77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
1901 ASV Translation:
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins,
There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Zacharias' attention has shifted as of 1:76 to his newborn son -- eight days old.
II. He has said that John will be known as the prophet of the Most High.
III. He says in this verse that his message will focus upon revealing the connection between salvation and the forgiveness of sins.
I. The Shift of the Focus in Respect to Salvation.
A. There has been a predominant concept of salvation in the previous words that has primarily to do with "being saved from the negative impact of inimical people."
1. This issue was referred to multiple times [1:69; 1:71; and 1:74].
2. The predominant side-bar issue was the "fear" that enemies could instill in the hearts of God's people [1:74].
a. This is a very important issue in that one cannot serve Yahweh if there is a crippling fear of the enemy.
b. This issue is also important because of it's ultimate vanity: the enemies cannot do anything God won't permit; and, if God will permit it, it cannot be a final disaster to His beloved.
B. There was a very brief reference at the beginning, in 1:68, to Yahweh Elohim's "visitation" in creating the redemption price.
1. This reference has to do with the issue of how the forgiveness of sins is going to be possible.
2. The text of 1:77 signals a return to that brief introductory statement.
II. The Connection Between the Two Focus Points.
A. There is a direct link between the salvation that has to do with being delivered from the enemies and the salvation that has to do with being redeemed.
1. Without forgiveness, the Greatest Enemy is Yahweh Elohim.
a. When two are engaged in opposite goals and methods within the same sphere, conflict is inevitable.
b. A conflicted house, divided against itself, cannot survive.
c. Yahweh Elohim's "house" is going to survive for many reasons, not the least of which is His promise to the fathers that it will.
d. Thus, any who embrace goals and methods that are destructive to His house will be destroyed as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:7 ("If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy..."; AV).
2. Forgiveness transfers "the forgiven" from the camp of the enemies of Yahweh into the camp of the fellow-warriors of Yahweh, thus creating a host of new enemies.
a. It is impossible to be friends with the world and not be an enemy of God (James 4:4).
b. Likewise, it is impossible to be friends of God and not be considered an enemy by the world (John 15:18-19 and 17:14).
B. There is also a significant time lapse between the salvation that has to do with the forgiveness of sins and the salvation that has to do with deliverance from the hands of those who hate us.
1. God does not typically transfer us into the camp of the forgiven and out of the realm of the world's ability to injure at the same time.
2. Typically, God delivers us from our sins and leaves us, for years, subject to the injuries that those who hate Him can impose upon us.
a. This is the "fearful" reality that constitutes the major focus of Zacharias' words in 1:68-75.
b. This is also, however, a reality that grows more toothless as those years go by primarily because of forgiveness.
1) The world has been reduced, by forgiveness, to being only able to inflict physical suffering and death.
2) Because of this reduction, it can only touch the soul and spirit of the believer through deception and unbelief.
c. The rationale for this behavior on God's part seems to consist of the reality that being subject to suffering is an integral aspect of true growth (Hebrews 5:8) in understanding.
III. John's Part in God's Plan.
A. He is to be the instrument of "knowledge" for God's people in respect to the issues involved in the forgiveness of sins.
1. We can expect, then, that he will reveal the critical issues that have to do with forgiveness.
a. One of these critical issues is the question of methodology: how do I get my sins forgiven? [The answer in a word is John's message: Repent.]
b. Another of these critical issues is the question of why: why has God made forgiveness available? [The answer in a word is John's name: Yahweh is gracious.]
c. And, a third issue, perhaps more fundamental than the other two in some respects, is the issue of definition: what is "remission of sins?".
1) In regard to this, the word chosen to express what we call "remission" is a word that carries the idea of banishment in its root..."to send away".
a) It is a word that, in its verb form, is sometimes used of "divorce" when a person sends the spouse away from the relationship possessed in marriage.
b) It is also used in contexts where a separation between two is being created.
2) The overwhelming theological issue in "remission" is the refusal of God to permit "sins" to have their typical impact in respect to the relationship that He establishes with a person at the point of faith.
a) The typical impact is for the relationship to be breeched so that there is both distance and retaliation.
b) By "banishing sins", God refuses to allow either distance or retaliation to become realities in the relationship.
d. And, a fourth issue is the theological boundaries that "banishment of sins" has...
1) Clearly, "sins" always cause distance in any relationship.
a) It is impossible for a person to "sin" without it being a statement of a desire to injure the one sinned against.
b) This desire to injure is a statement about a desire to have distance in whatever relationship exists.
c) The nature of the desired "distance" consists of a refusal to allow one to take a place as "friend" in one's heart and soul.
d) The reasons may be many, but the root is the complication that "friends" create by reason of their very existence: they cannot exist without making some kinds of demands upon us.
2) Just as clearly, "sins" are not "banished" in the sense that they take on a new nature.
a) The only way relationships can exist in harmony is for sinning to cease.
b) It is impossible for "sins" to be called "acts of love" as if redefinition could solve the problems they create.
3) Therefore, the "banishment of sins" has boundaries.
4) Biblically, the "banishment of sins" is God's refusal to permit the one who sins to destroy His commitment to ultimately impose good on that one.
a) In order to do this, God must do a couple of things.
i. First, He must tolerate the sins of the person He has determined to impose good upon until that person comes to the willingness to stop sinning.
ii. Second, He must become very active in the person's heart and mind through multiple means in order to create and maintain the willingness to stop sinning.
b) The result of this is that God simply refuses to "go away" when the sins of His beloved tell Him to.
2. We can understand, then, that these issues were not clear before John came on the scene.
a. This seems odd in light of the fact that Paul consistently argued that the Gospel was known at least as far back as Abraham (Galatians 3:8).
b. But the oddity is resolved by the understanding of just how twisted the words of God had become through the manipulations of men over the years.