Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Michaels on Faith and Works in John
I'm reading bits of J. Ramsay Michael's massive and magisterial John commentary in the NICNT series (though secretly it breaks my heart to see anyone replace Leon Morris on "John"). For me, the verse I always turn to first to see how a commentator handles the text is John 5:28-29:
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is cominga when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
Michaels comments that: "The second problem [in addition to the futurist eschatology that seems out of whack with the rest of John] is that good works, not faith, seem to determine salvation ... But again the problem exists only for modern readers, who have learned from centuries of biblical interpretation to set faith against works. It is not noticeably a problem for Jesus' hearers on the scene, nor for the implied readers the author has in mind ... Coming to the Light, or to Jesus, and 'hearing my word' (v. 24) or 'voice' (v. 25) amount to the same thing. Either way, believing in Jesus is what counts. Those who 'do good things' or 'do the truth' are those who believe" (322).