MAKES someone repent, but rather that His activity of kindness LEADS TO - that is, it prompts, elicits, encourages one to accept God's salvation provision. God's kindness, which comes from His love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) involves two basic things,
(1) the actual provision of Jesus as the sin
At Romans 10:17, we are taught that faith (the expression of trusting Christ) comes out from (ek) the experience of hearing, and that that experience of hearing, is through (dia) the word of (about) Christ. In other words, God ENABLES someone to repent/believe because He communicates the information that must be known. Knowledge of that information will then convict the soul of the hearer and will elicit either, acceptance (repentance) or rejection. They will be convicted for certain, because that is what God's word does through the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).
Examples of such conviction are found at Acts 2:37; 5:33 and 7:54, where we see both a positive response and two negative responses respectively. Accordingly, at 2 Tim. 2:25, whether these spiritual rebels will be convicted or not, is not the issue, but whether they will respond to that conviction with a positive or negative expression is the issue. If they respond with a positive expression and repent (change the mind), then it can be said that God gave them repentance since it is His convicting process that enabled them. Thus, Paul's terminology here, is looking at the end result of repentance and not at the mechanics. God performs the mechanics through the communication of the gospel message, but the end result is based on each person's own volitional choice.
The second factor is to recognize the universality of the salvation provision and invitation. That is, since Christ died for ALL, and ALL are invited to "repent" then there is no special act of God by which He determines or chooses only certain ones who will be "made" to repent.
The word, "give," is also used for this general provision of salvation which is extended to all people as an offer. Notice at Acts 5:31, that the provision of Jesus as the Savior, successful and exalted to the right hand of God, GIVES (didomi, aorist active infinitive) repentance and forgiveness to Israel. In other words, since Jesus died for the sins of the people, salvation is given (offered) to Israel.
But this is obviously an offer that is extended to the nation and not a universal forgiveness. The offer or invitation is that they (each individual) should repent and receive the result, which is the forgiveness of sins. The language at Acts 11:18 is similar, "Well, then, God has GIVEN (didomi, aorist active indicative) to the Gentiles also, the repentance that leads to life." Again, this is a universal PROVISION or invitation, but not a universal salvation.
the baptizer came proclaiming the gospel in the wilderness, his message was
that the hearers should repent. God did not "give" repentance to anyone as a
final result, but He did produce a conviction of the soul through the
content of the message. On that basis, the final result can be said to be
"from God" for without His efforts in convicting through the gospel message,
the hearers would be unable to repent. For there to be a change of mind, the
mind be exposed to new content.
Jesus too, invited His hearers to repent and believe the gospel as is recorded at Mark 1:15, and the extent of that invitation is clearly seen to be "whoever" (John 3:16). And the ministry of the disciples prior to the crucifixion of Jesus was that people should repent (Mark 6:12). After the resurrection, when the apostles were committed with the ministry of reconciliation, they were to proclaim, "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" to all the nations, (Luke 24:47).
Accordingly, God's message to ALL the people is, "that all everywhere should repent," (Acts 17:30). And Paul's summary of his ministry is recorded at Acts 26:20, that in Damascus, Jerusalem, all of Judea and even to the Gentiles, "that they should repent and turn to God."
And finally, in Peter's statement at 2 Peter 3:15 that "The Lord . . . is not willing for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance," we see the idea that IF God "gives" repentance to anyone, it would have to be to all, for otherwise, He would be in violation of His very own longings.
Remember the sentiments of Jesus expressed toward the nation of Israel at Mat. 23:37; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were UNWILLING." Why did He not gather them all to Himself? It was because they DID NOT want to gather to Him. Why does someone not repent - change their mind about God? It is certainly not because God does not want them to! Quite the opposite; God wants them all to repent. But they do not because they choose for themselves not to accept the salvation invitation that is extended to them in the gospel message.
Jesus invited all, "repent and believe the gospel." And the conclusion to it all, "He who believes in the Son, has everlasting life; but he who is disobedient to (unpersuaded by) the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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