Archive for February, 2007

“Children who Believe” in Titus 1:6 (Part 2)

Third, if pistos means “believing” in Titus 1:6, it is difficult to explain the absence of this qualification (“having children who believe”) from Paul’s list in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Was this a requirement in Crete but not in Ephesus? As Andreas Kostenberger writes, “In the larger context of the teaching of the Pastoral Epistles, it would be unusual if the author had two separate standards, a more lenient one in 1 Tim. 3:4 (obedient) and a more stringent one in Titus 1:6 (believing)” (Kostenberger, “Children of Elders: What are the Requirements?”). At least one commentator has responded to this by stating that Christianity was established more firmly in Ephesus at the time than in Crete, and therefore Paul did not think it necessary to include this requirement in 1 Timothy 3 (White, “The Epistle to Titus,” 187).

Fourth, the translation “faithful” seems to be more consistent with the context, for every other qualification in Titus 1:5-9 involves an issue of the elder’s personal responsibility before God. According to this passage, an elder has a responsibility to be a one-woman man, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, and self controlled. But is he responsible before God to make sure his children are regenerate? Put another way, it makes good sense that an elder is to be “above reproach” in these other areas of life, but how exactly is he to be above reproach in the area of making sure his children possess saving faith? As Justin Taylor writes, “Requiring that his children have genuine saving faith is to require personal responsibility for the salvation of another, something I don’t see taught in Scripture” (Taylor, “Unbelief in an Elder’s Children”).

First Timothy 3:4-5 indicates that the father’s faithfulness in the home is a testing ground for how faithful he will be in managing the flock at large. Two fathers could be equally faithful in their parenting, and yet one might have a son who is elect and the other a son who is not. In this case, the second father would be disqualified even though he was no less faithful and capable than the first father. According to Bill Barrick,

parents do not have the ability to save their children or to guarantee their salvation. There is, it is true, a certain amount of accountability in how a child is raised (cf. Prov 22:6). However, nowhere does Scripture indicate that a father can determine the faith of his child. Each person is individually and personally responsible for his or her acceptance or rejection of the Gospel. Parents are not the Holy Spirit. Godly, obedient, consistently faithful pastors leading their homes with the highest spiritual wisdom, character, and deeds can experience a child who does no believe in the Gospel. Sometimes a child will not believe until much later in life. Is that man to be excluded from pastoring because of that? (Barrick, “Titus 1:6”)

At the same time, it has been argued in response that God will be sure to save the children of those men He desires to serve as elders in the church. If so, it seems that this would be the lone requirement in the lists of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 which reflects God’s sovereign choice of a given man rather than that man’s character and ministry qualifications. This only serves to strengthen the argument that the meaning “faithful” is more consistent with the context.

Look for part 3 on Thursday.

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“Children who Believe” in Titus 1:6 (Part 1)

Pastors who have a high view of God’s Word take seriously the elder qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Unfortunately, not all of these qualifications are easy to understand. For example, in Titus 1:6b, the apostle Paul writes that elders must have tekna pista, which means either “children who believe” (NASB) or “faithful children” (NKJV), depending on how it is translated.

The disagreement concerns the adjective pistos and whether it should be rendered “believing” or “faithful.” In the end, the bottom line is this: Is the requirement of Titus 1:6b that the children possess saving faith (“believing”) or that they are obedient to their father (“faithful”)?

  • View 1— Meaning: believing, trusting; Translation: “children who believe [in Christ]”
  • View 2— Meaning: faithful, trustworthy; Translation: “children who are faithful [to their father]”

When the adjective pistos is used in the New Testament to describe people rather than God, it means “believing” 12 times and “faithful” 36 times, so both possibilities are well attested. In addition, we find that Paul uses pistos in both ways in the Pastoral Epistles: it clearly means “believing” in 1 Timothy 6:2 and “faithful” in 2 Timothy 2:2. Therefore, either nuance of meaning is a distinct possibility in Titus 1:6. For this reason, we must look to the context to determine which nuance is more likely Paul’s intended meaning. In doing so, I would like to suggest five reasons why pistos should be translated “faithful” or “obedient” in Titus 1:6 rather than “believing” or “who believe.”

First, the qualifying phrase “not accused of dissipation or rebellion” in Titus 1:6 emphasizes behavior and seems to explain or expand on what it means for children to be pistos (Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 289). In fact, there seems to be something of a pattern in Titus in which Paul states a generic, positive attribute, which is then followed by two or more specific, negative attributes which further explain the positive attribute by stating what it is not (Banker, A Semantic and Structural Analysis of Titus, 36). This pattern can be seen in Titus 1:13-14 and Titus 2:3.

In Titus 1:13-14, Paul refers to being “sound in faith” (the one generic, positive attribute), which he further explains as “not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men” (the two specific, negative attributes). In Titus 2:3, he refers to being “reverent in their behavior” (the one, generic positive attribute), which he further explains with the words “not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine” (the two specific, negative attributes). If Titus 1:6 follows this same pattern, the idea would be that an elder must have “children who are pistos” (the one, generic positive attribute) in that they are “not accused of dissipation or rebellion” (the two specific, negative attributes). Because the terms “dissipation” (wild living) and “rebellion” (disobedience) are more logically opposite of what it means to be “faithful” than what it means to be “believing,” it would seem that “faithful” is the better translation (Barrick, “Titus 1:6”).

Second, the parallel requirement in 1 Timothy 3:4 refers to an elder “keeping his children under control with all dignity.” As George Knight states, “In both cases the overseer is evaluated on the basis of his control of his children and their conduct” (Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 290):

  • Titus 1:6b: “having children who are faithful, not accused of dissipation or rebellion”
  • 1 Timothy 3:4: “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity”

In other words, the emphasis in both passages is on the behavior of the children, not on whether or not they possess saving faith.

Look for part 2 on Wednesday.

Concluding Reflections

Having just completed a survey and some basic interaction with each essay in the book, Preaching the Old Testament, I would like to share some of the things I have observed.

  1. Preaching the First Testament seems to be a topic of growing concern and discussion these days. That is encouraging to me. As scholars within evangelicalism becomes more effective in reading and interpreting the OT, I believe this is important. The (what I see as important) strides made in scholarship need to find their way down to the pulpit and the congregation. This book is a move in that direction. Moreover, in encouraging pastors to preach from the OT, the contributors gave more substantive reasons than the usual, “You have to know the OT to understand the NT.” While this is true, nevertheless, they motivated by showing how the first 39 books of our canon can be preached effectively. At the same time, they called urgently for such proclamation and have encouraged those who preach by showing that it is both possible and fruitful.
  2. I appreciated the focus within the book on the original languages, both in the chapter about Hebrew as well as the discussion of preaching Psalms and Proverbs.
  3. The book has been both a reminder to me of how much I don’t know and a catalyst for questions with which I have yet to wrestle. Preaching the First Testament is a daunting endeavor that provides many challenges. To implement all of the advice presented by this collection of essays is a lifelong learning process, especially considering the other tasks of ministry. However, I appreciated the passion that each contributor had for his/her subject, even when I didn’t agree with what they were saying.
  4. There was a consistent reminder in several essays of the need to treat the text as a book that shows signs of structure, coherence, and theological reflection. This is very helpful, in my opinion. If a preacher understands that it is possible to preach the text without being an expert in Ancient Near Eastern history, sociology, etc., on the one hand or a Hebrew/Aramaic professor on the other, then his preaching will take on added effectiveness. To be specific, focusing upon the inherent structure, meaning, and theology of the text will allow the preacher to educate his congregation in the overall coherence of the text and, in this way, will show how knowing the OT influences how one reads the NT. Moreover, this is a much more effective use of the First Testament than using it primarily for illustrations/applications.
  5. Taking note of the men and woman that contributed essays to this collection, I believe Walter Kaiser, Jr., to whom the book was dedicated, has obviously had a great impact within OT scholarship. Each of the contributors showed indebtedness to and respect for this man, even if they don’t agree with everything he says. That is commendable in my opinion.

Although not all essays are equal in quality (a common drawback to collections like these), I encourage you to get the book, read the book, and put these principles into practice. I would appreciate any feedback from those of you who have read the book or from those who have been following this series. Has anything stood out to you as a reminder or as something new? Any specific questions that you would like for us to address?

Bible Software and Bible Exposition

This is the golden age of computer software which is useful to the Bible expositor. With tools like BibleWorks 7.0, Logos 3 (Libronix), and Grammcord/Accordance (for Macs) there are resources that will satisfy almost any preference when it comes to serious Bible study. I started using BibleWorks around 4.0 and Logos on and off for about the last 9 years. I have friends who swear by Grammcord (but of course all Mac guys are that way). With a little help, I believe these programs can trim time off the study process (primarily through search abilities) and allow for more time in thoughtful study and reflection over the text. Starting in March I will do a regular update on various features and functions related to these Bible software programs. My goal will be to help expositors who own these programs make better use of what they have at their fingertips. I’m no expert but I have taught BibleWorks and have learned Logos from some of the best. I will also be attending a BibleWorks training seminar next month in Birmingham and then a Logos training seminar this summer. I will try to relay what I learn here and pass on items that are useful to expositors (please feel free to share your ideas here as well).

Getting started

For my tastes, Logos has only recently come into a realm that is helpful for doing real exegetical work. I know Logos aficionados will disagree but much of what has been called “exegetical tools” in Logos has really been subpar compared to more powerful exegetical programs. The strength of Logos is that it is a library tool where you can store hundreds of helpful reference works from dictionaries to commentaries. These can be interlinked and are easily searchable (more about all that in a future post). But I thought there were thousands of titles in Logos? There are, but the majority of the titles that come with the various packages (or add-ons) are worthless when it comes to exposition of Scripture (however everyone has their own likes/dislikes). Logos does seem to be working hard in their software development but it’s not as intuitive as some would have you believe. I do think it is an amazingly strong product but when it comes to the languages, BibleWorks does everything but polish the pulpit. BibleWorks 7.0 is a vast improvement over earlier versions and is the best for Greek/Hebrew language work (in Windows). It’s not perfect but it is way up there when it comes to exegetical research capabilities. I use both programs but I’m also one of those types who refuses to become a slave to the computer.

All of this means I want to spend my time making it all work for me and my purposes and not be wowed by the pretty colors and PR campaigns coming out of various companies. Those who work for the software companies will tell you that their product is the best but the benefit of having competition is that you don’t have to take their word for it. Every preacher has to decide what works best for him in the style that he has developed in the study. So the first lesson is don’t let someone else’s methods of software use dictate how you study and even more don’t let someone who is paid by a particular company tell you what you need (we usually call that “conflict of interest”). I will be writing more about this soon. Stay tuned.

Further reading:

“Doing Good Digital Exegesis”

Dan Phillips reviews BibleWorks 7.0 and here

Tim Challies reviews Logos Bible Software

Andreas J. Köstenberger reviews Accordance

Andrew D. Naselli reviews Logos Scholar’s Library: Gold

Preaching the OT Today Evangelistically

I would like to do a wrap-up post (what I have taken away from it) on the book Preaching the Old Testament soon, and in that light I will take the last two chapters together. The first consists of an appeal for preaching the First Testament along with reasons for doing so. The second presents some ideas about preaching the OT in a way that is consistent with calling men and women to faith in Christ. Here they are in outline:

Preaching the Old Testament Today

In his essay, “Preaching the Old Testament Today,” David L. Larsen gives the following considerations. We need to preach the Old Testament because…It lays the foundation for all that follows.

  1. It is the inspired anticipation of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
  2. It so poignantly provides a rich pictorialization of God’s plan of eternal redemption and its implications.
  3. It assists us in the complex task of application.

Preaching the Old Testament Evangelistically

The final essay is “Preaching the Old Testament Evangelistically” by Robert E. Coleman. According to him, the following principles should be kept in mind when desiring to preach from the OT while maintaining a gospel appeal:

  1. Preach the OT with a Christ-Focus.
  2. Preach the OT with a Kingdom Outlook.
  3. Preach the OT in a Soul-Searching Way.

Although I have not elaborated upon each point, I would welcome any thoughts on these.

Oh No!

I thought our readers, most of whom are preachers, might like to know that the body of Jesus (and his son) has been found. I remember hearing some years ago John Dominic Crossan say that the body of Jesus was probably eaten by dogs….I guess this proves him wrong. Now get back to work, you have have to preach on Sunday!

P. S. 1 Cor. 15:14

New Testament Texts Citing the Old Testament

The next chapter in Preaching the Old Testament carries a lengthy title (“Toward the Effective Preaching of New Testament Texts That Cite the Old Testament”) but an important message. According to Roy E. Ciampa, passages that quote from or are based upon OT texts provide special challenges and unique opportunities for the preacher. Therefore, his thesis is as follows:

In order to effectively use a New Testament text that quotes the Old Testament, a preacher will want to help the embedded Old Testament text play the same role with their audience that it played with the original audience. (152)

His arguments can be framed around the following questions.

  • Why did NT authors quote the OT?

According to Ciampa, the OT is quoted for a variety of reasons, such as the following (152):

  • to defend or support their theological arguments,
  • to clarify an issue using an illustration from the OT,
  • to reveal the significance of a contemporary event or reality,
  • to bring credibility to an author, showing his abilities to interpret Scripture,
  • to establish a sense of rapport with the readers.

Therefore, it is important for the preacher to discern the purpose for the quote within the NT context.

  • How did NT authors receive revelation?

As opposed to “divine downloads” of information and revelation, Ciampa makes the important point that NT writers were for the most part directly dependent upon the OT. He appeals here to 2Tim 3:16; 4:2 and Acts 17:11. Although the final product of these writers was an inspired text, the process of writing was one done by skilled exegetes and theologians. Therefore, I would add, they were simply reading correctly the OT texts. Thus, the preacher should always consider “the way in which the message of the New Testament authors fits into and flows out of the pattern of revelation that had been previously communicated from God to his people” (154). As such, then, the preacher can show a congregation the way the NT writer has theologized the OT text by thoughtfully retracing the exegesis and theologizing of the author. Preaching from these texts provides the opportunity for the preacher to bring a congregation along in both hermeneutics and biblical theology.

  • What did such ancient exegesis consist of?

How the NT writers interpreted the OT is a highly debated issue, but Ciampa does a good job of explaining some difficult issues here. He states, “The bottom line is that the authors of the New Testament rarely quote and use the Old Testament the way we would if we were using the texts to support our own arguments” (156). That is, we often arrogantly believe we have the corner of the market on biblical interpretation. Yet, we should not be surprised if their methods differ from ours. In this light, he makes the following apt statement: Continue reading

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