Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Call to Sinners

Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

32 οὐκ ἐλήλυθα καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν.

This is Jesus' explanation of why He spent time at Levi's dinner party for his fellow tax collectors and other assorted sinners.  This story is a favorite of missional types who want to spend time with those "in the culture."  I can't really fault them, provided that they don't come home with stains from the culture.  I know that I can't do it in many cases.

What I find fascinating is how Luke phrases this.  Jesus did not come to call the δικαίους.  Rather, he called ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν.  I find it interesting that the preposition εἰς appears here.  The translation "to repentance" is perfectly good, but I think that it may stop a bit short of the full meaning.

When I see εἰς I think of the Thayer definition as "a preposition governing the accusative, and denoting entrance into, or direction and limit: into, to, toward, for, among."  Now if Jesus wanted to communicate the idea of an action that must be taken once there could be an infinitive here.  But there isn't.  Instead we have the noun that means "repentance."

I think Jesus is telling us that our lives are to be characterized by repentance.  The idea of filling out a card, praying a prayer, or raising a hand and then living as if nothing was different would be foreign to Jesus.  Jesus calls us into repentance.  We are to enter a state in which we are repenting.

This of course convicts me.  If it convicts you I suggest you spend some more time introspectively examining your heart.  We all need to repent.  Where are you going to start?

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