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About NIV Application commentaries
NIV Application Commentaries are different because they help you complete the interpretive task. You will understand the Bible’s ancient message, but you will also see how that message speaks with authority and power, today, in your own context.
You’ll grow in your teaching, preaching, study, and personal Bible reading—because the NIV Application Commentaries help you get the full job done.
Biblical Grounds for the Catholic Doctrine of Merit?
Next week Protestants will celebrate the quincentennial anniversary of the Reformation and the rallying cry that emerged from it: Justification by grace through faith alone.
Yet, is there room for merit in God’s economy of salvation? Luther said “No way!” Levering says, “Not so fast!”
In his new book Was the Reformation a Mistake? Catholic theologian Matthew Levering offers some biblical grounds for the Catholic doctrine of merit as it relates to justification. He also clarifies what Catholic doctrine actually teaches:
The Catholic Church recognizes that no one can ever merit the utterly free gift of justification, and the Catholic Church also affirms that believers’ final perseverance unto eternal life is God’s free gift, to which the appropriate response will be gratitude to God…
Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, or Something Else? Roman Catholic vs. Protestant Views of the Lord’s Supper
What is the nature of the Lord’s Supper? How should it be celebrated?
Let’s take a look at the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation. Then, let’s look at three ways Protestants have understood the Lord’s Supper.
The Roman Catholic view is called transubstantiation.
That is when the priest elevates first the wafer and then the chalice of wine mixed with water and rehearses the institutional narrative, the story of the…
How to study the books of James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude
You probably already know that the books of James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude are some of the most read—and mis-read—books of the New Testament. They include passages on dealing with temptation, the holiness of God, and the famous doxology at the end of Jude.
But they also include passages on slaves and masters, wives and husbands, and faith and works—passages that don’t line up with many modern norms, or even other parts of the canon.
What can we learn from these books?
A great deal, it turns out.
The challenge, however, is knowing where to start—or even…
7 Tips for Understanding Revelation
The Book of Revelation is notoriously difficult to understand. Over the centuries, the church has presented countless interpretations and theories about the meaning and significance of this enigmatic work.
Even modern scholars approach Revelation in several different ways.
Whether you find that intimidating or enticing, we need some guardrails to keep us from getting lost in Revelation’s prophecies, metaphors, and apocalyptic imagery. Here are some tips for studying Revelation from Scott Duvall, who, along with J. Daniel Hays, teaches the Biblical Interpretation online course.
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What Are the Gospels, and Why Are There Four of Them?
When people talk about “the gospel,” there’s only one thing they mean: the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the four books of the Bible that record almost everything we know about Jesus. If we want to learn about the things Jesus said and did, we have to turn to these ancient texts, believed to have been written by eyewitnesses or people who spoke with them during the first century.
So why are there four separate versions of the story of Jesus? Or maybe you’re wondering, why are there only four, if he was such an influential figure?
Those are valid questions, but before we can answer them we have to know what constitutes a “gospel” and how they differ from other written works.
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The 3 “Quests” for the Historical Jesus
The gospels give us the most detailed descriptions of Jesus’ life and ministry we have. They’re believed to have been written by eyewitnesses (or at least based on eyewitness accounts), and they all clearly claim that Jesus Christ is the son of God.
If you believe the gospels are historically accurate accounts of the things Jesus said and did, there’s little room for interpretation about who he really was. C.S. Lewis made famous the Lord, liar, lunatic trilemma to explain the challenge of dismissing Jesus’ divinity.
But those aren’t the only three options. The fourth option is much more appealing to skeptics: the gospels are unreliable, non-historical representations of a man known as Jesus.
The quests for the “historical Jesus”
Over the centuries, numerous Bible scholars have suggested that the gospel accounts can’t be trusted. These scholars argue…
Who Wrote the Gospels, and How Do We Know for Sure?
The Bible gives us four accounts of Christ’s life. Each records a unique perspective of the most significant event in history—the crucifixion and resurrection. All four gospels are named after men who lived during or shortly after Christ’s early ministry. Tradition considers these men the authors, but there’s one problem: not one of these books names its author.
The gospels are anonymous—so how do we know who wrote them?
None of the gospels came with an “about the author” section. The closest we get to a claim of authorship is at the very end of the Book of John, where the author implies that the book was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:24 NIV).
Are there other context clues we can use to determine the authors? Can we trust tradition’s assumptions about who wrote the gospels? Did…
Bible Contradictions Explained: 4 Reasons the Gospels “Disagree”
The story of Jesus stands or falls on the trustworthiness of the Gospels. That’s why skeptics pay so much attention to the Gospels’ apparent contradictions. Christianity’s critics cast doubt on the New Testament’s reliability by pointing out disparities in the Gospels. This puts well-meaning—but often unprepared—Christians in a difficult position of trying to reconcile these potential inconsistencies.
So how do we account for the apparent discrepancies in the Gospel accounts? A lot of the problem stems from our expectations. If we expect a level of historical precision that the Gospels didn’t intend to provide, we’re going to run into problems. The truth is that it’s completely normal for ancient (and modern) historical accounts to summarize, paraphrase, omit details, and explain events in a way that highlights their specific points and perspectives.
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What Are the Synoptic Gospels, and Where Do They Come From?
The Bible’s four gospels paint four portraits of Jesus. While each gospel follows him on the same journey, they recount it a little differently. They had their own methods, styles, purposes, audiences, and (probably) sources—making each portrait of Jesus uniquely valuable.
Despite their unique qualities, the first three gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—share many of the same accounts of Christ, often shared in the same order and with the same wording. Because of their similar perspectives on Jesus’ ministry, together they’re known as the synoptic gospels. (The word “synoptic” comes from the Greek word synoptikos, meaning “able to be seen together.”)
While the differences between the gospels can be a challenge for us, these similarities can be problematic, too. The parallel passages between the synoptic gospels have left scholars with pressing questions about their origins. If Matthew, Mark, and Luke…
How Luther discovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone
One of the decisive doctrines to emerge from the Protestant Reformation—and central to Luther’s theology—was the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide).
But when and how did Luther come to his new understanding of this doctrine?
Rather than seeing his theological discovery as a single decisive event, we should view it more as a gradual process.
Let’s take a look.
Luther’s early encounters with Romans and Psalms
Between 1513 and 1516, Luther lectured on the Psalms and Romans. It is clear from these texts that he was beginning to think differently about how the individual sinner finds forgiveness from God.
He retained some of the older traditional concepts alongside his radical new ideas. Only after some years of biblical study under the inspiration of the theology of Augustine did Luther arrive at a more fully formed distinctive…
Who wrote Jude?
The book of Jude itself tells us that it was written by “Jude, slave of Jesus the Anointed One, and brother of James.”
There is a consensus that the “brother of James” identifies the author as the brother of that James who led the community of Jesus-followers in Jerusalem from at least 40 CE until his execution in 62 CE—in other words the same person who wrote the book of James.
But note that neither Jude nor James mentions a family relationship…