Book Review: Biblical Eschatology, 2nd ed. (Jonathan Menn)

 

 

 

For what it may be worth, I list the five main things I did in the second edition on Amazon in a note From the Author. Re.

Subject Index

  • is tighter and more user-friendly, eliminating a lot of extraneous entries,
  • most importantly, it begins with a list of the 40 tables/diagrams/outlines that the book contains (that was not in the index before).
  • the writing has been tightened throughout

Chapter 4

  • a couple more bullets on p.38,
  • the table on pp. 39-40 has been expanded somewhat,
  • the entire 3-page section on the quantitative difference between the two ages, beginning at the bottom of p.40, is new.

Chapter 5

  • pp.55-57 are essentially new.

Chapter 8

  • the section on New Creation Millennialism (pp.93-95) is new,
  • the discussion of postmillennialism has been augmented and includes more and better postmillennial citations as has the discussion and critique of preterism (in the first edition I didn’t quote or cite Don Preston, a leading “full preterism” proponent–now I do quite a bit).

Appendix 2

  • I reordered, augmented, and strengthened the section on the “two resurrections” from p.374 to the top of p. 386.

Minor addition,

  • Chapter 12, the chapter which deals essentially with “What difference does it make?” I think that chapter is important because most people don’t think eschatology is relevant for practical life, but I think I have shown that, historically and logically, it has made a big difference and can lead to an integrated, coherent theology and life.

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Spoiledmilks.com

I apologize for any confusion with the websites lately. The URL to this website is Spoiledmilks.wordpress.com. I created a new one called Spoiledmilks.com, and had all of my information transferred to that site. Originally I set this site to private, but some links are still set to the old site. Once I discovered that I thought I should open this site back up and explain that I have moved to a new site, and I’m trying to fix all of the links and put things in proper order.

If you are following this website, please instead subscribe to Spoiledmilks.com. There’s been a decrease in my followers since moving to that site, and I’m not really sure why, though the logistical confusion may have thrown a wrench into the system.

Spoiledmilks.com

 

Two Years Later

Spring 2017

It’s been almost two years since I last wrote a “life” post. After last year’s March furnace fires, things quieted down… briefly. After the fire Mari and I moved into the on-campus missionary housing at SBTS and finished up our semester there. At the end of that my parents came up to help us move everything into a friend’s garage. We surprised my parents with the good news they’d been waiting for: Mari was pregnant.

They were, of course, ecstatic, and there was, of course, a catch: after we heading back to Norway for the summer, I would return alone to Louisville in the fall while Mari would work in Norway to get maternity leave. Because I need a Master’s degree in theology to get a visa to do any theological work in Norway, I couldn’t even intern at our church in Norway. Getting a master’s degree, then, was top priority for me, and I would have until the end of 2019 (when Mari will finish).

Who would want to give a visa to that guy?

Summer 2017

Mari and I had a good summer in between. We drove around Jotunheimen National Park where Norway’s tallest mountain stands.

 

 

This is the Knight’s Leap next to Ridderspranget, a current in the river Sjoa.      I didn’t try to jump it.

Fall and Winter 2017-18

In the fall, my parents helped me move into my new efficiency apartment, just big enough for one person, and I smashed five classes together. I came back to Norway for the winter break to my wonderful, very pregnant wife. Now, our son was “supposed” to be born on January 3rd. That being so, our plan was that I would head back to KY on the 19th, and Mari and Micah would visit sometime later that semester. But then Micah didn’t come on the 3rd, but on Sunday the 14th. My plan changed the instant he was born. How could I leave on Friday?

After emailing Southern and making numerous class changes, I was able to stay in Norway for another month and help Mari take care of our newborn baby boy, Micah Jonathan Robinson. It was the best sleep deprivation I’ve ever had trying to figure out our little boy. When I had to head back to KY, I was then leaving two loves. Thankfully, I only needed to wait five weeks to see them again.

Spring and Summer 2018

I crammed all of my Systematic II and III work into those five weeks and then relished the six weeks I spent with Mari and Micah when they visited. We drove all over to see friends and family, but unfortunately we could not fit everyone in (always the problem).

M&M flew back to Norway. I packed up our apartment, and two weeks later I followed. Mari had had two online classes with Southern this past summer while I spent time looking after Micah and tried to let Mari do her schoolwork. We went through Philippians with our church’s youth group on Wednesday evenings, and I was able to teach a Bible study through the book of Colossians for three weeks at our church in July, which was good fun. This semester I am taking three classes (a light, easy load), and Mari had an online class. Micah sleeps well and is a now-crawling, cute, happy, patient ten-month-old who likes to laugh.

Winter 2018

Visa issues still abound (for now). Mari is not yet an on-campus student, so she is only “visiting” (and is thus on a visitor’s visa). Thus she can only be here for 90 days. 90 days in-90 days out, that’s how those visas work. I was in Norway for 90 days in the summer. All that to say, Mari has to leave the country by Nov. 11, and I can’t enter Norway until Nov. 21. What will we do in the meantime? Go to one of our dearest, favorite places on earth: York, England.

We’ll spend the winter in Norway, and when we return to KY Mari will be a student again and I will be working at home and watching a one-year-old trying to figure out our future. We’ll see how that goes.

A Scholar’s Devotion with Douglas Stuart

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Douglas Stuart if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

Your questions would require much longer answers than I have time to give, but I will make one brief comment: I see no warrant in the Bible for what people call “devotions” being more devotional than anything else we do for the Lord. Writing, class prep, etc. should and can be undertaken just as devotionally as so-called “devotions,” with prayer and dedication to God’s purposes. The distinction, in other words, is artificial.

Dr. Douglas Stuart is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Thank you, Dr. Stuart!
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Previous Posts

A Scholar’s Devotion with Jim Hamilton

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Jim Hamilton if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

I pray through our church directory and the Valley of Vision. I seek to memorize and meditate on Scripture.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

Bible. Prayer. People. Meditation on Scripture.


Dr. Jim Hamilton is the Professor of Biblical Theology at the The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thank you, Dr. Hamilton!
Twitter: @DrJimHamilton
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Previous Posts

A Scholar’s Devotion with Jason DeRouchie

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Jason DeRouchie if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

My morning quiet time with the Lord is fuel for my day. I have grown to see that only when I am filled with the Spirit through the Word can I be sure that when I am shaken, the Spirit will pour forth.

Following the Kingdom Bible Reading Plan and using my ESV with the Hebrew and Greek texts near by, I usually start my Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday by reading three-four chapters from the Bible (one from the Law, Prophets, Writings, and New Testament, respectively). I seek to be prayerful, and my quest is to see and savor more of God in Christ. When I have fresh insights or raise questions that need answers, I add them into an Evernote journal or place them directly into my seminary Old Testament Background and Message notes. This journey through Scripture is more reading for distance than for depth. At times (usually once per month), I will pause on these days to dig deeply into a passage that I will be preaching/teaching to my Sunday School class over the next several weeks. When I do this, I will use my Hebrew text to track the author’s flow-of-thought (phrasing and arcing using www.biblearc.com) and then establish a message-driven, exegetical outline that is faithful to the whole. After a day or two of digging deeper for gold in this way, I will usually go back to raking the surface, saving my more developed weekend preparation for early Sunday morning. Wednesdays I usually teach early, and I use that my morning time to ready my heart and head for whatever I am sharing that day.

Along with regular Bible reading, I use Todoist to guide a lot of my prayers. I pray daily for family members, friends, leaders, institutions, and global missionaries, and my calendar allows me to intentionally rotate through them all at least once per month. Often I do this praying in my journey to and from the gym or during my 30 minute commute to work at Bethlehem.

Finally, I sustain a semi-frequent pattern of Bible memory, usually switching between shorter portions (single paragraphs or chapters) and more extended portions (four chapters). I then review while driving. I have found that anything greater than four chapters is difficult for me to memorize and practice faithfully, so this has been my memorization cap. To memorize I follow this pattern: (1) Recite yesterday’s added material 10x; recite today’s new material 10x; (3) review all material including the new material 1x; (4) progress ahead until all is memorized and I have generally recited the complete amount every day for a 100 days. This pattern seems to help me retain memorized passages fairly well, and then I review them periodically.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

I know that I will find the Lord most when I seek him (Prov 8:17; Jer 29:13; Matt 7:7) and that I will be filled with the Spirit of Christ most when I am matching prayer and hearing the Word with faith, most especially in the context of community (Gal 3:2, 5; Eph 5:15–21; Col 3:16–17). I also know that my heart will be wherever my treasure is (Matt 6:21). As such, I seek to deepen my love for Christ (1) through prayerful asking for more of his presence and for greater dependence, love, wisdom, and protection; (2) through repetitive time in the Word with expressed desire to see and savor more of Christ, and (3) through regular corporate worship where I am both participant and leader and where I consciously express my hope to see and savor Jesus. My wife and I have also sought to lead our family to increasingly treasure the divine Son as the center of the universe––the one by whom, through whom, and for whom are all things (Col 1:16), whether coffee or cancer, ice cream or ice storms, rising or falling, laughing or crying. This pattern of repetitive pointing and noticing and verbalizing both the supremacy and value of Christ (Deut 6:4–7) helps nurture deeper love for him in this man, husband, father, pastor, professor, and scholar.


Dr. Jason DeRouchie is Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Bethlehem College & Seminary and is an elder at Bethlehem Baptist ChurchHe has written How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About, A Modern Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, and he blogs here

Thank you, Dr. DeRouchie!

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A Scholar’s Devotion with Darrell Bock

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Darrell Bock if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

I do not separate my devotional time from my study. My goal is always to try and hear the Lord as I work with Scripture. This is because a devotional versus study switch can teach us not to do this. I also find some of the best things I have to preach are what he teaches me in my own experience. So whenever we study Scripture we are expectant to hear the Lord’s voice.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

By seeking to grow each day. There often are things God has me working on as I study in terms of my life. I try to pay attention to those things and work on them.


Dr. Darrell Bock is Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bock has written commentaries on Luke (here and here) and Acts, along with A Theology of Luke and Acts, Jesus According to Scripture, The Missing Gospels, Progressive Dispensationalism, and Blasphemy and Exaltation in Jerusalem

Thank you, Dr. Bock!
Twitter: @DBockDTS
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A Scholar’s Devotion with Michael Bird

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Michael Bird if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

I use the Australian Prayer Book in my morning devotions, reading Greek NT in the morning, and OT in English in the evenings. Sometimes I read devotionals from everyone from Karl Barth to D.A. Carson.
Thank you, Dr. Bird!
Twitter: @mbird12
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A Scholar’s Devotion with Nicholas Perrin

Going through Bible college and seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Nicholas Perrin if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

I have a standard morning routine, which culminates in an hour dedicated to the word and prayer, with roughly 30 minutes dedicated to both. (Yes, I use the timer on my iPhone.) For the Word, I take my cues from a lectionary, meditating slowly and reflectively on the psalm for the day. I usually work in a translation other than English (German, Italian, or MT Hebrew) to keep it fresh and new for me. After that I pray for my family, close associates, upcoming events, and issues. I see this as a springboard for prayer throughout the day.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

I’m not sure how to answer this apart from the spiritual devotions, including the discipline of fellowship. For me, love for Christ equals obedience. I am most likely to obedient when I am in close contact with one or two men with whom I can be myself – hopes, dreams, warts, etc. I know – if the studies are correct – that most men at my stage of life don’t have this; I don’t know how they make it.


Dr. Nicholas Perrin is the Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College. Perrin has written Jesus the Temple, Lost in Translation, has contributed to Jesus, Paul and the People of Godand is soon releasing Jesus the Priest and The Kingdom of God

Thank you, Dr. Perrin!
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Book Review: Romans, 2nd ed. (BECNT), Tom Schreiner

Tom Schreiner Romans second edition book review

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

The Baker Exegetical Commentary series aims to be both readable while paying careful attention to important Greek exegetical matters. Each volume is written with pastors and teachers in mind so they can teach God’s uniquely inspired word. Tom Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of NT Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology (1997) and the Associate Dean of the School of Theology at SBTS. Schreiner has been a NT and Pauline scholar for almost 40 years now. His first volume was published in 1998, and has been a massive help for many who have studied, taught, and preached through Romans.

Schreiner’s commentary is attuned to understanding Paul’s flow of thought, which is very important to understand anything Paul says in any of his letters. No verse is an island, and each reflects an aspect of Paul’s theology throughout the full letter. Twenty years later, Schreiner has reworked his commentary, changing his mind on a few bigger issues and on numerous smaller issues. 

Key Issues

As stated above, Schreiner has changed his view on a few key issues.

  • Romans 1.16-17, formerly he understood God’s righteousness as being both transformative and forensic; now he understands it as purely forensic.
  • Romans 2.14–16: The “doers of the law” are Christian Gentiles who fulfill the law by having the Spirit (Rom 8.5).
  • Romans 5.12: Romans 5.12-19 supports original sin and original death, but “it is established on different grounds than those defended by Augustine” (278). Rather than all people sinning because they enter the world spiritually dead (Romans 1.0), Schreiner understands the second half of Romans 5.12 to mean that all people die because they sin “individually and personally” (282). They sin and die because of Adam’s sin and their own. 
  • Romans 7.7–21: Schreiner previously interpreted this passage as the Christian Paul looking back at his pre-Christian experience, then, after being convinced by Will Timmins’ interpretation, he now understands Paul to be speaking about the Christian’s experience.

Smaller Interpretations

But, besides these, Schreiner has changed his interpretations on much smaller points too. In Romans 6.5, he once took ἐσόμεθα as a genuine (or “predictive”) future (“we shall be united in the likeness of his resurrection”), but now takes it as a logical future (“we are united in the likeness of his resurrection”). The first sees Paul telling the Roman believers to live holy lives because they have been and shall be united with Christ in his resurrection life. The latter understands Paul’s command to be based in the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection presently affects our lives. Schreiner says, “Those who are baptized (i.e., converted) experience the impact of christ’s death and resurrection in their present existence” (314). Ultimately, Schreiner’s argument in both commentaries revolves around the now-and-not-yet concept of God’s salvation, but this new edition bears the fruit of twenty years of thinking on Paul.

More briefly, in his first edition Schreiner understood “law” in Romans 7.21 and 23 to refer to the Mosaic law (376), but he now understands it to mean something akin to “principle” (375).

Revamped and Reworked

Bibliography

Being written twenty years later means that Schreiner’s bibliography has been revamped. It is now 76 pages long and has been updated to 2016, with the exception of Timmins’ work (2017), Peterson’s Romans commentary (2017), and Thielman’s forthcoming Romans commentary (2018). In some places that means that Schreiner’s arguments are updated; in other places it means that Schreiner’s arguments remain the same but notes with whom he does or does not agree. That means that if you’ve read Thiessen’s Paul and the Gentiles, you can see that Schreiner disagrees with Thiessen’s view that Paul in Romans 2.17 is speaking of Gentiles who see themselves as Jews. He agrees with Caneday (2.15), who is partially the reason for Schreiner’s change of view on this passage. He disagrees with Jipp on Romans 1.17 (70n20), but agrees with him that we are sons who are comparable to the Son in 8.15. I could go on, but basically—Schreiner has reworked his commentary, updated much… and has read a lot.

Footnotes

Of course, and I don’t want the head to deceive you, but much is still the same. It’s not as if every paragraph has been reworded. But things have been changed, even if only in a minor way.

In a footnote on Romans 8.10, In Romans 1.0 Schreiner said, “Fee… doubts that the Spirit is ever the agent of the resurrection, but I have suggested that this is the most natural reading of Rom. 8:10” and notes James Scott’s Adoption as Sons (1994). In this edition, he says, “Fee… doubts that the Spirit is ever the agent of the resurrection, but Rom. 8:10 suggests otherwise” noting that he agrees with Scott and now also Greg Beale in his A New Testament Biblical Theology (2011). At the end of his footnote Schreiner directs the reader to Yates’ The Spirit and Creation in Paul (2008) “for further criticisms of Fee’s view.” The main argument remains the same, but there has been some fine-tuning throughout all of the commentary.

Margins and Additional Notes

The section on Romans 8.5–11 has also been expanded, and verse headings have been added in the margins. In the same section in Romans 1.0, there were no verse headings in the margins. If you were looking specifically for Romans 8.9, you would have to search through all of the paragraphs in that section. Now it is much easier to find the discussion on that verse. Only a few sections are like this (cf. Rom 1.1-5; 8.35–39). Margin verse headings are left behind in those smaller sections (1.1-5; 11.26-27) so that Schreiner can better group his discussions together, but this is rare. 

Many of the additional notes (see that of 5:1) have been expanded; the font has been changed, decreased, and put into bold.

The Spoiled Milk?

There’s really not much to complain about with this volume. Overall, it’s much more pleasing to the eye in terms of font size, style, and layout. No one will agree with all of Schreiner’s interpretations, and there are some matters that I still have questions about, which I’ve noted in my posts below.

Due to his brevity in some places (or because of my own ineptitude) I don’t understand some of Schreiner’s arguments that God’s righteousness is to be understood only forensically (read my third point on it being a gift from God along with my conclusion here). Neither have I quite figured out his interpretation of 2.15 with the “accusing and excusing thoughts” of gentiles believers and how they are two different groups (believing and non-believing gentiles- see here too).

But those are minor issues. The text as a whole is very readable, though academic. And really, no one should rely on one commentary alone but on a few (such as Moo, Longenecker, Jewett) alongside one’s own study.

Recommended?

Certainly scholars will want to pick this up again for Schreiner’s changed positions, his updated nuances, and the additional bibliographic entries. But what about pastors and teachers who already have the first edition? At the risk of being rebuked by Michael Bird, if you have the first edition and you aren’t sure if you should get the second, just sell the first and buy the second (unless your loved one lets you keep both). Arguments are tightened, reworked, and carefully thought through again. The commentary is large, but it is shorter than other Romans commentaries, especially the multi-volumes.

Schreiner’s volume is perfect for examining the flow of thought along with other interpretive and exegetical matters. But for all that allotted space, other matters must be left for other commentators. I may not be given the details of a particular word, but I at least understand how it is used in Paul’s flow of thought. Schreiner has published a plethora of works since his first edition, and as a result he has sharpened his thinking on numerous matters. This comes highly recommended. 

Lagniappe

  • Series: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  • Author: Thomas R. Schreiner
  • Hardcover: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (October 16, 2018)

Buy it on Amazon

Explore Schreiner’s Commentary

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Black Friday Christmas Eerdmans and Logos Deals

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I receive a percentage of revenue if you buy from Amazon on my blog. 

Eerdmans is having a very good sale on their Two Horizons commentary series for Kindle. Check below and see if anything interests you. I’ve placed in bold commentaries and volumes I have read and know are good or those I’d like to get and think are good.

Two Horizons Commentary Series

18 (good) commentaries under $50. I’ve placed three in bold because (1) I’ve read through them and so (2) I know they’re good. I’ve heard only good things about this series, although the only one I would be uncertain of would be the Ecclesiastes volume by Peter Enns, as he has a very uninspiring view of the Scriptures.

$4

$3

$2

My Interview with Tom Schreiner on Romans

As you might have seen from my other posts, Tom Schreiner has recently revised his Romans commentary which just released last month. I had the chance to ask him a few questions about the commentary, the impact of Romans on himself, and about Pauline scholarship.

1. How has the landscape of Romans scholarship changed since your first edition?

Many more commentaries and monographs and articles have been written on Romans since 1998. Plus, the apocalyptic view of Paul has become more popular, and the post-new perspective apocalyptic view of Doug Campbell.

2. In what ways has your understanding of Romans developed or become more nuanced?

I have nuanced my view towards the new perspective, showing where it sees things rightly. The inclusion of the Gentiles was a major issue for Paul and the new perspective sees that correctly. I have made hundreds of small changes in the commentary as well, which reflect, I hope, a more mature reading that the first edition.

3. In the preface to your commentary you write that you’ve changed your interpretation of a few key passages. Aside from those, did anything strike you in a new way when you returned to Romans? 

Nothing that stands out. Romans always challenges, provokes, and encourages. I made many minor changes, but apart from what I said in the preface the 2nd edition remains the fundamentally the same. Still, the changes noted in the preface are quite significant!

4. As you reconsidered Romans, what aspect of the letter has been most influential to you? 

That is a hard question to answer. I am not sure any particular theme stands out. I suppose I was struck, if my reading of the last part of Romans 7 is correct, that we still struggle with sin, despite the remarkable changes in our lives, until the day of redemption.

5. You’ve been teaching and writing for almost forty years. Which scholars have been most influential to you? 

I take it that you are talking about Romans. I would say over the years: John Murray, Cranfield, Moo, and more recently John Barclay.

6. Are there any scholars breaking new ground in Romans or in Pauline studies? (—a very broad question, I know) 

I would say that John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift is a ground-breaking book. He helps us understand grace in terms of the cultural context in which Paul wrote, and he qualifies the understanding of grace proposed by E. P. Sanders in Paul and Palestinian Judaism.

7. Lastly, are there any books you are working on now?

I am revising my book on the Apostle Paul and my commentary on 1-2 Peter and Jude.


A Scholar’s Devotion with David M. Moffitt

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. David Moffitt if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

I’m afraid that I don’t have anything special or exotic to say. I seek to spend 30 mins each morning in reading Scripture and praying. That is the foundation of my devotional life. We do have some family time a few times a week where we read through a book together (C.S. Lewis has contributed several).

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

As for deepening my love for the Lord, I find that, apart from prayer and good worship music, this mainly takes the form of serving in various capacities at our local church. I also love being able to teach exegesis to students at various levels.

As I said, not very exciting, but I am grateful for the call on my life.


David M. Moffitt is the Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at St. Mary’s College at the University of St Andrews. His published dissertation is called Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Thank you, Dr. Moffitt!
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Romans 2.25-29; True Circumcision

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Romans 2.25-29, “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”

The flow of Romans 2 so far:

vv. 1-5: *Unrepentant Jews criticize gentiles for their sins while committing those same sins.

vv. 6-11: The impartial God “will repay each person according to his or her works” (Schreiner’s translation, 121).

v. 12: All will be judged by a certain standard: gentiles by moral norms and Jews by the law.

v. 13: The doers of the law will be justified.

vv. 14-16: Who exemplifies doing the law? Not the sinful, *unrepentant Jews, but the Christian gentiles. They have the law written on their heart (and they fulfill the law by having God’s Spirit; Rom 8.5)

vv. 17-24: Paul tells the Jews that their sins against God take away any advantages they have over the gentiles by having God’s law. What’s the use in having the law if you don’t keep it?

In Romans 2.25-29, Paul argues that circumcision depends on keeping the law, something that (most of) the Jews (see Rom 9.1-6) don’t do, but the Christian Gentiles do!

Which Jews is Paul Talking About?

First, I have to reiterate which Jews Paul is rebuking. Paul wrote to the church in Rome which was made up of Christian Jews and gentiles. Paul presents his gospel to them in the form of a debate as if he were speaking to unbelieving Jews (arguing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills Scripture). So the Jews Paul speaks of in Romans 2 are *unrepentant Jews (2.5) who not only transgress God’s law without repentance, they disregard Christ as the Messiah.

Flow of Thought

Pagan gentiles will experience God’s wrath (Rom 1.18-32). Even some of the physically circumcised will experience God’s wrath unless they keep the law (25a). If a physically circumcised Jew does not keep the law, they will experience God’s wrath too. They may as well be a pagan gentile (25b). So the uncircumcised gentile who keeps God’s law will be counted as circumcised before God and will become a part of God’s people (26). But how can this be? It is so because “Jewishness and true circumcision are not outward matters,” as was seen in the Old Testament (145).

Deuteronomy 10:16: Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Deuteronomy 30:6: And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (see Jeremiah 4.4).

Even circumcised Jews could be stubborn (Gal 5.2). One’s heart must be circumcised. So even though the Jews possess the law and all its advantages, if they transgress the law and do not repent there will be judgment. The Christian gentile, on the other hand, obeys. His obedience comes from his faith in Christ, and his obedience means his “uncircumcision” is “counted as circumcision” (149). Schreiner says, “To be considered as circumcised means that the gentile who keeps the commandments is part of God’s people, the redeemed community” (149).

Flipping the Script

Paul says that it is not enough to be a circumcised, law-possessing Jew because the law needed to be kept (and the Jews to whom he refers break the law). What it really means to be a Jew is to be one “inwardly,” that is, to have a circumcised heart. Paul says that even the gentiles who have faith in Christ have the required circumcised hearts that makes them covenant members and sons of Abraham (Rom 9.7-8; Gal 3.29). Their hearts are circumcised by the Spirit (Jer 31.31-34), not by the letter.

Ezekiel 36.26-27 says something similar to the Jeremiah 31 and Deuteronomy 30.6 texts:

26 [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

Schreiner says, “Although the law is glorious [2 Cor 3.7-11], it does not provide any ability to obey it. Thus both the ‘letter’ and circumcision’ are benefits for the Jews; the problem is that without the Spirit these gifts do not produce righteousness” (151). Through the Christ’s death, resurrection, and inauguration of the new covenant, those who believe in Christ come into the new covenant and receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us hearts of flesh, circumcises them, and causes us to obey God’s commands. We won’t obey perfectly until the end, but we are forgiven in Christ.

No one will be justified by the works of the law?

But doesn’t Paul say in Romans 3.20 that “no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law”? Yes, but Paul isn’t arguing that one can enter into a relationship with God by keeping the whole law. No one can keep the whole law perfectly. Only Christ could do that, and so those who believe in Christ are in union with him. Because they receive his Spirit, they fulfill the law by being in Christ. This is true for the Jew as much as it is for the gentile.

Why the Emphasis on Christian Gentiles?

Why does Paul emphasize that gentiles believe, are circumcised, are in the covenant, and are doers of the law? He’s trying to provoke the Jews to jealousy! Schreiner points out that Paul is foreshadowing his argument in Romans 11.11, 14:

11 I ask, then, have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous12 Now if their transgression brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fullness bring!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Insofar as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if I might somehow make my own people jealous and save some of them.

“Paul hopes to provoke the Jews to jealousy and bring them within the blessings of the new covenant” (154).


*What if a Jew transgresses the law and repents? Schreiner says that “those who submit to circumcision to enter the covenant are under obligation to keep the rest of the law to gain salvation” (147).

Galatians 5.2-3:

Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.
Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law.

This doesn’t mean Old Testament saints had to keep the law perfectly. Sacrifices were provided when sin occurred. But after Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, there is no more provision for sin under the old covenant. Christ’s sacrifice annulled the old covenant and its sacrifices. For those who remain under the old covenant and thus apart from Christ, to be righteous means they must keep the whole law. But that is simply impossible. “The old covenant… does and cannot save” (147). Only by having the Spirit can one fulfill the law (Rom 8.4; 13.8, 10; Gal 5.14; 6.2).

Explore Schreiner’s Commentary..

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A Scholar’s Devotion with Bruce Ware

Going through seminary, students are taught to study the Bible and uphold its doctrines about God while also being encouraged not to neglect their devotional times with God. Yet during my own devotional time I, and probably many others, often ask, “Is this approach the best way to grow spiritually, or is there a better way? What could I do differently? Should I incorporate my studies with my devotions?”  

Each week, I ask a different scholar two questions about how he or she spends time with the Lord and continues to love him with all their mind, strength, and heart. While no one method or style is “the only way,” we can draw on one another’s experiences. 

This week, I have asked Dr. Bruce Ware if he would share his thoughts with us.

1. How do you spend your devotional time with the Lord? 

Three-four days a week I read through the Bible (so, I read it through every two years).  Three days a week I meditate on one chapter of Scripture (e.g., Isa 40, or Eph 1, then 2, then 3  . . . .), reading it over and over for about three weeks, reading it slowly, probingly, prayerfully, questioningly, noticing details.  Both the fast and slow readings are enormously valuable.

2. How do you practically seek to deepen your love for Christ? 

Notice what is said or intimated about Christ, as you read, and taking time to contemplate something of the wonder of Christ.


Bruce A. Ware is the Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology and the Chairman of the Department of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thank you, Dr. Ware!
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