Free Grace? – An Excerpt from Faith Alone
Many have a hard time reconciling the words of Paul with the words of James on faith and works. Does “faith without deeds is useless” discount “faith alone”? In this excerpt from Faith Alone, Thomas Schreiner explores both, bringing the two into tension. Consider this excerpt from the first book in the “5 Solas Series.”
When some hear the Reformation cry of sola fide — “Faith alone!” — they assume that it means that good works are an optional part of the Christian life or that they play no role at all in our final justification or salvation. Such a perspective radically misunderstands the NT witness, while also distorting the historical and biblical meaning of sola fide. The NT…
Teach Students the Heart of the Christian Life Using this Resource
David Olshine has designed his new teaching resource James, 1-2 Peter, & 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study.
Of James’ important lesson, Olshine says, “We don’t do good deeds to become more Christ-like; we do good deeds because we are Christ-like.” (9) He explains that Peter wrote his letters “to empower and encourage the people of God to keep growing in their faith no matter how tough the times they were living in.” (63) Finally, John and his letters: “John was writing to Jesus people everywhere to understand the simple truth of Christian faith: love God and people.” (117)
To show how much this resources will benefit your youth workers—and students—I’ve selected one example lesson from James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3…
The Ideal Resource to Help Youth Workers Teach James, Peter, and John
The series gives volunteer leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge their students to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides them with creative and engaging Bible study questions.
The second of two books recently released in the series is “James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John.” Without skimping on depth and substance, author David Olshine has designed this resource for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Olshine has also constructed down-to-earth questions that get kids into the…
What Are the Common Themes and Issues in the Catholic Epistles? — An Excerpt from “A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude”
In his new book A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (Biblical Theology of the New Testament), Peter H. Davids says “While at first blush it looks as if there are few common themes and issues in these works, a closer look identifies a number of them.” (23)
In the introduction to his volume Davids identifies eight specific themes and issues common to James, Peter, and Jude:
Shared Greco-Roman background; Common theology; Christology; View of the source of sin; Eschatology; Carry an implied authorship; Pseudonymous works; Similar ecclesiological stances;
In the excerpt below we’ve highlighted three of these shared themes to give you a taste of the scope of Davids’s work. Be sure to add his incisive resource to your collection today to enhance your teaching and preaching ministry.
While at first blush it…
How Have James, Peter, and Jude Contributed to the Canon?
Peter H. Davids believes the so-called “Catholic Epistles” deserve “a good hearing,” because their theological voices have often been neglected at the expense of Paul or John.
That’s what he aims for in his new book A Theology of James, Peter, and Jude (Biblical Theology of the New Testament).
Davids emphasizes that though these four voices are minor in size, “[they] were of great importance during the first century…and they must be allowed to balance and nuance the louder voices found in the present configuration.” (21)
To give you a small taste of this excellent resource, I want to highlight and engage the common section found in each of the books called “Canonical Contribution.” Doing so will not only provide you a goodly glimpse into how Davids engages his subject, it’s also informing and insightful!
New Releases Today—Studies on the Go for Youth Workers
A new series for youth workers and small group leaders launched today, Studies on the Go, with two new volumes.
The purpose of the series is to give small group leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge people to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides small group leaders with creative and engaging Bible study questions. Here’s a quick overview:
1) JAMES, 1-2 PETER, and 1-3 JOHN
Without skimping on depth and substance, author David Olshine has designed James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Olshine has also constructed down-to-earth questions that get kids into the text and so they can hear God’s Word on a practical level. Author David Olshine is a…
Craig Blomberg: “Not Many of You Should Become Teachers?”
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 TNIV).
An old line I first heard in a college education class claims that if a person can’t do anything else, at least they can teach. And if they don’t have any specific subject they can teach, they can at least teach teachers! Growing up in a family of public school teachers, I knew that to be profoundly untrue, but it obviously reflected one segment of our culture’s perception of the teaching field, perhaps fueled by personal experiences with bad teachers.
Top Seven Scholarly Books (Not Commentaries) on James* by Craig L. Blomberg
*So Far This Decade!
Commentaries on biblical books usually get a lot more attention than other works, especially more scholarly ones. Having just finished co-authoring James in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, it is interesting to think back and reflect on the best of the English-language book-length "non-commentaries" that we encountered. Since seven is the number for completeness throughout the Bible, it sounds like a good number for this blog post, too. But let’s make it fun and go in reverse order, like David Letterman in his top tens!
Number 7 on my list is Luke L. Cheung, The Genre, Composition and Hermeneutics of James (Carlisle, UK and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003). It is the best and most thorough of a growing set of studies arguing for the theme of perfection, wholeheartedness or single-mindedness as the central theme of the letter. Cheung also makes helpful observations about the outline of the book and its background in Wisdom literature.
James 5 (Commentary and Discussion with Craig L. Blomberg
Over a period of five weeks, we've asked Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell to blog through the book of James. Their commentary, the first in the ZECNT series, will release at the ETS and SBL annual meetings, beginning Nov. 19. This concluding post, written by Craig, looks at James 5.
The tumor had appeared clearly in the pictures the doctor took of Jane’s abdomen. It looked cancerous, but of course there would have to be a biopsy. The procedure was scheduled for the next Monday morning. Jane was distraught by the news but not shocked. Depending on which way she pushed on her body, she thought in the last couple of weeks that she could feel a lump. Of course, she was hoping it…
James 4—Insights on Business under God (Commentary and Discussion with Mariam Kamell)
Over a period of five weeks, we've asked Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell to blog through the book of James. Their commentary, the first in the ZECNT series, will release at the ETS and SBL annual meetings, beginning Nov. 19. This fourth post, written by Mariam, looks at James 4.
My father was a Coptic Egyptian who immigrated to the US when he was 14. Sadly, he didn’t teach his kids any Arabic beyond a few simple phrases, but one that I heard repeatedly growing up any time my father mentioned plans for the future – whether financial or fun – was in’sha’ala: "if the Lord wills." It always intrigued me that I could pick that phrase out at regular intervals when he spoke to his relatives. Not one of them planned for the future without recognizing that God could change their plans at any time.
James seeks to cultivate this awareness of God in 4:13-17.
Commentary and Discussion with Mariam Kamell
Over a period of five weeks, we've asked Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell to blog through the book of James. Their commentary, the first in the ZECNT series, will release at the ETS and SBL annual meetings, beginning Nov. 19. This second post by Mariam looks at James 2.
"Did not God choose the poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those loving him?" (2:5)
"For whoever keeps the whole law, but stumbles in one, has become answerable for the whole." (2:10)
"For judgment is merciless to the one not showing mercy. [But] mercy triumphs over judgment." (2:13)
"Do you believe that God is one? You do well; even the demons believe and tremble!" (2:19)
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works, having offered up his son Isaac on the altar?" (2:21)
"You see therefore that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." (2:24)
"For just as the body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (2:26)
James 2 is possibly one of the most theologically charged chapters of the New Testament. This chapter caused Martin Luther to describe the epistle as a "good book" but not the work of an apostle because James "contradicts Paul" and "ascribes justification to works." Some verses, particularly in the first half of the chapter, have been used to support the idea of a "preferential option for the poor."
Commentary and Discussion with Craig Blomberg
Over the next five weeks, Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell will be blogging through the book of James. Their commentary, the first in the ZECNT series, will release at the ETS and SBL annual meetings, beginning Nov. 19. This first post by Craig looks at James 1:5-7.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-7).
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormonism, describes in his autobiography that it was this passage that led him as a teenager to ask God which Christian denomination he should join. He claims that he received the answer, “none of them,” but was instructed to await further divine revelation. The “prosperity gospel” regularly appeals to this text to support its “name it and claim it” approach to prayer, especially in the areas of health and wealth. What about all of those who don’t receive what they ask for in prayer? The text of James gives them the debilitating reply: “you just didn’t have enough faith.” The average Christian intuitively recognizes that these applications of the passage are probably wrong, though he or she might not always be able to explain conclusively why. But many believers count on these promises for “routine” prayer. Yet they are troubled because it can sound like James is requiring them to know in advance how God will answer their prayers if they are to have sufficient faith, without doubting. What exactly is James teaching here?
To begin with, it is important to note that James is talking about asking for wisdom. Not health, not wealth, not even a job or a spouse or a car or a child or any other specific “thing” we might wish we had. He promises to give us wisdom, to guide us, to help us apply the large body of truth in his revealed word to our current circumstances.
What then is the doubt that we are to avoid?