The faithful are left with no choice but to love the unlovable
1 John is written at a particularly troubling time for a section of the faithful community. 1 John 2:18 says
“Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour.”
What does this mean the last hour? It does not refer to the shadow of AD70, that event had gone. Clearly it is not the return of Jesus since we are now 1930 odd years on from this epistle. What does it mean? Simply – and more concerningly – it means John’s readers face an existential threat. Continue reading “Implementing Principles under pressure – 1 John”
Use and abuse in the gospels
Love is one of the central themes of the holy scriptures. The glorious hope of everlasting life that we share is a gift from our Heavenly Father, whose love was the prime motivation in sacrificing His Son for us (John 3:16). A recognition of this fact naturally leads us to demonstrate love to one another. The Apostle John says as much in his First Epistle:
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11)
Many of us have a passing familiarity with two of the common Greek words behind our English term “love” in the New Testament: agapaō and phileō. Common wisdom is that two different kinds of love are intended whenever these words appear: Continue reading “Agapaō and phileō”
Who’s who and what’s what in God’s courtroom
After all the horrors they’ve been subjected to over the centuries it’s remarkable that the Jews people remain a distinct group of people. Many Christians point to the existence of the Jews as evidence that God exists and keeps the promises he’s made for very good reasons.
However, in our enthusiasm for the idea that the Jewish people are evidence God exists we sometimes read the concept into passages which are about something else altogether. Continue reading “You are my witnesses”
Why Biblical imagery must often deviate from physical reality
Perhaps the most famous Christian allegory comes, not from the pages of the Bible, but rather from the pen of John Bunyan in 1678. His work, “The Pilgrims Progress”, describes in vivid detail a long journey taken by a man named ‘Christian’ from the ‘City of Destruction’ to the ‘Celestial City’. This text illustrates many Christian concepts, and teaches many spiritual lessons. It has captivated readers for generations around the globe.
But for many believers, the concept of allegory remains obscure. It is accepted as legitimate, in theory, but in practice it is not well understood or defined. It would seem on the surface to be an elusive catch phrase for any type of spiritual symbolism we would like to superimpose upon any particular Biblical text. The fact is that alleged allegories are often arbitrary and speculative, and for no good reason. There exists an almost limitless number of ways in which one might claim allegorical meaning from any passage.
It turns out there is only one explicit instance of the word ‘allegory’ in the whole Bible. In Galatians 4, Paul uses it to describe his spiritual exposition of Abraham’s two wives and two sons. This certainly does not preclude the existence of other allegories elsewhere, but it does provide us with a clear test case for the genre. And since Paul leans on Isaiah to make his point, we should do the same. Continue reading “A Case Study In Allegory”
When reality and fundamentalism collide
A recent magazine editorial began by giving well deserved criticism of a woeful article in the Telegraph. It then turned to focus on “disturbing trends within the brotherhood which indicate a material shift in attitudes towards the Bible,” specifically, claiming that some think the “biblical record is not historically accurate.”
The editorial concluded that “this approach seriously compromises the Christadelphian position on the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture, and we need to be alert to the implications, individually and ecclesially.” Sounds serious… Continue reading ““The Bible Proves Archaeology True”?!”
A challenge to God on his absence in time of need
You wouldn’t think a psalm on God not answering prayer and leaving people suffer could be positive but the gritty reality presented in Psalm 44 is encouraging in an alternative kind of way. Continue reading “Psalm 44 – when God is silent”
Recognising God’s care, provision and power
Psalm 147 doesn’t get the same airtime as the more well known psalms, e.g. 1, 22, 23, 51, and 110, and yet there is much that we can learn from it that is of value today. In this post we’ll work through the psalm looking at its history, structure, and teaching. Continue reading “Exploring Psalm 147”
Before his untimely death Herod Agrippa I had been quite smart in his dealings with both Rome and with the Jews. He’d prevented a rerun of the Jewish Revolt by talking Emperor Caligula out of setting up a statue to himself in the Temple at Jerusalem, and he also followed Jewish custom to the point that Josephus records:
…he loved to live continually at Jerusalem, and was exactly careful in the observance of the laws of his country. He therefore kept himself entirely pure: nor did any day pass over his head without its appointed sacrifice.
He knew his audience and played them well. Continue reading “On being eaten by worms”
The Jewish background to an odd passage
One of Paul’s more unusual uses of the Old Testament is found in his warning to the believers in Corinth not to fall into the same complacency as some of the Israelites had on the Exodus. Continue reading “The rock that followed them”
We always try to use the best tools for our regular day work, we should do the same in our Bible study
Today we have a wealth of modern lexical tools available to us. Yet so many people ignore all this, and use Gesenius, or Strong’s, or Young’s, or Vine’s, tools which are massively out of date, sometimes wildly inaccurate, and theologically biased.
Here’s just one example. Let’s look at the Hebrew word ‘sheol’ (grave), typically rendered ‘hell’ by the KJV (one of many reasons why it’s such a bad translation). Continue reading “The value of modern lexicons & dictionaries for Bible study”