Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ephesians 5:18--Be filled with the Spirit?

Long ago, when I was a young MDiv student, I needed to resolve for myself a theological question concerning Ephesians 5:18. My theological question arose out of the popular appeal to Ephesians 5:18 by a major Christian campus evangelistic group as its key biblical passage concerning living the Christian life. Appeal to Ephesians 5:18 called for Christians to become "filled with the Holy Spirit," one of numerous versions of teachings concerning the need for a "second blessing" leading to sanctification.

Since I had received two years of instruction in biblical Greek in college I puzzled over whether Ephesians 5:18 actually provided support for the "second blessing" teaching because the Greek grammar simply did not seem to support the usual translation of the verse. So, during my middler MDiv year I decided to write an essay for the second semester Christian Theology course, Salvation and the Christian Life, on Ephesians 5:18 to see if I could resolve my questions.

Crucial to my study was whether Paul's command of Ephesians 5:18 and Luke's narrative descriptions of "filling with the Holy Spirit" and "fullness of the Holy Spirit" throughout Luke-Acts correlate and concern the same phenomenon. At the time that I researched for my essay I found no published work that had tabulated the lexical work that was necessary for me to do. Because I was not so well skilled in linguistic research I essentially did all the ground-work research for myself only to discover after the fact that various grammarians and linguists who long-predated me did have brief helpful and instructive notes that confirmed my own discoveries. What were those discoveries? The following table shows what I discovered. True to form, Greek words of filling and fullness take the genitive case to indicate the content or the thing with which something is filled or full.

Consistently Luke-Acts uses the genitive case (πνεύματος ἁγίου; Holy Spirit) following verbs of filling and adjectives of fullness. Ephesians 5:18, as shown, not only does not use the genitive case as one should expect, if Paul is speaking of the same phenomenon as does Luke-Acts (πνεύματος ἁγίου; Holy Spirit), but Paul uses the dative case with the preposition (en pneumati; ἐν πνεύματι). 


Verb or Adjective

Noun Case
Luke 1:15 πλησθήσεται (he will be filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Luke 1:41 ἐπλήσθη (she was filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (see above)
Luke 1:67 ἐπλήσθη (he was filled) πνεύματος ἁγίου (see above)
Luke 4:1 πλήρης (full)πνεύματος ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit)
Acts 2:4 ἐπλήσθησαν (they were filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Acts 4:8 πλησθείς (filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Acts 4:31 ἐπλήσθησαν (they were filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Acts 6:3 πλήρεις (full)πνεύματος (of the Spirit)
Acts 6:5 πλήρης (full)πνεύματος ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit)
Acts 7:55 πλήρης (full)πνεύματος ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit)
Acts 9:17 πλησθῇ (filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Acts 11:24 πλήρης (full) πνεύματος ἁγίου (of the Holy Spirit)
Acts 13:9

πλησθείς (filled)
πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)
Acts 13:52 ἐπληροῦντο (they were being filled)πνεύματος ἁγίου (with the Holy Spirit)

Ephesians 5:18 πληροῦσθε (be filled)ἐν πνεύματι (in the Spirit)

Consequently, it became readily evident that what Luke-Acts has in view with its grammatical constructions, Paul has something different in view. Since I did my research I have discovered that many others have confirmed my findings on Ephesians 5:18. I refer to published studies, including commentaries. In fact, unbeknown to me I initiated a series of studies on the passage that built upon my essay, an essay that was supposed to be twelve pages but turned out to be sixty-five pages. A doctoral dissertation used my essay and from that dissertation several other studies were birthed at various theological schools. 

Paul's admonition should not be taken as it is routinely translated even to this day as "be filled with the Spirit" (NIV, NRSV, ESV). Clearly, Paul is not commanding the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit in the sense that Luke describes various individuals as "filled with the Holy Spirit" such as in Luke 1:15, 41, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:31. Not everyone who challenges the mistranslation of Ephesians 5:18 agrees with me concerning how I translate the passage. Nevertheless, I offer the following as my translation of the verse tied inextricably with the following verses. Given Paul's uses of the various words for filling and for fullness throughout Ephesians, I translate the verb not as "be filled" but as "be brought to completion."

And do not become intoxicated with wine, in which is debauchery, but be brought to completion in the Spirit by speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, by singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, by giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to God and the Father, by submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
I take the imperative verb of 5:18 (πληροῦσθε; plērousthe) as the main verb upon which the sequence of participles hangs. I translate the verb as "be brought to completion." Hence, I translate each of the five present participles in the series as instrumental participles, expressing the instrumental means by which the being brought to completion is to be accomplished, by speaking . . . (λαλοῦντες), by singing and making melody . . . (ᾅδοντες . . . ψάλλοντες), by giving thanks . . . (εὐχαριστοῦντες), and by submitting (ὑποστασσόμενοι). It is rather apparent that the thing commanded in 5:18 is accomplished neither privately nor independently but corporately, as members of the church, within the congregation of believers. This is no "Lone Ranger" activity. This is true no matter how one syntactically connects the series of five participles to the imperative verb of 5:18, even if one takes the participles as expressing results rather than instrumental means.

You will also notice that many modern translations disconnect verse 21 from verses 18-20 and make it the head verse of a new paragraph connected with verse 22. This has been a modern and recent adjustment to the text after the third United Bible Societies' third edition of the Greek New Testament. This adjustment coincides with the modern feminist movement and its impact upon all things Christian. Not only is there no textual warrant for this; there are textual reasons to read verse 21 as the final verse of the paragraph.

As to all the theological implications and ramifications of my study, I leave that for now. Likewise, I lay discussion aside concerning other exegetical, syntactical, and text-critical decisions reflected in my translation. One this should be evident: Ephesians 5:18 is not commanding us to be "filled with the Holy Spirit" in the sense that early believers were "filled with the Holy Spirit." Rather, Paul's admonition entails the normative Christian experience of life and fellowship within the body of Christ, the church. The "being brought to completion in the Spirit" is none other than being filled with the fullness of God (cf. Ephesians 3:14-19).

Additional Note: Andy Naselli's book, Let Go and Let God? is a superb critique of the theology that my long essay on Ephesians 5:18 critiqued. From my earlier reading of Andy's material I am fully confident that his book will be superb. Read Andy's blog entry on his book, Let Go and Let God? here. Read Tom Schreiner's foreword to the book here.

Purchase Andy's book here at pre-publication special price. I ordered my copy today (6/11/10).

You may access significant elements of Andy's book by listening to his series of lectures based upon his dissertation here.

Additional Note #2: I just stumbled on to Andy Naselli's article, "Being Filled By the Spirit." Andy takes the five participles following the imperative πληροῦσθε in Ephesians 5:18 as expressing the results of "being filled by the Spirit." The expression "by the Spirit," of course, does not indicate the content. In fact, as Andy states and as my own study shows, the content with which we are to be filled is not expressly stated in the passage. As I suggest, the content is "the fulness of God," as inferred from the remainder of the letter to the Ephesians. I notice that Andy agrees with this.

Postscript: As I have indicated in my entry above, I have no substantial quibble with those, like Andy, who take the participles as expressing results of being filled by the Spirit. I take the participles as expressing instrumentality by which the command (πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι) is carried out. The reason I take the participles as instrumental rather than as resultant is that I take the command (πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι) to mean "be brought to completion in the Spirit." I take it this way for a variety of reasons. I will offer only two, here. One is that I take ἐν πνεύματι (en pneumati) as a locative, meaning, in the Spirit. This is influenced by the frequent use of  multiple uses of ἐν πνεύματι (en pneumati) in Ephesians, including some slight variations. Second is that I take πληρόω (plēroō [I fill, fulfill, complete]) in 5:18 in the sense "be fulfilled, be made complete" in conjuction with its other uses in Ephesians (1:23; 3:19; 4:10) and with use of πλήρωμα (plērōma [fullness]) in Ephesians (1:10;, 23; 3:19; 4:13). Ephesians 3:19 is decisive for me with the combination of the two words in the purpose clause, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ (in order that you might be made complete unto all the completeness of God or in order that you might be fulfilled unto all the fullness of God).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Irony in 1 John

A couple of notable points of irony in the rhetoric of 1 John may be found in 1:7 and in 2:11. Irony entails a twist, in these cases an unexpected twist.

The irony in 1:7, of course, is in the statement, "and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin." Who among us would ever think to use blood as a cleansing agent? Instead, we think of blood as causing stains, nearly indelible stains, difficult to remove. One hardly thinks of blood as a cleansing agent. John, however, does. Of course, blood in 1 John 1:7 does not refer principally to the red substance that courses through our arteries and veins but rather blood is used by synecdoche for Messiah's bloody self-sacrifice, blood shed, the giving of his life on behalf of others..

The irony of 2:11 is in the statement "because the darkness has blinded his eyes." Ordinarily we think of bright light as blinding our eyes, at least momentarily (cf. Acts 9:1-9). John, however, expresses the unexpected, that "the darkness has blinded his eyes." Of course, John employs darkness, absence of light, metaphorically for being devoid of truth, of righteousness, of belief, of knowledge of God, of understanding the gospel. So accustomed is the person to absence of  the light of truth and of righteousness that this person not only hates others but has no moral compass to discern proper direction but instead stumbles about, blinded by darkness.

Perhaps the irony of these two passages misses us because we have become so accustomed to reading the text without sufficient care and attentiveness or perhaps we have so frequently read the passage that it has little impact upon us because we assume that we know it. The ironies, however, are worth pondering, especially given themes in 1 John.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Does John use ἡ ἀγάπη (the love) as Personification for Christ Jesus?

See significant update below (05/11/2010).

During the last few weeks of the first-year koiné Greek course I have been teaching this semester we have been reading and translating 1 John. Earlier this week we read through 1 John 4:11-16. As we read, I offer a few basic exegetical observations for first-year Greek students. In particular, I focus attention upon the highlighted portion in verse 16. As many times as I have read through 1 John in the Greek text, the text remains fresh, so that this week I saw something for the first time in the following passage.

1 John 4:11-16 (Greek Text)
11 Ἀγαπητοί, εἰ οὕτως ὁ θεὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, καὶ ἡμεῖς ὀφείλομεν ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν. 12 θεὸν οὐδεὶς πώποτε τεθέαται. ἐὰν ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν μένει καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν τετελειωμένη ἐστίν. 13 Ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ μένομεν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν. 14 καὶ ἡμεῖς τεθεάμεθα καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ ἀπέσταλκεν τὸν υἱὸν σωτῆρα τοῦ κόσμου. 15 Ὃς ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃ ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ θεὸς ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν τῷ θεῷ. 16 καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχει ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν.

Ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν, καὶ ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἐν τῷ θεῷ μένει καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἐν αὐτῷ μένει.
1 John 4:11-16 (English Translation)
11 Beloved, if God loved us in this manner, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides among us and his love is made complete among us. 13 By this we know that we reside in him and he among us because he has given to us from his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and are bearing testimony that the Father sent the Son, savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses, "The Son of God is Jesus," God resides in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and have come to believe this love which God has among us.
God is love, and the one who resides in this love resides in God and God resides in him.
As we were reading the passage something leaped off the page to grab my attention relative to an essay that I discontinued researching and writing that I intended to present during a professional conference in November 2008. I discontinued my work on the essay when I was injured and could not sit without considerable discomfort. I have been intending to return to the essay on "the love of God" (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ) in 1 John and complete it. Getting injured stymied completion of the essay. After abandoning the project I lost interest in completing it. However, this week, as we were reading the above passage in class I may have stumbled upon an important element that re-energizes my interest to complete the essay.

Verse 16 is the portion that caught my attention. What struck me as unusual is the expression καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην (and we have come to know and we have come to believe the love. . . ). It is not strange to find love (τὴν ἀγάπην) as the direct object of the verb "I know" (γινώσκω). In fact, 1 John 3:16 places the love (τὴν ἀγάπην) as the direct object of the verb "I know" (γινώσκω) by stating, ἐν τούτω̣ ἐγνώκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην, ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἔθηκεν (by this we have come to know this love that this one laid down his life on behalf of us).

However, after consulting a Greek concordance and doing an electronic search with Bible software, I discovered what I suspected. It would be not only unusual but unexpected to find  love (τὴν ἀγάπην) as the object of the verb "I believe" (πιστεύω). In fact, this occurrence in 1 John 4:16 is the only one in the Greek Old Testament and New Testament. By writing we have come to believe love John seems to give objectivity to love. It seems that John objectifies ἡ ἀγάπη (the love). If this is so, then by objectifying ἡ ἀγάπη (the love), John represents the abstract concept of love as an object that we both come to know and to believe. Yet, to suggest that he represents love as an object is altogether too inadequate, because John's unexpected objectifying turn of phrase seems to require us to understand ἡ ἀγάπη (the love) to be invested with a figurative function. This figurative function seems to be personification of the love of God (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ) by substituting ἡ ἀγάπη (the love) for Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστὸς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ; Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God), who is the personification of God's love made visible among us through his incarnation and sacrificial death, in particular. If this is so, perhaps I am onto the turn of phrase that opens up John's use of the phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ (the love of God) which he seems to employ with deliberate equivocation. This concurs with my exegetical instincts when I was working on my essay that the incarnation of Christ is the key that enables John's seeming deliberate equivocation. Thus, it appears that John may use ἡ ἀγάπη (the love) as a substitute for Jesus Christ in whose sacrificial death divine love is personified. If reading the passage this way is correct, then John is making the point that Christ's incarnation brings the abiding presence of God's love among us.

It is noteworthy that the expression that caught my eye occurs within John's climaxing presentation of the love of God (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ; 4:7-21). Keep in mind that my essay aimed at seeking to determine whether the genitive (τοῦ θεοῦ) in John's expression the love of God (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ) should be understood as expressing (1) subjectively, God's love for believers; or (2) objectively, beleivers' love for God; or whether the expression (3) signals that love has its origin in God and is manifest through believers to one another; or that the expression is (4) a purposefully equivocating expression that plausibly bears all three previous senses depending upon its use in context.

Now, I trust you will recognize why 1 John 4:16 caught my eye in relation to my suspended essay on ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ (the love of God). One finds John's repeated and varied expressions concerning the love of God in the following passages.
1 John 2:5 ἐν τούτω̣ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται (in this the love of God is perfected
1 John 2:15 οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ (the love of the Father is not in him)
1 John 3:17 πῶς ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ μένει ἐν αὐτῷ; (how dwells the love of God in him?)
1 John 4:9 ἐν τούτω̣ ἐφανερώθη ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν (by this the love of God is made visible among us)
1 John 4:12 καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν τετελειωμένη ἐστίν (and his love is made perfect among us)
1 John 5:3 αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ (for this is the love of God)
In 1 John 4:9 "the love of God" (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ) seems unambiguously God's love: “Herein God’s love was disclosed among us, that God sent his unique Son into the world in order that we might live through him” (ἐν τούτῳ ἐφανερώθη ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν κ.τ.λ.). Here, the the verb "is disclosed" or "is made visible" (ἐφανερώθη) renders it difficult not to take the expression as "God's love" rather than "love for God." Again, John emphasizes that God is the source of love when he writes, “Herein is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son, propitiation concerning our sins” (4:10). John offers another emphatic punch when he grounds his admonition: “Beloved, if God loved us in this manner, we also ought to love one another” (4:11). Then, as though to make the point that the incarnation of God’s love made visible by his sending the Son continues to reside among us even though Christ in the flesh is no longer present, John writes, “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God resides among us and his love is made complete among us” (ἡ ἀγάπη αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν τετελειωμένη ἐστίν, 4:12). So, in this way not only does John underscore the priority of God’s love, that all Christian love derives from God, but also that God's love, by virtue of the Son's incarnation and self-sacrifice, persistently resides among us (ἐν ἡμῖν). John emphasizes the priority of God's love again in 4:19, “We love because he first love us.”


Update (05/11/2010): Because when I posted the above note I had not consulted commentaries on 1 John 4:16 until today, I failed to point out a rather crucial interpretive decision that makes a rather large difference in whether one reads the verse as I have proposed or how most translations take the verse. Because of how they take en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν), as for us rather than among us or in us, it is understandable why commentators do not take note of what I have addressed above.

According to 1 John 4:16, the direct object of knowing and believing is love (τὴν ἀγάπην), not just any love, of course, but "the love which God has en hēmin [ἐν ἡμῖν]." At issue is whether en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν) means "among us," "in us," or "for us," as read in the ESV, NRSV, and NIV. 
Greek text: καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν τὴν ἀγάπην ἣν ἔχει ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἡμῖν.
English translation: and we have come to know and have come to believe the love which God has among us.
ESV: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
NRSV: So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
NIV: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
Exegetes acknowledge that the expression under question is curious because, if John intended the sense "for us" one would have expected him to write eis hēmas (εἰς ἡμᾶς). If the sense is "for us," this is the construction we would expect to find just as we do in 2 Corinthians 2:4 where Paul uses the phrase eis humas (for you; εἰς ὑμᾶς). See also Colossians 1:4 and Philemon 5. Each occurs following the verb love.

While love or a pronoun referring to love is often the object of the verb echō (to have; ἔχω), rarely does one find the expression "to have love" followed by the preposition en (ἐν). Two exceptions exist in the New Testament. Both are in John's Gospel: (1) John 5:42 (because you do not have the love of God in/among yourselves; ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς [en heautois]); and (2) John 13:35 (you are my disciples, if you have love for/among one another; ἐμοὶ μαθηταί ἐστε, ἐὰν ἀγάπην ἔχητε ἐν ἀλλήλοις [en allēlois]). Whether these two exceptions provide any support for the ESV, NRSV, or NIV of 1 John 4:16 is the question. In fact, it is questionable whether these two exceptions even use the preposition en (ἐν) followed by the datives (ἑαθτοῖς and ἀλλήλοις) with the sense of "for" as if the expressions were written eis heatous (εἰς ἑαυτοῦς) and eis allēlous (εἰς ἀλλήλους) respectively.

John uses the Greek preposition en (ἐν) no fewer than 80 times in 1 John. Among these, one finds that 1 John uses the prepositional phrase en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν) eight times. Nowhere else in 1 John does one find en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν) or en followed by any other noun or pronoun with the sense of "for us" as translators tend to take the phrase. So, why would one take the phrase in 4:16 as the above translations do?

To support their interpretive decision, translators and exegetes tend to appeal to John 13:35. It is dubious whether this passage provides any support for taking the prepositional phrase, en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν), in the sense "for us." This is so because there is no need to take the prepositional phrase en allēlois (ἐν ἀλλήλοις) in John 13:35 in the sense "for one another," except to accommodate English idiom which prefers "for one another" instead of "among one another." But to impose the preferred English idiom back onto the Greek idiom, of course, would be an anachronistic fallacy. Nothing in the Greek idiom requires that we allow the typical English translation of John 13:35--"you are my disciples, if you have love for one another"--to insist that the Greek en allēlois (ἐν ἀλλήλοις) bears exactly the same sense as eis allēlous (εἰς ἀλλήλους).

Upon reviewing several commentaries on 1 John that I have in my library, I discovered that even though a couple observe that it is unusual that John would follow "to believe" (pisteuō; πιστεύω) with the plain accusative case "the love" (tēn agapēn; τὴν ἀγαπήν), none show curiosity to inquire further, especially given John's double verb (we have come to know and we have come to believe) followed by the simple accusative case (tēn agapēn; τὴν ἀγαπήν), and the prepositional phrase en hēmin (ἐν ἡμῖν). All three elements, bound together as they are, should incite curiosity, at least. My curiosity surely is piqued. Hence, my proposal above as I have translated 1 John 4:16--"And we have come to know and have come to believe this love which God has among us."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

χάρις ἀντὶ χάριτος in John 1:16

χάρις ἀντὶ χάριτος in John 1:16; grace instead of grace in John 1:16.

A verse in John's Gospel that entails a puzzling expression is John 1:16. See below the highlighted portion in the Greek and in the English translations.

John 1:16--ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος·

KJV--And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

NASB--For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

NIV--From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

ESV--And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

TNIV--Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
At issue is the force of the preposition ἀντί. As the translations indicate, some want to take ἀντί with senses that the preposition does not elsewhere convey. Thus, so many translations are quite improbable.

I was surprised, however, when I read the TNIV on John 1:16. It seems that this translation comes the closest to getting the preposition correct. Of the several commentaries that I have in my library, it seems to me that one alone gets the passage right. It is D. A. Carson's The Gospel according to John. As Carson observes, "The most convincing view takes anti in one of its most common uses (and by far the most common in the LXX) to mean 'instead of': from Christ's fulness we have all received grace instead of grace" (132).

How should we understand this? Carson offers the following: "On the face of it, then, it appears that the grace and truth that came through Jesus Christ is what replaces the law; the law itself is understood to be an earlier display of grace."

I think that Carson gets it right.