His Grace is Sufficient

This post will be different than others I have made on this blog.  This post is about me and my struggle with an injury.  I do not write this for sympathy or pity, but to show that there is a blessing in difficult circumstances.  Earlier this morning I went to the Orthopedics clinic for a reoccurring knee issue.  I have had five surgeries on my left knee, with two of them being ACL reconstructions.  Last week it gave out and walking has been less than pleasant.  This morning I was given news that was hard for me to accept.  I was told that my knee is beyond repair.  Yes, it was hard to hear, and quite frankly still is.  I am 36 years old with four small children, and I was told it would be best if I do not run around with them.

Through the 16 years I have dealt with this I have learned many things.  It has taught me humility, it has taught me that there is a greater purpose to what I am experiencing, it has taught me that I must trust God and his grace, and that his grace is sufficient to get through whatever is put before.  I now leave with a poem titled The Thorn and 2 Corinthians 12:9.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The Thorn

by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

Two Types of Kings

Throughout the history if the Israelites we see a constant theme.  We see the turning away from YHWH in one form or another .  We also see that YHWH never washes His hands of them, but always brings them back into the fold .  However they suffered much from their sins, and much like a Father to His children they had to learn from their mistakes .

In 1 Samuel we read about David making Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom, and this certainly meant the center of worship as well.  Collins states that the first king of the Northern kingdom Jeroboam “established temples at Bethel and Dan as rivals to Jerusalem, and all the northern kings promoted worship outside of Jerusalem.  Accordingly they are said to walk in the sin of Jeroboam (Collins, page 246).”   This division on theological grounds would eventually give rise to the divided kingdom and exile.

During this time the Israelites were surrounded by other nations who worshipped a variety of gods.  Many are mention in sacred scripture such as Baal, and we read about Solomon building a shrine to the god of one of his wives.  This was a violation of the first commandment and as a result YHWH had other nations rise up against Israel and this is another reason for the divide of the kingdom.

In 1 and 2 Kings we read about evil and good kings though evil kings seem to outnumber the good.  Under the evil kings we read about make prostitution, the raising of pillars and temples to pagan gods, and worse sins “than their ancestors committed (study notes).  As a result of their sin, YHWH allowed them to be captured and put into exile.  “In 722 B.C., the Assyrians captured Samaria, the capital of Israel, and deported its citizens by dispersing them among their subject populations (study notes).”  Examples of bad kings were Jeroboam, Ahab, and Rehoboam.

In contrast to the evil kings there are two good kings mentioned and they are Josiah and Hezechiah.  Josiah found the book of the law, presumably Deuteronomy, hidden away in the temple.  When he found out what it was he was disgusted at its treatment and ordered it to be read and followed.  Josiah reestablished the Passover feast, and in a sign of wanting unification invited the northern kingdom to take part.  Unfortunately he was killed in battle and the Babylonians conquered.  Hezechiah made reforms and promoted Jerusalem as the center of religious worship.




Collins, J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.  2004, Fortress Press




Three Sections of Genesis

The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible and starts off with the history  of creation.  This account takes place in the first two chapters and moves rapidly into the beginning of the nation of Israel.  The promises made to Abraham and his descendants of documented along with their genealogies.  As a whole the book of Genesis can be broken up into three sections:  primeval history and creation, the patriarchs, and the story of Joseph.

In section one we find the story of creation.  God created by uttering His words and concluded by saying “it is good.”  From there it proceeds into the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of man.  Eventually man gets so caught up in a sinful life that God regrets creating man and plans to destroy the race with a flood.  However Noah and his family are spared because they are deemed righteous by God.  The account of Noah is similar to other accounts from the region such as the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Section two is perhaps the most important part of the book of Genesis.  Its main focus is on Abraham and his descendants.  Abraham had a faith that should be emulated by all.  God showed favor on him and allowed his wife Sarah to conceive a child well into her nineties.  This Child is Isaac and was almost sacrificed as a test to Abraham, but God intervened at the last moment to prevent his harm.  Isaac had two sons and named them Jacob and Esau.  Jacob defrauded his brother Esau of his birthright and fled.  He married sisters named Leah and Rachel and would have twelve sons from which the twelve tribes of Israel would derive.  Thus completing the promise made to Abraham of being a father to many nations.

Section three is an account of the story of Joseph.  Joseph was a favorite among the sons of Jacob.  His brothers became jealous and plotted to kill him, but Reuben talked his brothers into selling him into slavery instead.  Joseph had a gift of interpreting dreams which was highly favored in Egypt where divination was regularly practiced.  He rose to prominence in Egypt and oversaw seven years of plenty and seven years of famine.  During the famine years his brothers came to Egypt for food, Joseph toyed with them a little because  they did not recognize him, and eventually all were reunited.  Joseph moved his entire family to Egypt, and this describes how the Israelites came to Egypt thus setting up the book of Exodus.


Authorship of Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews is one that has perplexed Christians for generations.  The letter is unlike anything seen in the rest of the New Testament, and uses typology and symbolism to communicate the precious truth of Christ.  In regards to this theologian N.T. Wright states, “The letter to the Hebrews is one of the most bracing and challenging writings in the New Testament.  People often find it a bit difficult, because it uses ideas that are strange to us[1].”

One of the way in which it perplexes us is because there is not a consensus on who wrote such a beautiful piece of scripture.  If one were to get a group of Biblical Scholars to together there will be varying opinions on this issue.  Is the issue of authorship vital to prove its canonicity?  Not at all, but it could serve to give us further insight into what the author was conveying.  There have been many names presented as author such as Paul, Barnabas, Clement, Apollos, Luke, Priscilla, Jude, Apollos, Philip, and Silvanus[2].  In this paper a look at internal evidence, and testimony from the Church Fathers will show that Apollos is the most likely candidate for authorship.



If one is to research who the author of the epistle is it would be wise to consider the tradition of the eastern and western churches.  This is a most interesting practice as it yields two results that could not be any more different.  Looking at the patristic evidence is important to understand why it was placed in the canon[3].

In the expanses of the west the epistle was quoted as early as the writing of 1 Clement around the end of the first century[4].  Traces of the epistle were seen in the works of Gaius, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and much more by Hippolytus in his commentary on Daniel.  However, none saw evidence of Pauline authorship, and thus it was not considered canonical because it was not apostolic in nature[5].  Eventually Pauline authorship became popular, though never fully accepted, in the west around the 4th century when Paul was attributed as being the author in editions of the Latin Vulgate.  This was also the case in early English translation such as the Douay-Rheims and King James Version[6]

            Though Pauline authorship was a matter of contention in the west this was not the case in the East.  Very early the Eastern churches show a strong tradition that displays Pauline authorship.  According to the early church historian Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria followed the view of another church father named Pantaenus[7].  Clement held a view that Paul wrote Hebrews in Hebrew for Hebrews, and that it was translated into Greek by Luke[8].

Pantaenus did recognize the difficulty in such a belief.  He argued very early on that Paul did not introduce himself in the same way as the rest of his letters.  His explanation was simple, but carried much weight.  According to Gareth Cockerill Pantaneus believed, “Paul had not affixed his name because he was only the apostle to the Gentiles[9]”.  Clement of Alexandria, Pantaenus’s successor, added further clarification of this thought.  He believed that Paul wrote the epistle anonymously so he would not offend the Jews in the audience[10].

At any rate the West began to join the east in affirming Pauline authorship in the 4th century.  The view in the west was assisted by theological heavyweights Jerome and Augustine who greatly respected the “prestigious opinion of the Eastern churches[11].”  It should be noted that Jerome did carry reservations about Pauline authorship, but did not see fit to attempt to deny it a place in the canon.  His reason was very simple, and straightforward as the letter was read daily inside the churches.


To better understand the authorship of Hebrews a look at the first theories must be looked at.  The earliest theories, as already mentioned, were that the Apostle Paul was the most likely author.  It is wise to go through the reasons why this was the case as it will later assist in laying the foundation as to why Pauline authorship is not probate.  This process may seem antithetical, but in looking at other Pauline letters we can see some similarity, but many differences in writing style at tone.

As previously stated the earliest traditions in the East name Paul as the author.  This theory did not come just from anywhere in the East, but from the catechetical school in Alexandria[12].  The great Early Church Father John Chrysostom clearly names Paul as the author.  John writes in his first homily on the Epistle, “Why did he [Paul] not oppose “himself” to “the prophets”? Certainly, he was much greater than they, inasmuch as a greater trust was committed to him. Yet he doth not so[13].”  Origen, at a minimum, affirmed Pauline dictation but was unsure of who wrote everything down[14].  Also, as stated earlier the west was slower to affirm this theory, but at the council of Carthage the fourteen Pauline Epistles were accepted as canon in the New Testament, and this would be the prominent view, with some holdouts until the 16th century[15].

There are similarities between Hebrews and Pauline letters which helped full the case for his authorship.  This is what perhaps led the earliest codices, around 200 A.D., of Pauline books to be fourteen[16].  To illustrate this point, it is helpful to compare two passages of scripture.  The first is Hebrews 1:2 which states, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created all ages[17].”  Compare that passage with Colossians 1:16 which states, “for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities-all things were created through him and for him[18].”  Both verses are similar in tone and emphasize the work of Christ in creation.  This could assist one in concluding that either Paul, or someone closely associated with him was the author[19].

Other similarities between Hebrews and the Pauline epistles is the place of the New Covenant described in Hebrews 8:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:4-11.  The bad example of Israel during the wondering in the wilderness in Hebrews 3:7-11, 4:6-11, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.  The work of the Holy Spirit and the distribution of gifts in the church in Hebrews 2:4 and 1 Corinthians 12:11. Another similarity is that of the Christs incarnation and death as mentioned in Hebrews 2:14-17 and Philippians 2:5-8[20].


Early church tradition and a look at Biblical evidence present a reasonable case for Pauline authorship.  However, these are surface level factors as evidence can be derived from the text to show that Paul did not write the letter.  Though the debate over authorship rages on the evidence that will be provided will show that the author must have been someone other than Paul, but may have been an associate or knew him well.

The first piece of evidence to look at is the salutation in Hebrews.  The letters that were written by Paul all had a salutation, but Hebrews does not.  The author starts by writing, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets[21].  From the onset of the letter there is an aura of anonymity.  In describing this theologian Paul Enns writes, “The author nowhere identifies himself in the book, yet it seems he knows the readers[22].”  One theory to get around this issue is that the name was omitted because it was in the form of a sermon.  Though plausible, it is unlikely that Paul would not use his authority as an Apostle to steer his readers away from apostasy.  Paul does exactly this in his letter to the Galatians.

The appeal to authority in Hebrews 2:3 is problematic as it is not one normally given by an apostle.  For clarification, the verse states, “It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him[23].”  This passage shows that the writer was not a follower of Christ during his earthly ministry, and indicated that the message received was one delivered by the Apostles.  Paul most likely would have referred to apostolic traditions which points to the writer knowing about Christ because of the ministry of the Apostles[24].

Another point of contention is the style used in Hebrews.  Paul used a more relaxed style of Greek in his letters, and Hebrews has a more classical style.  Bible scholar Robert Utley states, “The Style is so different from Paul’s other writings, the vocabulary is different, and there are subtle differences is word and phrase usage and emphasis[25].”  This is not to say that Paul it not capable of an elevated use of Greek.  Many parts of his letters, such as 1 Corinthians 13, display that.  It is unlikely that Paul would write thirteen letters is a very simple Greek dialect and use a higher literary style in the letter to the Hebrews.

The Epistle to the Hebrews puts a great emphasis on Jesus as High priest.  This particular language is absent from the rest of his writings[26].  The author also uses the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, but with a key difference.  The author of Hebrews quotes it differently than Paul did, and Paul did not always quote from the Septuagint[27].



A great deal of time has been spent discussing the case for and against Pauline authorship.  Though Paul would be a good candidate the evidence points towards someone associated with him, but there were other figures in history who were seen as probable authors.

Luke and Clement of Rome were two men who accompanied Paul in his journeys.  Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts while Clement is mentioned in Philippians 4:2 as a fellow worker.  The thought that one of them authored it is ancient in its origins[28].  Though it is ancient there are a couple problems with this theory.  When compared with other writings of Luke there is very little in common with the content of Hebrews.  Clement of Rome must also be removed as a viable candidate because of evidence found in his letter to the Corinthians.  In that letter, he quotes Hebrews several times.  There is a possibility that he is quoting his own writing, but he is quoting it in such a way to negate part of what is said.  He speaks of the ministry of the Church in such a way that parts are opposite of what is said in Hebrews[29].  These two historic figures have early writing that we can compare to Hebrews to see if it was a possible match.  Another possible author, Barnabas, does not since the epistle attributed to him is also anonymous.  Another possible author is Priscilla, but that only came about in the 19th century by Adolph Harnack.  There is little to no evidence to support this theory and she is ruled out because of the author referring to himself with a masculine pronoun in Hebrews 11:32[30].  There are many more names that were put forward, but one name stands out among those.  That name in Apollos, and there is evidence to support that he is the author.



A stated previously the author was most likely a companion, or associated with Paul in some way.  He is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:5, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task[31]”.  We further read in Acts 18:24 about Apollos, “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures[32].”

The two scriptures provided provide many key points about authorship.  The author of Hebrews had a very strong Hellenistic background with training in rhetoric.  These two distinctions are important and have led many since the time of Martin Luther to conclude that the author is Apollos[33].  In Acts 18:24 Luke says that Apollos is a native of Alexandria which was traditionally the Greek center for rhetorical training[34].  It was also the location of the famed catechetical school in the early church.  Though the school may not have been around at the time that does not mean that a strong scriptural catechesis could not have been present.

In Acts 18 we see Apollos describes as someone who is steeped in the word and a great expositor.  The author of Hebrews does much of the same.  The writer draws on great details from the Old Testament to share with his readers.  In regards to this Gareth Cockerill writes, “Apollo’s skill in demonstrating Christ’s messiahship from the Old Testament is in accord with the pastor’s Christological exposition[35].”  Another element to consider is the ability that Apollos has to confound the Jews who did not acknowledge Christ.  This ability fits well with the background of the recipients of the letter[36].


The mystery of who wrote Hebrews is one that may never be solved.  Many important named in Church History have been proposed as the author.  A look at the evidence for and against Pauline authorship was looked at, and from that a deduction can be made that Paul was not the author.  The author was most likely associated with Paul in some way.  Thus, a look at the possibility of Luke and Clement as writers was briefly discussed.  In both cases their literary styles do not match that of the writer of Hebrews.  Apollos was also associated with Paul at the church in Corinth.  He was trained in rhetoric, and was a great expositor of the scriptures.  His style of writing is more classical in style and matches that of the author of Hebrews.  It is because of these reasons that Apollos is the most probable author of Hebrews.





Berry, J.D., ed. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Brown, Raymond E, Joseph A Fitzmeyer, and Roland E Murphy, eds. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Brown, Raymond E. Introduction to the New Testament. New Haven, CT: Doubleday, 1997.

Carson, D.A., and Douglas J Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

Cockerill, Gareth L. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012.

Ellingworth, Paul. The Epistle to the Hebrews:  A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1993.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Guthrie, George H. The NIV Application Commentary:  Hebrews. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Herron, Thomas J. Clement and the Early Church of Rome: Edited by Scott Hahn. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road, 2008.

Lea, Thomas D., and David Alan Black. The New Testament:  Its Background and Message. Nashville, TN: B&h Academic, 2003.

———.. Holman New Testament Commentary:  Hebrews, James. Nashville, TN: B&h Publishers, 1999.

Schaff, Philip, ed. Saint John Chrysostom:  Homilies on the Gospel of John and Epistle to the Hebrews. Vol 14th ed. New York, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1899.

Utley, Robert J. The Superiority of the New Covenant:  Hebrews. Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1999.

Wright, N.T. Hebrews For Everyone. Louisville, KY: WJK Press, 2004.


[1] N.t. Wright, Hebrews For Everyone (Louisville, KY: WJK Press, 2004), x.

[2] George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary:  Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 23.

[3] Gareth L Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012), 3.

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] Ibid, 3.

[6] Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament (New Haven, CT: Doubleday, 1997), 697.

[7] Raymond E Brown, Joseph A Fitzmeyer, and Roland E Murphy, eds., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 920.

[8] Ibid, 920.

[9] Gareth L Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012), 4.

[10] Ibid, 5.

[11] D.A. Carson and Douglas J Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 601.

[12] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament:  Its Background and Message (Nashville, TN: B&h Academic, 2003), 496.

[13] Philip Schaff, ed., Saint John Chrysostom:  Homilies on the Gospel of John and Epistle to the Hebrews, vol 14th ed (New York, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1899), 366.

[14] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament:  Its Background and Message (Nashville, TN: B&h Academic, 2003), 496.

[15] Ibid, 496.

[16] Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews:  A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1993), 6.

[17] Hebrews 1:2 (Revised Standard Version).

[18] Colossians 1:16 (Revised Standard Version).

[19] Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament:  Its Background and Message (Nashville, TN: B&h Academic, 2003), 496.

[20] Ibid, 496.

[21] Hebrews 1:1 (Revised Standard Version).

[22] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 121.

[23] Hebrews 2:3b (Revised Standard Version).

[24] J.D. Berry, ed., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015), 492.

[25] Robert J Utley, The Superiority of the New Covenant:  Hebrews (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 2.

[26] D.A. Carson and Douglas J Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 602.

[27] Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary:  Hebrews, James (Nashville, TN: B&h Publishers, 1999), 1.

[28] Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament (New Haven, CT: Doubleday, 1997), 695.

[29] Thomas J. Herron, Clement and the Early Church of Rome, ed. Scott Hahn (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road, 2008), 81.

[30] D.A. Carson and Douglas J Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 604.

[31] 1 Corinthians 3:5 (New International Version).

[32] Acts 18:24 (English Standard Version).

[33] Raymond E Brown, Joseph A Fitzmeyer, and Roland E Murphy, eds., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 921.

[34] George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary:  Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 26.

[35] Gareth L Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2012), 9.

[36] Ibid, 9.

Book Review: NIV Faith and Work Bible

[Note:  I received this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.  I am not required to give a good rating.]

As a theologian and Bible teacher I have many Bibles in my personal library.  The NIV Faith and Work Bible, edited by David H. Kim, is very unique.  Besides communicating the Word of God, the purpose of the Bible is help one understand the relationship between faith and one’s vocation.  It is not a study Bible, but the introductions to each book of the Bible help apply the book’s teaching to faith and work.

The Bible also offers 75 real life stories that offer the reader a good dose of encouragement.  It also offers 45 articles that describe doctrine that show the reader the importance of integrating their job and their faith.  A very unique aspect of this Bible is a series of 31 short articles that help the reader easily understand the purpose of scripture.  Included in the book are 4 essays that show the reader the importance of connecting faith in Christ with their life at work.

The text within the Bible is a fairly large font which is easy on the eyes, and there is no shortage of footnotes that connect a passage with other passages in scripture.  The text is black and is contrasted with green book introductions.

Overall the NIV Faith and Work Bible does a great job integrating faith and work life.  This is vital since we are Christians every minute of the day and not just at home.  This Bible is good edition to have as it gives a different application than a study bible, or apologetics bible.


Understanding the Old to Understand the New

Understanding the Old Testament is essential in understanding the New.  Too often the Christians of today neglect the Old Testament.  It is seen as a book of laws that do not really apply because Christ established the new covenant.  Coogan states “The writings that counted as scripture for the New Testament writers are those they held in common with the Diaspora Jews: the Torah, prophets, Psalms, and assorted texts from the writings (Coogen, 475 ES).”  If our forefathers of the faith understood this to be scripture so should we.

There are around 343 references to the Old Testament listed in the New Testament.  Many of them are quoted verbatim and are listed to convey doctrine.  In the Old Testament we have the creation accounts, the fall of man, and various prophecies about how God is going to make things right.  He prepares his people little by little.  He lets them live and they disobey over and over again.

Coogan states “Matthew’s set of fulfillment quotations, which assert that events in the life of Jesus were foretold by the prophets (Coogan, 475).”  The early Christians did this in relation to the suffering of Christ on the cross.  This parallels found in Isaiah and the early Christians compares the story of Isaiah to that of the passion of Christ.  These prophecies no doubt gave the Israelites hope that something better will be coming, but they did not know when or where.  The writings of the New Testament help elaborate on the meanings of the Old and give new insights into an old idea.

It is essential that we have a working knowledge of the Old Testament to get a better understanding of the New.  As previously stated there are well over 300 direct quotes from the Old Testament in the New.  If they were not important they would not be there.  All scripture is important not just the passages that name Jesus directly.

Works Cited

The New Oxford Annotated Bible: With the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, New

Revised Standard Version. Michael D. Coogan, editor. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.

Article Critique: Grace and Free Will According to Clement of Alexandria

In the spring 2011 edition of the Journal of Early Christian Studies Dr. Matyáš Havrda gives a very critical overview of grace and free will.  Dr. Havrda is not critical in a negative sense, but uses the view of a great Church Father to describe the role of grace and free will.  This is very important some in the evangelical world who take extreme positions on the view.  Either the grace, or sovereignty of God, is the cause of all events, or it is what has been caused by the free will of man.  Dr. Havrda looks at the writings and life of one of the most well-known early church fathers to make the case that both work to make the will of God happen.

The willingness of man to participate in the divine plan of God is a choice man must make.  Dr. Havdra writes, “According to Clement, God does not deprive humanity of anything they possess for the sake of this goal, and those ‘who have chosen to lead a good life’ he even strengthens by inspiration[1].”  From this sentence we may derive that one must first make the choice to follow the Lord then the Lord gives the strength needed to persevere and do his will.  To illustrate this Dr. Havdra quotes Clement from his work known as the Stromata.  Clement of Alexandria states, “For it is obvious that their good nature and holy choice is honored by him, as is clear from the fact that people who have chosen to lead a good life are strengthened by his inspiration for the ensuing salvation[2].”

Clement of Alexandria lived from 150 AD to 215 AD, and free will of the believer appears to be something that was established Christian doctrine.   Dr. Havdra further explains, “The distinction between the ‘exhortatory’ and ‘helping’ modes of divine pedagogy opens the space of human freedom and responsibility for salvation[3].”  Free will is further described as being what distinguishes a child from a slave.  So what about the sovereignty of God and predestination?  Dr. Havdra writes, “Clement’s remark according to which God ‘sees in advance even the end of things’ indicates the possibility that God in Clement’s view knows the outcome of our choice even ‘before the foundation of the world,’ and those who make the right choice and reach the goal of perfection are ‘predestined’ only in consequence of this previously known outcome[4].”

In conclusion the article does a great job in reconciling the free choice we all have to follow God along with the sovereignty of God.    It does so using the work of a much respected early church father which adds credence to the thought that the two ideas need not be enemies.    God desires salvation for everyone, but it is our choice whether we accept that gift.  If we do he is faithful and will empower us to do his will.



Matyáš Havrda. “Grace and Free Will According to Clement of Alexandria.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 19, no. 1 (2011): 21-48. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed June 14, 2015).

[1] Matyas Havdra, “Grace and Free Will According To Clement Of Alexandria,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 19, no. 1 (2011, spring): 22-48.

[2] Matyas Havdra, “Grace and Free Will According To Clement Of Alexandria,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 19, no. 1 (2011, spring): 22-48.

[3] Ibid, 28.

[4] Ibid, 46.