Archive for the ‘New Testament’ Category

My Future Book on the Resurrection

I would like to write a book one day on how Jesus’ resurrection impacts everything.  The Puritan giant John Owen wrote a masterpiece many years ago titled,  The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  My future book is going to be named, The Death of Death in the Resurrection of Christ (note 1 Corinthians 15 especially verses 20-28).   Too many Christians only hear sermons on the first 11 verses of 1 Corinthians 15 to the exclusion of the other 47.  My book will examine the entire chapter.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26.  20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

Mike Vlach on the NT use of the OT

Mike Vlach, Associate Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary, is now blogging. I think he waited this long so that he wouldn’t be accused of being trendy. His first two posts right out of the gate take up an aspect of our current subject, the NT use of the OT. See the links highlighted below:

Christian Liberty and Colossians 2:16-17

Colossians 2:16-17, writes H.C.G. Moule, are an appeal for “Christian liberty,” as earnest … as [Paul’s] appeal to the Galatians “not to be entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” But let us note well that the “liberty” he means is the very opposite of licence and has nothing in the world akin to the miserable individualism whose highest ambition is to do just what it likes. The whole aim of St. Paul is for the fullest, deepest and most watchful holiness. He wants his Colossian converts above all things to be holy; that is, to live a life yielded all through to their Redeemer, who is also their Master (p. 171).

Vaughan, C. (1981). Colossians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11: Ephesians through Philemon (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.)  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Making Disciples

To many churches put too much emphasis on ‘getting decisions’ and not enough emphasis on ‘making disciples.’  The emphasis evident in the Great Commission clearly stresses discipleship: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’  (Matthew 28:19).  Stress is also placed on the empowering presence of Christ to make discipleship a reality: Christ has all authority (Matt 28:18) and believers enjoy His presence (Matt 28:20).

Jason C. Meyer, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology, p. 279.

Where did Peter deny Jesus?

In the upper room of a house in Jerusalem, Jesus made a break with the Jewish Passover and instituted a New Covenant meal that would be ratified the next day in His blood. It was also on this occasion that Jesus looked at the faces of His disciples and said something none wanted to hear, “You will all fall away because of Me this night” to which Jesus sources Zechariah 13:7 as support for His prophetic announcement (Matt 26:31). Peter would have none of such talk and pledged that he would go to the death with Jesus (Matt 26:33, 35). However, Jesus put His prophetic finger specifically on Peter and said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matt 26:34).

According to John 18:17 it appears that Peter’s denials took place at the house of Annas, the former High Priest. However, according to Matthew 26:69 Peter’s denials took place at the home of Caiaphas, the current High Priest and son-in-law of Annas. Obviously, these are two different homes with two different men presiding. One well-known research professor comments on the John 18 passage with nothing more than, “In John, this was the time when Peter denied Jesus.” The problem is that such comments fail to resolve the obvious problem of Peter’s denials being in seemingly contradictory places.

The solution, however, is not difficult to see. In John 18:5 Peter makes his first denial of the night at the house of Annas during Jesus’ first Jewish hearing. Then he follows the crowd with Jesus over to the house of Caiaphas where Peter makes his further denials during the second Jewish hearing (Matt 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–65; John 18:25–27). So where did Peter deny Jesus? First, right outside the doorway of Annas’ house and then sitting in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house while warming himself by a fire.


“What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? (John 6:62)

No need to “trick things up” with NT narrative

Few could believe what Edmund Morris had done. He was given unprecedented access to President Ronald Reagan during his eight years in political office, and he saw everything. Morris kept copious notes on 3 X 5 index cards and saved them in his own large filing system. After Reagan left office, Morris who was a well-respected historian, was poised to write a massive biography about one of the key figures of 20th Century American history. However, Morris will forever be remembered as the first presidential biographer to introduce fake characters into what everyone anticipated would be an accurate and scholarly presidential biography. Not only did he introduce fake characters into the life of Reagan, he even created fake footnotes to give the appearance of reality to his imagined characters. The book sold well but only modestly compared to what was expected. Never again would Morris’ recounting of history be trusted. Morris missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

What Edmund Morris missed was that good narratives based on real events are already compelling by nature. Rather than simply declaring his subject matter, he inserted his own perspective into the story. Contrast Morris’ perspective with that of another presidential biographer, David McCullough. Someone asked McCullough about his perspective on writing history. He said, “ . . . there’s no need ever to trick things up, to sugar this or that, or use dramatic devices to make it interesting. You just try as best you can to make it as interesting as it actually was.”[1] In a sense, this is the role of good expository homiletics. The task of the preacher is to get out of the way and let the people hear God speaking in the narrative. Having done all the necessary spadework, “This message should be clear and easy to follow, while remaining faithful to the biblical author’s progression of ideas.”[2]

[1] Diane Osen, ed., The Book that Changed My Life: Interviews with National Book Award Winners and Finalists (New York: The Modern Library, 2002), 106-07. I am indebted to Matthew Waymeyer for calling my attention to this particular quote (personal communication, Oct 18, 2009).

[2] Donald R. Sunukjian, “Sticking to the Plot: The Developmental Flow of the Big Idea Sermon,” in The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching: Connecting to People, eds. Keith Willhite and Scott M. Gibson (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 111.

The Minister and his Greek NT

Rod Decker has provided a PDF version of A. T. Robertson’s classic booklet/essay on The Minister and his Greek NT (here). Here’s an excerpt:

Every preacher wishes to be original. That is a proper desire, within limits. One does not care to be bizarre or grotesque. He cannot, if loyal to Christ, be original in his creed. But he can be individual in his grasp of truth and in his presentation of his mes- sage. Originality is relative after all. The ancients have stolen all our best ideas from us. But one can be himself. That is precisely what people like most about us.

Now, the Greek New Testament has a message for each mind. Some of the truth in it has never yet been seen by anyone else. It is waiting like a virgin forest to be explored. It is fresh for every mind that explores it, for those who have passed this way before have left it all here. It still has on it the dew of the morning and is ready to refresh the newcomer. Sermons lie hidden in Greek roots, in prepositions, in tenses, in the article, in particles, in cases. One can sympathize with the delight of Erasmus as he expressed it in the Preface of his Greek Testament four hundred years ago: “These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself, talking, healing, dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give Him to you in an intimacy so close that He would be less visible to you if He stood before your eyes.”

Continuity vs. Discontinuity

The solution to this problem can be stated as follows: only where the text itself (in either Testament) signals the reader that the author clearly intended the material to have a limited application of a built-in obsolescene can we dare to conclude that the material in that section is discontinuous and of no permanent or literal authority. This is not to say that that same material may not, however, have behind it an abiding principle that is clearly taught in the abiding and continuous revelation of God. The question of continuity and discontinuity cannot be solved by imposed philosophical or imposed theological categories over the text of Scripture; the text must remain sovereign! It will give its own signals in the very context in which the suspected discontinuous text appears. Thus, we would solve the problem of the number and location of these texts that are time-conditioned by appealing to an exegesis of the affected passages.

from Walter C. Kaiser, Toward Rediscovering The Old Testament, 100.

Biased NT reductionism: Matthew 16:21 as a test case

During my sermon preparation, I generally read through commentaries last. It is often a helpful exercise but it can also be frustrating. I never ceased to be amazed at the imaginative lengths some commentators will go to be accepted by their peers rather than useful to the church. Many commentaries are essentially commentary on the biases of the scholar rather than on the text of Scripture.

Compare the following two comments concerning Matthew 16:21 which says, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”

Donald Hagner in the WBC on Matthew notes, “That Jesus’ predictions in these passages line up with the kerygma of the church is not sufficient reason to reject the possibility of their authenticity,or at least of an authentic core. A variety of scripture passages were available to Jesus in understanding what lay ahead (e.g., Pss 22; 118:17-18, 22; Isa 53; Dan 7; 12; Wis 3).”

D. A. Carson in the EBC on Matthew asks, “Is it reasonable to think that Jesus could have predicted the details of his passion only if he read about them somewhere? This is not to question the applicability of some of the OT allusions to him; it is rather to question the historical reductionism of some Gospel research.”

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