by Mike Ratliff
23 κατ εμαυτου ομνυω η μην εξελευσεται εκ του στοματος μου δικαιοσυνη οι λογοι μου ουκ αποστραφησονται οτι εμοι καμψει παν γονυ και εξομολογησεται πασα γλωσσα τω θεω 24 λεγων δικαιοσυνη και δοξα προς αυτον ηξουσιν και αισχυνθησονται παντες οι αφοριζοντες εαυτους Isaiah 45:23-24 (LXX)
23 “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. Isaiah 45:23-24 (NASB)
11 For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” Romans 14:11 (NASB)
Several years ago a friend contacted me with an issue she was having on her blog dealing with one of her readers who said that Romans 14:11 was a proof text for Christian Universalism.
She shared the following:
Mike – We had a response on our post on Christian Universalism from a self-proclaimed Christian Universalist claiming Rom 14:11 means that all will be saved because all will be joyfully proclaiming Christ (and how could anyone be joyfully proclaiming this from hell). Their comments in blue below:
“For it is written, ‘AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.'” (Rom 14:11)
In the Greek of the NT, the “openly proclaim” word is only ever used of joyful praise.
They openly proclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord” …
Surely no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3).
I don’t think any of this can include forced submission. Note also that it’s “openly proclaim Jesus is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”
Do you have any thoughts?
Here is my response:
First: Here is Romans 14:10-12 from the ESV:
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12 (ESV)
Notice what the context here is. Where are those who are bowing the knee and confessing to God and giving an account to Him? They are before the judgment seat of God. These people are not in Hell. Also, the Greek word that the ESV translates as “shall confess” is εξομολογησεται the future tense middle voice form of ἐξομολογέω (exomologeō). The following is part of Bill Mounce’s definition for this word: While it can…mean “to profess, praise,” on three occasions, exomologeō refers to confessing sins. John instructs those who come to him for baptism to confess their sins (Mt. 3:6; Mk, 1:5); those in Ephesus who formerly practiced sorcery and magic come and confess them (Acts 19:18); and James urges believers to confess their sins to one another and to pray for one another for healing (Jas. 5:16).
Exomologeō can also describe the confession or profession of something other than sins, as when Paul describes looking ahead to the day when every being will profess Christ as Lord (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:11). This type of profession may have the connotation of praise: Jesus “praises” the Father for hiding the truth from the wise and revealing it to children (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21), and Paul describes God as being “praised” among the Gentiles (Romans 15:19).
Beyond this, in Lk 22:16, exomologeō describes Judas’ agreement or consent to take money in order to betray Jesus.
In any case, Romans 14:11 is a quote by Paul of Isaiah 45:23: 49:18 and as you can see from the usage of exomologeō in the N.T. those “folks” have no idea what they are talking about.
What’s the point? The point is that what those “folks” my friend was dealing with were guilty of “cherry-picking” passages or certain words from Scripture and forcing them to try to “prove” their theology. How do we defend against this? We look at the word(s) in question and always look at context. It is context that determines the meaning of these words. We look at how they are used. It is meaningless to look at one verse or one sentence from one verse as a proof text if the passage in question is ignored thereby ignoring context. For instance, Rick Warren does this consistently and we call him on it every chance we get. Here is one of his replies to being “corrected.” If you have no access to “Twitter” here is what it says, “Assuming a Greek word always means the same causes misinterpretation.Our English word “pin” has over 25 different meanings.”
When I read that I laughed out loud for quite some time. I do hope he is not implying that those of us who are holding him accountable to proper exegesis of God’s Word do not know that it is context that determines meaning when a word has multiple definitions. I mean, it works that way in every language doesn’t it? In any case, as I thought through this as I prepared my reply and meditated on the irony of it that this particular passage would be the one in question when dealing with heretics was just too much to ignore.
These people who are so quick to misuse God’s Word for their own use, whatever that is, instead of God’s will, do so with an utter lack of fear of God. They do not fear the consequences, but look again at Romans 14:10-12. We will all have to stand before God and give an account. Do these people actually believe that they are somehow exempt from that? They have no fear of God. They trample on His Word. They misuse His Word. They disobey clear commands in Scripture about what Christians and Christian leaders are to be about, and yet they continue to reject the truth no matter how often we rebuke them. Well, they have been warned. They will stand before God and give an account. There will be an accounting. They will bow the knee then, but then it will be too late.
Soli Deo Gloria!