Page 1

The Heart and Mind: D.A. Carson on Training Pastors and Making Disciples

The Next Generation: Seble Denneque on Raising Ethiopia’s Children

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2015

THE HEART & MIND

D.A. Carson on Training Pastors and Making Disciples To Judge or Not to Judge Exploring Jesus’ Teaching in Context

A Shining City on a Hill Why It’s not About the American Dream

The Prayer of Jabez What We Can Learn from It

Exploring Commonly Misinterpreted Verses

GET INTO THE WORD


Are you called to pAstorAl ministry? Are you ready to be equipped? Named in honor of Johnny Hunt, SEBTS graduate and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA

Earn your

Ba & Mdiv degrees in

ACADEMICALLY RIGOROUS

5

YEARS*

INTENSE LOCAL CHURCH

edUcaTION + MeNTOrSHIP collegeatsoutheastern.com/huntscholars huntscholars@sebts.edu 919-761-2198

Wake Forest, NC iamgoing.org *(Pending SACSCOC approval)


Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has long been a wonderful place to teach the Bible and theology. Taken as a whole, my colleagues are simultaneously top-notch scholars and local church Christians with an infectious passion for the gospel. They model the reverence for Scripture that they seek to inculcate in their students. And this generation of students is serious, highly motivated, eager to learn and eager to serve, wanting to be mentored. This is a great time to teach and study at TEDS.

d . a . c arson

rese arch professor of new testament

TEDS faculty are gifted men and women who represent a wide spectrum of international backgrounds, church and ministry involvements, and evangelical theological positions, but they are united around the centrality of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. They minister as much through research and writing as through local church involvement, but their primary ministry is teaching and caring for our students.

teds.edu 2065 Half Day Road 800 345.8337

|

Deerfield, Illinois 60015


Rebecca Van Noord editor-in-chief rebecca@biblestudymagazine.com

Letter from the Editor

GET INTO THE WORD

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Myth-Busting Our Maxims Anyone who has a Facebook account has seen the words “don’t judge!” emblazoned on their timeline. Many Americans envision their own country with great pride when they hear a reference to a “city on a hill.” And at some point, you may have been comforted with the phrase, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Maxims born of biblical text are strewn throughout secular society and Christian culture. Unfortunately, a simple reading of the text surrounding a lifted verse is often enough to debunk their common misusage. Other times, we have to slow down and consider contextual issues, research word meaning, or trace an argument through a biblical letter to get to the root of meaning. In this issue of Bible Study Magazine, we take an in-depth look at verses that have been widely misused. We picked passages that have been particularly pervasive—including the prayer of Jabez, the misappropriation of America as Jesus’ “city on a hill,” and of course the mantra “Don’t judge!” Our intention isn’t to discourage Bible reading or encourage nitpicking. Instead, we hope to address what went wrong with the way we’ve come to use popular passages—and offer tips on how we can avoid similar mistakes in the future. In this issue, you’ll also find an interview with D. A. Carson, professor, author, and founding member of The Gospel Coalition. Additionally, professor and child development researcher Seble Denneque shares her vision for helping the next generation of Ethiopian children become Christians who are active and intentional in their communities. We hope this issue encourages you in your study of the Word.

ACADEMIC EDITOR

Douglas Mangum

ART DIRECTOR

Christine Gerhart

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS PRODUCTION MANAGER PRODUCTION SENIOR WRITERS COPY EDITORS

ADVERTISING SALES MARKETING

PUBLISHER

Patrick Fore, Joshua Warren Anna Fejes Brittany VanErem, Liliya Moroz Michael S. Heiser, Jessi Strong David Bomar, Rebecca Brant, Lynnea Fraser, Elliot Ritzema, Abigail Stocker Kevin Bratcher Dan Pritchett, Nick Kelly, Naomi Deviny, Scott Lindsey Lexham Press

STATEMENT OF FAITH We believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead and on the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. — Apostles’ Creed

Bible Study Magazine

PS Since this is a special themed issue, we aren’t featuring a segment from Not Your Average Bible Study. However, you are invited to download a free copy of Not Your Average Bible Study on Colossians, Being Like Jesus, at Logos.com/BSMSavings with coupon code NOTAVERAGE.

Rebecca Van Noord

ABOUT US Bible Study Magazine is a nondenominational publication dedicated to providing you with tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from respected Bible teachers, professors, historians, and archaeologists. You may disagree at times with some of the content, but we hope that overall you will find the magazine helpful and insightful. May God bless you in your pursuit of him and in your study of the Bible. — Editorial Board, Bible Study Magazine

|

September-October 2015. Vol. 7. No. 6

Lexham Press is an imprint of Faithlife Corporation, makers of Logos Bible Software. Bible Study Magazine is published bimonthly by Lexham Press, part of Faithlife Corporation, at 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, WA 98225-4357. Faithlife.com/About Postmaster: Send address changes to Bible Study Magazine, 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, WA 98225-4357.

|

BibleStudyMagazine.com

We may publish submitted letters, emails, and Facebook posts. We may also edit them for grammar, spelling, length, clarity, and style. For ad sales, call 1-800-875-6467.


UNPACKING GOD’S STORY Book by Book

Over 60 scholar contributors. Led by Dr. D.A. A. Carson Carson, general editor

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a new kind of study Bible that helps you put Scripture into broader context. You’ll see the major themes unfold throughout Scripture. Connect the experiences of the biblical writers to the big picture of God’s greater plans and purposes. And experience a greater love for God as you recognize His progressive plan of salvation throughout history.

L E A R N M O R E AT

U n p a c k i n g G o d s S t o r y. c o m

Exclusively in the


OPERATION SAFE HAVENS Can you help evacuate Christians in danger Thousands of Christians in the Middle East are trying to flee the killing fields of Islamic State territory. You can help open a way for them. Representatives of Barnabas Aid are approaching governments around the world seeking visas for these vulnerable Christians. CAN YOU HELP WITH THE COSTS OF OPERATION SAFE HAVENS? Travel expenses will be $550 per person. A family of four will need $699 per month to cover their basic needs, including rent ($78 per week), food ($62 per week) and other items. Visit www.barnabasaid.org/osh or contact us to make a donation.

6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101 Tel: (703) 288-1681 or toll-free 1-866-936-2525 Fax: (703) 288-1682 Email: usa@barnabasaid.org

barnabasaid.org


THE HEART & MIND

PAGE 10

D.A. Carson on Training Pastors and Making Disciples

PAGE 17

PAGE 10

The Next Generation

Contents

SEBLE DENNEQUE ON RAISING ETHIOPIA’S CHILDREN

Missing the Big Picture: Exploring Commonly Misinterpreted Verses 24 Four Guidelines for Interpreting Scripture 26 A Shining City on a Hill 29 The Secret Things Belong to the Lord 31

His Ways Are Higher than Our Ways

32

Come Now, Let Us Reason Together

34 Bless Me and Enlarge My Territory 36 Out of Egypt

2

Letter from the Editor

37

9

Shelf Life

51

Bible Study with Logos 6

Eunuchs Who Have Made Themselves Eunuchs

38 God Won’t Give You More than You Can Handle 40 Ask for Anything, and He Will Do It 42 Judge Not, that Ye Be Not Judged 44 Render Unto Caesar 46 Heap Burning Coals on Their Heads 48 For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2015


B E C AU S E

M AT T E R S

You know you should be putting aside money for your future. We make it easy! • • • •

Start with only $100 Add $10/month to keep it growing Earn competitive investment rates Support churches and ministries while your money grows

With 65 years of experience, we’ll help you invest for what matters most—your future!

cepnet.com/biblestudy915 800-821-1112

800-821-1112 cepnet.com/biblestudy Investments consist of Promissory Notes and are not bank deposits or checking accounts and are not FDIC insured. This is not an offer to sell our securities to you and weWell...we are not also need to say our rates are subject to change. And our investments consist of Promissory Notes and are not bank deposits or checking accounts and are not FDIC insured. This is not an offer to sell our securities to you and we are not soliciting you to buy our securities. soliciting you to buy our securities. We offer our securities only in states where authorized. This offering is made solely by our Offering Circular. © 2015 Church Extension WePlan. offer our securities only in states where authorized. This offering is made solely by our Offering Circular. © 2015 Church Extension Plan.


Love One Another

Comics & Puzzles

1 JOHN 4:7–5:12 (NIV)

T

H

I

S

F

A

W

O

R

L

D

W

Y

L

T

C

R

E

H

T

O

N

A

E

D

T

I

U

B

L

O

O

D

L

F

G

T

E

O

V

D

C

G

I

V

E

N

C

O

E

M

E

E

L

C

L

C

A

H

A

N

C

L

V

S

S

S

M

W

T

M

N

T

R

N

P

O

U

E

E

S

A

V

E

H

W

A

E

M

Y

A

M

V

R

T

F

V

S

B

I

H

O

S

C

O

E

M

E

S

E

N

T

L

O

C

O

E

T

I

N

R

A

R

A

N

I

T

V

R

B

E

L

I

A

E

Y

N

R

E

F

S

H

E

N

E

V

T

M

O

B

E

D

E

Y

P

N

R

B

I

R

E

N

O

A

H

D

S

E

U

P

T

E

U

L

E

R

E

N

H

P

A

H

P

E

R

F

E

C

T

G

E

F

Y

Y

S

M

ANOTHER ANYONE BECAUSE BELIEVES BLOOD BORN COMMANDS

COMPLETE DOES EVERYONE FEAR GIVEN LIAR LIVES

LOVE MADE PERFECT SEEN SENT TESTIFY

TESTIMONY THIS THREE WATER WHOEVER WORLD

Puzzle generated by Logos Bible Software.

©2015 Global University. All Rights Reserved.

Train Your Leaders Looking to better train the leaders in your church? Contact us today to ask about our online and print leadership courses offered through Berean School of the Bible.

HD43584

w e b : w w w. g l o b a l u n i v e r s i t y. e d u •   facebook .com /globaluniversit y 1 . 8 0 0 . 4 4 3 .1 0 8 3 •  12 11 s . g l e n s t o n e av e •  s p r i n g f i e l d, m o •  6 5 8 0 4

Bible Study Magazine Ad - HfPg Sep15 hd43585.indd 1

6/24/15 4:04 PM


M O D E R N ENGLISH VERSION

Today’s King James

The most modern translation produced in the King James tradition within the last thirty years, this formal equivalence translation maintains the beauty of the past yet provides fresh clarity for a new generation of Bible readers.

w w w. m e v b i b l e . c o m /PassioFaith

@ MEVBible

Available in the Logos software store and wherever books are sold.


Book Reviews

Shelf Life The Epic of Eden: Understanding the Old Testament Seedbed Publishing, 2014

We sometimes view the Old Testament as a collection of war stories, prophecies, poems, and other tales that are important but lack a cohesive direction or structure. Sandra Richter’s latest study guide and video series, The Epic of Eden: Understanding the Old Testament, demonstrates that the people and events of the Old Testament play a major role in the overall biblical narrative—and that we should develop a more friendly relationship with the Old Testament. Richter contends that understanding the nuances of the Old Testament is paramount to understanding the overarching biblical narrative of God’s redemption through Christ, culminating in the new Jerusalem. Drawing on her background in ancient Near East studies, Richter excavates the rich cultural and geographical context of the Old Testament as she explores major concepts such as covenant and treaty, as well as primary figures including Abraham, Noah, and David. The video series (laid out in 12 sessions, each lasting around 30 minutes) is thoroughly engaging and understandable. The accompanying study guide includes critical questions and exercises aimed at enriching participants’ learning experience. Based on her acclaimed book of the same name, Richter’s study guide and video series will be of great use to pastors and ministry leaders searching for a comprehensive and engaging Old Testament curriculum. REVIEWED BY BEN ESPINOZA

The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to•the Gospel Eerdmans, 2015

Justo L. González begins his new book with an attention-getting claim: “Among all the writers in the New Testament, no one has been more undervalued than Luke” (vii). González argues that Luke deserves a close read for his unique contribution to the Gospels and to the larger story of Scripture. The Story Luke Tells explores “Luke’s theology, underlining both those elements which he shares with the rest of the New Testament authors and those which are unique to him” (viii). Despite a lack of available biographical information about Luke, González suggests we can know much about him through his language and thematic emphases. In eight chapters González draws out Luke’s storytelling motifs: Luke as a history writer; Luke’s interest in “the great reversal that the divine intervention brings about” (31); Luke and gender; Luke’s perspective on salvation; the role of food and drink; the notion of worship; and Luke’s special emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The Story Luke Tells is a brief but thorough thematic introduction to Luke’s writings. González writes with a pastoral perspective and calls readers to respond to Luke’s “invitation … a call for the living of our own stories” (13).

Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation Series) Holman Reference, 2015

In his new commentary, Thomas Schreiner seeks to connect Hebrews to the rest of the biblical canon, analyzing its broad theological themes and contribution to biblical theology. In his introduction, Schreiner analyzes the four structures of reading Hebrews: promise/ fulfillment, eschatology, typology, and spatial orientation. He then moves to exegete the text, accounting for the sociocultural context of the letter’s intended audience and seeking to bridge the gap between readers then and now. He provides a fair and critical treatment of the text, drawing out its original meaning while engaging the work of other commentators. His final chapter examines the key biblical and theological themes of the book, such as the nature of Christ, Christ’s sacrifice, and eschatological and soteriological concerns. Schreiner’s commentary contributes to scholarship on Hebrews by examining the book’s theology from an evangelical perspective. His commentary will be of great use to scholars and pastors seeking a fresh commentary on the book.

Interpreting the Prophets IVP Academic, 2015

Aaron Chalmers’ Interpreting the Prophets offers a highly readable introduction to the “writing prophets” and the biblical books they authored. The book is divided into six sections: (1) description of the prophets/prophetic books; (2) historical context; (3) theological context; (4) rhetorical context (how to read the books and individual pericopes); (5) the relationship between apocalyptic and prophecy; and (6) preaching the prophets today. Chalmers’ discussion of imagery (4.3.2) presents a baseline for interpretation, complete with relevant poetic passages. Some knockout boxes allow seasoned readers to go deeper by broadening their definition of metaphors. Plentiful maps, engravings, and archaeological photographs complement Chalmers’ portrait of the prophets. At less than 200 pages, this short and insightful book could serve as an undergraduate handbook on prophetic interpretation or as a helpful addition to any home study. REVIEWED BY RUSSELL VINCENT WARREN

REVIEWED BY BEN ESPINOZA

REVIEWED BY ABRAM KIELSMEIER-JONES

Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

9


THE HEART & MIND D.A. Carson on Training Pastors and Making Disciples JESSI STRONG

As a young chemistry graduate, Dr. D.A. Carson planned to pursue a PhD in organic synthesis and begin a career in research. When his pastor asked him to assist over the summer, he says, “I thought he had me confused with someone else. There were a number of young adults in our church who had decided to head into ministry. The pastor and I argued over my summer plans for close to two hours, and eventually I won. I  spent my summer in a research lab.” Even so, the seed had been planted. Carson went on to become a pastor, author, seminary professor, and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition.


Growing Up in the Faith

C

arson didn’t shy away from ministry for lack of faith or spiritual upbringing. He was raised in a Christian home in French-speaking Québec, and his father was a Protestant minister. Carson doesn’t recall the precise moment of being saved. “Some of my earliest memories with respect to God were formed within a family that loved the Lord and talked about God daily. We had regular family devotions, and at bath time, my father told Bible stories. Every bath night we had a little review, and he would relate a little more of the Bible’s storyline. There was never a time in the family when God was not central.” Carson believes that there is a time in every Christian’s life—remembered or not—when they cross over from death to life. “I think uncertainty of that moment is common for kids brought up in the faith. But God knows it, whether you can pinpoint it or not. I have a mental checklist of things to ask God someday, and one of them is, ‘When did you save me?’ I suspect he’ll say, ‘From before the foundation of the world, my son.’ ” Being in the religious minority shaped Carson’s faith as a child. In Québec, the majority of citizens were Roman Catholic. “The Roman Catholic Church in Québec at the time was almost medieval in its outlook. There was a lot of opposition to the gospel. In the 1950s, Baptist ministers were sometimes put in prison. I was occasionally beaten up at school because I was considered a ‘maudit Protestant,’ or damned Protestant.” Professors Training Pastors Carson rethought his science career when he realized it didn’t inspire him the way it seemed to inspire his colleagues. “I enjoyed the work, had a good budget and a good project. But it wasn’t consuming me. I began to wonder where I should spend the rest of my life. Meanwhile, an old Sunday school chorus kept coming back to me: ‘By and by when I look on his face, I’ll wish I had given him more.’ ”

Carson is careful to underscore that God calls people to many vocations—Christians are and should be thriving in the sciences. But once he felt God calling him elsewhere, Carson enrolled in Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto (now called Heritage Baptist College and Seminary). He eventually moved on to pastor Richmond Baptist Church in Vancouver, Canada, where he remained for several years. At the same time, he taught courses at Northwest Baptist Theological College. “After some years in the ministry, I decided that if I were to get further training, I should do it while I was still relatively young and single. I went to Cambridge for a PhD in New Testament before coming back to Vancouver.” He served as dean at Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1978, Carson accepted a position as professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he’s been ever since. In all his years at Trinity, Carson has only once been tempted to leave—when an opportunity arose to return to full-time pastoral ministry. “If I went to another seminary, I’d be doing a similar sort of thing. The Lord has placed me where I am for all kinds of reasons, and I don’t regret it in the slightest. But local church ministry is the front line. I’m in the business of training pastors. If I remain where I am, I can put in a greater percentage of time writing and in training pastors.” Carson sees a close connection between the academic and pastoral professions. “Seminaries exist first and foremost to train pastors, missionaries, and people of that order; training academics is a secondary concern. If all the teachers, professors, and lecturers are academic from beginning to end, they tend to reproduce their own kind. It’s necessary for a significant percentage of faculty members at any decent seminary to be made up of people who, at a very deep level, would prefer to be in pastoral ministry. That will affect how they teach, what they mirror, and how they handle Scripture. In retrospect, I can see the Lord’s wisdom in doing things in my life that gave me experience in evangelism, in church planting, and in pastoring.”


“It’s easy for Bible readers— from young, immature readers to the greatest scholars—to have blind spots and be wrong. But if the Bible really is the Word of God, then there is nothing more important than handling it well.”

Prayer and Scripture When spending time in the Word of God, Carson seeks a blend of devotional reflection and serious study. “It’s important to read the Bible regularly, faithfully, and devotionally. I’m a bit suspicious of an approach that advises people to think critically and academically only when they’re preparing a message or doing exegesis, but when reading devotionally to do so without taking notes or consulting a commentary—just to sit there feeling mystical. That’s a mistake.” “Personal Bible reading ought to have oomph to it. If you don’t understand something, there’s nothing wrong with taking a commentary off your shelf so that you can understand the passage better. Likewise, if you’re preparing a message, there’s something wrong with a study so detailed and structured that it doesn’t include an element of reverence and fear. According to the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 66:2, God looks to those who are contrite and humble of spirit, and who tremble at his Word. Whether you’re writing a commentary or having your morning devotions, you ought to have the sort of reverence that is always God’s due.” In his own devotional life, Carson says he’s never restricted himself to one way of doing things. “John Stott famously followed the Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible reading scheme for the whole of his Christian walk. For quite a few years I strenuously followed it, and two of my books—volumes one and two of For the Love of God—came out of that time. Sometimes I use a portion of my devotional time to memorize a chunk of Scripture—a chapter or several chapters or a small book. A while ago I read and reread Proverbs, and collected them into various topical arrays so I could see what kind of emphases were there.” In one of Carson’s recent publications, Praying with Paul, he talks about his habit of making lists for prayer. Praying with Paul aims to deepen readers’ relationship with the Word of God in their prayer lives. “I wanted to address a fairly simple question: How do we learn to pray? We learn by the models around us. In my conservative family home, using the King James Bible, I learned to pray in Elizabethan English, or in slightly archaic French. Someone who is converted at a campus group meeting at age 23 with no Christian background will probably learn to pray less formally. But where are the best models from which we can learn? They are the prayers that God himself has left for us in Scripture. This book fastens on eight or ten of Paul’s prayers to see not only what he is praying, but also why. Are there patterns in the things that he’s praying for? There’s nothing wrong with praying about anything, but if we want to reform our prayers to be more in line with those of the apostles, we need to study the apostles’ prayers. I hope that, in working through the book, readers will learn to pray the prayers of the apostles in their own context.” Biblical Interpretation In 1996, Carson published Exegetical Fallacies, a book dedicated to uncovering common interpretation errors. The book has become popular in biblical studies courses and with pastors. Speaking about the importance of correct biblical interpretation, Carson says, “We are finite and limited in


our understanding. Worse, we’re sinful, and we sometimes make mistakes to justify our own biases. We sometimes read the Bible to answer our own questions. We all come with a matrix of presuppositions, so it’s relatively easy to misinterpret Scripture.” “The big picture of the Bible is straightforward. The trouble is, it’s a big book, written in several languages, with different layers and subtleties. It has different genres and literary forms. It’s easy for Bible readers— from young, immature readers to the greatest scholars—to have blind spots and be wrong. But if the Bible really is the Word of God, then there is nothing more important than handling it well. If the authority we Christians ascribe to the Bible is vested in a misinterpretation of what Scripture says, then we’re assigning the weight of biblical authority to our own opinions, which could be extremely damaging. Good biblical interpretation is bound up in the importance of hearing the voice of God and letting him set the agenda, rather than dictating our biases to God.” Of course, even careful, devout reading of Scripture can lead to two interpretations. “At that point, we don’t simply ask which interpretation we prefer, but ‘Are they both mandated in the biblical text?’ If so, then these two differing interpretations must complement each other in some way.” “Although it is true that the Bible rejoices in certain kinds of diversity—for example, around the throne on the last day there will be men and women from every town and tribe and nation—yet we mustn’t forget the importance of unity. Ten times in the little book of

Philippians, Paul tells people to think the same thing. You don’t build church unity by ignoring differences, but by doing the hard work of bringing things back to the test of Scripture over and over again.” “Some parts of Scripture can be pretty straightforward in terms of what they mean, yet complex in terms of the various ways in which they might be applied. A proverb tends to fall into that category. It can be worked out in quite a variety of different contexts. In that case, it’s not so much a matter of different interpretations as of different applications. The best applications are those that are heavily, carefully grounded in the Bible’s whole storyline.” The Gospel Coalition Carson’s most recent endeavor has been cofounding and leading The Gospel Coalition, along with New York pastor and author Tim Keller. Over coffee together in 2002, the two men discussed the broadening definition of the term “evangelical” and the possibility of creating an organization that would represent an “institutional center that was faithful to the historic confessional understanding.” Five years later, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) officially launched, and since then it has grown exponentially. Humanly speaking, two of the key reasons for their success, Carson says, were the combination of theological robustness with courtesy, and the early decision to mak all their online resources free. “Making that decision early on changed the way we built structures and finances. We also found that


people were looking for what we were offering: a serious understanding of Scripture—doctrinal robustness, not lowest common denominator theology.” While it might seem that avoiding “lowest common denominator theology” would alienate all who don’t agree with Carson and Keller’s specific brand of reformed evangelicalism, Carson says it instead pushes for healthy discussion and room for disagreement. “All of us carry some baggage, and we want to make sure we are corrected by Scripture. Where our statement of faith and theological vision of ministry articulate a particular stance, we expect council members to reflect that stance faithfully. In other areas, we want to acknowledge that we don’t see eye to eye, but we continue to bring issues to the test of Scripture. If we find we still disagree, we’ll disagree as Christians, under the authority of Scripture. We want to have serious public discussions rather than adopting a position that says, ‘We can’t talk about these things lest a fight breaks out.’ ” In addition to encouraging the American church to grow deep theological roots, Carson is interested in helping Christians around the world grow in understanding the gospel. “The digital world does not respect international boundaries. As people from other countries began following us online, we have seen sister organizations develop in many countries and languages. They’ve cropped up in Germany, France, Poland, Australia, Brazil, and other places; they agree with our statement of faith and theological vision; and they have access to our technical resources. But in all other respects they’re independent. It’s more than a little humbling to see what God has done.” Pick up several discounted collections of D. A. Carson’s works. On sale now at Logos.com/ BSMSavings

Jessi Strong is senior writer for Bible Study Magazine. She blogs at JessiStrong.com.

14

Renew Now!

While an internet presence has been vital to TGC’s growth, Carson recognizes that the digital world has its limits. To provide resources to Christians in parts of the world without reliable electricity and internet, TGC turned to print. “In the last few years we’ve distributed about half a million books in 30 different languages—all of it free to users. We work with many publishers to choose materials that are biblically and theologically rich, but that are also suitable to the needs of the culture.” Wherever he ministers, Carson is determined to do so with a “clear gospel-centeredness. When we’re dealing with virtually any subject, our primary concern is how it relates to the gospel. The gospel, rightly understood, makes disciples, not just converts.”

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew


AFFORDABLE

The cost of your calling is high, but your tuition doesn’t need to be…we offer affordable ways to earn your degree so you are better equipped for your calling.

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY

With the Master of Arts in Theology degree the practical meets the theological. This program is designed specifically to meet the needs of your calling and provide the tools you need to further your ministry.

TRUE

Our professors are committed to your growth – spiritually and professionally. Through Biblically grounded instruction, you will be able to apply foundational principles to real world scenarios.

100 Alumni Dr, Cleveland, GA, 30528 • 706-865-2134 • www.truett.edu


“THERE IS A WAY THAT SEEMS RIGHT TO A MAN, BUT ITS END IS THE WAY OF DEATH.” —PROVERBS 14:12 NKJV

IS GOOD KEEPING YOU FROM KNOWING GOD?

GoodOrGod.com/bsm

» GOOD OR GOD? GROUP STUDY

» VIDEOS

» GOOD OR GOD? BOOK

» SERMON OUTLINES

» DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES

» AND MORE

TOUR SPONSORED BY

OCTOBER 6

NOVEMBER 8

Rochester, MI

Panama City Beach, FL

OCTOBER 7

NOVEMBER 11

Johnstown, OH

Gainesville, GA

OCTOBER 8

NOVEMBER 13

Warren, OH

Charlotte, NC

OCTOBER 9

JANUARY 22

Baltimore, MD

Winter Springs, FL

OCTOBER 11

West Haven, CT

For additional tour info and resources visit GoodOrGod.com/bsm


The Next Generation

SEBLE DENNEQUE ON RAISING ETHIOPIA’S CHILDREN Few churches can trace their history directly to a passage of Scripture like Ethiopian Christians can. In Acts chapter 8, Philip, one of the twelve disciples, shares the good news about Jesus Christ with an Ethiopian eunuch he meets while traveling. The eunuch believes and insists on being baptized on the side of the road. According to church tradition, the eunuch returned to his home country and spread the gospel there. JESSI STRONG


The Ethiopian Orthodox church continues to this day, and many evangelicals there have family roots in it. Professor of educational studies and researcher Seble Denneque grew up in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, attending an Orthodox church with her grandparents. A common saying among Ethiopians is, “If you scratch us, you’ll find Orthodox blood.” Ethiopia’s political history makes the perseverance of the church all the more remarkable. In 1974, when Denneque was a child, the country’s monarchy was overthrown by an oppressive Marxist junta, which ruled until the late 1980s, when the country spiraled into civil war. With the emergence of a democratic republic in 1991, religious organizations were allowed to enter the country for the first time since the ’70s. This paved the way for development organizations like Compassion International to begin working in the area to address ongoing issues of poverty, periodic drought, and low literacy, especially in rural agricultural communities. As world headlines bear out, children are especially vulnerable in regions with a history of violent conflict and poverty. Denneque and her research partners in child development have a mission to ensure that children—especially those in at-risk environments—receive the care they need to become whole and healthy people who serve and love God.

Learning to Hunger and Thirst for God’s Word Denneque’s passion for working with children goes back to her involvement in church and Sunday school. She attended an evangelical elementary school, and “a love for Christ was planted in my heart. Later in high school, a friend invited me to church. There, I was introduced to Christ personally as my savior—I learned to pray directly to him.”

As a teenager, Denneque began attending Bible studies and studying Scripture at a time when, under Marxist rule, many evangelical churches had been driven underground. “Very few evangelical churches were openly worshiping at that time. Because of persecution from the Marxist government, most were underground churches. Persecution makes you even more close to your God. That has contributed to the church in the past, and it did for me as a teenager. I didn’t experience serious hardship, but in our church, faith was very serious. We meant it.” Bibles were scarce in Denneque’s church, so her leaders encouraged everyone to memorize Scripture. “I encountered Scripture with a hunger and thirst to nurture my soul and to grow in Christ. My church had a strong emphasis on knowing Scripture by heart and living it. I got my first Bible when I was 16 or 17, and I treasured it. I remember it was so old and torn in places. Still, when I found a newer version, I gave the old, torn copy to someone else. Today, I have my Bible on my phone in different versions, and in at least two different languages. But at that time, the Bible was so scarce that it was a huge blessing to give your old Bible to someone else.” Denneque has observed the wider acceptance of religious culture in Addis Ababa today versus 20 years ago. “Christianity is an old religion in our country, but the number of evangelical Christians has increased, and there’s greater variety in types of churches. Many churches used to say that a theological education was wasted—that believers only needed the Holy Spirit. I’ve noticed a charismatic movement growing here, and we have more Bible schools than before.”

Calling to Compassion By the time Denneque enrolled in university, she had a passion to serve the church, but no sense of direction. She began teaching Sunday school when she was 16, and a visiting missionary told her she had a calling on her life—but Denneque struggled with how to fulfill it. She began studying statistics. “I was dealing with a lot of questions about the


future, and I was overwhelmed by fear. I prayed daily and asked the Lord for guidance. I went to a meeting about ministry, and the speaker quoted Matthew 28:19–20: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ To this day, when I’m overwhelmed with worries, or when I am trying to discern what to do, this passage refreshes me and gives me the assurance that the Lord is with me.” With the encouragement of her pastor and church, Denneque went on to study theology through an extension program at Mekane Yesus Seminary, and then later at the Evangelical Theological College. “My heart was burning in me for ministry. My time studying honed my knowledge of Scripture and helped equip me for my mission.”

When her church began a Compassion International-assisted child sponsorship program, Denneque applied for a job as a project worker. “I served about 265 children as they grew socially, cognitively, physically, and spiritually. We planned and implemented programs in these areas for the children. When I look back, I feel so satisfied to see that the children I worked with have become responsible Christian adults. Some are doctors, engineers, project workers, and business people.” Denneque held several different roles over the next few years, eventually working as a program facilitator. To further equip their employees, Compassion arranged for them to earn master’s degrees in child development through Daystar University in Kenya. “This experience sparked my desire to pursue further education. I wanted to teach and write, and to contribute to development work that way.”


“The way we see the world, the child, and the way we see the world around the child won’t be complete unless we have a biblical foundation.” Holistic Child Development Although Denneque still believes in the work that Compassion and similar organizations are doing, her vision is for a longer-term effect. “The depth of the need is so great. My mission now is to educate the educators, so we can affect development in a deeper and more sustainable way. I prayed with a group of friends over what to do next. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a PhD. But the Lord opened this chance to join Trinity Evangelical Divinity School as a program fellow first, and then ScholarLeaders supported me in completing my PhD in Educational Studies.” Today, in addition to teaching for the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, Denneque works for the Child Development Training and Research Center—a new organization with close ties to Compassion and the Evangelical Church Association of Ethiopia. “My job is establishing a team to begin researching and developing curriculum. We train church leaders and project directors. As we began developing a holistic curriculum for children— to be used by the local church and also parents—we were concerned that emphasizing only spirituality is not going to be effective in developing mature Christian citizens who contribute to the transformation of the country. So we gathered about 17 church leaders and showed them our concerns. They’ve agreed to implement our curriculum in their programs as we roll it out.” In the course of her hands-on ministry to children and her research in the field of child development, Denneque has become an advocate for a holistic approach to child development—specifically the idea that ministry should

include not just sharing the gospel, but meeting a child’s other needs. The concept has long been considered ideal in development work, given its effectiveness, but can be difficult to implement. “Children have spiritual, physical, social, and cognitive needs. But some will say, ‘Our calling is just spiritual. The education sector addresses the cognitive needs, or the health center addresses the physical needs.’ But we see it differently.” “We also believe that relationships are broken in four directions because of the fall: our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with God, others, and nature. A holistic curriculum works to restore all these relationships. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:52 that from his childhood, Jesus grew in wisdom and in favor with God and man. The Old Testament records the same thing of Samuel’s upbringing in 1 Samuel 2:21. We should aim to bring up our children in this way. Every child is created in the image of God. Holistic child development only becomes truly holistic when you engage the spiritual side of the child. The way we see the world, the child, and the way we see the world around the child won’t be complete unless we have a biblical foundation.” Denneque wants to see the next generation of Ethiopian children transformed into Christian leaders who can participate and create change in their country. And she wants to enroll churches in that discipleship vision. “Our goal is to have churches with an ownership stake in this project so that together we can grow children who are transformed and restored in relation to creation, nature, their environment, toward others, toward themselves, and to God.”


FREE GIFT in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month!

300 Quotations for Preachers, with Slides You’ll find quotes from more than 70 authors and works. Each quotation has a professionally designed slide, so you can effectively share these insights.

Use coupon code 300QOUTES

Logos.com/300Quotes Hurry—coupon code expires October 31, 2015

Bib l e S oftwa re


STRUCK DOWN BUT UNCONQUERED (2 Corinthians 4: 8-12)

Suffering Church Action Week November 1-8 Save the Date!

Barnabas Aid supports persecuted Christians all over the world. Join us in remembering them this November.

• Prayer • Fund raising • Education for adults and children Barnabas Aid International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church – Saturday November 7 Can your church join with Barnabas supporters across the world? Set aside this special day to pray for the persecuted Church. Don’t forget to mark the dates on your church calendar and check the Barnabas Aid Suffering Church Action Week website www.barnabasaid.org/scaw for more news and updates.

Special themed resources available – the SCAW Pack September/October issue of Barnabas Aid Magazine will have lots of ideas to help you plan your events Send us news of your plans for the week – we will include them on the special Suffering Church Action Week website.

For more information visit the website: www.barnabasaid.org/scaw To order a S.C.A.W. pack contact the ofce: 6731 Curran St, McLean, VA 22101 Tel: (703) 288-1681 or toll-free 1-866-936-2525 Fax: (703) 288-1682 Email: usa@barnabasaid.org


Special Section

MISSING THE BIG PICTURE EXPLORING COMMONLY MISINTERPRETED VERSES DOUGLAS MANGUM

We are all looking for answers about how to act and how to live. Advice columns and self-help bestsellers promise easy solutions for all our problems. We even turn to the Bible for quick answers. My pastor calls it “bathroom-mirror Christianity”: Read a verse, write it on a sticky note, and put it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder of what to do. Sometimes we act like those verses show us what we need to do to please God and secure his blessing on our lives. There are verses that can stand alone and serve to challenge us and spur us on in faith. But all too often, we pluck verses out of context and give them new life as truisms. Some of the examples of misinterpretation we address in this issue come from focusing on a single word or phrase in a verse and ignoring the rest (like “reason together” in Isa 1:18 or “shining city on a hill” in Matt 5:14). Others are enigmatic phrases: What does it mean to “heap burning coals” on someone’s head (Prov 25:22)? What are these “secret things” that belong to God (Deut 29:29)? Does “render to Caesar” mean we must pay our taxes without complaining (Mark 12:13–17)? In this issue, we’ll find that cultural context often illuminates these puzzling phrases. We also address the misappropriation of a passage as a promise that guarantees a certain outcome. The popular interpretation of the “prayer of Jabez” in 1 Chronicles 4:10 is a flagship example of reading too much into a single verse. We might grab onto verses

like 1 Chronicles 4:10 and John 14:14 not because they tell us what to do but because we believe they tell us what we can get: “The Bible says if I ask anything in Jesus’ name, then I will get it!” (John 14:14). The danger is that misreading a verse and claiming it as “a desirable promise or assurance in Scripture, without pausing to consider whether it really is offered to us”1 can lead to unrealistic expectations and crippling disappointment. Disillusionment with God that arises from a misreading of Scripture is a serious problem for the Church. Our wish is that everyone who studies the Word of God comes away with the true hope found in Christ. As Christians, we don’t need guidance on how to secure God’s blessing. The essence of the gospel is that Christ has already done everything necessary to make us right with God. 1

Richard Schultz, Out of Context (Baker, 2012), 13.

Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

23


Backdrops

FOUR GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE REBECCA VAN NOORD

Talk of misinterpretation can leave us feeling discouraged or ill-qualified to study, understand, and apply the Bible to our lives. But that shouldn’t be the case. By following a few basic principles, we can avoid the most pervasive misinterpretations of Scripture— some of which are explored in this issue. The following list, though not exhaustive, contains guiding principles of interpretation that will help you study and apply the Bible in your own life.


UNDERSTAND GENRE

READ THE TEXT CLOSELY

Begin by understanding the genre of the biblical book you’re reading. Is it historical narrative or poetry? A gospel or a letter? Each genre requires a different interpretive approach. For example, narratives tell us about God’s salvation work throughout history, so we shouldn’t read them as prescriptive. They don’t necessarily offer us godly examples to emulate.

It might seem elementary, but good biblical exegesis always begins with a close reading of the text. Misuse of many of the verses we address in this issue could have been avoided if they weren’t lifted out of their literary context (e.g., the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chr 4:10; “a city set on a hill” in Matt 5:14). By closely reading the text—even entire books in one sitting—we can better discern its message.

TIP: Learn more about how to study and interpret biblical genres with Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.

TIP: As you read, pinpoint key units of thought and trace the author’s argument. Make note of major themes. Ask questions like “who, what, where, when, and how?” to form a basic understanding of the passage.

CONSIDER HISTORICAL-CULTURAL CONTEXT

RESEARCH DIFFICULT TERMS

We’ve all heard that “context is king!”—but what does that mean? It starts with recognizing that our biases, cultural views, and personal experiences aren’t compartmentalized when we read the Bible. All of us have particular concerns that often shape our interpretation—or even cause us to use the text for our own interests—if we’re not aware of them. Being cognizant of historical-cultural context begins with understanding that the text wasn’t written specifically to us, but to ancient communities. If we better understand the intended message for its original audience, we can better apply it to our own lives.

When stumbling over words that seem confusing— who is the fool, really? (Prov 14:9), and what does it mean for Jesus to be the firstborn of the dead? (Rev 1:5)—you may need to dig deeper to discover the meaning of the passage. Read more than one translation of the text to help you see how ideas are translated. Choose a literal (word-for-word) translation as well as a dynamic translation, and investigate when you find major differences. Use a detailed lexicon to research any puzzling terms, and track their usage with Bible software or a concordance before you return to interpreting and applying the passage—in its own context.

TIP: When considering matters of historicalcultural context, ask questions like, “When was this book written? Who was the writer addressing? What was their culture like?” Use Bible background commentaries to help you understand these issues.

TIP: Use lexicons like The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament or the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Louw-Nida) that provide additional word usage information, including nuances in meanings when the same word is used in different contexts.

For further reading, see: Richard Schultz, Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible, 2nd ed. (Baker Books, 2012) D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Baker Academic, 1996)

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine and coauthor of Connect the Testaments.

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Zondervan, 2003) Victor Matthews, Manners and Customs of the Bible (Hendrickson Pub, 1991)


Bible as Art

A SHINING CITY ON A HILL ELI T. EVANS

During his short time on earth, Jesus coined many pithy turns of phrase. They’re exactly the sort of lines you’d want to lift if you were writing a speech. One of the most lift-able, at least for politicians wanting to project a sense of optimism about the future, is this from Matthew 5:14–16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good.” I remember president Ronald Reagan borrowing this imagery in his farewell address: I’ve thought a bit of the ‘shining city upon a hill.’ … I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life. … In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed. ... After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true. In 1974 he had launched his first (failed) presidential bid with this: I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage. This is politically potent stuff. Trouble is, for those familiar with the original, it sticks in the craw as well as it sticks in the mind: Jesus couldn’t possibly have been talking about America!

Reagan wasn’t the first to lift this line from Jesus, and neither was John F. Kennedy when he told the Massachusetts legislature in 1961 that all branches of government were the city on the hill, “and all eyes will be upon us.” The earliest known application of this metaphor to the U.S. was by the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, who in 1630 sternly warned his compatriots in Plymouth to be on their best behavior because the world was watching. The idea that “We the People” are God’s chosen people has been the organizing mythos of American politics from the beginning. But what started as a picture of America as moral example morphed into the idea of America as moral compass. In the 19th century, it was widely held that the nation had a “manifest destiny”—a mandate from on high to sweep over the continent, no matter what or who might get in the way. Slavery? War? Injustice? Native American genocide? All have been carried out as the will of Providence. Today we know a similar (if less


Why did Jesus address these issues?

pernicious) idea by a different name: American exceptionalism. What was once a call to morality before the eyes of the world has become a license to define morality as coinciding with our national interests.

Jesus wasn’t flattering his audience with inspirational stories of their own potential for greatness. He was offering them a warning. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste … it is no longer good for anything.” He also wanted to point them toward worship: “that [others] may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (5:16).

Sadly, this is the exact opposite of what Jesus meant. It’s not hard to figure that out by looking at the context: When was Jesus speaking?

Jesus’ words were meant to inspire good works that would glorify God. Politicians and patriots have since co-opted those words to inspire a sense of achieved (or achievable) glory, granted by God to their audience.

About 1,750 years before the U.S. was a gleam in George Washington’s eye. Who was Jesus speaking to?

Jesus wasn’t completely apolitical—after all, he sparked a worldwide movement. But Jesus transcends politics. He’s not an earthly candidate seeking approval, but the ruler of the “kingdom of God” whose approval should be sought. We are patriots and citizens of his “better country” (Heb 11:13–16). We shouldn’t flatter ourselves by thinking that any earthly nation, great or terrible, is worthy to compare with God’s kingdom. To lift a line from C. S. Lewis, “we are too easily pleased.”

These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ call to renewed holiness in Matthew 5–7. He was speaking to the assembled Israelites outside Jerusalem. What imagery was Jesus evoking? The “city on a hill” line must have been especially apropos as Jesus looked out at the people gathered on the hillside. Jesus was also drawing on a rich history of metaphor about the city of Jerusalem (aka Zion; aka God’s holy hill). Jesus was reminding his Jewish audience that God had chosen them to spread his glory throughout the earth. As God told Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). And Moses, “Out of all nations you will be my treasured possession … a kingdom of priests” (Exod 19:5–6 niv). And Isaiah, “I will make you Half as a page lightBarnabas_final.pdf for the nations, that3 my7/1/15 salvation 8:01may AM reach to the end of the earth” (Isa 49:6).

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (esv). Eli T. Evans is a husband, father, software designer, writer, and student of the Bible.

Supporting Syrian Christians in Crisis, Bringing hope to Christians in Iraq Shelter and support for Syrian believers

Hope & Aid

er, aid, and support to Barnabas Aid is providing shelt living in the midst of Syrian believers who are ness. With the conflict violence, hunger, and homeless hundreds of thousands of in Syria now in its fifth year, millions of Syrians are bracing themselves for internally displaced displaced Syrian Christians their homes and with no yet another year far from n. Although there have retur to le ab being prospect of , the in June 2014, thousands Mosul city ofyears y 2,000 the Iraqi seized nearl s for militant (IS) Syria State in tians After Islamic been Chris given three options and wereus rnsserio Christia unde now of northern isofIraq. parts prese nce various to fled thousandstax, or leave. 2014, tian of people June in Chris Mosul try’s city the Iraqi seizedmind: extortio (IS) militants paysan State coun afternate head Islam, year to dimi After Islamic convert nishe their tian popu upChris and lation to tmake three options three days given were ns the Christia as Iraq. northern threa of in traditional Islamic parts as jizya, is found fled to various known tax, of people This killed. be ict. would leave. they confl se tax, current to the pay an extortionate headlivingorunder million Syrians have Otherwi to Islam, Islamic rule, response convert in mind: year their days to make up the country fledthree protection to Christian and Jewish minorities

7.6

12.2

million people in Syria in need

Bringing hope to Christians in Iraq

500,000

the Syrian Christians have fled n country; 1/4 of the total Christia population before conflict began

Convert care

Water

3.8

Barnabas helps in many ways

law and grants is found in traditional Islamic would be killed. This tax, known as jizya, son to Muslim citizens. Otherwise they ephasizing their inferior status in compari minorities living under Islamic rule, law and grants protection to Christian and Jewish to Muslim citizens. ephasizing their inferior status in comparison

Leadership training

Medical care

Pastors and evangelists

Small business

Christian education

Christian resources

Basic needs

Victims of violence

Order a free Hope & Aid Newspaper here: PO Box 6336 McLean, VA 22106 | usa@barnabasaid.org | 703-288-1681

Church buildings

Disaster relief


Say goodbye to sermon writer’s block FOREVER. • Find fresh, relevant material. You’ll have access to our extensive library with over 15 years’ worth of powerful material that is always available. • Capture audience interest with innovative approaches to sermons. • Get instant information with quick, easy searches by keyword, topic, Scripture and category.

Try Homiletics Online RISK-FREE for 30 days! As low as $69.95 for a full year!

Includes FREE

PowerPoint® Presentations

Plus, with your subscription you get the Homiletics journal!

Don’t wait any longer! Start exploring new ways to bring your sermons to life, and excite your congregation once again.

Start your RISK-FREE TRIAL today at:

www.HOMILETICSOnline.com or call TOLL-FREE 1 800 992-2144 Mention Savings Code: 12704


I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible

THE SECRET THINGS BELONG TO THE LORD MICHAEL S. HEISER

We’re all guilty of giving excuses. Although we know deep down that excuses don’t solve problems, that doesn’t stop us from using them to deflect attention away from our mistakes and flaws. Sometimes we even use Scripture as an excuse to avoid addressing difficult Bible passages. We might appeal to Deuteronomy 29:29 when we encounter biblical passages that seem too confusing or weird: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God...” Bible students, teachers, and professors alike often cite this verse to avoid researching problematic or strange passages. It can serve as a way of expressing our real excuses in a more “spiritual” way: I want my Bible to be simple—you’re making my head hurt. This isn’t important. Analyzing the Bible doesn’t help us love Jesus. This is stuff only pastors need to know; let’s be more practical. The problem is, this verse doesn’t mean what its advocates think it means. There’s no Bible verse that discourages us from studying the Bible. The misuse of Deuteronomy 29:29 stems from our tendency to focus on just the first half of the verse. The complete verse provides a contextual clue for what’s really in view: The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. The key phrase here is “this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 is the climax of Moses’ lengthy sermon about receiving God’s blessings for obedience to his laws or curses for disobedience upon entering the promised land.

earlier at Sinai (Deut 27:3). Upon entering the promised land, the Israelites were to ritually enact a ceremony reaffirming their commitment to God’s laws (Deut 27:9–14). The rest of chapter 27 and the entirety of chapter 28 detail how disobedience to God’s laws would result in the people and the land being accursed; conversely, obedience would produce overflowing blessing. Deuteronomy 29 then reviews Israel’s history of failure amid God’s covenantal faithfulness. The history lesson comes to a close with Deuteronomy 29:29. Reading this verse fully and in context reveals that it isn’t granting us permission to skip things that are difficult to understand or to avoid analyzing God’s Word. It’s a warning: Concealed acts of sin—transgressions of the laws listed in Moses’ sermon—are known to God. While the Israelites were responsible for dealing with known violations of God’s law, secret transgressions would be dealt with by God, who knows all things. Recognizing Deuteronomy 29:29 for what it really is may result in more effort in our Bible studies, but more important, taking its lesson to heart will build spiritual character. Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (esv). Michael S. Heiser has a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages. His upcoming books on understanding the supernatural from an ancient, biblical worldview, The Unseen Realm and Supernatural, will be released Fall of 2015.

Moses’ sermon begins in Deuteronomy 27. The first eight verses outline the ceremonial duties the Israelites had to perform upon entering Canaan: They were to affirm “all the words of this law”—referring to Deuteronomy 5–26, which contains laws that repeat and amplify those God had given to the nation 40 years Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

29


Spurgeon’s Wisdom Searchable and Accessible! No more combing through volumes of Spurgeon’s works looking for one nugget of wisdom. You’ll find relevant insights for your sermons and study in seconds. 25% OFF

Use coupon code SPURGEONNOW

Logos.com/SpurgeonNow 1-888-875-9491 Hurry—coupon code expires October 31, 2015


When the Bible Doesn’t Have the Answer

HIS WAYS ARE HIGHER THAN OUR WAYS ROBERT CHISHOLM

In the face of disappointment or tragedy, it can be tempting to throw up our hands and fall back on the “mysterious ways” of God. Isaiah 55:8–9 seems to support the idea that God’s ways are incomprehensible to us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So rather than seeking answers, should we just grin and bear it? When we read this passage in its context, we discover it is not calling us to stop trying to understand God’s inscrutable will and ways. Instead, it’s part of an invitation to trust that God’s purposes—unlike those of flawed human beings—are sure to be realized. Isaiah 55 begins with the Lord inviting his wayward, humiliated people to come to him for covenant renewal. He offers to satisfy their thirst and hunger (55:1–2). He promises them an honored position among the nations in fulfillment of his ancient promise to David (55:3–5). The prophet Isaiah then urges the future exiles to respond while the Lord is nearby (55:6). He calls them to abandon their evil ways and thoughts, to repent, and to return to the Lord. When they do, the Lord will show them compassion and forgive them (55:7). It’s at this point that the Lord speaks again to his people and reminds them, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (55:8). In this context, “your thoughts” and “your ways” refer to the people’s sinful activities and plans (55:7). From other parts of the Bible, we know that evil human ways always lead to destruction (Prov 1:15–19; 3:31–33; 4:19). Human plans are like a mere breath—they lack real substance and, apart from God’s favor, will fail (Psa 94:11; Prov 19:21). “My thoughts” and “my ways” refer to the Lord’s stated intention to forgive, restore, and bless his repentant people (Isa 55: 1–6, 12–13). In contrast to the people’s plans, the Lord’s promise of forgiveness is faithful and sure to be realized—if the people do indeed repent. His purposes exceed their own doomed plan for themselves.

In Isaiah 55:10–11 the Lord uses an example from nature to illustrate his promise of forgiveness. He reminds his people that when raindrops and snowflakes fall from the sky, they do not stop in midair and retreat. Rather, they fall to the ground and water the earth, enabling plants to grow. In the same way, the Lord’s promise of forgiveness and renewed blessing (55:7) does not return to him Scripture quotations are from the English Standard but accomplishes Version (esv). his purpose. When life beats us down, we cast ourselves upon God, acknowledging that we cannot fully grasp his infinite wisdom (compare Job 28:20–28; Rom 11:33–36). However, we should also remember that God has revealed a great deal about himself throughout history and in the Bible. We’llnever figure out God completely, but he has told us enough about himself to give us hope and encouragement in difficult times. Isaiah 55:8–9 is one of those passages. Rather than telling us to give up on figuring out God, it reminds us that he is reliable. Remembering that truth during difficult times is far more comforting than retreating to fatalism.

Explore common misinterpretations—and how to avoid them—with D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies. Go to Logos.com/BSMSavings

Robert Chisholm is Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches an adult class at his local church.

Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

31


Hebrew Word Study without Hebrew

COME NOW, LET US REASON TOGETHER

DOUGLAS MANGUM

“That’s what it said in the dictionary,” I told my professor, who was questioning how I “knew” what a particular Hebrew word meant. “But how do they know that’s what it means?” he shot back. I had no answer. I had never thought to question where the dictionary got its information. I realized that day that meaning comes from language usage, not a dictionary entry. A word’s meaning is relative; it depends on context and may change over time. When the most commonly used meaning shifts, a text using that word can be easily misinterpreted—especially when individual phrases are pulled out of context. Such a shift over time has led to a common misunderstanding of Isaiah 1:18—“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (kjv). Many have interpreted this verse as a biblical endorsement of logical thinking.1 It’s supposed that using your God-given ability to think rationally can lead you to a faith grounded in logical proof. But is God encouraging his people to use logic in Isaiah 1:18? Before considering the shift in meaning for the English verb “reason,” let’s look at the meaning of the Hebrew word commonly translated “reason together” in this verse.2

STEP 1 SWITCH TO HEBREW AND ESTABLISH A WORKING DEFINITION. Using the interlinear toggle in Logos 6, we see that the Hebrew word translated “reason together” in Isaiah 1:18 is ‫( יכח‬yakhach). The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament gives a wide range of potential English glosses for this verb, from “appoint” and “argue” to “decide,” “mediate,” and “rebuke.”

Other resources reveal more options, including but not limited to “contend,” “correct,” “discuss,” “refute,” “settle,” and “to be vindicated.” Clearly the meaning of yakhach is highly dependent on context, but scanning through all the Old Testament uses of the verb reveals three working definitions: (1) “argue,” (2) “decide,” or (3) “rebuke.” The first two apply in legal settings where plaintiffs and defendants argue (yakhach) their cases before a judge who decides (yakhach) the case. The third applies to an authority figure rebuking (yakhach) someone under his or her command.

STEP 2 SURVEY THE OLD TESTAMENT USES OF YAKHACH. Whenever the verb yakhach is used in the Old Testament, it’s generally used within these three working definitions. Context determines the precise nuance. Job uses yakhach in two different senses within the same speech. In Job 13:3 he wants to “argue” (yakhach) his case before God; later, he warns his companions that God will “rebuke” (yakhach) them for taking God’s place as judge (Job 13:10). In Isaiah 1:18, yakhach is used in the Niphal, a form indicating the verb has a passive (i.e., “be rebuked”) or reflexive sense (i.e., “rebuke ourselves”). The only other uses in that verbal stem appear in Genesis 20:16 and Job 23:7. Job insists that an


upright person could argue (yakhach) his case before God and be vindicated (Job 23:7). In Genesis 20:16 Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham along with 1,000 pieces of silver, telling her that the payment testifies to her vindication (yakhach)—that is, nothing untoward happened during the brief time she was part of his harem. A passive sense like “be vindicated” does not work in Isaiah 1:18 because the verb form is a first-person plural command (“let us do…”), generally used to express a wish to start a joint action of some sort.

because the English word had a similar sense as yakhach in biblical Hebrew. Four hundred years later, thanks to the influence of the “Age of Reason,” if we “reason together,” we are using logic to come to conclusions.

STEP 3 EXPLORE INTERPRETIVE OPTIONS. In Isaiah 1:18 this expression suggests that God is encouraging the leaders of Israel to join him in some action. Our working definition for yakhach covers arguing, deciding, and rebuking. The last two are one-sided—the judge decides the case, the leader rebukes the follower. However, both sides in a dispute can argue their cases or consider evidence together. Isaiah 1 is often interpreted as God laying out a formal indictment against Israel, calling the leaders to look over his case against them. Thus the legal sense of examining the case together makes the most sense for yakhach in this verse.3 At one time, the English verb “reason” meant “discuss” or “argue,” but those meanings are now obsolete. Today, the word “reason” has to do with using “the faculty of reason so as to arrive at conclusions.”4 When the kjv translators used “reason together” in Isaiah 1:18, it was a perfectly reasonable choice

VIDEO TRAINING FOR LOGOS 6

Undoubtedly, God wants us to use our minds to make sound choices that glorify him—as we learn from other passages (e.g., Col 1:9–10; 4:5–6). God will honor those who ask for wisdom (Jas 1:5–6), but not so we can “figure out” our faith by use of reason. Rather, our “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1 esv). 1 For example, using Come, Let Us Reason as the title for a book on logical thinking. 2 The translation “reason together” is used in the kjv, asv, rsv, nasb, esv, and the niv ’84. 3 J. Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 1–39 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 182, 185. 4

Fascinated by word studies? Dig into ancient languages with Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos 6. Go to: Logos.com/BSMSavings

Douglas Mangum has an MA in Hebrew Bible from the University of Wisconsin– Madison and is academic editor for Lexham Press. He blogs about the Bible at BibliaHebraica.blogspot.com.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, s. v. “reason.”

Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (esv).

“I’ve created affordable, high quality training for you...because you’ve already invested a lot in your software!”

QUESTIONS? CALL US | 423.344.9985 OR 888.706.6383

LOGOS 6 All New Training System Bundle 750+ Videos/34 Hours Foundation Training Every Logos Feature Explored Interactive/Non-Interactive Videos Get trained, basic to advanced. Bible Study / Exegesis How to Study, Teach and Preach 10 Step Methodology Revealed Learn How to Study the Bible. Installation help? www.LearnLogos.com/video

support@learnlogos.com

Book Overviews Organized into 14 Bible Study Categories Know your library better. Installation help? www.LearnLogos.com/video

The Easiest Way to Learn Logos!

$65

DOWNLOAD SPECIAL

$75

16 GB USB DRIVE SPECIAL

BUY NOW: www.LearnLogos.com/logos6 (Retail $149) DON’T JUST TAKE Still have Logos 4 & Logos 5? HOME TRAINING... We have training for you. TAKE HOME THE TRAINER. John Fallahee MBA, M.Div., a former employee of Logos, has trained tens of thousands of people through his training videos and training workshops. He’s trained notable people like Kay Arthur, Mark Dever, Irwin Lutzer, & John Piper.

50% OFF

Shhh...this training is so amazing, comprehensive and priced so affordably, that we have to sell this training as “unathorized”.


DIY Bible Study

BLESS ME AND ENLARGE MY TERRITORY RICHARD SCHULTZ

When Bruce Wilkinson’s book The Prayer of Jabez hit shelves in 2000, it quickly became the fastest selling book of all time. More than 9 million people bought it, intrigued by Wilkinson’s promise that “through a simple, believing prayer, you can change your future.”1 The prayer Wilkinson speaks of is found in a single verse tucked among the genealogies of 1 Chronicles. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (1 Chr 4:10) Unfortunately, Wilkinson’s promise is misleading: Neither Jabez’s prayer nor any other biblical prayer is a timeless, universal formula that we can utter before God to receive “on demand” whatever we request. Where did Wilkinson’s interpretation go wrong, and how should we interpret and apply Jabez’s prayer? STEP 1: COMPARE BIBLE TRANSLATIONS

Comparing English translations of a text can reveal interpretive difficulties. Nineteen out of 20 translations of 1 Chronicles 4:10 indicate that Jabez is requesting protection from personal difficulty. Only the nkjv translates the final phrase of 1 Chronicles 4:10 as “that I may not cause pain,” which forms the basis for Wilkinson’s conclusion that Jabez is asking God to protect him from a satanic attack and from the temptation to mistreat others that accompanies personal success. A comparison of translations shows us we should question this interpretation. STEP 2: UNDERSTAND CONTEXT & THEMATIC EMPHASES

First Chronicles 1–9 consists primarily of genealogical records tracing the history of the people of God. In addition to its tricky names, this section contains historical summaries (4:38–43) 34

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

and brief accounts that illustrate a major theological theme of 1–2 Chronicles: that God directly rewards and punishes both individual Israelites and the people as a whole for their actions (see 1 Chr 2:3, 7; 4:9–10; 5:18–22, 24–26; 6:15; 9:1, 20). One of the actions to which God repeatedly responds in 1–2 Chronicles is sincere prayer (e.g., 2 Chr 7:14). Jabez’s prayer is just one of several prayers in Chronicles that God answers (see also 1 Chr 5:20; 2 Chr 20:5–17; 32:24). It is no more important than any of the other 20 prayers in the book, either in its formulation or its effect. Instead, this verse introduces “the Chronicler’s belief in the efficacy of prayer.”2 STEP 3: ANALYZE THE STRUCTURE OF THE PRAYER

The structure of a biblical text is determined by the constraints of its literary genre and the author’s intended message. There is usually a close relationship between a text’s structure and its meaning. Wilkinson sees four requests in Jabez’s prayer, the last three of which depend on the fulfillment of each preceding request. A more likely structure divides the verse into two twopart, non-sequential requests, each of which moves from the GENERAL to the SPECIFIC:3

REQUEST BLESS ME GREATLY ONE BY ENLARGING MY TERRITORY.

GENERAL

REQUEST BE WITH ME TWO SO THAT I WILL AVOID PAIN IN LIFE.

GENERAL

SPECIFIC

SPECIFIC


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (niv).

STEP 4: INTERPRET TEXT IN LIGHT OF KEY PARALLEL PASSAGES

Any standard reference Bible contains lists of pertinent parallel passages that we can use to interpret a section of text.4 For 1 Chronicles 4:9–10, a key parallel text is Exodus 34:24a: “I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory.” It appears that Jabez’s request for God to enlarge his territory represents his individual appropriation of a national promise, since the tribe of Simeon’s military actions (described in 1 Chr 4:38–41) are not an option for him. His request to avoid “pain” (’tsb, ‫ )אצב‬echoes his mother’s explanation of his name in 1 Chronicles 4:9, “Because I bore him in pain” (esv), which fulfills Genesis 3:16. Jabez may also be urging God to deliver him from the “painful toil” that accompanies agricultural labor, thereby overcoming the curse on the ground of Genesis 3:17. (All four verses use the same Hebrew root for “pain.”)

1 Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000), 29. 2 H. G. M. Williamson, 1 and 2 Chronicles (New Century Bible; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 59–60. 3 Author’s interpretive paraphrase. The three requests in the high-priestly blessing (Num 6:24–26) also exhibit this “general to specific” pattern.

R. A. Torrey, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002, revision of 1900 edition), available at SearchGodsWord.org.

4

Dig into contextual issues with Richard Schultz’s Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible. On sale now at Logos.com/BSMSavings

Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 106.

5

Pick up Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible at Logos.com/BSMSavings Richard Schultz is Blanchard Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and the author of Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible (BakerBooks, 2012).

STEP 5: APPLY THE TEXT APPROPRIATELY

The book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth reminds us that Old Testament narratives “record what happened— notnecessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time.”5 In other words, 1 Chronicles 4:10 describes Jabez’s actions, but it does not prescribe his exact words as something that we should pray today. Although Jabez’s words may not be the key to that larger yard and pain-free life we’ve always wanted, his faith in God’s promises, expressed in his prayer, and his confidence that God would supply all of his needs are worth emulating (see Phil 4:19).

Never miss an issue Kay Arthur: A Life Shaped by Scripture

Following the Call in West Africa

2 Samuel: The Rise and Fall of David’s Kingdom

GET INTO THE WORD

JULY / AUGUST 2015

The Giant Slayers Defeating Ancient Foes

A Lesson in Humility Why David Really Wanted to Build a Temple

The Case Against David

A LIFE SHAPED BY SCRIPTURE 2

Blameless King or Guilty Overlord?

Renew today!

Visit BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew or call 1-800-875-6467.

Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

35


Ancient Interpretation

OUT OF EGYPT DOUGLAS MANGUM

A basic rule of biblical exegesis is that “the text means what it meant”—or in other words, our interpretation of a text should be anchored in the message the author likely intended to convey to his original audience. Following this rule helps us set limits and avoid reading anachronistic ideas back into Scripture. But the New Testament writers followed different guidelines, and they seem to have felt comfortable applying Scripture in ways that break our modern rules. A classic example is Matthew’s application of Hosea 11:1—“Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matt 2:15)— to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ flight to Egypt. When we look at the immediate context and the original referents of Hosea 11:1, it seems like Matthew is making an imaginative leap by applying this passage to Jesus. In the context of Hosea 11, the “son” refers to the nation of Israel, and “out of Egypt” refers to the exodus, when God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. How can Matthew see Jesus as the “son,” and “out of Egypt” as a reference to Joseph bringing his family back to Israel from Egypt after Herod’s death (Matt 2:19–21)? The New Testament writers’ definition of “context” was much broader than ours. They were primarily interested in the broad context of God’s relationship with his people and his promises of future hope and salvation. Hosea 11 emphasizes God’s love for the people of Israel: He cared for them even though they kept turning away from him to worship other gods—gods who had not brought them out of Egypt as Yahweh had done and who did not provide for them as Yahweh was doing (Hos 11:1–3). Hosea’s original message was about God’s love for his people and his plan to rescue and restore them, despite their sin (Hos 11:8–11). Matthew’s message is that God’s plan of Quick bit: redemption has culminated in ”Anachronistic” means Jesus. He uses the correspondence something is being applied of events—Israel coming out in a time when it either did of Egypt, Jesus coming out of not exist or is inappropriate (e.g., An ancient scribe Egypt—as an opportunity to quote carried a tablet, but not from a passage that reminded his a computer). In biblical audience simultaneously of God’s interpretation, it is anachronistic to apply modern past actions to save Israel and his ideas and values to ancient promises of future redemption. contexts where those ideas or values were unknown. As Craig Blomberg explains: 36

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

That Israel had been delivered from Egypt, that Israel would again be exiled there but again restored, and that the child believed to be the Messiah also had to return to Israel from Egypt formed too striking a set of parallels for Matthew to attribute them to chance. God clearly was at work orchestrating the entire series of events.1 When New Testament writers break our modern rules of interpretation, we usually attribute it to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Doing so implies that the Holy Spirit gave Matthew special insight to see something we cannot about Hosea 11:1—that it was really a hidden prophecy that the Messiah would come out of Egypt. But if we recognize how Matthew was using Scripture, then we don’t have to appeal to his esoteric insight. Matthew, like most of the New Testament writers, generally quotes the Old Testament to show how Old Testament Scripture points to Christ. Matthew filled his story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:18–2:23 with Old Testament allusions to God’s promises of restoration and redemption, a new covenant, a perfect shepherd, a future deliverer, another Moses, another David, and the Messiah (e.g., Num 24:8, 17; Isa 7:14; 9:6; 60:1–7; Jer 31; Ezek 34). Thus, his use of Hosea 11:1 is perfectly appropriate in this context. Evoking the exodus story helps Matthew’s audience to understand that a new exodus is at hand and a new Moses has come. Scripture quotations are from the Lexham English Bible (leb). 1 Craig Blomberg, “Matthew,” Commentary on the New Testament Useof the Old Testament (Eds. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007), 8.


Eunuchs Who Have Made Themselves Eunuchs

Thoughts from the Church Fathers

RICK BRANNAN

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260–c. 340)1 authored Ecclesiastical History, one of the more famous and accessible histories of the church. In this work (Eccl. Hist. 6.8), he tells the shocking story of Origen (c. 185–c. 254),2 who may have taken Matthew 19:12 too literally. While Eusebius and his translators are cautious in their phrasing, this text leads many to think that Origen castrated himself in a hyper-literal act of devotion. The church did not endorse Origen’s action, though the response Eusebius attributes to Demetrius shows some understanding and even awe at Origen’s boldness. Toward the end of his life, Origen wrote a commentary on Matthew. Regarding Matthew 19:12, his attitude is harsh—toward those who would interpret the passage literally.3 Whether his attitude is a result of regret or a life lived under constant misaccusation may never be known.

At this time, while Origen was carrying on the work of catechetical instruction at Alexandria, he committed an act characteristic of an immature and useful mind, yet, notwithstanding, including abundant proof of faith and self-control. For he took the words, ‘There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven,’ (Matt 19:12) in too literal and extreme a sense, thinking both to fulfill the words of the Savior and also, since although youthful in years he discoursed on divine subjects with women as well as with men, to avoid all suspicion of shameful slander in the minds of unbelievers, he hastened to carry out the Savior’s words by action, having planned to escape the notice of most of his pupils. But it was not possible, although he desired, to conceal such a deed. Demetrius, in fact, learned of it later, for he was in charge of the parish there, and he marveled greatly at him for his rashness, but he approved the zeal and the sincerity of his faith, and he bade him be of good cheer and urged him to apply himself more than ever to the work of catechetical instruction.4

Eusebius of Caesarea 1 F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 577.2 Ibid., 1200.3 Origen, Homilies on Genesis and Exodus (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Ronald E. Heine; vol. 71; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1982), 11. 4 Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Books 6–10 (trans. Roy J. Deferrari; vol. 29; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1955), 16.

NEW R E F O R M E D E X P O S I TO R Y CO M M E N TA R I E S from Daniel M. Doriani, Douglas Sean O’Donnell, and Richard D. Phillips

November 2015

October 2015

Complete listing at www.prpbooks.com/series/reformed-expository-commentary

Want to know more about the Reformed Expository Commentary series? Sign up for our Academic e-News at prpbooks.com

All the books in the Reformed Expository Commentary series are accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series provides exposition that gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.

www.prpbooks.com 1–800–631–0094


Start-to-Finish Bible Study

GOD WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE DEREK BROWN

We’ve all heard it said that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Well-meaning believers often turn to this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:13 for comfort in trials and temptations. We believe God will rescue us before we give in to sin. Isn’t that what the verse tells us? No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13). Paul’s words do provide reassurance for Christians struggling with temptations. But to grasp the full meaning of Paul’s message, we must consider the context of his argument and the broader witness of Scripture.

STEP 1 IDENTIFY THE LARGER TOPIC The question at the heart of 1 Corinthians 8:1–11:1 was critical to Paul’s first-century audience. The Corinthian believers had been struggling with whether they ought to eat meat that had been offered to idols in the local temple. They likely asked Paul to comment on the topic (see 7:1; 8:1), and this passage contains his response. Due to intense cultural pressure, many Corinthian Christians probably believed they had no choice when it came to eating idol meat. In addition, they likely struggled with the issue within the church. Those who claimed to have sufficient “knowledge” and a “right” to eat idol meat acted arrogantly toward other believers, while those uncomfortable with eating the meat likely judged the believers who did so (8:7–13). The Corinthians were trapped by many forms of temptation. 38

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

STEP 2 TRACE PAUL’S ARGUMENT In response to this issue, Paul appeals to the wilderness generation of Israelites, whom he introduces as spiritual ancestors to the Corinthian believers (10:1–5; compare Heb 3:7–19). Paul draws this connection to bring the Corinthians’ attention to the similarity between their situation and the situations faced by the Israelites in the wilderness. Both were delivered by God, received divine provisions, and experienced the presence of Christ (1 Cor 10:1–4). Paul shows that God blessed the Israelites. Yet those blessings did not protect them from the temptation to forget God and his faithfulness—an act of idolatry since the Israelites failed to acknowledge God as the giver of all good things. Paul then draws on the established connection between the two groups to issue a warning to the Corinthians. Paul no longer describes the wilderness generation as ancestors (10:1), but as “idolaters” who put Christ to the test through their sexual immorality, evil desires, and grumbling—and consequently faced God’s judgment (10:6–10). For Paul, the Israelites’ failure to place their trust in God makes them noteworthy examples of how disobedience results in judgment and, ultimately, destruction (10:6, 11). He warns the Corinthians not to follow their ancestors by consuming food and drink in an idolatrous manner. How could the Corinthians avoid this error?


STEP 3

STEP 4

CONTEXTUALIZE THE MESSAGE

CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS

At this point, the Corinthians may have questioned whether they were doomed to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors. The Israelites were idolatrous after experiencing God’s salvation and miraculous provision. Shouldn’t the Corinthians be better prepared to resist temptation? They experienced God’s salvific work (through Christ) and provision (e.g., spiritual gifts, the Lord’s Supper) in a fuller sense.

Paul does not promise that God will spare Christians of temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. In fact, his message assumes that the Corinthians will continue to be tempted to eat meat offered to idols as long as they remain within the GraecoRoman world. However, Paul does promise that our weakness in the face of temptation does not mean that we will succumb. God is faithful even when we don’t know how to be. When we think we are trapped, he will provide a way for us to “flee from idolatry”; when we face difficult situations, he will provide the means to endure them (1 Cor 10:13–14).

Paul’s powerful word of reassurance in 1 Corinthians 10:13 speaks directly to this concern. Temptations are a part of the human experience. Everyone has and will face temptations. Yet God’s people are never excused to give into temptation, even when it seems like there is “no choice” or that freedom is a “right” (see 1 Cor 8:9; 10:12). Paul declares that God is faithful to his people in every situation, even when they are tempted to dishonor him. There will always be a way out of temptation because his faithfulness is greater than our weakness.

We can take comfort in the message of 1 Corinthians 10:1–13. But we have to remember the broader context of a warning: Those who disobey God put him to the test and will likely succumb to temptation, just like the Israelites. Yet God’s faithfulness prevails. Paul reassures us that no temptation is too strong for the faithful and saving God who first called us and will sustain us until the end (1 Cor 1:8–9).

SWBTS.EDU/ONLINE

Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (esv).

Derek R. Brown has a PhD in New Testament Studies and Christian Origins. He is an academi editor for Lexham Press.


What They Don’t Tell You in Church

ASK FOR ANYTHING, AND HE WILL DO IT KAREN H. JOBES

We sometimes approach John 14:14 as if it contains the words of an omnipotent Santa Claus: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (emphasis added). Jesus’ promise here may have some of us rubbing our hands together like a greedy child. Anything? Can we take that promise to Las Vegas? But it also gives us pause. What happens when both you and I pray for our team to win the Super Bowl or for our candidate to win at the polls? In situations where there’s a clear winner and loser, God seems to grant one prayer and reject the other—unless his answer is “no.” So does God really give us carte blanche with our prayers? CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING To better understand Jesus’ invitation and promise in John 14:14, we should examine its context. John 14 is part of the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–17), where Jesus prepares his closest disciples for his imminent death and ascension to the Father. At this point, Jesus’ disciples have been with him for three years. They have seen him heal the sick, feed the multitudes, teach righteousness, and even raise the dead. Now it seems all that will come to an end. The disciples are probably wondering whether Jesus’ life will be just a flash in the pan of Israel’s history. In chapter 14 Jesus comforts his disciples by asking them not to be troubled by the events at hand. He asks them to believe him, despite his imminent death by crucifixion (14:1–2). He promises that, although he is going to the Father by way of death, he will reunite with those who believe in him (14:3). This prompts Thomas to ask, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5). Jesus responds by identifying himself with the Father (14:9–11) and declaring that those who believe in him will do even greater works than Jesus himself has done during his earthly life (14:12). It is here that Jesus first promises to do “whatever you ask in my name, so that

the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). He immediately restates this promise in the next verse: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (emphasis added). PROPER ORIENTATION Several details in this chapter provide insights that help orient Jesus’ invitation and promise. The first is the phrase “so that the Father may be glorified” (14:13). Jesus promises to respond to prayer made in reference to God the Father, not in the name of some abstract, wish-granting deity. Jesus invites his disciples to ask for “whatever” will glorify God the Father in the Son. He ties his promise of answered prayer here specifically to himself. Jesus also invites his disciples to ask him—rather than God— for anything and promises that he will do it (14:14). Jesus’ disciples were monotheistic Jews who were accustomed to offering prayers only to God, who alone had the power to hear and answer them. At several points the disciples had seen Jesus himself pray to God (e.g., Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1). Jesus’ instructions in 14:14 imply that he shares God the Father’s power to grant prayer. This implication is also present in Jesus’


repetition of the phrase “ask in my name” in John 14:13 and 14 and elsewhere in the Upper Room Discourse (e.g., 14:26; 15:16; 16:23, 24, 26). For instance, in John 14:26 Jesus declares that God the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. The prevalence of this phrase in John’s Gospel demonstrates that in John’s thinking both the Father and Holy Spirit express themselves through Jesus Christ. Similar language about asking in Jesus’ name appears in John 15:16 and John 16:23–26 in the context of the work, fruit, and teaching that Jesus’ disciples will accomplish as an extension of Jesus’ earthly ministry. These verses indicate that, although Jesus was going to his death, his work would continue. In fact, Jesus says that his disciples would do even greater works than he himself had been doing because he was going to the Father (14:12). DEFINING “WHATEVER” AND “ANYTHING” The context of Jesus’ invitation and promises inform us that when Jesus instructs his followers to ask “whatever” (14:13) or “anything” (14:14) in his name, he is referring to the work they will continue to do as an extension of his own work. After his ascension to the Father and the coming of the Spirit, the kingdom-building that Jesus began is liberated from the

limitations of his earthly life. He continues the work through those who believe in him and who have received the Spirit. In this sense, their works are greater than his—greater in number, in scope, and in span of time. His ability to provide what is requested for the greater work shows that he is alive and empowered with the divine ability to answer prayer. To pray in Jesus’ name is not to utter magical incantation, but to request what is consistent with his redeeming love for the world. In Jesus’ invitation to ask him for “whatever” we want, he implies that we should not ask for what he himself would not want. He promises to act on prayers that are offered in the interest of Christ’s ongoing work on earth, that are offered in faith, and that are in accordance with God’s Karen Jobes is the Gerald F. redemptive love (John 3:16). He challenges Hawthorne Professor of New us to pray earnestly and deliberately for Testament Greek and Exegesis at Wheaton College and “whatever” it takes to continue the Lord’s Graduate School. work in our time and place. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (niv).


Cutting Edge

JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED NIJAY GUPTA

The popular mantra “Judge not!” summarizes Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (net). This catchy phrase, which often amounts to something like “mind your own business,” is especially handy in a culture that avoids absolute authority. Why give someone the right to tell me what I am doing is wrong? After all, Jesus himself discourages us from judging others, right? Well, yes—and no. NOT TO JUDGE This verse curbs our desire to take God’s place of judgment. Just weeks before the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln quoted Matthew 7:1 when delivering his second inaugural presidential address: “Let us judge not, that we be not judged.” When Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner pressed Lincoln to hang Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, Lincoln quoted this verse twice: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” When we try to completely reject and condemn someone else, we usurp God’s position as the perfect judge. James speaks of this concept when he writes, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Jas 4:12). There is also a reminder in the use of the phrase “judge not” to show care and mercy when criticizing someone else. Jesus teaches us that when putting someone else’s life under a microscope, we can expect that God will do the same to us. If we take that idea seriously, then we will show compassion because we desire compassion from God. TO JUDGE Yet, it would be a mistake to think that Jesus and the New Testament writers did not think we should ever judge each other. Jesus tells his disciples that, in the new age, “you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes 42

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

of Israel” (Matt 19:28). This verse uses the verb “judge” (krinō, κρίνω)—the same word used in Matthew 7:1—in the sense of “overseeing.” In John 7:24 Jesus tells the crowds, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” First Corinthians 6:1–11 provides insight into Paul’s understanding of Christians’ responsibility to judge one another. In this passage, Paul chastises the believers in Corinth for turning inner-church grievances into public lawsuits. Paul’s concern was not that they were suing one another per se, but that they could not settle their differences within the church (1 Cor 6:1). He asks them, “Do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?” (6:2). Paul portrays judgment as a way of taking responsibility for the community and ensuring fair treatment. THE PROBLEM OF HYPOCRISY Although Matthew 7:1–5 is about judgment, it’s also about hypocrisy. Jesus goes on to say, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’ ” (7:3–5). Jesus is calling those in positions to dispense judgment to be self-critical. This passage is one of several in Matthew’s Gospel that address


the idea of hypocrisy. For instance, Jesus had previously taught his followers not to broadcast their charitable acts “as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others” (6:2). He had also labeled as hypocrites those who prayed loudly in public so that others would notice them (6:5) and those who fasted to draw attention to their weakness as a show of their piety (6:16–17). Toward the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, comparing their lives to dishes whose outsides are squeaky clean but whose insides are filthy with greed (23:25).

LIVING OUT THE LESSON The next time we hear the phrase “judge not,” we should pause to evaluate the intent of the message. If someone is using the phrase in the sense of “mind your own business,” then they are simply repeating a popular misunderstanding of Jesus’ words. But if they mean, “Be careful when you judge,” then it might be worth listening to what they have to say. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (niv).

The problem with hypocrites is that they cannot see other people’s problems clearly because their discernment is skewed by their own sin. Jesus doesn’t call his followers to give up judging completely; he tells them to remove the plank— remove the sin that is skewing their discernment— and then help the other person carefully, prayerfully, and humbly.

Do Justice Micah 6:8 CEB

Nijay K. Gupta holds a PhD from the University of Durham. He currently teaches biblical studies at Eastern University.

YOUNG PEOPLE CARE about serving God through their actions, helping the community around them. Eighty-four percent of the teens we surveyed* said that learning about a problem in the world motivates them to change the way they live and express their faith. The CEB Student Bible helps you make connections between the world of the Bible and your own world by raising challenging questions, engaging minds and hearts, and showing how to participate in the story of God’s people.

introducing

/LiveTheBible @CommonEngBible @CommonEngBible CommonEnglishBible.com

*2012 YTI Survey


Context & Clarity

RENDER UNTO CAESAR

MICHAEL F. BIRD

When a cohort of Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus whether it was lawful for Jews to pay taxes to the Roman emperor, Jesus answered, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21 kjv; see also Matt 22:16–22; Mark 12:14–17; Luke 20:20–26). We often interpret his statement as affirming two spheres of sovereignty: the world of human government and the sovereignty of God. As a result, this passage has been used to encourage Christians to pay their taxes but give their devotion to God. Is that what this story is really about? To orient ourselves, it’s helpful to read the account in Matthew in full: They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away (Matt 22:16–22). SETTING THE TRAP This account is part of a sequence of conflict stories between Jesus and various Jewish sects, including the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians. The Gospel writers establish that 44

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

the Pharisees and Herodians are actually setting a trap for Jesus with their question about taxes (e.g., Luke 20:20). The ancient historian Josephus speaks of some zealous Galileans whose motto was “no king but God.” These Galileans believed that paying taxes was blasphemy or a cowardly betrayal since it meant recognizing Caesar as king when God was supposed to be their king (Josephus, Ant., 18.23; J.W., 2.118; 7.410). This context helps us see the lose-lose situation the Pharisees and Herodians think they’ve put Jesus in: If Jesus says, “Yes, pay them,” he will look like a sellout. If he says, “No, don’t pay them,” he could be arrested on charges of sedition—which is precisely the claim the Jewish authorities later fabricate against Jesus at his trial (see Luke 23:2). IMAGE OF THE “DIVINE” Rather than offering an answer full of ambiguous rhetoric, Jesus asks his interlocutors to bring him a denarius. He then asks, “Whose image and inscription are on it?” Most of the coins minted in Palestine bore floral designs rather than imperial images, although Pontius Pilate—with his characteristic contempt for Jewish scruples—printed coins depicting pagan


cultic utensils. The denarius Jesus held was probably a Tiberian tribute penny, which bore an image of Tiberius’ bust with the inscription, “Son of the Divine Augustus,” on one side and the phrase “high priest” accompanied by a depiction of Tiberius’ mother, Livia, posing as the goddess Roma on the other.

deserves. On the surface, Jesus’ statement affirms paying the tax and avoids the charge of treason, but the statement could also be a subtle critique of pagan power over Israel. Caesar claims Israel owes him for all that he’s done for them; Jesus suggests that Caesar should get what he truly deserves for what he has done.

If Caesar is “divine,” as the inscription states he is, then the coin bearing his image is a violation of the second commandment (see Exod 20:4; Deut 5:8). In other words, Jesus is telling the Pharisees and Herodians that they’re carrying pagan money that is an affront to Jewish religion, so they might as well give the pagan king back his pagan money. And when Jesus says to “give back to God what is God’s,” he might be suggesting that Israel, who was God’s special possession (see Exod 19:5; Deut 7:6), should be returned to God. If this is the case, Jesus isn’t speaking of how individuals belong to God; rather, he is stressing that the Israelites, as God’s chosen people, must be released from pagan oppression—or, as Moses told Pharaoh, “Let my people go” (e.g., Exod 7:16).

The Bible contains several passages encouraging Christians to pay taxes (see Rom 13:6–7) and give respect to governing authorities (Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:17), but Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:21 isn’t one of them. Rather than affirming that Jews or even Christians should pay taxes, Jesus is critiquing Rome’s power over Israel and avoiding the trap the Pharisees and Herodians set for him. His statement “Render unto Caesar” is a cryptic way of standing up to Caesar—and the idolatry he promoted.

SUBTLY SUBVERSIVE

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (niv). Michael F. Bird (Ph.D, University of Queensland) is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry and honorary research professor at Houston Baptist University.

Jesus may also be subtly subversive with his statement to “give back to Caesar”—meaning give Caesar everything he

Faithful

LOVE Micah 6:8 CEB

THIS BIBLE IS AN INVITATION, and we hope you accept it. The many people who worked on this project believe young people are not just leaders for the future but prophets for the present, with unique insights and perspectives. We want you to deepen your understanding of scripture because you can teach us and help us all love God and neighbor more deeply. We invite you to take up this book to join the ancient story of God’s people and help others follow in your footsteps.

introducing

/LiveTheBible @CommonEngBible @CommonEngBible CommonEnglishBible.com


Weird but Important

HEAP BURNING COALS ON THEIR HEADS MICHAEL S. HEISER

Our culture’s preference for information in 140 characters or fewer is no modern invention. Ancient peoples shared our taste for brevity, as evidenced in the proverbs—short, pithy truisms about life. But brevity has its downsides. Sometimes we need more detail or context to understand a proverb’s true message. Proverbs 25:22 is a good example: “For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Is this proverb Solomon’s idea of “an eye for an eye”? I’ve heard more than one sermon that took that angle. Examining the wider context of this passage, however, shows that this is an unfortunate misinterpretation. A REBUTTAL TO RETALIATION To better understand Proverbs 25:22, we need to read it in the context of the preceding verse: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21 gives no hint that revenge is an option for the wise person—one who fears the Lord (Prov 1:7; 9:10). Rather, this verse is a rebuttal to retaliation. Instead of suggesting that we seek vengeance, it encourages us to show kindness to our enemy: If he is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him water. This aligns with the wider biblical teachings on the treatment of enemies. For example, consider Proverbs 24:17–18: Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. The Torah likewise discourages us from seizing opportunities to harm our enemies: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring

it back to him” (Exod 23:4). Both verses promote kindness toward enemies and hint that attitudes seeking harm for them are displeasing to God. This is a far cry from an eye-for-an-eye mentality. BURNING SHAME Another difficulty in understanding Proverbs 25:22 is the idea of “heaping burning coals” on someone’s head. This is a foreign concept to modern readers. Cultural context can help here. Some interpreters see the burning coals as a metaphorical reference to an Egyptian custom whereby a person who had been shamed would bear a pan of smoldering coals on top of his head as an outward display of shame and regret. Others see the language—which involves burning—as an expression of the inward burning of shame. Proverbs uses the metaphor of burning fire elsewhere to describe the anguish of shame, as in the warnings about infidelity in Proverbs 6:27–28: Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? While we can’t be completely sure which image or metaphor is in play, both capture the intent of Proverbs 25:22 well: By treating our enemies with kindness, we will put them to shame. Loving our enemies will make them ashamed of themselves and hopefully move them toward repentance. In this way, mercy is the best revenge. Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (esv).


FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT® FOR HEALTHY LIVING FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

INFINITE UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS Whether it’s for a large youth gathering or an intimate women’s retreat, YMCA of the Rockies has two locations in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Take time and explore the unforgettable Estes Park and Winter Park, Colorado.

TAKE A MOMENT, SPEAK WITH A GROUP SPECIALIST TODAY.

800-777-9622 ColoradoConferenceCenters.com

walk humbly Micah 6:8 CEB

SOMETIMES PEOPLE THINK of the Bible as a self-help book or advice column—especially when they give the Bible to young people. But if you’ve ever actually gone to the Bible for simple answers, you’ve probably come back with more questions than you started with. And this can be discouraging. The more you read it, the more you notice the contradictions, the paradoxes, the things that don’t make sense for your life today, the things that raise serious questions. And rather than getting frustrated by it, we invite you to think of it as a good thing. What makes this Bible different is that these questions and complexities are lifted up, rather than ignored or made into easy answers.

introducing

/LiveTheBible @CommonEngBible @CommonEngBible CommonEnglishBible.com


Moment with God

FOR FREEDOM CHRIST HAS SET US FREE

KELLEY MATHEWS

“It’s a free country!” Often, this phrase rings out in my household with an air of belligerence. It usually means one child is blaring music that he knows the others dislike, or another is eating the last bite of a dessert that she ought to be sharing. While they may not be breaking any rules, my children are pushing the boundaries of grace and love. Unfortunately, this attitude flourishes among adults too. We tend to focus on our perceived entitlements instead of our neighbors’ well-being. After all, America is the land of the free—the nation of “certain unalienable Rights … Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As long as it’s legal, we can behave according to our personal preferences, right? “Don’t like my loud parties? It’s a free country.” “You’re offended by my Facebook rant? Whatever.” Some Christians even read a verse like Galatians 5:1—“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”—as license to do as we please.

reminds his readers, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.” He then quickly dispels any notion that Christ’s sacrifice gives believers the freedom to live for ourselves, warning, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (5:13).

Yet, if we look closely at the context of this saying, we’ll see this is not what the verse teaches. In Galatians 5:1 the Apostle Paul urges his readers to live in the spiritual freedom that Christ’s death bought for them. False teachers had been wooing believers in Galatia to return to the law—to ensure their right standing in God’s eyes by following the Old Testament rules. But Paul reminds the Galatian believers that Christ’s death fulfilled the Jewish law once and for all, offering salvation through grace. Thus, believers are no longer bound to the law but are obligated only to grace. He further argues that grace plus works isn’t truly grace. For example, if circumcision (one of the Jewish rituals) were still necessary, then Christ’s sacrifice would be worthless (5:11).

Christ set us free for freedom. And Paul encourages us to pursue that freedom and to live freely because we are free— free from enslavement to the law and sin. We’re free to serve those around us with sacrificial love. Embracing true freedom means promoting others above oneself, thereby reflecting the nature of the One we follow.

Does that mean we have license to act as we want? If we keep reading, we’ll see that’s not the case. In Galatians 5:13 Paul

48

Renew Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew

Before coming to faith in Christ, we were slaves to sin. Christ set us free from sin, but that doesn’t mean he gave us the freedom to sin. Rather, he enables us to serve others rather than ourselves. With this understanding, freedom starts to look like holiness in action. Paul calls it the fruit of the Spirit (5:22–23).

Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (niv). Kelley Mathews (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) is an editor, author, and book reviewer. She and her family live in North Texas.


GET CONNECTED introducing

The new CEB Student Bible is by and for young people and invites them into deeper forms of personal and social holiness. With book introductions, more than 400 articles, and group activities written by biblical scholars with experience in youth ministry, this unique Bible will inspire teens as they grow in their faith. These scholars—committed to the future of the church—bring a biblical knowledge with a hands-on experience, making their contributions unique compared to any other student Bible available. The prayers in The CEB Student Bible were written by teens themselves, showing that young people can and do wrestle with the Bible and take their faith seriously.

Find out more and request a FREE COPY of the Gospel of Luke at CommonEnglishBible.com/StudentBible today! /LiveTheBible @CommonEngBible @CommonEngBible CommonEnglishBible.com


Study with Logos, Present with Proclaim

Get 60 d days ays of Proclaim Church Presentation Software for free.

Get your activation code now at ProclaimOnline.com/BSM


Bible Study with Logos 6

The Mysterious Suffering Servant of Isaiah JOHN D. BARRY

Who is the enigmatic suffering servant in Isaiah? Biblical scholars usually answer “Israel.” Church leaders usually say “Jesus.” But what if both answers are wrong—or at least kind of wrong? In Isaiah 42:1–9 the servant is clearly Israel (see Isa 41:8–9; 43:10; 44:1–2, 21; 45:4).1 We often assume that the servants in Isaiah 42:1–9 and Isaiah 49:1–12 have the same identity, but that would be a mistake. Here’s how I know, in two steps. Step One: Run the Passage Guide Let’s start by running the Passage Guide in Logos 6 on Isaiah 49:1–12. From here, we can click on Isaiah: A Commentary by Brevard S. Childs.2

Step Two: Use Cross References in the Passage Guide The Cross References tool within the Passage Guide helps us get a big picture of God’s Word by displaying related passages. After generating a Passage Guide for Isaiah 53:12, the concluding verse of the primary Servant Song, I choose Hebrews 7:25 from the list of cross-references. This passage reads: “Therefore also he is able to save completely those who draw near to God through him, because he always lives in order to intercede on their behalf” (leb).

Dig into the Word with Logos 6. On sale now at Logos.com/BSMSavings 1 For an overview of all the Servant Songs, see my article, “Servant Songs,” in the Lexham Bible Dictionary. 2 I received a gratis copy of the Old Testament Library and New Testament Library series for Logos Bible Software in exchange for writing this article, but I greatly appreciate this series and would have recommended it anyway. 3 All translations from Isaiah are from Brevard Childs, Isaiah: A Commentary, Old Testament Library (Westminster John Knox, 2000). 4

Childs, Isaiah, 384.

5

Childs, Isaiah, 385.

Logos 6 Passage Guide

Childs notes that the line, “And [Yahweh] said to me, ‘You are my servant, you are Israel, in whom I will be glorified’ ” (Isa 49:3),3 is actually about the office of the servant being transferred from Israel to another figure.4 This interpretation is supported by Isaiah 49:5: “But now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself” (compare Isa 49:6). Israel cannot bring itself back (presumably from exile), so the servant here must be another figure. As Childs later points out, this figure is likely an individual who embodies the true mission of Israel but does not replace Israel.5 The suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13–53:12 embodies the same mission: He is an individual who suffers and dies on behalf of other people— and he is resurrected.6 This servant is salvation.

Logos 6 Cross References

See my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah (InterVarsity Press/Lexham Press, 2010).

6

From there, I go to the Library in Logos 6 and enter “Hebrews.” I click on Luke Timothy Johnson’s Hebrews: A Commentary (which is from the same series as Childs’ volume). Remarking on Christ’s “enduring priestly activity,” Johnson notes that Hebrews pictures the “exalted Christ … as ‘living always’ and active in the effort to save his fellow humans through his advocacy before God.”7 This message of an exalted one who intercedes on our behalf, who has paid our debts, is a continuation of the message of Isaiah. Conclusion In Isaiah, we first see Israel holding the role of the servant of Yahweh. But by the time we reach Isaiah 53, we’re certainly looking at an individual, suffering servant. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of what it means to be Israel.

Luke Timothy Johnson, Hebrews: A Commentary, New Testament Library (Westminster John Knox, 2006), 194.

7

John D. Barry is the publisher of Lexham Press for Faithlife Corporation, makers of Logos Bible Software. John is also the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine and the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah.

Subscribe Now!

BibleStudyMagazine.com/Subscribe

51


SAVE TIME. PREACH BETTER.

Research more than 150,000 sermons on the largest and most popular preaching prep website in the world, and access our huge selection of mini-movies, PowerPoint backgrounds, images and worship videos to transform your sermons from ordinary to inspirational.

START YOUR PRO MEMBERSHIP TODAY AND GET A FREE TOTAL PREP PACKAGE ($50 VALUE) www.SermonCentral.com/BSM


Christ is at the center of everything we do here at Summit University

Scan this code or go to SummitU.edu/higher to view a video about Summit University.

Formerly Baptist Bible College Clarks Summit, PA

SummitU.edu

Bible Study Magazine  

D. A. Carson on Training Pastors and Making Disciples

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you