Category Archives: Bible

Meditations and explorations into the Word

A Little Fire, a Great Forest

Ever since there have been people, there have been opinions. And ever since there has been more than one person, there have been diverse opinions. Diverse opinions often clash. Harsh language is as old as the Fall. Debates are nothing new. Believers have always been urged to guard our speech, and few (if any) of us have ever maintained a clean record in that regard. It is unbelievably easy to let careless words slip now and then. History is full of well-intentioned people who needed to learn when to put a sock in it. So really, this is a very old topic.

But now we have smartphones. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in James


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Mine! Mine!

Alternatively titled, “What you won’t hear the Apostle Paul say.”

I’ve been chewing on this for a little while as I work my way through Paul’s epistles. During this project, I’ve discovered a funny side effect of getting to know the biblical authors better: I get annoyed when people say things about them that I don’t think are true. In this case, I found myself chafing at a rather pervasive idea commentators seem to have have about Paul. Many of them consider him to be quite possessive of the churches he planted.

At one level, I can see how they could arrive at this conclusion. With texts like these…

Ga 4:16-17; 5:12 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. …I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

2Co 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us–a sphere which especially includes you.

2Co 11:5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles…

2Co 12:11 …I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles…

…it’s easy to walk away with the idea that Paul was a little jumpy about losing his ministry base. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 14, 2011 in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians


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Real Life According to Paul: Your Conscience is My Problem

Some of you might remember that I’m on a journey of actively trying to make friends with the Apostle Paul. It’s going well. Paul is great. He’s spiritually deep. He’s got a servant’s heart. He has a really sharp wit. He loves to burst into praise of the greatness of God in the middle of his theological expositions.

I’m also finding that a lot of people have a wrong first impression of Paul. Over years of modern proof-texting, Paul has accrued the reputation of being a lofty spiritualist. While he certainly is godly, and has intelligence and spiritual insight to spare, he is not lofty. He’s very down to earth, and he knows how to grapple with the nitty-gritty of everyday life. His pastoral heart shines through in his epistles. He’s not just writing theory — he’s dealing with the real lives of real people. To him, Christianity doesn’t need to be reconciled with “real life” — he expects it to transform and dictate the way that life takes place.

Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in the book of 1 Corinthians. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 16, 2011 in 1 Corinthians, Bible


“Always Learning” is not Always Good

While reading through the book of 2 Timothy recently, I was struck with a peculiar phrase. Paul was in the middle of warning Timothy about the deception that would come in the perilous times of the last days (2 Tim 3:1). He was simultaneously warning about the deception, as well as about the kind of people who would spread this deception. He provides a lengthy list of their vices in verses 2-5, and urges Timothy to have nothing to do with them. My interest perked up significantly in verse 6, as he warned, “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women…”

I haven’t written much about the topic lately, but having done some study on the Bible’s view on women, I was paying particular attention to this. It endeared me to Paul to see that he was repulsed by the ways that these false teachers would prey on women. It also made me curious to learn more about these end-time “gullible women”, and how much relation that might have to what was already happening among the the women in Ephesus (the city where Timothy was currently stationed).

These women would be gullible. They would be loaded down with sins. They would be led astray by various lusts. (This is sounding awfully familiar to the idle widows of 1 Timothy 5…)

What really hit me, though, was verse 7: “…always learning“.

Hang on, what?

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in 2 Timothy, Bible, Theology


Saying “Don’t despise me, old people!” probably won’t work

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

Currently, I am on a study track that is taking me through Paul’s epistles. This started by remembering being in one of Allen Hood’s classes about six years ago, when he told us, “You need to make friends with some dead guys!”

Now, before anyone gets too weirded out, this is not in the Sixth Sense vein (“I see dead people!”) or in the light-some-candles-and-get-out-the-Ouija-board vein. What Allen was talking about is getting to know the Biblical authors and characters. This means seeing and being inspired by their lifestyles, successes, struggles, hardships, and victories. It means observing how God moved in them and through them in their unique lives and personalities. If all we do is sift through their works looking for quotable soundbites and cut-and-paste sermon illustrations, we are significantly losing out on some of the richness that God has packed into His Word.

So right now, I’m being intentional about making friends with Paul. We’re presently hanging out in 1 Timothy. I’m finding that the pastoral epistles are incredible opportunities to get to know Paul as not just the powerful apostle, but a father in the house of God. In these books, we get to see some very personal stuff regarding how he cares for the churches, as well as how he cares for the leaders of those churches (Timothy and Titus).

So it’s in writing to Timothy, a “true son in the faith” (1:2), that Paul gives a bit of fatherly advice. This is perhaps the most-quoted — and most-misquoted — verse in the history of church youth groups: “Let no one despise your youth”. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 22, 2011 in 1 Timothy, Bible


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One of these things is not like the others…

If you guessed that the image on the bottom right is not like the others, you’re right!

Unfortunately, sometimes it can be a bit easier to see this in a silly grid like above than in the reality of day-to-day life.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we read the Bible and how we think about it. One thing I appreciate about evangelical biblical scholarship is that there is a very high value placed on the Word of God as being the highest authority on life, the ultimate source of truth, the unmoving standard of morality, and the book with the only real answers to the questions and longings of the human heart. This is all true and good, and I’m grateful for it.

However, being the good Westerners that we are, it’s easy for our hearts and minds to go weird places concerning this book of ultimate truth. The problem creeps in when we start reading the Bible as a handy-dandy reference guide to doing life “right” — in which case we suddenly struggle with sorting out how it’s really so much unlike all those other things.

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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Bible


Hermeneutics pt. III – Application

Welcome to the third and final installation in this series in the series on hermeneutics. Over the past two posts, we’ve looked at the process of exegesis — in other words, exploring a Biblical passage to draw out its true meaning. This is foundational to the historical-grammatical method of hermeneutics, the system of Biblical interpretation regarding the Bible to be the real, accurate, inspired Word of God.

Just catching up with us now? You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Bible, Theology


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Hermeneutics Pt. II – Interpretation

Last week, we looked at the first step in good hermeneutics, observation. Observation is very simply just taking one’s time to see what the passage in question actually says. We have to resist the tendency to begin assigning meaning to things yet, but simply write down what we actually see in the Scripture.

Our example passage was Genesis 2:18-22. We ended up with a simple bullet list like this:

  • God said it was not good that man should be alone.
  • God said He would make the man a helper comparable to him.
  • God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them.
  • Adam named every living creature.
  • There was no helper comparable to Adam found among the animals.
  • God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep.
  • God took a rib from Adam’s side and closed up the wound.
  • God took the rib He had taken, and made it into a woman.
  • God brought the woman to the man.

Ideally, this first step of observation should include a lot more of the biblical context, but for the sake of space on this blog, we’re taking on just a few verses at a time.

Now it’s time to start asking the question, what does this mean?

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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Bible, Theology, Women in Ministry


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Hermeneutics pt. I – Observation

As I mentioned at the end of last post, I want to explain why I went to the lengthy detail I did regarding Genesis 1-3. It seems like a lot of work, especially considering that I (purposefully) didn’t say anything that the Bible doesn’t already say. But that’s actually the point. It’s the necessary starting ground for good hermeneutics.

Simply defined, a hermeneutic is the system that governs how one interprets and understands the Bible. Everyone who reads the Bible — serious scholar or no — operates under some kind of hermeneutic. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Bible, Theology


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Examining Genesis 1-3

When I began studying the topic of women in ministry (I have so got to find a better way to refer to this topic), I was quite unprepared for how much Genesis 1-3 figured into the discussion. I was expecting to see a lot of argument about Genesis 3:16, but wasn’t the rest of it pretty straightforward?

Evidently not, according to some. This is rather serious, seeing as these chapters are are considered a pivotal foundation for any discussion on gender roles. Raymond Ortlund Jr., a contributor to a leading complimentarian book, said it about as bluntly as one could hope: “As Genesis 1-3 go, so goes the whole Biblical debate.”

Whoa. I guess we’d better take a closer look at these three chapters. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Bible, Genesis, Women in Ministry


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