The Abandonement of Hermenuetics, Part 2

Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:15-21 are the subject of our next inquiry into the “Science” of Hermeneutics. It has been posited in the comments section of the answer to Part 1 that this should be used as a proof text for those who support Women’s Ordination and to not to leads to “General Assembly-like” pronouncements like women not being able to teach adult men but being able to teach male children.

There are several questions that come up when thinking here and must be understood when looking at these two passages. 1) How should we look at Old Testament passages cited by New Testament authors (inspired by the same Spirit?) 2) How much can we read into a text before we obscure and obfuscate its meaning? 3) Can a text have separate contexts?

However first we need to define the major word of this pericope. PROPHECY. John Calvin in his commentary on Acts 2 says, “…this word prophesy doth signify nothing else save only the rare and excellent gift of understanding, as if Joel should say, Under the kingdom of Christ there shall not be a few prophets only, unto whom God may reveal his secrets; but all men shall be endued with spiritual wisdom, even to the prophetical excellency.” John Chrysostom in his Homily V on Acts 2 also gives the same definition as John Calvin saying,” but for the grace, he fetches the prophet as witness. “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.” [“And your sons,” etc.] To some the grace was imparted through dreams, to others it was openly poured forth.” This Prophecy of which both Calvin and Chrysostom speak has nothing to do with teaching or preaching, as some have surmised, but has to do with the revelation of the Will of God. In this case Peter is speaking to the Jews who are wondering why Cretans and Arabs are speaking in tongues they do not understand. They are speaking not only in a tongue the Jews cannot understand but of a way that cannot be understand because the Holy Spirit has not been imparted to them. John Piper in a sermon on Acts 2 says this:

In the Old Testament the Spirit of God is the presence of God in the world to reveal himself by some action or word. Therefore when Joel says that God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh, he means that God will draw near to men and women and make himself known and felt in a powerful way. There is a great difference between perceiving a lake at a distance and being immersed in the lake. So there is a great difference between experiencing God as a distant object of knowledge and being immersed in his presence. The picture of a worldwide pouring compels us to think of being soaked and saturated and swept along by the Spirit of God. Joel wanted his readers to anticipate an unmistakable flood-tide of God’s presence.

The context of Peter’s commentary and quotation of Joel 2 belies nothing that would tell us Peter here is speaking about teaching and preaching in the Church. Peter is speaking to the Jews during the event of Pentecost when Jesus’ words to the Apostles were fulfilled. To make the argument that Peter here is is quoting Joel to give the office of teacher to both men and women is stretching the meaning of the text. As we see from the several commentators we cannot give a meaning to a text that it itself cannot and does not give. This on its own not only breaks Scripture’s internal hermeneutic but it violates the rules of literary analysis, tools that even wacko conservatives use to help determine the meaning of the text. Also as Reformed Christians who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith as the best summary of the Doctrine of the Christian life we must (unless you are like our dispensational friends that believe that we can still receive prophecy after the death of the last Apostle) say that Prophecy has ceased. Richard Gaffin, Professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia in his book Perspectives on Pentecost in summary says, “The apostolic witness, prophecy and tongues were bound up with the foundation of the church following the ascension of Christ, and therefore, since the foundation has been laid, have no purpose for today.” For a Reformed believer if Prophecy has ceased then what Joel and Peter speak of in this passage cannot have bearing on us because we do not live in the Apostolic age. The Westminster Confession says:

The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1, section 1:

Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.
Chapter 1, Section 6:
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Even moreso Paul in 1st Timothy 5:17 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” Now who is to be preaching and teaching? Elders. What are the qualifications for Elders according to Paul (who like Peter and Joel is inspired by the Holy Spirit)? Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 that the office of Overseer, or Elder is restricted to “…the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

Now where do Elders receive their call to head the Church? For that let us take a look at Acts 20:17-38. In this passage Paul is writing to the Elders at the church in Ephesus. He is giving them a sort of pep talk and exhorting them to keep strong in the faith that has been delivered to them and to be vigilant like a shepherd tending to their flocks. Now what does this description sound like to you? Sounds like the daily work of a Pastor does it not? Also worth remembering is the location of Timothy when Paul writes to him. Where is he? Ephesus. So if Paul believes that only qualified men (not all men) can be Elders, and Elders are the Shepherds of the Church, and Elders are to be the ones preaching and teaching what does that say about Joel and Peter and there speaking of Prophesy? Well we can be sure that it does not mean that Peter in Acts 2 and Joel in his book chapter 2 cannot be, if taken with the whole counsel of Scripture, to mean that the act of “Prophesy” which both men and women are called can be conflated to therefore mean that both men and women are called to and can preach and be Teaching Elders in the Church of Christ.

The Abandonement of Hermenuetics, Part 1.

The study of Hermeneutics or better said the way in which we read and study biblical text is a dying art in the evangelical, let alone the liberal, world. There used to be a very serious set of principles that a person would employ when they came to the Biblical text that was nearly as sacrosanct as the text itself. For those of us in the Reformed circles this was done in the guise of reading the Scriptures in the framework of the Covenants between God and man. In other words when a Reformed pastor or theologian would come to a biblical text he would read it first with the idea that the Bible was constructed with a certain organizing principle, constructed by the Holy Spirit so that we could both understand the larger picture and how the little things work for the overall Glory of God in history. We all come to the text with presuppositions about the nature of the text, the way we understand God to work in his creation, etc. Through all this we take things like God’s covenant with Noah and Abraham through different eyes than Talmudic or Dispensational scholars. The Talmudic scholar will read the promises to Noah in relation to the modern Jewish milieu. The Dispensationalist will see the Noahic Covenant as the beginning of a new dispensation that is different than the one given to Adam or Moses. Once we come to this understanding the question that comes before us is why do we think we can read Scripture in such a way that it does not inform on itself? For example in the arguments between those who support Women in Ordained ministry and those who do not the defenders of the egalitarian position often posit the observation that Jesus employed women to bring the news of his resurrection to his Male disciples as one fact supporting ordained female clergy. In other words Jesus uses women to bring the Good News to the disciples, therefore women can be messengers of the Gospel, ergo Women can be preachers of the Gospel and enter ordained ministry. Understand the argument? Ok. This argument sounds pretty good on the surface and looks secure in its logic, which if taken by itself it is logical.

Jesus’ discussion with the Pharisees in Matthew 12:38-41 is a good place for us to start in working with a Biblical hermeneutic. What are the details in this text? Pharisees and Scribes are asking Jesus for a sign after the crowds call him the “Son of David” for healing the blind and mute man possessed with a demonic force. The Pharisees want him to prove that he is this person whom the crowd claims him to be. So after Jesus and the Pharisees exchange pleasantries Jesus reminds them of Jonah (whom Jesus recognizes as both real and verifiable, which is another issue for another day) and what it was that happened to Jonah. He also reminds them of Nineveh and Nineveh’s repentance and applies this text not only to himself but to the recompense that is coming. All in order to show them that the signs have already been given to them in the Law and the Prophets (cf: The Rich Man and Lazarus) and that they have no need of new signs because why? Because there is nothing new in what Christ is teaching and what he is coming to do in their time. Jesus understands (and so does Zacharias) that the Law and the Prophets not only speak of him but are about him. This is all to say that a proper Biblical hermeneutic takes into account more than just what is in front of us on the page, more than the bare logic of a pericope.

Which brings us back to Matthew 28:1-10 (also Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-10) and the reporting of the Resurrection. Now as we saw before the argument brought forward by egalitarians makes perfect sense, in isolation. Now how does the story look in context? We’ll answer that in the next post. But for now I want you to think about it and come up with your own explanation using a Covenant hermeneutic.

Romans 16:7

We continue our look at verses that cause confusion and downright division in some cases. Up in the rotation next is Romans 16:7. This particular verse has caused some questioning lately upon the campus of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I may refrain from making a definite statement in the end but for right now I am just going to place the verse and quotations from several commentaries. Then I’ll get into my exegesis of the text. I will also quote six separate translations of separate heritages for diversity’s sake, the reason will become quite evident. So without further ado here is Romans 16:7:

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.(New American Standard Bible)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives, who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New Revised Standard Version)

Greet Androni’cus and Ju’nias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(Revised Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(English Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New International Version)

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
(King James Version)

If you read carefully there are two particular points where the translations have made decisions pertaining to the text. The first being the proper “gender” of Junia(s) and the second being Andronicus and Junia(s) relationship to Paul and the apostles (Futhermore the question must be asked what does Paul mean by “apostle” in this context? We’ll get into that briefly towards the end.) What is interesting here is that only two of the translations use the term “relatives” instead of kinsmen. Now with the history of the NRSV per gender-neutrality this should be of no surprise, whether rightly or wrongly, it always renders all-encompassing masculine terms in a neutral way, which is fine in my book. Now the NIV is a “dynamic-equivalence” translation and makes no bones about the fact it is not a literal translation. Now in mind of this both the commentaries on this passage by Matthew Henry and Martin Luther render it Junia and make mention that Junia is either Andronicus’ wife or sister. Here is Matthew Henry’s words on the passage:

4. Concerning Andronicus and Junia,v. 7. Some take them for a man and his wife, and the original will well enough bear it; and, considering the name of the latter, this is more probable than that they should be two men, as others think, and brethren. Observe, (1.) They were Paul’s cousins, akin to him; so was Herodion, v. 11. Religion does not take away, but rectifies, sanctifies, and improves, our respect to our kindred, engaging us to lay out ourselves most for their good, and to rejoice in them the more, when we find them related to Christ by faith. (2.) They were his fellow-prisoners. Partnership in suffering sometimes does much towards the union of souls and the knitting of affections. We do not find in the story of the Acts any imprisonment of Paul before the writing of this epistle, but that at Philippi, Acts xvi. 23. But Paul was in prisons more frequent (2 Cor. xi. 23), in some of which, it seems, he met with his friends Andronicus and Junia, yoke-fellows, as in other things, so in suffering for Christ and bearing his yoke. (3.) They were of note among the apostles,Who also were in Christ before me, that is, were converted to the Christian faith. In time they had the start of Paul, though he was converted the next year after Christ’s ascension. How ready was Paul to acknowledge in others any kind of precedency! not so much perhaps because they were persons of estate and quality in the world as because they were eminent for knowledge, and gifts, and graces, which made them famous among the apostles, who were competent judges of those things, and were endued with a spirit of discerning not only the sincerity, but the eminence, of Christians.

I have italicized Henry’s answer to our question on the “gender” of Junia(s). He evidently finds enough disagreement among his brethren concerning his rendering that he makes note of it. Not to get off-topic here but I do think one thing needs mentioned to prevent a side argument from occurring, I will quickly quote Henry’s commentary from his words on Phoebe in verse one and two, “1. He gives a very good character of her. (1.) As a sister to Paul: Phebe our sister; not in nature, but in grace; not in affinity or consanguinity, but in pure Christianity: his own sister in the faith of Christ, loving Paul, and beloved of him, with a pure and chaste and spiritual love, as a sister; for there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 28. Both Christ and his apostles had some of their best friends among the devout (and upon that account honourable) women. (2.) As a servant to the church at Cenchrea: diakonon, a servant by office, a stated servant, not to preach the word (that was forbidden to women), but in acts of charity and hospitality.” I also Recommend Dr. J. Ligon Duncan’s Sermon on Romans 16:1-2.

Now I want to take a look at the apostle question quickly. We will look to John Calvin in his commentary on the passage to see his answer (Calvin also renders it Junia, btw).

7. Salute Andronicus Though Paul is not wont to make much of kindred, and of other things belonging to the flesh, yet as the relationship which Junia and Andronicus bore to him, might avail somewhat to make them more fully known, he neglected not this commendation. There is more weight in the second eulogy, when he calls them his fellow-prisoners; for among the honors belonging to the warfare of Christ, bonds are not to be counted the least. In the third place, he calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning, but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere. He then, in a general way, calls those in this place Apostles, who planted Churches by carrying here and there the doctrine of salvation; for elsewhere he confines this title to that first order which Christ at the beginning established, when he appointed the twelve disciples. It would have been otherwise strange, that this dignity should be only ascribed to them, and to a few others. But as they had embraced the gospel by faith before Paul, he hesitates not to set them on this account before himself.

Calvin, as is nearly unanimous in the commentaries I checked, makes a distinction between the use of “Apostles” as Paul and others use it to describe the original 12 Apostles in Acts and the Gospels and Paul’s use of it here and other places in his letters. We must take note that the word apostle in Greek can mean several different things. Danker’s Greek-English lexicon gives five different meanings for the New Testament and contemporary Greek use. 1) “Messengers without extraordinary status”, (Phil 2:25). 2) “Messengers with extraordinary status” (Epictetus 2, 22, 23 of Cynic wise men). 3) “Of prophets” (Luke 11:49, Rev. 18:20). 4) “Of Christ” (Hebrews 3:1). 5) “A group of highly honored believers with a special function as God’s envoys” (Romans 1:1, 11:13, Acts 14:14, Rom 16:7, Gal 1:19) and 5a) “Then especially of the 12 Apostles” (Matt 10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 22:14)

This all being said it is not the purview of this post to go into anymore detail per the use of the word “apostle” in the New Testament and elsewhere other than to say it certainly is ambiguous in this context and nearly unanimous in the commentaries that Paul uses the word apostle in this place with the first meaning given by Danker in mind, that of a “messenger without extraordinary status”. Feel free to disagree but given the context and the way Paul uses the word to describe himself and those gathered at the Jerusalem Council it is very unlikely that he was using “apostle” to mean anything other than just a “messenger” of the Gospel.

Now I think this has given us plenty to discuss and ponder. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Galatians 3:28

I’d like to take a few posts and ponder a look at what I see as verses that are misunderstood by not only the laity but also many scholars and clergy. The first one up on the rotation is Galatians 3:28. As a quick reminder here is the verse:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

In today’s culture this verse is used by many people as a proof text for not only the full inclusion of women in all positions within the ecclesiastical offices but also to say that the New Testament church should no longer recognize separate gender identification. They take “neither male nor female” to either dismiss gender roles or gender all together. It is my contention that not only does the verse say no such thing but it has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with equality or gender. Paul’s point in this verse has nothing to do with saying Jews and Greeks, Slaves and Masters, or Men and Women are equal but that they are one in Christ Jesus. There is giant difference between equality and unity. If Paul’s point in this verse is to say that all of these distinctions no longer exist or are no longer applicable then he has contradicted himself in every one of his letters. Paul goes to great lengths in Romans 9-11 to describe the differences between Jews and Greeks. Paul in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus describes in great detail the difference in roles (not worth) between men and women. Paul also calls out Overseers and deacons from the congregations of his churches to be set apart for leadership. One of the most favored pericopes of Paul’s in use today (1 Cor 12:12-31) is his imagery of the many body parts and their unity and usefulness in the body. Paul does not say all body parts are equal in their diversity but they are all equal in their worth to the function of the entire body. His point is that the body strength is its unity, not its diversity. This is vital for our understanding of the proper usage Galatians 3:28 because Paul is clear in saying that not all are called to do whatever they wish to do but only for what the Spirit has called for them. What right does a foot to be a hand? Or a Liver to do the work of the Lung? All are called to specific roles and functions with in the unified body of Christ. If one is called to be a Lung and they do not pull oxygen into the blood stream the whole body suffers from the effects of deprivation. This is serious business.

However even outside of the denial of the motive of equality for Paul’s writing this verse in Galatians is the context in which it is written. One of the common critiques of conservatives by liberals is that conservatives “do not understand the context” of a given passage that if we look at the entirety of a passage it will not have the restrictive meaning we give it. Well here is an example of a verse where liberals and moderate evangelicals take a given pericope and extract it from its surrounding context and use it for their own purpose. Paul is speaking in Galatians 3 of the unity of the salvation that is given by Jesus Christ through Grace by Faith. Working backwards verse 27 speaks of our one baptism in Christ (UNITY), verse 26 all are sons of God (we do not have space but one would be smart to look into the usage of Sons of God and what it means) because of faith in Christ (UNITY), verses 25-21 Paul is talking about the Law and Faith (UNITY), verses 20-15 the covenant of Abraham seed (UNITY). Not a word that precedes Galatians 3:28 speaks of diversity in the body or having anything to with the eradication of role but speaking to the foolish Galatians who have denied the unity of their faith. Verse 29 concludes and summarizes what Paul has been speaking of in this chapter. He says:

29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Paul, given the context of Galatians 3, cannot be speaking in Galatians 3:28 about an egalitarian worldview. The text does not bear this out nor can it, no matter the wiggling. We do a disservice to Paul if we take this out-of-context for our own selfish desires.

Fun Reading!!!

I love reading Knox for his fire and gravity. This, his preface to his most infamous work, is worth reading for many reasons but mostly as an insight into the reality Knox faced in his time. A reality we take for granted in our contemporary milieu (or as I would say we ignore).

The First Blast of the Trumpet
Against the Monstrous Regime of Women


The kingdom appertains to our God. [Psalm 22:28]

Wonder it is, that amongst so many pregnant wits as the isle of Great Britain has produced, so many godly and zealous preachers as England did sometime nourish, and amongst so many learned, and men of grave judgment, as this day by Jezebel are exiled, none is found so stout of courage, so faithful to God, nor loving to their native country, that they dare admonish the inhabitants of that isle, how abominable before God is the empire or rule of a wicked woman (yea, of a traitress and bastard); and what may a people or nation, left destitute of a lawful head, do by the authority of God’s word in electing and appointing common rulers and magistrates. That isle (alas!) for the contempt and horrible abuse of God’s mercies offered, and for the shameful revolting to Satan from Christ Jesus, and from his gospel once professed, does justly merit to be left in the hands of their own counsel, and so to come to confusion and bondage of strangers. [1]But yet I fear that this universal negligence of such as sometimes were esteemed watchmen shall rather aggravate our former ingratitude, than excuse this our universal and ungodly silence in so weighty a matter. We see our country set forth for a prey to foreign nations; we hear [of] the blood of our brethren, the members of Christ Jesus, most cruelly to be shed; and the monstrous empire [government] of a cruel woman (the secret counsel of God excepted) we know to be the only occasion of all those miseries; and yet with silence we pass the time, as though the matter did nothing appertain to us. [2]But the contrary examples of the ancient prophets move me to doubt of this our fact. For Israel did universally decline from God by embracing idolatry under Jeroboam ­ in which they did continue even unto the destruction of their commonwealth (1 Kings 12:25-33). And Judah, with Jerusalem, did follow the vile superstition and open iniquity of Samaria (Ezek. 16). But yet the prophets of God ceased not to admonish the one and the other; yea, even after God had poured forth his plagues upon them. For Jeremiah did write to the captives in Babylon, and did correct their errors, plainly instructing them who did remain in the midst of that idolatrous nation (Jer. 29). Ezekiel, from the midst of his brethren (prisoners in Chaldea) did write his vision to those that were in Jerusalem; and, sharply rebuking their vices, assured them that they should not escape the vengeance of God, by reason of their abominations committed (Ezek. 7-9).

[3]The same prophets, for comfort of the afflicted and chosen saints of God, who did lie hid amongst the reprobate of that age (as commonly does the corn amongst the chaff), did prophesy and before speak the changes of kingdoms, the punishment of tyrants, and the vengeance which God would execute upon the oppressors of his people (Isa. 13; Jer. 46; Ezek. 36). [4]The same did Daniel, and the rest of the prophets, every one in their season. By whose examples, and by the plain precept which is given to Ezekiel (3″18-21), commanding him that he shall say to the wicked, “Thou shalt die the death,” we in this our miserable age are bound to admonish the world, and the tyrants thereof, of their sudden destruction, to assure them and to cry unto them, whether they list or not, “that the blood of the saints, which by them is shed, continually crieth and craveth the vengeance in the presence of the Lord of Hosts” (Rev. 6:9-10). And further, it is our duty to open the truth revealed unto us, unto the ignorant and blind world; unless that, to our own condemnation, we list to wrap up and hide the talent committed to our charge.

I am assured that God has revealed to some in this our age, that it is more than a monster in nature that a woman shall reign and have empire above man. And yet, with us all there is such silence, as if God therewith were nothing offended. [5]I know the natural man, enemy to God, shall find many causes why no such doctrine ought to be published in these our dangerous days: first, for that it may seem to tend to sedition; secondarily, it shall be dangerous, not only to the writer or publisher, but also to all such as shall read the writings, or favour this truth spoken; and last, it shall not amend the chief offenders, partly because it shall never come to their ears, and partly because they will not be admonished in such cases.

I answer, if any of these be a sufficient reason, that a known truth shall be concealed, then were the ancient prophets of God very fools, who did not better provide for their own quietness, than to hazard their lives for rebuking of vices, and for the opening of such crimes as were not known to the world. And Christ Jesus did injury to his apostles, commanding them to preach repentance and remission of sins in his name to every realm and nation. And Paul did not understand his own liberty, when he cried, “Woe be to me, if I preach not the evangel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). If fear, I say, of persecution, of slander, or of any inconvenience before named, might have excused and discharged the servants of God from plainly rebuking the sins of the world, just cause had every one of them to have ceased from their office. For suddenly their doctrine was accused by terms of sedition, of new learning, and of treason. Persecution and vehement trouble did shortly come upon the professors with the preachers. Kings, princes, and worldly rulers did conspire against God, and against his anointed Christ Jesus (Matt. 26:57-68; Acts 18:12-16; 21:28-39; Ps. 2; Acts 4:1-33).

But what? Did any of these move the prophets and apostles to faint in their vocation [calling]? No. But by the resistance (which the devil made to them by his supporters) were they the more inflamed to publish the truth revealed unto them, and to witness with their blood, that grievous condemnation and God’s heavy vengeance should follow the proud contempt of graces offered. The fidelity, bold courage, and constancy of those that are passed before us, ought to provoke us to follow in their footsteps, unless we look for another kingdom than Christ has promised to such as persevere in profession of his name to the end.

If any think that the empire of women is not of such importance, that for the suppressing of the same any man is bound to hazard his life: I answer, that to suppress it is in the hand of God alone. [6]But to utter the impiety and abomination of the same, I say, it is the duty of every true messenger of God to whom the truth is revealed in that behalf. [7]For the especial duty of God’s messengers is to preach repentance, to admonish the offenders of their offenses, and to say to the wicked, “Thou shalt die the death, except thou repent.” This, I trust, no man will deny to be the proper office of all God’s messengers, to preach (as I have said) repentance and remission of sins. But neither of both can be done, except the conscience of the offenders be accused and convicted of transgression. But how shall any man repent, not knowing wherein he has offended? And where no repentance is found, there can be no entry to grace. And therefore, I say, that of necessity it is that this monstiferous empire of women (which amongst all enormities that this day do abound upon the face of the whole earth, is most detestable and damnable) be openly revealed and plainly declared to the world, to the end that some may repent and be saved. And thus far to the first sort.

To such as think that it will be long before such doctrine comes to the ears of the chief offenders, [8]I answer, that the verity of God is of that nature, that at one time or at another it will purchase to itself audience. It is an odor [aroma] and smell that cannot be suppressed. Yea, it is a trumpet that will sound in despite of the adversary. It will compel the very enemies, to their own confusion, to testify and bear witness of it. For I find that the prophecy and preaching of Elijah were declared in the hall of the king of Syria, by the servants and flatterers of the same wicked king, making mention that Elijah declared to the king of Israel whatsoever the said king of Syria spoke in his most secret chamber (2 Kings 6:12). And the wondrous works of Jesus Christ were notified to Herod, not in any great praise or commendation of his doctrine, but rather to signify that Christ called that tyrant a fox, and that he did no more regard his authority than did John the baptist, whom Herod before had beheaded for the liberty of his tongue (Matt. 14:1-2).

But whether the bearers of the rumours and tidings were favourers of Christ, or flatterers of the tyrant, certain it is that the fame, as well of Christ’s doctrine as of his works, came to the ears of Herod. Even so may the sound of our weak trumpet, by the support of some wind (blow it from the south, or blow it from the north, it is no matter), come to the ears of the chief offenders. But whether it does or not, yet dare we not cease to blow as God will give strength (Rom. 1:15-17). [9]For we are debtors to more than princes: to wit, to the multitude of our brethren, of whom, no doubt, a great number have heretofore offended by error and ignorance, giving their suffrages, consent, and help to establish women in their kingdoms and empires, not understanding how abominable, odious, and detestable is all such usurped authority in the presence of God. And therefore must the truth be plainly spoken, that the simple and rude multitude may be admonished.

And as concerning the danger which may hereof ensue, I am not altogether so brutish and insensible, but that I have laid my account, what the finishing of the work may cost me for my own part. [10]First, I am not ignorant how difficult and dangerous it is to speak against a common error, especially when the ambitious minds of men and women are called to the obedience of God’s simple commandment. For to the most part of men, whatsoever antiquity has received appears lawful and godly. And secondarily, I look to have more adversaries, not only of the ignorant multitude, but also of the wise, politic, and quiet spirits of the world ­ so that as well shall such as ought to maintain the truth and verity of God become enemies to me in this case, as shall the princes and ambitious persons who, to maintain their unjust tyranny, do always study to suppress the same. And thus I am most certainly persuaded that my labour shall not escape reprehension of many.

[11]But because I remember that account of the talents received must be made to him ­ who neither respects the multitude, neither yet approves the wisdom, policy, peace, nor antiquity, concluding or determining anything against his eternal will, revealed to us in his most blessed word ­ I am compelled to cover my eyes, and shut up my ears, that I neither see the multitude that shall withstand me in this matter, neither that I shall hear the opprobrium, nor consider the dangers which I may incur for uttering the same. I shall be called foolish, curious, despiteful, and a sower of sedition; and one day, perchance (although now [I] am nameless) I may be attainted [condemned] of treason. [12]But seeing that it is impossible, but that either I shall offend God, daily calling to my conscience that I ought to manifest the known verity; or else that I shall displease the world for doing the same; I have determined to obey God, notwithstanding that the world shall rage thereat.

I know that the world offended (by God’s permission) may kill the body; but God’s majesty offended has power to punish body and soul for ever. His majesty is offended when his precepts are contemned and his threatenings esteemed to be of none effect. And amongst his manifold precepts given to his prophets, and amongst his threatenings, none is more vehement than is that which is pronounced by Ezekiel in these words: “Son of man, I have appointed thee a watchman to the house of Israel, that thou shouldest hear from my mouth the word; and that thou mayest admonish them plainly, when I shall say to the wicked man, ‘O wicked, thou shalt assuredly die.’ Then if thou shalt not speak, that thou mayest plainly admonish him that he may leave his wicked way, the wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require of thy hand. But and if thou shalt plainly admonish the wicked man, and yet he shall not turn from his way, such a one shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezek. 33:7-9).

This precept, I say, with the threatening annexed, together with the rest that is spoken in the same chapter, not to Ezekiel only, but to every one whom God places watchman over his people and flock (and watchmen are they, whose eyes he does open, and whose conscience he pricks to admonish the ungodly), compels me to utter my conscience in this matter, notwithstanding that the whole world should be offended with me for so doing. [13]If any wonder why I do conceal my name, let him be assured that the fear of corporeal punishment is neither the only, neither the chief cause. My purpose is thrice to blow the trumpet in the same matter, if God so permits. Twice I intend to do it without name; but at the last blast to take the blame upon myself, that all others may be purged.