SO THEN HE HAS
MERCY ON WHOM HE DESIRES
(on whomever He chooses,
on whom He wants to have mercy): ara oun on thelei (3SPAI) eleei (3SPAI)
on: (Ro 9:15,16; 5:20,21; Ephesians 1:6)
So then - As
noted earlier, this conjunction should always cause one to pause and ponder this
term of conclusion.
What is Paul concluding, etc? NET Note adds that "There is a
double connective (ara oun) here that cannot be easily preserved
in English: "consequently therefore," emphasizing the conclusion of what
he has been arguing."
Denney - From the two
instances just quoted Paul draws the comprehensive conclusion: So
then on whom He will He has mercy, and whom He will He hardens. The
whole emphasis is on thelei (see thelo below). The two modes in which
God acts upon man are showing mercy and hardening, and it depends upon
God’s will in which of these two modes He actually does act. (Expositor's
Has mercy (1653)(eleeo
[word study]) means “to feel sympathy with the misery of
another, especially such sympathy which manifests itself in action, less
frequently in word.” It describes the general sense of one who has
compassion or person on someone in need. It indicates being moved to
pity and compassion by tragedy. To see someone in dire need, to have
compassion on them, and to give them help to remove the need. In the active
voice (as in Ro 9:18) eleeo means to show mercy and so to be
greatly concerned for someone in need and/or to help someone because of
pity. God has mercy on sinners otherwise destined for an eternal
separation in hell.
Robert Haldane -
Here the general conclusion is drawn
from all the Apostle had said in the three preceding verses, in denying
that God was unrighteous in loving Jacob and hating Esau. It exhibits
the ground of God's dealings both with the elect and the reprobate. It
concludes that His own sovereign pleasure is the rule both with respect
to those whom He receives, and those whom He rejects. He pardons one and
hardens another, without reference to anything but His own sovereign
will, in accordance with His infinite wisdom, holiness, and justice.
'Even so, Father,' said our blessed Lord, 'for so it seemed good in Thy
sight.' God is not chargeable with any injustice in electing some and
not others; for this is an act of mere mercy and compassion, and that
can be no violation of justice.
That mighty act of God in delivering Israel from bondage in Egypt
demonstrated two great truths. He delivered Israel to exhibit His
sovereign mercy on [those] whom He desires, and He raised up and
destroyed Pharaoh to exhibit the corollary truth that He hardens those
whom He desires. Only His divine desire determines which it will be.
Moses was a Jew, whereas Pharaoh was a Gentile; but both of them were
sinners. Both were murderers, and both witnessed God’s miracles. Yet
Moses was redeemed and Pharaoh was not. God raised up Pharaoh in order
to reveal His own glory and power, and God had mercy on Moses in order
to use him to deliver His people Israel. Pharaoh was a ruler, whereas
Moses’ people were slaves under Pharaoh. But Moses received God’s mercy
and compassion, because that was God’s will. The Lord’s work is
sovereign, and He acts entirely according to His own will to accomplish
His own purposes. The issue was not the presumed rights of either men
but rather the sovereign will of God.
AND HE HARDENS WHOM HE DESIRES: de thelei (3SPAI) sklerunei:
(Ro 1:24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 11:7,8; Exodus 4:21; 7:13; Deuteronomy 2:30;
Joshua 11:20; Isaiah 63:17; Matthew 13:14,15; Acts 28:26, 27, 28;
2Thessalonians 2:10, 11, 12)
Hardens whom He desires -
"makes stubborn and unyielding the heart of" (Amplified).
Compare with His divine judicial activity in Romans 1 where 3 times God
gives sinners over to their depraved natures (Ro 1:24-note,
We see a similar "spiritual"
judgment in the time of the antichrist's rule where Paul writes that...
And then that lawless one (the
Antichrist) will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of
His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that
is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with
all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of
wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love
of the truth (What does
this clearly imply? That
the truth was offered/available) so as to be saved. 11 And for this
reason (What reason?)
God will send upon them a deluding influence so that (What
purpose?) they might
believe what is false, 12 in order that (What
purpose?) they all may be
judged who did not believe the truth, but (Don't
miss this striking
term of contrast)
took pleasure in wickedness (Which is why they did not love the truth,
for the truth called them to righteousness and light and they loved
unrighteousness and darkness, cf John 3:18-20). (2Thessalonians 2:8-10)
Denney - The word
sklerunei (skleruno) is borrowed from the history of Pharaoh,
Ex 7:3; Ex 7:22; Ex 8:19; Ex 9:12; Ex 14:17. What precisely the
hardening means, and in what relation God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart
stood to Pharaoh’s own hardening of it against God, are not unimportant
questions, but they are questions which Paul does not here raise. He has
one aim always in view here—to show that man has no claim as of right
against God; and he finds a decisive proof of this (at least for a Jew)
in the opposite examples of Moses and Pharaoh, interpreted as these are
by unmistakable words of God Himself. It was through God, in the
last resort, that Moses and Pharaoh were what they were, signal
instances of the Divine mercy and the Divine wrath. (Expositor's
from skleros = hard,
dry, hard, rough <> from skéllo =
dry up) means to make hard or stiff and is used only figuratively to
refer to the heart or mind.
In the active skleruno
means to harden and in the passive sense, to grow hard.
The NT uses of skleruno are only figurative
(metaphorical) and mean to cause one to become unyielding, obstinate or
stubborn (carried on in an unyielding or persistent manner). As a
physician, I find it interesting that skleruno
was a medical technical term (first attested by Hippocrates) in Greek
writings describing something becoming hardened or thickened. Our
English word "hardening of the arteries" is known as "arteriosclerosis".
This is a serious, potentially fatal physical condition, but here and in
the book of Hebrews (Heb 3:8-note,
= the efficacious effect of sin, it's deceptive, attractive, seductive
character!, Heb 3:15-note,
Heb 4:7-note) the danger is even more ominous, for
spiritual hardening can
lead to eternal death and damnation of one's soul, not just loss of
their physical life!
From the uses of skleruno in
Exodus, one observes two important aspects of hardening: (1) Man
can repeatedly harden his heart, until finally God does the hardening,
with the implication that the latter is irrevocable. (2) One effect when
one's heart is hardened is not listening to God.
saying that God hardened Pharaoh's heart? Is Paul saying that God
purposely choose Pharaoh to be an evil man?
Pharaoh knew God and
suppressed the truth. He did not want God. He saw God's power and
hardened his heart. Yet God used him for His purposes to deliver many
The Exodus account of Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh
speaks of God hardening Pharaoh's heart (Ex 4:21 7:3), but Moses also records that Pharaoh hardened his own heart
as in the following verse...
But when Pharaoh saw that there
was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as
the LORD had said. (Exodus
8:15) (cf Ex 7:13; 7:22;8:32 9:7
A study of these passages in
Exodus emphasizes the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free
will. As already discussed, Esau although rejected by God before birth,
chose to reject his inheritance as the firstborn. Similarly, before he
was born, Judas was appointed to betray Christ, Luke recording Peter's
"Brethren, the Scripture
had to be
fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David
concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." (Acts1:16)
The apostle John also records God's
sovereignty in Judas' betrayal recording that...
Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself
not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" Now He meant
Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going
to betray Him. (John 6:70,71).
And although clearly
appointed by God
for their place and purpose in history, both Esau and Judas, personally and willfully chose to follow sin and unbelief.
mysterious way, our human decisions for which we bear full
responsibility have also been God's decisions, and vice versa. This is
beyond our finite comprehension and we should not try to rationalize it
by some human device of reasoning. What God does is right, by definition,
"Far be it from Thee to do such a
thing (not spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were 50 righteous in it),
to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the
wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of
all the earth deal justly?" (Ge18:25)
The psalmist echoes this truth
For the word of the LORD is upright;
and all His work is done in faithfulness. (Ps
Indeed, Jehovah's ways are "unsearchable"
(Ro11:33, cf David's declaration regarding God's knowledge and care for
him -- "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot
attain to it." Ps139:6).
We must simply bow our knee and trust
Him in whatever He does, knowing that He always right and is always
accomplishing His own eternal purposes thereby.
see study of derivative
boulomai) is a very common NT verb
(208x) which primarily refers to exercising of one's will with the
underlying sense of to be willing, to desire, to want or to wish (in Jn
15:7 in context of prayer). To apply oneself to something (or to will).
Thelo "expresses not simply a desire, but a determined and constant
exercise of the will." (W E Vine)
The reader should realize that
thelo is one of those Greek words that is somewhat difficult to
define with absolute consistency. For example, some sources state that
thelo refers to a thoughtful, purposeful choice, not a mere whim
or emotional desire, while Kenneth Wuest says thelo expresses "a
desire that comes from one's emotions" and "boulomai a desire that comes
from one's reason." (see more detailed discussion below). W E Vine says
thelo "chiefly indicates the impulse of the will rather than the
tendency (boulomai). The different shades of meaning must be determined
by the teaching of the Scriptures generally or by the context."
In secular Greek use thelo as used by
Homer spoke of “readiness,” “inclination,” and “desire," so that when
one was ready for an event or inclined to undertake a course of action,
thelo was the Greek word used. Plato used thelo of intention or
desire. The Septuagint uses often refer to God’s will as revealed to His
people (Dt 10:10, 23:5), who too often were not willing (thelo) to obey
Him (Dt 1:26). One of the most beautiful uses in Isaiah where God
Isaiah 55:11 So will My word be which
goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without
accomplishing what I desire (Lxx = thelo), and without succeeding
in the matter for which I sent it.
Thelo expresses not only
desire, but executive will, active volition and purpose (1Cor 10:20). In
1Cor 7:7 Paul uses thelo to express personal desire without
expressing the necessity of its imposition. In 1Cor 16:7 uses an
absolute negative and thelo to express his desire, his determination in
planning (determination presupposes desire).
In the Septuagint of Ps 115:3, 135:6
(= "pleases"), we see God's sovereignty reflected in the exercise of His
Thelo in John 7:17 expresses a
vitally important truth for Jesus declares that "If anyone is willing
(thelo - here the idea is a purposeful decision not a passive
acquiescence) to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it
is of God or whether I speak from Myself." The principle is that to know
the will of God, we must be willing to do the will of God. We don't
really know the Bible unless we obey the Bible! We won't really
know God's will unless we are willing to obey God's will. The first
prerequisite to ascertaining God's leading in some matter, or the truth
about some doctrinal question, is a genuine willingness to believe the
truth and to follow God's will before they are made known, even if the
answer goes against one's preference. As a corollary our HUNGER for the
Word of God will be in direct proportion to our OBEDIENCE to the Word of
God. In summary, the "first prerequisite to ascertaining God's leading
in some matter, or the truth about some doctrinal question, is a genuine
willingness to believe the truth and to follow God's will before they
are made known, even if the answer goes against one's preference."
Thelo will still be expressed
by men and women who have in this life said they were "not willing" to
believe in Christ and thus they were thrown in the place of eternal
torment (see Luke 16:26), where they will still possess wishes, desires
and wants, which can no longer be satisfied or fulfilled! This to me is
simply a horrible thought, but it is what Scripture teaches. May such a
dire end prompt us, yea, even impel us to boldly, lovingly proclaim the
Gospel to any and all who will listen!
NIDNTT - thelō frequently
appears in the NT in a quite secular sense for general willing, desiring
(e.g. Matt. 20:21; Matt. 26:17 par. Mk. 14:12), resolute willing (e.g.
Matt. 25:15; Jn. 7:44), finding pleasure in, liking (e.g. Mk. 12:38 par.
Lk. 20:46), claiming (2 Pet. 3:5)...1 (a) In the Pauline writings thelō
and thelēma are frequently used to describe the will of God, and
especially to describe the real source of the whole event of salvation
Thelo is translated "to want
or wish", this positive sense indicating a desire to see something done.
Jesus said to the man "Do you wish to get well?" (Jn 5:6) Good
question for all of us to ponder!
Thélo expresses a desire that
comes from one’s emotions. It is an active decision of the will, thus
implying volition and purpose. It is a conscious willing and denotes a
more active resolution urging on to action and expresses a purpose or
determination or decree, the execution of which is, or is believed to
be, in the power of him who wills.
Desire (Webster) - to long or
hope for, to express a wish for, to have a longing for. Desire stresses
the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim.
Want (Webster) - to have a
strong desire for, to have an inclination to, to wish for.
Jerry Bridges says thelo
is "the will that ultimately makes each individual choice of whether we
will sin or obey (Ed: E.g., see Gal 5:17 which contrasts desires
of flesh and Spirit, also Php 2:13 where God the Spirit gives us God
honoring desire, cp 2Ti 3:12 - which also clearly is a desire
supernaturally stimulated by the Holy Spirit, for our natural flesh
reaction would be to gravitate toward that which is ungodly!). It is the
will that chooses to yield to temptation or to say no. Our wills, then,
ultimately determine our moral destiny, whether we will be holy or
unholy in our character and conduct."
Praise God for these 2 uses of
1 Timothy 2:4 who desires
all (all in Greek means all without exception) men to be saved and to
come to the knowledge of the truth.
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and
the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let
the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the
water of life without cost.
(this is an attempt to
separate the meaning of these two words, but be aware the distinctions
are not always clear cut as discussed below) - Thelo meaning to
wish or to desire embodies the element, emphasizing desire that leads to
action. The related word
conveys the idea of deliberate
determination, which might be in accordance with the original wish or
impulse, but might be contrary to it. Thelo is a stronger word
than boulomai because the natural impulse (thelo) is frequently
stronger than reasoned resolve (boulomai). Boulomai carries the
tone of a preordained, divine decision, somewhat more deliberate than
thelo (Lk 22:42). Zodhiates says that "Boulomai expresses
a merely passive desire, propensity, willingness, while thelo
expresses an active volition and purpose. Boulomai expresses also
the inward predisposition and bent from which active volition proceeds;
hence it is never used of evil people. Boulomai refers to the
constitutional will, such as a congressman has, but the thelo to
executive will also, such as a president possesses. (In 1Cor 12:18 which
uses thelo) God planned each member of our body and then executed
His plan by places them there....Thelo implies purpose or design,
whereas boulomai denotes mere willingness or desire." Vine writes
that boulomai means "to wish, to will deliberately, and
expresses more strongly than thelo, the deliberate exercise of the
will....(In another note Vine says thelo) signifies more especially the
natural impulse or volition, and indicates a less formal or deliberate
purpose than (boulomai)." Thayer says boulomai speaks of
deliberation while thelo speaks of inclination. As an aside, it
must be note that while most seem to see a different emphasis between
thelo and boulomai, not all Greek authorities agree that there are
distinct differences. Marvin Vincent for example says "As between
thelo and boulomai the general distinction is that
thelo expresses a determination or definite resolution of the will;
while boule expresses an inclination, disposition, or wish. The
two words are, however, often interchanged in NT when no distinction is
emphasized. (Compare Mk. 15:15 and Lk. 23:20 Acts 27:43 and Mt. 27:17;
Jn. 18:39 and Mt. 14:5; Mk 6:48 and Acts 19:30.) Php 2:13 thelo used of
a definite purpose or determination." NIDNTT says "Human will or
volition can be represented, on the one hand, as a mental act, directed
towards a free choice. But, on the other hand, it can be motivated by
desire pressing in from the unconscious. Both kinds of volition are
rendered by the word-groups associated with boulomai and thelō. A
clear terminological distinction between boulomai (originally
volition as a mental act) and thelō (originally instinctive
desire) is no longer possible after the very early overlap of the areas
covered by the words and is excluded at the time of the NT by their
largely synonymous usage." Boulomai is more likely to express God's will
of decree, while thelo is more likely to refer to His will of desire.
"This is precisely the distinction theologians often make between God's
secret will and His revealed will. God desires many things that He does
not decree. It was never God's desire that sin exist, yet the undeniable
existence of sin proves that even sin fulfills His eternal purposes (Isa
46:10)--though in no sense is He the author of sin (James 1:13)." (John
So now if you are really confused
over the distinction between thelo and boulomai, read A F
The SEPTUAGINT employs the verbs
boulomai and thelō somewhat interchangeably to cover wants,
desires, decisions, purposes, and inclinations. In the NT thelō is used
far more often than boulomai (the reverse of classic Greek usage). It
has been argued that thelō denotes emotive action or unconscious DESIRE
while boulomai stresses rational and conscious decisions. According to
other scholars, such a use presupposes a dichotomy of emotion and reason
that is alien to the Hebrew view of human nature (although it is
precarious to draw a direct correspondence between lexical choices and
theological and psychological concepts). It may be more descriptive of
biblical usage to suggest that thelō is the broader and encompassing
term, while boulomai indicates more specifically deliberate acts.
Certainly this is the case with the noun boulē G1087 (e.g., Acts 27:12,
42; 1 Cor. 4:5), and thelō plainly denotes near-commands and natural
inclinations whether or not conscious. The classic passage is in Ro.
7:15–21, where KJV translates thelō with the now archaic use of “would.”
It becomes evident (1) that the two verbs have no clearly distinct
meanings; (2) that they depict the human being as an agent with
responsibility for his acts, rather than denoting a discrete faculty,
“the will”; and (3) that it is accordingly the person who chooses or
desires or refuses, rather than “the will.” (The Zondervan Encyclopedia
of the Bible)
NIDNTT on thelo in
classical Greek usage - Originally and especially in Homer...means: (a)
to be ready; to prefer, to be inclined; (b) to wish, to desire (e.g. “he
desired to see”, Homer, Od. 11, 566; also in the sexual sense, Homer, Od.
3, 272); (c) to have in mind; (d) to will, both as determining and
coming to a decision; and in particular (e) to will, in the sense of
compelling, and overbearing the will.
Some theologians refer to the
boulomai as God’s secret will and the thelo as His revealed
will. In other words, God desires many things that He does not decree.
Thelo is used figuratively in
John 3:8, in Jesus' description of the movement of the Holy Spirit in
salvation comparing His regenerative work to "wind (that) blows where it
When used with the negative thelo
means to be unwilling or to refuse (Mt 1:19, 21:29, Lk 15:28, 18:13,
1Cor 12:1, Gal 1:7, 1Th 2:18). In Jn 5:40 Jesus says "you are
unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life."
Friberg on Thelo - As
exercising the will; (1) from a motive of desire wish, want, desire (Jn
15:7); (2) from a readiness or inclination, followed by an infinitive
consent to, be ready to, be pleased to, wish to (Mt 1:19); (3) from
resolve, decision, or design will, intend, purpose, aim, with a
following infinitive either expressed or implied from the context (Rev
11:5); often used of God (1Ti 2:4), of Christ (Mk 3:13), and of the
authoritative dealings of the apostles (1Th 4:13)
BDAG on Thelo (summarized)
- (1) to have a desire for something, wish to have, desire,
want (2) to have something in mind for oneself, of purpose,
resolve, will, wish, want, be ready (3) to take pleasure
in, like (Mk 12:38, Lk 20:46, Mt 27:43) (4) to have an
opinion, maintain contrary to the true state of affairs (2Pe 3:5) (5)
Thelo is used in the phrase "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12, 17:20, Lk
Thelo - 208x in 199v -
Thelo is translated in NAS various ways (especially desire,
want, will and wish)- delighting(1), delights(1),
desire(14), desired(4), desires(4), desiring(2), intended(1),
intending(1), like(3), maintain(1), mean(1), mean*(2), please(1),
purposed(1), refused*(1), unwilling*(11), want(52), wanted(15),
wanting(3), wants(8), will(5), willed(1), willing(15), wills(4),
wish(24), wished(7), wishes(16), wishing(4), would(1).
Matthew 1:19 And Joseph her husband,
being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to
send her away secretly.
Matthew 2:18 "A VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING,
RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED (not willing) TO
BE COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE."
Matthew 5:40 "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let
him have your coat also.
42 "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who
wants to borrow from you.
Matthew 7:12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you
want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 8:2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said,
"Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3 Jesus
stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be
cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Matthew 9:13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE
COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the
righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 11:14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself
is Elijah who was to come.
Matthew 12:7 "But if you had known what this means, 'I DESIRE
COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the
38 Then some of the scribes and
Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."
Matthew 13:28 "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves
said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'
Matthew 14:5 Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared
the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.
Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it
shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed
32 And Jesus called His disciples to
Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have
remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not
want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way."
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes
to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow
Me. 25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but
whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 17:4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here;
if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and
one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize
him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man
is going to suffer at their hands."
Matthew 18:23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to
a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
30 "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until
he should pay back what was owed.
Matthew 19:17 And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is
good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter
into life, keep the commandments."
21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell
your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven; and come, follow Me."
Matthew 20:14 'Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to
this last man the same as to you.
15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my
own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?'
21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him,
"Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your
right and one on Your left."
26 "It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become
great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to
be first among you shall be your slave;
32 And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, "What do you want
Me to do for you?"
Matthew 21:29 "And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he
regretted it and went.
Matthew 22:3 "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been
invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
Matthew 23:4 "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders,
but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a
37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who
are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children
together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were
unwilling (absolutely not willing).
Matthew 26:15 and said, "What are you willing to give me to
betray Him to you?" And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.
17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus
and asked, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the
Matthew 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and
prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from
Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."
Matthew 27:15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release
for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted.
17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do
you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called
21 But the governor said to them, "Which of the two do you want
me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas."
34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He
was unwilling to drink.
43 "HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN
HIM; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
Mark 1:40 And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his
knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make
me clean." 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and
touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."
Mark 3:13 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He
Himself wanted, and they came to Him.
Mark 6:19 Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him
to death and could not do so;
22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she
pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask
me for whatever you want and I will give it to you."
25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, "I
want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a
26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and
because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse her.
48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at
about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea;
and He intended to pass by them.
Mark 7:24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre.
And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it;
yet He could not escape notice.
Mark 8:34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to
them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself,
and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 "For whoever wishes to
save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and
the gospel's will save it.
Mark 9:13 "But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to
him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him."
30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did
not want anyone to know about it.
35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone
wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."
Mark 10:35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus,
saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of
You." 36 And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for
43 "But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to
become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes
to be first among you shall be slave of all.
51 And answering him, Jesus said, "What do you want Me to do for
you?" And the blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, I want to regain my
Mark 12:38 In His teaching He was saying: "Beware of the scribes who
like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in
the market places,
Mark 14:7 "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you
wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was
being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, "Where do You want
us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?"
36 And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You;
remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You
Mark 15:9 Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to
release for you the King of the Jews?"
12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Him
whom you call the King of the Jews?"
Luke 1:62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted
Luke 4:6 And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and
its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever
Luke 5:12 While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man
covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and
implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can
make me clean." 13 And He stretched out His hand and touched him,
saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the
leprosy left him.
39 "And no one, after drinking old
wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.'"
Luke 6:31 "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
Luke 8:20 And it was reported to Him, "Your mother and Your brothers are
standing outside, wishing to see You."
Luke 9:23 And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to
come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and
follow Me. 24 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You
want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume
Luke 10:24 for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished
to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the
things which you hear, and did not hear them."
29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is
Luke 12:49 "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish
it were already kindled!
Luke 13:31 Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him,
"Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You."
34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones
those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children
together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you
would not have it!
Luke 14:28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower,
does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough
to complete it?
Luke 15:28 "But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and
his father came out and began pleading with him.
Luke 16:26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great
chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you
will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'
Luke 18:4 "For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to
himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,
13 "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even
unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast,
saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'
41 "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want
to regain my sight!"
Luke 19:14 "But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him,
saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'
27 "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over
them, bring them here and slay them in my presence."
Luke 20:46 "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in
long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and
chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,
Luke 22:9 They said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare it?"
Luke 23:8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had
wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about
Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him.
20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,
John 1:43 The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He
found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow Me."
John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound
of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is
everyone who is born of the Spirit."
John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already
been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish
to get well?"
21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so
the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
35 "He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were
willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
John 6:11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He
distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much
as they wanted.
21 So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and
immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also,
John 7:1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was
unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill
17 "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the
teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
44 Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on
John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do
the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and
does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever
he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the
father of lies.
John 9:27 He answered them, "I told you already and you did not listen;
why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His
disciples too, do you?"
John 12:21 these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee,
and began to ask him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever
you wish, and it will be done for you.
Comment: What does it mean to
abide in Jesus? Well, in this passage, clearly one way is to imbibe if
you will, the Word of God (cp Jn 8:31-32), to let them be at home in
your heart, to hear and obey the Word. Then you will ask wishes that are
in accordance with His Word which abides in you. See an OT parallel in
Spurgeon commenting on Ps 37:4
says "Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but
what will please God; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche.
Their will is subdued to God's will, and now they may have
what they will. Our innermost desires are here meant, not
our casual wishes; there are many things which nature might
desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these deep,
prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is
John 16:19 Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He
said to them, "Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, 'A
little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you
will see Me'?
John 17:24 "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given
Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have
given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Comment: Ponder this passage -
it is no surprise we would want to be with Jesus, but that His desire is
to be with us boggles (or at least should boggle) our mind!
John 21:18 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used
to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow
old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and
bring you where you do not wish to go."
22 Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what
is that to you? You follow Me!"
23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple
would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but
only, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to
Acts 2:12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity,
saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
Acts 7:28 'YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN
YESTERDAY, DO YOU?'
39 "Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but
repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt,
Acts 10:10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but
while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;
Acts 14:13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city,
brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer
sacrifice with the crowds.
Acts 16:3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him
and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for
they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Acts 17:18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were
conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler
wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange
deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
20 "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want
to know what these things mean."
Acts 18:21 but taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you
again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus.
Acts 19:33 Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews
had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was
intending to make a defense to the assembly.
Acts 24:27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by
Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left
Acts 25:9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered
Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand
trial before me on these charges?"
Acts 26:5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are
willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the
strictest sect of our religion.
Romans 1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often
I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I
may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the
Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not
practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the
very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do
not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for
the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very
evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer
the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who
wants to do good.
Romans 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or
the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to
make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath
prepared for destruction?
Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of
this mystery-- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--
that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of
the Gentiles has come in;
Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but
for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is
good and you will have praise from the same;
Romans 16:19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all;
therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in
what is good and innocent in what is evil.
1 Corinthians 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills,
and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their
21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with
love and a spirit of gentleness?
1 Corinthians 7:7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself
am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and
another in that.
32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried
is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;
36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his
virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him
do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.
39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is
dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the
1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren,
that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the
20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they
sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to
become sharers in demons.
27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat
anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience'
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is
the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is
the head of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not
want you to be unaware.
18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body,
just as He desired.
1 Corinthians 14:5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but
even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies
than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church
may receive edifying.
19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my
mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words
in a tongue.
35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own
husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
1 Corinthians 15:38 But God gives it a body just as He wished,
and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
1 Corinthians 16:7 For I do not wish to see you now just in
passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord
2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren,
of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened
excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
2 Corinthians 5:4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being
burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be
clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 8:10 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your
advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this,
but also to desire to do it.
11 But now finish doing it also, so
that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may
be also the completion of it by your ability.
2 Corinthians 11:12 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I
may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to
be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting.
2 Corinthians 12:6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be
foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so
that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from
20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not
what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish;
that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes,
slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;
Galatians 1:7 which is really not another; only there are some who are
disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you:
did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with
Galatians 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be
known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and
worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved
all over again?
17 They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut
you out so that you will seek them.
20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my
tone, for I am perplexed about you.
21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one
another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Galatians 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the
flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not
be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves,
but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will
and to work for His good pleasure.
Colossians 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the
riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ
in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have
on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who
have not personally seen my face,
18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in
self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on
visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
1 Thessalonians 2:18 For we wanted to come to you-- I, Paul, more
than once-- and yet Satan hindered us.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed,
brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do
the rest who have no hope.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you
this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to
1 Timothy 1:7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they
do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which
they make confident assertions.
1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come
to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 5:11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when
they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in
Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Philemon 1:14 but without your consent I did not want to do
anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion
but of your own free will.
Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,
"SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE
PREPARED FOR ME;
8 After saying above, "SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT
OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE
YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them" (which are offered according to the Law),
Hebrews 12:17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired
to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for
repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good
conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all
James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow,
that faith without works is useless?
James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will
live and also do this or that."
1 Peter 3:10 For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD
DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer
for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
2 Peter 3:5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice
that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was
formed out of water and by water,
3 John 1:13 I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing
to write them to you with pen and ink;
Revelation 2:21 'I gave her time to repent, and she does not want
to repent of her immorality.
Revelation 11:5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out
of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm
them, he must be killed in this way.
6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall
during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the
waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every
plague, as often as they desire.
Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let
the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let
the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
Thelo - 159 verses in
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 24:8; 37:35; 39:8; 48:19; Ex 2:7, 14;
8:32; 10:4; 11:10; Num 20:21; 22:14; Deut 1:26; 2:30; 10:10; 21:14;
23:5, 22; 25:7; 29:20; Josh 24:10; Jdg 13:23; 20:5; 1Sa 14:15; 18:22;
26:23; 2Sa 2:21; 12:17; 13:9, 14, 16, 25; 14:29; 15:26; 23:16f; 1Kgs
9:1; 10:9, 13; 20:8, 35; 2Kgs 8:19; 13:23; 24:4; 1Chr 11:18; 19:19;
28:4, 9; 2 Chr 7:11; 9:8; 36:5; Neh 1:11; Esther 1:1, 8; 4:17; 5:3;
6:6f, 11; Job 23:13; 33:32; Ps 5:4; 18:19; 22:8; 34:12; 35:27; 37:23;
40:6, 14; 41:11; 51:16; 68:30; 73:25; 78:10; 109:17; 112:1; 115:3;
119:35; 135:6; 147:10; Pr 1:30; 21:1; Eccl 8:3; Song 2:7; 3:5; 8:4; Isa
1:19f; 5:24; 9:5; 28:4, 12; 55:11; 56:4; 66:3; Jer 5:3; 8:5; 9:6; 11:10;
31:15; 38:21; 50:33; Ezek 3:7; 18:23, 32; 20:8; Dan 1:13; 2:3; 4:17;
7:19; 8:4; Hos 6:6; 11:5; Mal 3:1;
Ps 5:4 For Thou art not a God who
takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with Thee.
Ps 18:19 He brought me forth also
into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
Ps 22:8 “Commit yourself to the LORD;
let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in
Ps 34:12 Who is the man who
desires life, And loves length of days that he may see good?
Ps 35:27 Let them shout for joy and
rejoice, who favor my vindication; And let them say continually, “The
LORD be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His
Ps 37:23 The steps of a man are
established by the LORD; And He delights in his way.
Ps 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering
Thou hast not desired; My ears Thou hast opened; Burnt offering
and sin offering Thou hast not required.
Ps 40:14 Let those be ashamed and
humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; Let those be turned
back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt.
Ps 51:16 For Thou dost not delight
in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt
offering. (See what God desires - Ps 51:17)
Ps 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but
Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.
Ps 78:10 They did not keep the
covenant of God, And refused (were unwilling or not willing) to
walk in His law;
Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed
is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His
Comment: Note that the
Scriptures repeated link good, godly fear with godly living (obedience
to God's Word). Do I fear the LORD? is a question we all do well to
frequently ask ourselves, given our tendency for "spiritual leakage" so
to speak. If we are actively growing in grace and the knowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ then we are often regressing at best and
overtly backsliding at worst! The Christian life is like riding a
bicycle (I ride all the time), where you are in greatest danger of
falling when you cease pedaling! (I can testify to this as I had a
severe fall for the first time in 2 years just as I attempted to slow
down and stop relatively suddenly!).
Ps 115:3 But our God is in the
heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
Ps 119:35 Make me walk in the path of
Thy commandments, For I delight in it.
Ps 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases,
He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
Ps 147:10 He does not delight
in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a
Pr 21:1 - The king’s heart is like
channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He
wishes (Lxx = thelo).
Related Article -
Will in Baker's Evangelical
Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Wayne Detzler (New Testament
Words in Today’s Language) on thelo/thelema...(Note
that some of the Scriptures below will relate to thelo and others to the
MEANING - The Greek word for
and the verb form, “I will” is thelo. One sees this root
word in the feminine name “Thelma.” In its most basic form, this
word refers to “a wish,” “a strong desire,” and “the willing of some
event.” But in ancient secular Greek the word had another meaning. Homer
used it to speak of “readiness,” “inclination,” and “desire.” When one
was ready for an event, or inclined to undertake a course of action,
thelo was used. Later the word also gained a sexual meaning, as when
a man has his “will” with a woman, or vice versa. In the writings of
Plato the word came to speak of intention or desire. The Septuagint
Greek Old Testament contains 100 references to these words. In most
cases they refer to God’s will, as He revealed it to His people.
BIBLE USAGE - In the Greek New Testament these words appear 270
Perhaps the most prominent reference
is found in the Lord’s Prayer. There Christ taught His disciples to pray
for the fulfillment of the will of God on earth as it is in heaven,
without any resistance (Mt 6:10 thelema). The primary test of one’s
Christianity is a willingness to do God’s will (Mt 7:21 thelema).
Often the will of God stands out in
bold contrast with the will of man. When these conflicts occur, one can
be absolutely sure that the will of God is just and holy (Rom. 9:14–17).
The whole of God’s salvation plan was willed for our good. This involved
the sacrifice of Christ (Gal. 1:4). It also included God’s sovereign
call to us, by which we are saved and sanctified (Eph. 1:5, 11). In
accordance with His will, God reveals His glory to us (Col. 1:27). He
also motivates us to do His will (Phil. 2:13).
It was the will of God that propelled
Paul into the ministry of apostleship. He identified himself in this
way, when he wrote to many churches and individuals (1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor.
1:1; Eph. 1:1–2; 2 Tim. 1:1).
No one ever was more conscious of the
will of God than was the Lord Jesus Christ. Doing the Father’s will was
more important than food and drink to Jesus (John 4:34). He measured all
judgment by the standard of God’s will (5:30). Salvation through the
Lord Jesus Christ is determined by the will of God (6:40).
There are also references to the will
of people in the New Testament. A servant is bound to do his master’s
will (Luke 12:47).
The Apostle Paul often expressed his
own will with the verb, “I desire” or “I wish.” He willed to visit the
Roman church (Rom. 1:13), but this did not become a reality till the end
of his life. He wished that all people were single (1 Cor. 7:7), but he
did not make this a rule. Another wish was that all believers had two
specific spiritual gifts (1Cor 14:5).
On a more general level, “the will of
man” often referred to physical desires. For instance, Christians are
not born by human desire, but by divine decree (John 1:13). Christians
often experience confect between their righteous wishes and their
unrighteous performances (Ro 7:15–16).
The will of God is always good. No
matter how it is expressed in our lives or our world, God’s will is holy
and thus always helpful. On the other hand, the will of people often
conflicts with the will of God. And the will of Satan is always at
enmity with the will of God (2 Tim. 2:26).
ILLUSTRATIONS - Human understanding of the will of God is
sometimes rather weak. Even the saintly Augustine of Hippo (A.D.
354–430) confessed: “When I vacillated about my decision to serve the
Lord my God, it was I who willed and I who willed not, and nobody else.
I was fighting against myself.… All [God] asked was that I cease to want
what I willed, and begin to want what [He] willed.”
Godly poet George Herbert (1593–1633)
emphasized the importance of aligning our will with God’s: “When the
will is ready [to obey God] the feet are light.”
God seems to work through man’s will.
Though we feel that we have free will, actually our will is only free
when exercised in accordance with God’s will. Irenaeus (who wrote about
175–195) expressed this truth clearly: “Not only in works, but also in
faith, God has given man freedom of the will.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–92) stated
the same principle in poetry:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them Thine.
James Jauncey was more direct: “God
never burglarizes the human will. He may long to come in and help, but
He will never cross the picket line of our unwillingness.”
The emphasis shifts to God’s will,
when we read the writings of devotional author George MacDonald
(1824–1905). He penned these words about the will of God: “I find doing
the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.”
Focusing on the all-encompassing
nature of God’s will, Frances J. Roberts wrote: “God’s will is not a
place, but a condition; not a when or where, but a how.”
Corrie ten Boom’s life was portrayed
in the book and film, The Hiding Place. Less well known are the words of
her sister, Betsie ten Boom, who said concerning God’s will: “The center
of God’s will is our only safety.”
Every Christian who loves the Lord
and does His will can identify with this anonymous statement: “To know
God’s will is man’s greatest treasure; to do His will is life’s greatest
When we lived in England, we often
sang a chorus which concluded with this thought:
There’s no peace, no joy, no thrill
Like walking in His will.
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain.
George Matheson (1842–1906), a blind
hymn-writer, summarized the will of God:
My will is not my own
Till Thou hast made it Thine;
If it would reach the monarch’s throne
It must its crown resign;
It only stands unbent, amid the clashing strife,
When on Thy bosom it has leant
And found in Thee its life.