Who Is the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53?
“The Suffering Servant” is a famous passage from Isaiah 53, which Christians claim is a messianic prophecy about Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus quotes from this passage and suggests it’s about him:
“‘It is written: “And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.’” —Luke 22:37
The gospel writers and other New Testament authors quoted from this passage several times, explaining that Jesus fulfilled the various prophecies contained within it.
But some people claim this passage wasn’t a prophecy at all, and the Suffering Servant is actually the author of Isaiah. Or perhaps it’s the prophet, Jeremiah. Or a specific leper, whom the Babylonian exiles had seen die. In other words, it was…
Did Martin Luther Really Want James Taken Out of the Bible?
Martin Luther, the celebrated catalyst of the Protestant Reformation, famously took issue with the book of James. He didn’t think it expressed the “nature of the Gospel,” it appeared to contradict Paul’s statements about justification by faith, and it didn’t directly mention Christ.
“Therefore St James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.” —Martin Luther
It’s often said that Luther was so opposed to the Book of James that he suggested it didn’t belong in the biblical canon. But while Protestant churches embraced many of Luther’s ideas and teachings, our Bibles clearly still include James today. So is it true? Did the great reformer really believe this important book didn’t belong in the Bible?
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Who Wrote the Book of Acts?
The following post is adapted from Robert H. Gundry’s online course, New Testament Survey.
According to church tradition, Luke wrote the book of Acts. If he did, the book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Evidence within Acts supports authorship by Luke:
Just as his Gospel opens with a dedication to Theophilus, so also does Acts. Vocabulary and style are very similar in the two books. Though it does not prove that he wrote Luke-Acts, frequent use of medical terms agrees with Luke’s being a physician. By his use of “we” in narrating parts of Paul’s journeys, the author of Acts implies that he was a traveling companion of Paul.
Other traveling companions do not fit the data of the text. For example, Timothy and several lesser-known ones are mentioned apart from the “we”…
Why Did the Philippians Send Paul a Gift?
One of the reasons why Paul wrote Philippians was to thank them for supporting his ministry—not just in prayer, but with a financial gift. He specifically mentions their gift towards the end of his letter, in Philippians 4:15–18:
“Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are…
Who Wrote Philippians?
The very first verse in Philippians attributes the letter to the Apostle Paul. Right from the beginning, it says who it’s from and who it’s to:
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons . . .” —Philippians 1:1
The early church accepted that Paul wrote Philippians, and modern Bible scholars have found little if any reason to disagree. Some of the letters traditionally attributed to Paul are questionable, but Philippians is generally believed to be genuine. “Internal evidence” such as the letter’s style, content, and remarks about the author’s circumstances appear to be consistent with what we know about the Apostle Paul.
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What Does the Bible Say about Abortion?
Abortion is a controversial topic. While it’s been settled in the Supreme Court for decades, it remains an actively debated moral issue, packed with difficult questions.
Does a woman have full autonomy over her body, even if another human is dependent on her body?
Is a fetus a person, and therefore entitled to basic human rights?
On either side of the debate, you’ll find people passionately defend the morality of their position. When it comes to determining right from wrong, Christians generally take their cues from the Bible. But what about when the Bible doesn’t specifically address an issue? There’s no “abortion verse” or “fetus verse.” So does the Bible have anything at all to add to the discussion?
In his online course, Moral Choices, Scott Rae lays out his argument that the Bible takes…
The Meaning of Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs”
Like Philippians 4:13, Philippians 4:19 is a popular verse that’s often misused. After thanking the Philippians for generously supporting him, the Apostle Paul writes, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Some have used this passage to suggest that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy, or even more extreme, that he will make us healthy and wealthy if we give our money to a particular cause or person. This is known as the “Prosperity Gospel,” and it’s one of the most dangerous heresies today.
Paul is absolutely not promising that God makes us wealthy or healthy—not in the way that we typically understand those terms. Faithfully giving to the church will not make us financially wealthy or physically healthy.
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The meaning of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength”
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most well-known New Testament verses, but it’s also notoriously misused. After telling his audience that he’s experienced both poverty and affluence, the Apostle Paul writes these well-known words: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Many of us have seen some variation of these words in encouraging notes and cards, in art, on t-shirts, tattooed on people’s bodies, and even scrawled on the shoes of famous athletes or printed on their eye black.
The verse is often shortened to, “I can do all things . . .”
But is that what Paul is really saying here? Is he telling us to believe in ourselves? Or to believe that Christ empowers us to do whatever we set our minds to?
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Why Paul Wrote the Letter to the Philippians
Philippians is a letter about joy. Writing from prison, Paul describes the joys of following Christ and persevering for the gospel, and the secret to being content in any situation. We know from the letter that the Philippians were facing a lot of hardship (and Paul wasn’t exactly living the high life himself).
So why did Paul write this letter? And why did he write it to the Philippians?
Women in the Bible: What We Learn from the Book of Luke
Opponents of Christianity will often suggest that the Bible has a low view of women. It’s a patriarchal book with a patriarchal worldview. In many cases though, Scripture reveals that while that may have been true of ancient Judaism (like many other ancient cultures), God–and Jesus–honored women in profound and meaningful ways.
In his online course, A Theology of Luke and Acts, Darrell L. Bock examines the numerous passages portraying women in the Gospel of Luke. The following post is based on his course.
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For to Us a Child Is Born: The Meaning of Isaiah 9:6
Isaiah 9:6 is a prophecy about a future child who would bear the government on his shoulders and be called by titles that could only rightfully be attributed to God:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This is one of the most well-known Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. But what does it mean?
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Who Was Isaiah?
Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who lived during the eighth century BC. The Book of Isaiah claims to be written by him, and scholars believe he at least wrote part of it.
The first verse of Isaiah gives us a little more context about him.
“The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”…