Archive | Theology/Bible

What does it mean to “act like a man” in 1 Corinthians 16:13?

I’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians at our church for the last couple years, and in my most recent message we came to a little phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13 that has become a stumbling block for some readers. The underlying Greek verb (andrizesthei) is rendered variously as “act like men” (ESV, NASB; cf. CSB, KJV) or “be courageous” (NIV, NRSV, NLT). Some of those who favor “act like men” understand the text as a call to manhood. Others dismiss that interpretation by noting that the command is addressed to both men and women.

For my part, I think either translation is fine. Both of them are actually capturing something true about the original expression. The Greek word in question is built on a root that refers to adult males (aner). That means that there are at least two semantic oppositions here, not one—male as opposed to female and adult as opposed to child. As Thiselton explains, “it does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly ‘feminine’ qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways.”1 In other words, the root idea invokes both masculinity and maturity. Continue Reading →

A plan to read the Greek New Testament in a year

Several years ago, I created a plan to read through the Greek New Testament in a year. For the most part, it tracks pretty closely with Lee Irons’ excellent schedule for reading the Greek New Testament in a year. My plan, however, varies a little bit. Because John’s writing is simpler Greek, my schedule goes through John’s Gospel at a faster pace than Irons’. As a result, there are no readings scheduled at the end of the year from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. These open dates at the end can be used as catch-up days. The schedule is given in two formats below.

DOC – Read the Greek NT in a Year

PDF – Read the Greek NT in a Year

If you are serious about reading, you might consider Zondervan’s reader’s edition of the Greek New Testament (pictured at top right). This volume contains the text of the UBS Greek New Testament. It provides definitions of Greek words that appear in the New Testament fewer than 30 times. This helps readers with less common vocabulary and allows them to focus on reading, comprehension, parsing, and grammatical issues. It’s available now from Amazon.com.

A postscript on a Twitter thread about choosing a college

I read an interesting little essay by King’s College professor David Talcott last week. It was the title that caught my eye: “Don’t Assume Because A College Is Christian It’s A Safe Place For Your Kid.” Talcott’s essay dealt largely with left-leaning political views on campuses, but near the end he made a comment about theological first principles:

Christian education today is still in many ways excellent and the deeply religious culture of these institutions… can be a wonderful place for spiritual growth. But on matters related to sex, gender, and politics, it is “buyer beware” and “trust, but verify.”

Parents and donors who care about Christian higher education remaining Christian for the long-term need to ask pointed questions of the institutions to which they entrust both their children and their donation dollars. We can no longer assume that everything is okay simply because the school has always been Christian and conservative.

After all, Harvard University was founded to train Christian ministers. Schools have drifted before and they can do so again. Based on the available evidence, it’s already happening.

As I said, Talcott’s article dealt largely with left-leaning political views that dominate so many campuses. But it was this last part that I felt was most important. A campus’s culture is determined largely by what its deepest convictions are, and those convictions are irreducibly theological. Continue Reading →

A Plan to Read through the Bible in 2020

In years past, my customary mode for reading through the Bible every year involved starting in Genesis and reading right through to Revelation. I estimated that about four chapters per day would get me through in under a year’s time. The method worked reasonably well, but it wasn’t without its problems. Sometimes I would miss a day (or days) and get behind, and I had no way to keep up with my progress. I needed a schedule so that I could keep myself accountable for finishing in a year.

In 2009, therefore, I did something I had never done before. I followed a Bible reading plan. I adopted Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings. It provided the schedule that I needed. It also outlined daily readings from different sections of the Bible. On any given day, I would be reading something from an Old Testament narrative, something from the prophets, and something from the New Testament. Although this plan provided the accountability that I needed, I found it difficult to be reading from three to four different biblical books every day. I know that not everyone is like me, but that approach lacked the focus that my brain requires. I missed reading the Bible in its canonical arrangement and focusing on one book at a time. I wished for a schedule that would go from Genesis to Revelation in canonical order. Continue Reading →

Remember Your Chains

I was reading Ezekiel yesterday and came across a stunning statement about a positive place for shame in our lives. Ezekiel is prophesying about the future restoration of God’s people after a long period of judgment:

62 “Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, 63 in order that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares. –Ezekiel 16:62-63

We often don’t think about shame as having a positive role in our lives. In fact, we are often told that feelings of shame undermine emotional health and well-being. And yet here we have the Lord saying that after these sinners have been forgiven, they must remember their former sins and be ashamed of them. Why? So that they will never be arrogant again. John Taylor explains the meaning well: Continue Reading →

God’s Glory Revealed in Christ: Essays in Honor of Dr. Tom Schreiner

Jim Hamilton, Brian Vickers, and I recently co-edited a Festschrift for our Doktorvater Tom Schreiner. The book is titled God’s Glory Revealed in Christ: Essays in Honor of Tom Schreiner (B&H, 2019).

The week before Thanksgiving, the publisher was kind enough to host a banquet in San Diego where we were able to present this volume formally to Tom. It was a special moment for all of us who love Tom and who have been touched by his friendship, scholarship, and ministry.

I am really grateful for all of those who agreed to contribute. It really is an all-star line-up including D. A. Carson, John Piper, Albert Mohler, Simon Gathercole, and many others. The book is comprised of essays dealing with biblical theology, and it is now available from Amazon and other outlets. I hope you’ll check it out. The table of contents is below. Continue Reading →

Spurgeon urging men and women to be “all at it”

Over the weekend, I saw an excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon’s sermon “All at It” being passed around on social media. It is a sermon well worth your time to read if you haven’t already. Spurgeon’s text is Acts 8:4-5, 35:

4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5 And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them… 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

The overall point of the sermon is that it wasn’t merely the apostles who were called to evangelize the world but all Christians. All are supposed to be at the work of evangelism (thus the title “All at It”). Spurgeon is really careful in his exposition, noting that the words in the New Testament for “preach” are used differently than how they are often used today. He explains, Continue Reading →

Greet one another with a holy kiss…

I am preparing a sermon on the final chapter of 1 Corinthians for church tomorrow. In my reading, I came across an insightful bit of commentary from Richard Hays on verse 20, where Paul commands: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Hays explains:

There is no indication here that Paul thinks of it as anything more than a sign of greeting among people who love one another. In the context of the community’s divisions at Corinth, however, the holy kiss would necessarily serve as a powerful sign of reconciliation among people who had previously been estranged. It is easy to interpret this brief imperative (“Greet one another with a holy kiss”) as a perfunctory gesture, until we try to visualize the Corinthians actually putting it into practice in a community where conflict has prevailed. Within our divided denominations can we envision the members of opposed factions and caucuses coming together and embracing in a holy kiss? As usual, Paul’s call to love is simple, radical, and embodied.

-Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, 291

What a good word. I don’t believe that a kiss is the right way in our culture to signal the love that Paul calls for in this letter. Nevertheless, the need for simple, radical, embodied love is as acute today as it ever was. This text calls God’s people to meet that need.

Iron Sharpening Iron: Continuing the Conversation with Sam Storms

I want to thank Sam Storms for his gracious and direct interaction with my response to his earlier essay. I want to reiterate again how grateful I am for Dr. Storms and his long ministry and faithfulness to the Lord’s work. I have been a direct beneficiary of it, and I am truly in his debt. My hope and prayer are that our ongoing dialogue will be a faithful example of iron sharpening iron (Prov. 27:17).

Storms says that I have largely missed the point of his article arguing that women can be pastors. As I understand it, he has argued that the title pastor is a gift not an office—much less an office of senior governmental authority like elder/overseer. For this reason, women can have the gift of pastoring and hold the title pastor. Storms concludes: Continue Reading →

Can Women Be Pastors?

Sam Storms has written a brief article making a complementarian argument that would allow women to serve as pastors.1 He argues that pastoring is a gift not an authoritative office in the church. While all elders need to have the gift of pastoring, it does not follow that all “pastors” must be elders. After doing a brief survey of biblical texts that employ “pastor” terminology, he surmises:

It stands to reason that all Elders must, in some sense, be pastors. But nothing in the way this verb is used should lead us to believe that all pastors must be Elders. No text asserts the latter.

Because a pastor is not the same thing as an elder and is not an authoritative office, Storms argues that women can be gifted pastors serving in the local church. Storms then asks the question: Continue Reading →

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