Archive for the ‘Biblical Studies’ Category

He Made His Brother His Slave

Posted: June 22, 2014 by boydmonster in James

imageAs we enter into our summer series on James, I thought I’d try something new and give some short devotionals on the previous Sunday’s sermon text.  We’ll see if I can keep up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

James 1:1 “James the servant of God and of The Lord Jesus Christ to the Twelve Tribes in the Dispersion.  Greetings.”

Although Paul encourages the young pastor Timothy that “All Scripture is God breathed,” we don’t always act as if that is true when it comes to the introductions and conclusions to the New Testament epistles.  Here James’ words are easy to pass over, but we do so at the peril of losing some precious truth.

We learn from this verse who has written the epistle and to whom he is writing.  However, what looks simple on the surface is more complicated when we look into it.  We know the book is written by James, but which James?  The simple moniker “James, the servant of God and The Lord Jesus Christ” presumes that the original audience would have known who he was.  Most scholars for the past two thousand years have narrowed who this James is down to three people.  James the Just, the brother of Jesus, James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alphaeus.  James the son of Alphaeus we know was martyred early in the church’s history, and so it is unlikely he wrote it.  We know so little of the son of Alphaeus that it is hard to imagine that he would have signed his name without saying that he was the son of Alphaeus just for clarification.  That leaves the brother of our Lord.

But why, then, doesn’t he sign the letter “James, the brother of Jesus?”  I think this says something deep and profound about the character of James as it had been formed under the Gospel.  To be able to claim a real and familial connection to Jesus would have instantly given James credibility before his hearers.  However, James knew what kind of brother he’d been to Jesus (Mark 3:21, John 7:1-5), refusing to believe in Him until after he’d seen Him risen from the dead.  He would not take advantage of what was actually to his shame.

Rather, James has only this to boast in, that He is a slave to Christ.  He has been bought by the blood of Christ.  The Lord Jesus now owns him and has total authority over his life.  This is all of James’ glory, power, and authority.

Do we see ourselves as James did?  Or do we cling to our titles, our boasts, our accomplishments, our connections?  Can we truly say that  we boast in nothing but the cross of Christ?  Then let us find our boast only in this, that Jesus owns us and we live to do His bidding.

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Here’s a snippet:

” The same question arising in verse 1 surfaces here again: Does “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους; v. 4) refer to every person without exception or to every person without distinction? The Reformed have traditionally defended the latter option.5 Sometimes this exegesis is dismissed as special pleading and attributed to Reformed biases. Such a response is too simplistic, for there are good contextual reasons for such a reading. A focus on all people without distinction is supported by verse 7, where Paul emphasizes his apostleship and his ministry to the Gentiles: “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Hence, there are grounds in the context for concluding that “all people” zeros in on people groups, so that Paul is reflecting on his Gentile mission. In Acts 22:15 (NIV), when Paul speaks of being a witness “to all people” (πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους), he clearly does not mean all people without exception; “all” refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles in his mission (Acts 22:21).”

Read the rest at link below :
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/problematictexts.html

And in another letter to Jerome (#82), Augustine writes:

“Of all the books of the world, I believe that only the authors of Holy Scripture were totally free from error, and if I am puzzled by anything in them that seems to me to go against the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either 1) the manuscript is faulty or 2) the translator has not caught sense of what was said or 3) I have failed to understand it for myself.”

Augustine is pretty clear here on his doctrine of Scripture. He understands Scripture as inerrant, but he also recognizes that humans err in 1) manuscript transmission, 2) in translating, or 3) in simply not understanding a passage. I think the way Augustine approaches this is a helpful example for us today. How many times do we counsel people or even find in ourselves a struggle with the difficult things of Scripture and unfortunately rely on human, fallible understanding, and Scripture then loses out. Going all the way back to Augustine’s era, this has clearly been a struggle for centuries.

Read the rest at link below

http://butintheselastdays.com/2013/11/18/inerrancy-the-early-church/

Collosians 4

Posted: November 11, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

HERE AND THERE IN THE New Testament we are suddenly given brief glimpses of arrays of Christian people. Romans 16 provides such a snapshot, and Colossians 4:7–18provides us with another. The men and women briefly introduced lived entire, complex, interlocked lives, of which we know almost nothing. But they are our brothers and sisters in Christ; they faced temptations, overcame challenges, discharged very different tasks, and played out their roles in diverse strata of society. The brief glimpses afforded here fire our imaginations; our fuller curiosity will be satisfied only in heaven.

A few comments may hint at some of the things that may be learned from the information Paul’s letter provides.

(1) Paul kept a team of people working with him. One of their roles was to travel back and forth between wherever Paul was and the churches for which he felt himself responsible. Combining Paul’s letters with Acts, it is often possible to plot some of their constant travels. Here, Paul sends Tychicus to the Colossians with explicit pastoral purposes (Col. 4:7–8).

(2) The “Mark” of Colossians 4:10 is almost certainly John Mark, and the author of the second Gospel. Here he is identified as a relative of Barnabas. This may account, in part, for the dispute between Barnabas and Paul as to whether Mark should be given a second chance after he withdrew from the first missionary expedition (Acts 13:5, 13; 15:37–40). Certainly by the end of Paul’s ministry, Mark had been restored in the apostle’s eyes (2 Tim. 4:11).

(3) Paul’s co-workers often included both Jews and Gentiles (Col. 4:11). It does not take much imagination to recognize the challenges and stresses, as well as the blessings and richness, that this arrangement entailed.

(4) Epaphras emerges as a formidable model. He is “always wrestling in prayer” for the Colossian believers. What he prays, above all, is that they “may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col. 4:12). How the church of Christ needs prayer warriors with similar focus today!

(5) The “Luke” mentioned in Colossians 4:14 is almost certainly the author of Luke and Acts, and a Gentile (since he is in the Gentile part of this list, Col. 4:11ff.). This makes him the only Gentile writer of a New Testament document. Demas is mentioned in the same breath, but he is probably the same one who ultimately deserts the mission and the Gospel (2 Tim. 4:10). Good beginnings do not guarantee good endings.

(6) Churches in the first century did not have their own buildings. Believers regularly met in the homes of their wealthier members. Nympha of Laodicea is one of the wealthy women of a wealthy city, and the church there met in her home (Col. 4:15).

 

 

From D.A. Carson’s blog

Colossians 2

Posted: November 8, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

THE SETTING WAS A Bible study led by a lady in the church where I was serving as pastor. A woman from one of the more popular cults had infiltrated this group, and the lady from our church soon discovered she was a little out of her depth. I was invited along, and soon found myself in a public confrontation with the intruder’s cult “pastor” (though he did not call himself that). One of the things he wanted to deny in strong terms was the deity of Jesus Christ. As we started looking together at biblical references which, on the face of it, say something about the deity of Christ, eventually we came to Colossians 2:9. He wanted to render the verse, rather loosely, something like “in Christ all the attributes of the Deity live in bodily form.”

I asked him which of the attributes of God Jesus does not have. He immediately saw the problem. If he said, “eternality” (which is what he believed), he would be trapped, for his own rendering would contradict him. If he said, “none” (in defiance of his own beliefs), then how can Jesus and God be as sharply distinguished as he proposed?

In any case, Colossians 2:9 is even stronger than his translation allowed: “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Observe:

(1) In this context, the Colossians are exhorted to continue to live in Christ, just as they “received Christ Jesus as Lord” (Col. 2:6)—which as usual bears an overtone of Jesus’ divine identity, since “Lord” was commonly the way one addressed God in the Greek versions of the Old Testament.

(2) Both then and now, there are people who try to ensnare you through a “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition” (Col. 2:8). In virtually every case, the aim of such deceptive philosophies is to reduce or relativize Christ, to redirect attention and allegiance away from him. Not only these verses but much of the letter to the Colossians show that, whoever these heretics are, their attack is against Christ. Paul will not budge: “all the fullness of the Deity” lives in him in bodily form—and you are complete in him, in him you enjoy all the fullness you can possibly know (Col. 2:10). To turn from him for extras is disastrous, for he alone is “the head over every power and authority” (Col. 2:10).

(3) Apparently at least one branch of the Colossian heretics was trying to get the believers to add to Christ a bevy of Jewish rituals. Paul does not budge: he understands that the rites and rituals mandated by the Old Testament constitute “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:17).

 

 

From D.A. Carson’s Blog

Colossians 1

Posted: November 7, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE are together sometimes referred to as the Pauline triad. They occur in Paul’s letters in various combinations. Sometimes only two of the three show up; sometimes all three.

Probably the best known verse with the Pauline triad is 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Here no relationship is expressed among the three. Paul tells us that these three virtues—faith, hope, and love (and this last one he calls “the most excellent way” [1 Cor. 12:31b; see the September 8 meditation] rather than a “gift”)—all “remain”: what he means, I think, is that these all remain into eternity, and therefore should be nurtured and pursued even now. But the greatest of these three, Paul insists, is love. Why this is so, Paul does not tell us. Based on what the New Testament says elsewhere, we might reasonably hold that the reason why love is the greatest is that it is an attribute of God. God does not exercise faith; he does not “hope” in the sense of looking forward to the fulfillment of something that some other brings about. But he does love: indeed, 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love; no text says he is faith or hope. So the greatest of the three is love.

Here in Colossians 1:3–6, however, the relationship among the three elements of the Pauline triad is quite different. Paul thanks God when he prays for the Colossians, he says, “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Col. 1:4–6). This NIV rendering is slightly paraphrastic, but it catches the sense very well. Note:

(1) Paul did not plant the Colossian church. But now that he has come to hear of these believers, he prays for them constantly, with thanksgiving.

(2) What Paul has heard of these Colossian believers is their faith and love, both demonstrable virtues. If you have faith in Jesus, and if you love the saints, neither virtue can be hidden. These virtues were so evident among the Colossians that reports of their faith and love circulated to Paul. Do reports of the faith and love of our churches circulate widely?

(3) Paul says this faith and love “spring from the hope” that is stored up for them (Col. 1:5). Living with eternity in view vitalizes faith and calls forth love.

(4) This hope that has grounded their faith and love has itself been grounded in the Gospel, the word of truth that was preached to them (Col. 1:5–6).

from D.A. Carson’s blog

Eph 6

Posted: November 6, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity

JUST BEFORE THE CLOSING LINES of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he invites his readers to pray for him (Eph. 6:19–20): “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

(1) Elsewhere when Paul provides models for how his converts should pray (e.g., Eph. 3:14–21Phil. 1:9–11), the theme of mission does not arise as powerfully as here. True, Paul elsewhere asks others to pray for him (1 Thess. 5:25), but here he specifies what he wants them to ask for (compare Col. 4:42 Thess. 3:1). He wants to be able to speak the “mystery” of the Gospel fearlessly.

(2) Surely it is encouraging that Paul should feel the need for such prayer. We sometimes place the apostle on such a high pedestal that we forget he was an ordinary mortal faced with the same temptations that confront us. He was very well aware of how easy it is to skew the Gospel, to trim it a little, to get around the bits we think our hearers will find awkward or offensive. So he knew that to preach the Gospel faithfully, he would have to preach it fearlessly. This does not reflect an “in your face” style. It means, rather, that Paul wanted to speak without fearing what his hearers would think or say about him, or what they might do to him, lest he compromise the Gospel he came to announce.

It does not take much imagination to detect ways in which today’s preachers in the Western world stand in need of much prayer in this regard. Suppose you are preaching to university undergraduates at a pagan university, or to bright businesspeople in their 20s and 30s in, say, New York. When you expound Romans, exactly how will you handle homosexuality in chapter 1 and election in chapter 9? How will you talk about hell in the many passages where Jesus himself deploys the most horrific images? How might you be tempted to flinch when you must deal with the sheer exclusiveness of the Gospel or when you talk about money to rich people?

(3) We should not miss the fact that Paul is willing to ask for prayer. Some leaders think they must never admit a weakness, a fear, or a need. They act as if they are above the fray. Not Paul. His request for prayer is not pro forma: he asks for prayer to preach the Gospel fearlessly because he has been preaching long enough, and knows himself well enough, to know the power and danger of preaching for merely popular acclaim. By asking for prayer, he admits his fears, and secures their divine remedy.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s Blog