Angels in the Bible: What Do We Actually Know About Them?
Did Jesus Really Descend into Hell?
The Seven Churches of Revelation: Why They Matter and What We Can Learn
Do You Know These 7 Differences Between the Bible and Quran?
What Is the Soul? Is It Different from the Spirit?
Who Wrote Ecclesiastes and What Does It Mean?
7 Places We Find Jesus in the Old Testament
Why Are Jesus’ Genealogies in Matthew and Luke Different?
Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?
Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?
How Are We to Live Out the Bible Today? An Excerpt from The Blue Parakeet, 2nd edition by Scot McKnight
Throughout this process of conversion and reading the Bible, I made discoveries that created a question that disturbed me and still does. Many of my fine Christian friends, pastors, and teachers routinely made the claim that they were Bible-believing Christians, and they were committed to the whole Bible and that — and this was one of the favorite lines — “God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me!” They were saying two things and I add my response (which expresses my disturbance):
One: We believe everything the Bible says, therefore . . . Two: We practice whatever the Bible says. Three: Hogwash!
In today’s excerpt from the second edition of The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, Scot McKnight tells the story of how as a student he began to see that Christians read…
What Makes a Translation Accurate? (Phil 2:13) – Mondays with Mounce 234
I saw a chart the other day that mapped out how “accurate” different translations are. Unfortunately, based on the translations that were deemed “accurate,” you could see that the author had a defective view of what “accurate” means.
The old adage is that you measure what you value. If you value the replication of words, then the most formal equivalent translations will win.
I am only somewhat amused at the marketing of the Bible that champions what they call “optimal equivalence,” and surprise, surprise, they are the most optimally equivalent translation. The problem with their marketing is that I know the programmer who did the math, and his work is based on a
Does John 3:16 Say “Whoever”? – Mondays with Mounce 323
I have received several questions about the use of “whoever” in the translation of John 3:16, so I thought it would be good to clarify at least one thing.
Correct, the indefinite relative pronoun ὅστις does not occur in John 3:16, but language is not so monolithic that there is only one way to say something. In fact, whenever a commentary argues that if the author had meant to say one thing, he would have said it “this way,” you should be suspicious. That’s a naïve approach to language.
However, we do have an indefinite construction in John 3:16 with the use of πᾶς and an articular imperfective participle (πᾶς ἡ πιστευών) used to indicate a generic, “general utterance” (see Wallace, 615f.). Just do a search for that construction and you…
Aorists and Imperfects (John 3:22) – Mondays with Mounce 322
Greek scholarship is doing a better job these days at reading larger units of text and looking for more macro patterns rather than just looking at individual words or phrases.
One of the patterns that has emerged in reading historical narrative material is that the aorist is the default tense, used to begin the narrative. Then, the imperfect is inserted in appropriate places to move the story along. This means that there is something explicitly significant about the tense change, and that emphasis should (I think) be explicit in translations.
“After this, Jesus and his disciples went (ἦλθεν) to the Judean countryside, where he spent (διέτριβεν) time with them and baptized (ἐβάπτιζεν)” (CSB, see also NIV). The narrative begins with an aorist and is followed by two…
The Curse of Paragraphs (John 1:7) – Mondays with Mounce 321
One of the functions of the article ὁ is anaphoric. It points back to a previous reference. A simple but clear example is in John 1:7.
John introduces the topic of Jesus being light in v 4. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (NIV). It occurs again in vv 5 and 7–9. The problem is that most translations start a new paragraph at v 6 when John is introduced. Thankfully, there generally is not a heading here, just a new paragraph.
Here is the problem. In this…
What Is Systematic Theology?
As Dr. Wayne Grudem explains it, “systematic theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.”
This highly organized, topical approach to exploring Scripture is so important that most seminaries require at least one systematic theology course in their degree programs (sometimes called “doctrines” courses). Many of these courses utilize Grudem’s work.
We’ve adapted this post from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology online course to help answer the question “what is systematic theology, and why should I care?”
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11 Things to Know about the Doctrine of the Trinity
To contemplate the Trinity is to lift up your heart and to “set your mind on the things above” (Col. 3:2).
It’s easy to turn doctrinal discussions into strictly intellectual affairs, but as Dr. Fred Sanders teaches in The Triune God course, we need to do so “in a way that enlists the reader’s strict and holy attention for what is essentially a spiritual exercise.”
Any discussion of trinitarian doctrine is an attempt to more deeply understand the character and nature of God.
If we’re interested in discovering (and maintaining) an orthodox understanding of the Trinity, there are some principles we need to understand.
These 11 things you need to know about the doctrine of the Trinity are adapted from his course:
1. The revelation of the Trinity comes with the revelation of the gospel.
The doctrine of the…
How Did We Get the Old Testament?
The Old Testament is thousands of years old, and contains accounts stretching back to the beginning of time. This ancient collection of books provides the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.
So where did it come from? How did these age-old traditions, stories, and commandments make their way to modern times? These are important questions.
John Walton and Andrew Hill answer these questions in their Old Testament Survey online course. The following post is adapted from their unit on the background, history, archaeology, and formation of the Old Testament.
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Guide to the Attributes of God
Between the things God says and does, what other people say about him, and the life of Jesus, the Bible gives us numerous descriptions of God’s character. These passages are often sorted into “attributes of God,” a biblical framework we can use to talk about what God is like and how we know that. Exploring the attributes of God helps us prepare for evangelism, learn church doctrine, and most importantly, understand who God is.
There are several different methods for categorizing God’s attributes. This post will use the most common classification system, adapted from Wayne Grudem’s online systematic theology course.
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What Is the Soul? Is It Different from the Spirit?
Religious or not, most people believe they have some form of a soul. Whether they loosely believe in a concept like “the human spirit,” or they believe part of them will live on when their body expires, these beliefs about body, spirit, and soul all come from somewhere. You might be surprised to learn that much of what people believe about the soul or spirit doesn’t come from the Bible.
The Bible doesn’t neatly define the concepts of spirit and soul for us, so in order to know what it’s saying, we need to piece together all the clues it gives us. In his online systematic theology course, Dr. Wayne Grudem has done just that to reveal how the Bible answers, “What is the soul?” and “What is the spirit?”
The following post is adapted from Grudem’s course.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: How Is One God Three Persons?
If you ask the average Christian to define the Trinity, more often than not they’re going to give you a similar response: “The Trinity is one God in three persons.” While there will likely be some slight variations in how it’s stated, two words will almost always be present: “God” and “persons.”
It’s easy to understand why “God” would be part of every definition. The whole Trinitarian discussion revolves around what we can know and understand about God. When we discuss the Trinity, we’re discussing God.
But did you ever stop to wonder why “persons” is the accepted term for the distinctions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not three “manifestations,” “modes,” or “beings?” The truth is that the term “person” wasn’t landed on haphazardly. Theologians have labored throughout church history to accurately define the Trinity.
9 Ways Suicide Affects Others
Memoir is, by nature, truth-telling. In his new moving memoir Even in Our Darkness, Jack Deer tells the truth about one of the most painful themes repeated throughout his life: suicide.
On January 21, 1961, Dad woke to an empty house, poured whiskey in his coffee, swallowed some barbiturates, and scribbled an angry note.
Sometime before noon, he walked over to the record player in front of the two windows in our living room. He put on Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date,” setting the turntable to repeat. Then he sat down on the red sofa with gold embroidery and picked up his childhood rifle. He shoved one .22-caliber shell into the chamber, pressed the muzzle between his eyes, and left a thirty-four-year-old widow with a tenth-grade education…