NT Proofs for God’s Perfect Goodness Part II

The next most used word for good in the New Testament is καλός. Aaron C. Fenlason details the use of the word καλός:

The word kalos indicates that which is essentially flawless, morally good, or beautiful. In the nt, the word is often used synonymously with ἀγαθός (agathos, “good”) to indicate the first or second of these semantic possibilities. While the lxx frequently uses kalos to render Hebrew words and phrases which refer to physical beauty, in the nt there are only a few instances where the word clearly refers to the beauty of an object. Luke 21:5 speaks of the beautiful (kalos) stones used in the construction of the temple, and Matthew 13:45 mentions fine (kalos) pearls.[1]

The origin of καλός refers to a man of great strength and usefulness.[2] One example by Paul points to the idea of merit, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:18-19).

One can witness the interchangeability of καλός and ἀγαθός. The first good uses καλός, while the second good comes from ἀγαθός, which supports some of the comments proposed by scholars as these two words being synonyms for each other.[3] J. Wanke declares, “In NT usage, καλός is almost synonymous with → ἀγαθός. Both words can be used in place of each other: cf. 1 Timothy 2:10 with 5:10; Titus 1:16 with 2:7; Ephesians 2:10 with Hebrews 10:24: ‘good works’; Acts 23:1 with Hebrews 13:18: ‘good conscience’; Mark 3:4 with Matthew 12:12: ‘do good.’”[4] J. Baumgartner also supports Wanke’s position:

Ἀγαθός appears frequently as a synonymous alternative for καλός (Romans 7:16–21; 12:17, 21; Galatians 6:9f.; Matthew 7:17–19 [cf. 12:33]; Mark 3:4 par. Matthew 12:12; Luke 8:8 par. Mark 4:8; Matthew 13:8; Luke 8:15; 1 Timothy 5:10) and belongs to the semantic field represented by ἅγιος (Romans 7:12), δίκαιος (Romans 7:12; Luke 23:50), τὸ εὐάρεστον (Romans 12:2; cf. Hebrews 13:21), τὸ τέλειον (Romans 12:2), πιστός (Matthew 25:21), ἐπιεικής (1 Peter 2:18), and χρηστός (Matthew 11:30; Luke 5:39; 6:35; Ephesians 4:32; cf. Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Peter 2:3)[5]

Concerning the LXX, “In the Septuagint καλὸς, is the most usual word for good as opposed to evil (Genesis 2:17; 24:50; Isaiah 5:20).”[6]

There are three points brought out relating to why the use of perfect and good is so important in the New Testament. First, the interchangeability of καλὸς and ἀγαθός, combined with the weight these two words carry when speaking concerning God provides support, in the Koine Greek language, for God’s perfect goodness established in Chapter Twelve using Old Testament passages in the previous chapter.

It is important to acknowledge once again the role perfection plays when discussing an enhanced understanding of God no matter the biblical passage. It is not that God has an attribute of perfectionism, but rather perfection intertwines every aspect of God. God’s perfection is not only in God but throughout God’s being.

The second issue of the importance of the word usage found in the New Testament is the declaration that God’s works are good. Since God exists as good, so also are his works declared as good. One of those good works discussed extensively in the New Testament is God’s plan of redemption.

The New Testament uses three words to describe this redemption program God through his goodness put into place. The word αγοράζω (agorazo) means to purchase as in the marketplace (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9; 14:3-4).[7] The word ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazo) means to remove following a purchase (Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5).[8] The word περιποιέω (peripoieo) means to buy something for one’s self (Luke 17:33; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:13).[9] John F. Walvoord summarized the importance of these three words as it pertains to redemption, “The combined force of agorazo, exagorazo, and peripoieo is that of (1) purchase, (2) of being bought off the market, and (3) of a possession regarded as precious in the sight of the Lord.”[10]

Taking what Walvoord has summarized and applied to the goodness of God the following emerges. First, man is a slave to sin with no way out by his efforts. The moment Adam disobeyed God, it plunged him and all his descendants into a lifetime of slavery. The law given by God is perfect and pure, but even that could not help the man since he was unable to keep the law. “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified” (Romans 3:20). God determined out of his goodness to offer man grace and mercy. “For by grace you have been saved (redeemed) through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast” (emphasis added, Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s program of redemption involves grace, receiving those things the sinner does not deserve, and mercy which consists of not receiving those things the sinner does deserve.

God’s program of redemption purchased the sinner at the market place of sin (agorazo). God removed the sinner from the marketplace (exagorazo); the sinner never sold back into the slavery of sin. God took the sinner home as a prized possession (peripoieo), not to live in servant quarters but the main house of God, joint-heirs with his Son. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7).

God was not required to offer the sinner redemption. God had every right to sentence the sinner to eternal punishment. As a holy God, he is not only good, but he is just in demanding the penalty for sin. God on his volition without pressure from any entity or creation determined to offer mankind this program of redemption. Mankind must not incorrectly interpret God will give everyone a pass from his judgment because of this program of redemption. Just as God’s providence does not take away the freedom of choice, neither does God’s plan of redemption take away a man’s freedom of choice.

God’s actions are good from three perspectives. First, God’s creation is good. God’s law he created is good. Second, being a holy God he also provides care for his creation through his providence. Third, God is good because of the program of redemption he has freely offered for all mankind.[11]

The third reason for the attention placed on God’s perfect goodness is the contribution it makes toward God’s immutability. As was pointed out earlier the second definition for perfect is completion.[12] God’s attribute of omniscience, is not only beyond anything man could imagine, but it is complete. When a person gains more knowledge, mankind is driven to reassess his positions and methodology in light of his new and expanded knowledge. Because God’s knowledge is complete, he never has a reason to re-evaluate his position and methods thereby reassuring he is immutable. Therefore, God always keeps his promises.

 

[1] Aaron C. Fenlason, “Beauty,” in Lexham Theological Wordbook, ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014). Other resources reflecting similar definitions: William Ardnt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Horst Robert Balz, and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1990), and Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint: Revised Edition (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart, 2003).

[2] Grundman, p. 536.

[3] Johannes P. Louw, and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996), pp. 65.20 and 65.22.

[4] Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co., 1990), p. 244.

[5] Ibid., p. 5.

[6] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 2 (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), p. 190.

[7] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), p. 164.

[8] Ibid., p. 165

[9] Ibid., p. 166.

[10] Ibid., p. 167.

[11] John D. Hannah, “The Place of Theology in the Postmodern World: Is the Study of Theology and History an Antiquated Discipline,” Reformation and Revival 11 (2002): p. 23.

[12] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), #5046.

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