Nepaug Bible Church -
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell -

MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part II: Examining Scripture On The Will-Related Doctrines
Chapter I: Examining God's Election Throughout Scripture
A. The Old Testament
1. Old Testament Words On Divine Election
  1. Since we corrected the major views on God's election relative to faith and justification through an inductive Bible study, we view how election is taught in the rest of Scripture to understand it better.
  2. We begin by inspecting those Old Testament words and passages that are key to the election debate.
    1. Bahar
      1. Bahar is the main O.T. word for election, and it means "choose," B.D.B., A Heb.-Eng. Lex., p. 103f.
      2. However, not once does bahar in the O.T. describe a choice of God to justify anyone, cf. Solomon Mandelkern, Veteris Testamenti Concordantiae (1978 ed.), p. 183-184. (a complete concordance)
      3. Even where bahar appears of God's choice of the patriarchs because He loves them in Deut. 4:37 and 10:15, no proof exists that the choice results in justification, nor are we told why God first loved them.
      4. One might claim God chose Abraham to be justified as Genesis 15:6 reveals he was justified by faith years after Neh. 9:7-8 reveals God chose Abraham before he left Ur. Yet, "The form of the Heb. word for believed' shows Abraham's faith did not begin after the events . . . in [Genesis 15] vv. 1-5 . . . Abraham's faith is recorded here because it is foundational for making the covenant." (brackets ours; Bib. Know. Com., O.T., p. 55) Abraham was justified before he left Ur, Acts 7:2-4; Heb. 11:8, Ibid.
      5. In Isa. 43:10, bahar is used of God's choosing Israel to know and trust in Him, so one might claim with a major election view this choice results in justification. Yet, the passage focuses on a life of faith for those already related to God, Heb. 4:6-11. We thus find such verses using bahar of God's election express His choice to favor those already in (Old Testament) covenant relationship to Him.
    2. Hashaq
      1. Hashaq describes love, attachment and a close unity between parties, Ibid., B. D. B., p. 365-366.
      2. It is used in Deut. 7:7 in light of Deut. 4:37 and 10:15 to teach God's love of the patriarchs is the result of His attachment to them. However, nothing in the verses using this verb reveal what causes God's initial attachment to the men: we are not told if the bond is God's response to knowing these men would trust Him or not. We would have to gain such insight from other passages.
    3. Yada'
      1. The lexical meaning for yada' is "know, learn to know, be acquainted with," and all of its derivatives carry the same basic idea of "know" behind them, cf. B. D. B., p. 393-395, 395-396.
      2. Also, the Hebrew cognate languages have their equivalents of yada' mean "knowledge," cf. The Assyrian Dict., v. 7, p. 20-34; B. D. B., p. 1095; Zellig S. Harris, A Gram. of the Phoen. Lang., p. 106; Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbk., p. 409; Samuel A. B. Mercer, Ethiopic Gram., p. 114; Theodore H. Robinson, Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Gram, p. 136.
      3. Though the Akkadian word, idu at times may mean "assign, appoint," nowhere does this equivalent of the Hebrew, yada' picture an elective function behind any assigning act, Ibid., The Assyrian Dict.
      4. Yet, the NASB and NIV translate yada' in Gen. 18:19 as "choose," so we find theologians have gone beyond the root meaning to see election in yada', and R. Bultman says of its use in Ex. 33:12, Am. 3:2, Hos. 13:5 and Jer. 1:5 that " . . . it can mean elect." (Theol. Dict. of the N. T., vol. I, p. 698).
      5. We explain this misuse of yada' as follows: (a) the word was a term in Ancient Near Eastern suzerain treaties for a sovereign's commitment to a vassal, Herbert B. Huffmon, "The Treaty Background of Hebrew Yada'," BASOR 181 (Feb. 1966: 31-37) as cited in Bible Know. Com., O. T., p. 1432. (b) We also know from Meredith G. Kline's Treaty of the Great King (p. 13-44) that Deuteronomy was written in the Hittite suzerain treaty format, so Moses implied Israel was to view God as a Suzerain Overlord. (c) Thus, we assert ignorance of this cultural fact has allowed theologians to view yada' to mean God's election to enter a relationship with Israel when it really reflects a relationship already in effect!
      6. As for God's "knowing" (yada') Jeremiah before his birth (Jer. 1:5), the theme is Jeremiah in relation to his ministry -- not justification! This verse can not be used to show God "chose" him to be saved!
      7. In Job 34:4, "choose" (bahar) is paralleled with yada', but the parallelism is not synonymous (equating the two words with a similar meaning) but synthetic: by choosing what is right, men would know good.
      8. Thus, yada' means only "know" in the O. T., and does not factor into the discussion on God's election.