The Seven Churches of Revelation: Why They Matter and What We Can Learn
The book of Revelation opens with seven letters to seven churches. Each of the seven letters is a prophetic word from Jesus, through the Spirit, who is inspiring John to write.
Who were the recipients of these letters? How were they read and understood in the first century? And what are we to make of them today?
Where were the seven churches located?
Before we look at these letters as a whole, let’s briefly look at the seven cities where the recipients lived.
1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)
A messenger coming from Patmos—where John wrote—would reach Ephesus first, so Ephesus makes sense as the first letter. Ephesus was also a prominent city in the province: more powerful than Pergamum politically, and more favored than Smyrna for the imperial cult.
The letter to Ephesus warns against false teachers and evil in the…
2017 Year in Review: The Most Popular Online Courses
Zondervan Academic Online Courses has become one of the best ways to learn about the Bible online. As we’re reviewing and reflecting on our most popular courses from 2017 and looking ahead to 2018, we thought we’d share some of what we’re learning about what you’re learning.
Here are some of our observations:
1. There is strong interest in the biblical languages.
In this year’s list, languages dominate.
Both Basics of Biblical Greek and Basics of Biblical Hebrew made the top ten list. The 11th most popular course—which didn’t quite make the list—is Dan Wallace’s Greek syntax course. People are not only taking Greek…
What Is the Tabernacle?
During the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert under Moses’ leadership, God was with them. God gave clear instructions to the Israelites for a sanctuary where his spirit could dwell and where people could gather for worship and to offer sacrifices. This sanctuary is called the tabernacle.
Every element in the tabernacle was significant. Even the way that the Exodus narrative embeds the story of Israel’s betrayal of God within the tabernacle narrative is remarkably important to God’s story.
Dr. Gary E. Schnittjer, professor of the Old Testament at Cairn University, discusses the important elements of the tabernacle:
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What Role Does the Holy Spirit Play in Bible Study?
As the supernatural source of Scripture’s inspiration, it would seem that the Holy Spirit would play an important role in how we read and interpret God’s Word.
But how? Can we understand the Bible apart from the Spirit’s influence?
To understand how the Spirit operates when we read and study the Bible, we need to understand the Spirit’s role in its origins.
When we recognize the Spirit’s role in Scripture’s creation, we can begin to see how the Spirit helps us understand and internalize the Word.
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Is the “Trinity” in the Bible?
In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of arguments against Christian theology using the doctrine of the Trinity as a proof.
Critics argue that since the Trinity isn’t overtly mentioned in the Bible, it’s not real.
The greater implication is that Christian theology can’t be trusted if orthodoxy rests on doctrines that aren’t even found in Scripture.
It is always tempting to dispatch the question of whether…
What Does the Old Testament Say about the Trinity?
In the New Testament, Christians are given a new lens through which they see God. He is still the one true God we discover in the Jewish Shema prayer:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”—Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (emphasis added)
But we discover Jesus and the Holy Spirit as distinct persons who are also God. Because of this New Testament revelation, Christian orthodoxy relies on an understanding of God as a Trinity—one living and true God who exists eternally as three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In light of this revelation, can we expect to see traces of the Trinity revealed in the Old Testament as well? Dr. Fred Sanders, Associate Professor of Theology…
Angels in the Bible: What Do We Actually Know About Them?
For centuries, artists have portrayed angels as beautiful humans with wings and glowing light, complete with halos, harps, and flowing white gowns (or perfectly sculpted bodies). But is that really what angels look like? Angels have inspired all sorts of imaginative stories and depictions, but what’s left when we separate fact from fiction? In order to know the truth, we have to ask, what does the Bible say about angels?
Bible Interpretation: 4 Challenges and How to Overcome Them
You probably already know that the Bible was originally written to someone else who:
lived a long time ago, in another part of the world, where they spoke a different language, and had different cultural values.
A word that captures one of the greatest challenges and frustrations in Bible interpretation is distance. There are four aspects to this distance: time, geography, language, and cultural values. Being aware of these is a critical step toward interpreting the Bible correctly.
In this post, adapted from William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation online course, we’ll take a look at each of these.
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The 2016-2017 Zondervan Greek Award Winners
Every year we partner with participating universities and seminaries to honor students who have excelled in the study of biblical Greek.
Join us by congratulating the winners of the Zondervan Greek Award!
Caleb Essick Southwestern Assemblies of God University Michael Wynn New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Isaac Baugh Geneva College Trevor Hanson Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Melanie Brubaker Lee University Andrew Rudd Cedarville University Jonathan Guiltner Williams Baptist College Nathan Johnson Moody Bible Institute Josiah Coder North Central University James Parker Oklahoma Christian University Justin King East Texas Baptist University William Dane Alexander Johnson University Charles Allen Liberty University David Lunceford The Master’s University Zach Thompson Lincoln Christian University Christopher Cornell Grace Bible College Isaiah Thor Toccoa Falls College…
How the Protestant Reformation Started
You probably know at least one thing about Martin Luther: that he nailed the 95 theses to a church door and defied the Roman Catholic Church.
This was Luther’s declaration of independence from Rome.
The truth is, this is historically inaccurate.
Yes, October 31, 1517, would turn out to be the first hint that the Western world was about to be turned upside down. But Luther’s act on October 31, 1517 was not an act of rebellion.
It was, in fact, just the opposite. It was the act of a dutiful son of mother church.
Someone—no one knows who—took the Latin text of Luther’s 95 Theses, translated them into German, and sent them all over Germany. When the German people realized that Luther was standing up against abuses in the church, he became a hero throughout Germany.
The Reformation began.…
Zondervan Academic Titles Now Available for Libraries through EBSCO
Grand Rapids, Mich., July 27, 2017 — Zondervan Academic is pleased to announce that many of its titles are now available for libraries through EBSCO’s GOBI® Library Solutions and EBSCOhost Collection Manager.
“For many years, academic librarians have requested the availability of Zondervan Academic titles from EBSCO,” says Jesse Hillman, Vice President of Marketing, Zondervan Academic. “We are thrilled that our titles will now equip students, librarians, and other users in their research.”
EBSCO is the leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, ebooks and discovery service to libraries of all kinds. For over 70 years they have partnered with libraries to improve research with quality content and technology. EBSCO offers more than a million titles from leading publishers, ensuring that valuable, trusted content can…
eBook Sale: Gregory Koukl’s New Apologetics Release, “The Story of Reality”
“It’s my favorite thing I’ve written yet,” says Greg Koukl, President of Stand to Reason, about his new apologetics book The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between.
You may recognize Koukl as the author of the classic apologetics work Tactics: A Game Plan for Sharing Your Faith. Koukl’s latest work, The Story of Reality released earlier this year, and right now the eBook edition is 60% off.
What people are saying
“Koukl has masterfully captured the heart of the Christian story in a way that is clarifying and insightful for…