Proskartereo in the New Testament: A sermon delivered at Calvary Baptist Church, Derby, Kansas. Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at email@example.com.
Tonight, I want us to study a single word in the NT: proskartereo. It looks and sounds like a perfect candidate for use in a Jeopardy category: “12-letter Greek words that are difficult to pronounce”!
This word caught my attention as I ran across it at various times over the years in my studies of the NT in Greek, and I thought its various occurrences and uses rather interesting.
It is a compound word, composed of the preposition pros, which means, “to, toward, in the direction of” and kartereo, a verb with the root idea of “to be strong, firm.” So it literally means “to be strong toward something or someone.” As used in the NT, the word carries the sense and meaning “to be devoted to, to be dedicated to, to focus on, to be committed to, to persist in” some purpose, object or person.
This word is used ten times in the Greek NT, six of which occur in Acts. I want to briefly note each of these uses.
The term “good will” is one I love. Webster defines good will as “a friendly or kindly attitude; benevolence” or “cheerful consent; willingness.” It is an important term, one that can affect our entire disposition and approach toward life.
The fictitious King Midas had a magical touch that turned everything to gold. Believers do not have a “Midas Touch,” but exuding good will comes close. I have seen good will on the part of one marital partner literally save a marriage. I have seen Christians take giant spiritual leaps ahead because someone believed in them, expressing good will. Few of us realize the untapped power available to them when we have an attitude of good will. Embracing good will makes us a blessing to others.
I think of good will as a positive attitude that expects the best from others, sometimes despite previous disappointments. It is wishing well to another, hoping things will prosper for that person, or giving that person a fresh chance to deliver the goods. It is certainly foolish to trust someone who has proven inconsistent or obstinate; good will is not for every situation, but it is for most.
If you are not familiar with R.T. Kendall, you should take the time to learn about him. He is probably not on most fundamentalists’ spiritual radar screens. Brother Kendall replaced Dr. Glen Owen, who followed “the Doctor”, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as the pastor of the historic Westminster Chapel in London, England. R.T. Kendall was the senior pastor there for 25 years (to the day) before he retired on February 1, 2002. Since his retirement, he has devoted the majority of his time to writing. He is the author of over 50 books which include Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649, The Parable of Jesus, and the subject of this review Unashamed To Bear His Name: Embracing The Stigma Of Being A Christian.
In this short work (201 pages), R.T. Kendall has written with compassion and conviction. He states his main purpose as follows: “My goal in writing this book is to bring you to rejoice as Peter and John did, when they embraced the privilege of suffering for the shame of Jesus’ Name” (p. 34). He says that the value of this purpose is found in three principles:
The Scriptures constantly remind us to fear God (Leviticus 25:17, for example), and we find out that such a fear is the “beginning of knowledge” (ESV, Proverbs 1:7). while the fear of man “lays a snare” (Proverbs 29:25).
Many who choose to honor God struggle over what it means to “fear” God. Should we be afraid of him? Or does it mean we reverence him? Or some of both? Even believers in Jesus need to fear God in the sense that we fear his wrath, discipline, and displeasing him. We remember, as the writer to Hebrews reminds us, that our God is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Yet we can call God “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15), a term of endearment.
A Jewish perspective on fearing God is summarized in the Jewish Encyclopedia:
Who fears God will refrain from doing the things that would be displeasing to Him, the things that would make himself unworthy of God’s regard. Fear of God does not make men shrink from Him as one would from a tyrant or a wild beast; it draws them nearer to Him and fills them with reverential awe. That fear which is merely self-regarding is unworthy of a child of God.
I’m thankful for the writing and speaking ministry of Elyse Fitzpatrick. My mom, sister, and wife attended a mini-conference she held here in Greenville, SC. The gospel was so clearly preached and so clearly heard. That’s a strength you will find in all of Elyse’s writing. She’s able to whittle all the extra fat off until all that’s left is a prime gospel cut. She also relentlessly keeps the person and work of Jesus Christ front and center. Those strengths shine throughout this book.
Found in Him neatly breaks into two section: incarnation and union. It’s a simple and straightforward project. She focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ in these two ways. Part one on the incarnation reads as a kind of biblical theology, historical and exegetical examination of who Jesus is as revealed in the incarnation. That moves seamlessly into the union section. There we look at the most significant benefit of the gospel—our union with Jesus Christ. Fitzpatrick aptly uncovers and rejoices in the truths found in our union, and more: she encourages us to live in those truths. The fact that she loves the gospel is evident throughout the pages of this book and that love is contagious.