Monthly Archives: February 2014

Internship 2

By now, I’ve settled into York, I’m over jet lag, and I’ll be teaching in the Gospel of Mark. I actually have already taught once in the class. I taught through Mark 2.13-3.6, and I hope to put some of my notes on here from insights I’ve gained. Mark has often been the least popular Gospel, And though I can’t say I’ve ever ranked the Gospels according to which one is my favorite, it was always been 4th place on my list.

However, I’ve been enjoying co-teaching through Mark with Steve Kennedy, the Dean of Men over here at CCBCY. We have a good class, and the student body as a whole is a good one. We had a ceilidh on Friday night, which is a form of “dancing” involving Gaelic folk music. It originates from Ireland and Scotland, but it also refers to social dances in England. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, even the ones who did participate. Like me.

Though I’m busy with other interning duties along with studying for Mark, which I will now be co-teaching weekly along side Steve, I still plan to update this page with book reviews, insights from the book, snippets from living in England, and hopefully a few lessons I’ve learned from the Gospel according to Mark.

Right now I’m reading A Mouth Full of Fire: The Word of God in Jeremiah by Andrew Shead which looks at the final form of Jeremiah and how ‘the word of the Lord’ is used. I’m definitely enjoying it. ‘The Word of the Lord’ is certainly the main character in the book of Jeremiah, sharing the name of the prophet who can do no other than to speak the words of God.

There’s a difference between the ‘word of God’ that is heard (which is the main message) and the ‘words of God’ that are written down.  The ‘words’ don’t have to be an exact replica of the ‘word’ as long as the ‘words’ pertain to the same message as the ‘word.’ What does Jeremiah’s use of God’s word to him teach us about the doctrine of the Word of God? Shead shows us how he perceives Jeremiah to be structured, along with how to make sense of it all. It can be very confusing to read Jeremiah and wonder why it’s not in chronological order. Some scholars think it’s just a mishmash of information. But it is the Word of God that tears down and builds up. Nations are destroyed by denying this word, and people are saved by accepting it. There’s much more than that, but I’ll touch on more later on down the road.

If anything here piques your interest about Andrew’s book, you can find mp3’s here on his book before it was released at Moore Library.
Lecture 1
Lecture 2
Lecture 3
Lecture 4
Lecture 5 
They’re all at least an hour long, with another 20 or so minutes of Q&A time, which can be skipped but is very informative too.

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Review: 1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Thessalonians - Mayhue

1 & 2 Thessalonians are letters written by a compassionate and concerned pastor to a church censured by their own community. They are letters about the “triumphs and trials of a consecrated church.” Having turned from gods to serve the true and living God, in a society where the people think that their gods are the reason they are a free city, leaves the Thessalonians under the guise of uncivil atheists, a cancer to their society. The Roman gods gave the people their status as a free city. How dare these Christians turn from those gods?

Paul started the church in Thessalonica, but in a matter of weeks (or months) envious Jews ran him out of town (yet again). Now the relatively young church must stand against the discouragement from their neighbors, family, and used-to-be companions. So Paul sends them two letters (along with Timothy) to the church of Thessalonica.

The Focus on the Bible commentaries focus on being “readable, reliable, [and] relevant,” and so that makes this commentary more on the devotional side. And this isn’t a bad thing, because while some other commentaries focus more on exegetical issues (word placement, greek syntax), converse with the ideas of other commentators, or comprehensive ancient Roman customs ranging from 200 years before*, Mayhue cuts to the chase and speaks more on what Paul says, why he says it, and where else we find that idea scattered throughout the Scripture.

*This isn’t to say that the subjects covered by other commentators are wrong or uninteresting, but not everyone is giddy with excitement to read quotes from Seneca’s “De Brevitate Vitae” and how his reasons for the importance of morality can be compared with the writings of the New Testament**.

**I don’t know if any one has compared the NT moral standards with any of Seneca’s writings. Someone probably has, but it’s just an example.

Devotional

As I said before, this Mayhue’s commentary is more devotional for the reader looking for direct, applicational meaning. It is not a technical, exegetical commentary. Mayhue starts off his commentary with a timeline of Paul’s ministry, a map of his second missionary journey, a timeline of the futuristic premillennial view, and then his introduction to Paul’s two (perhaps earliest) letters. In here he covers Paul’s travels from the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) to Corinth (Acts 18). He covers the usual Authorship (Paul), date of writing, audience, and purposes for writing, all of which are important for the reader to know. At 16 pages long, this section is important for it covers the backgrounds and reasons for Paul’s actions in Acts, why he had to leave Thessalonica so soon, and why he chose to write two letters to them (he loved them and they needed it!).

Leaning more toward the devotional side, Mayhue takes a closer look at particular words that appear in Paul’s letter. What does it mean “to serve” something like “idols” in 1 Thess. 1:9? Mayhue takes a look at both phrases and how they are used through Scripture. As far as I can tell Mayhue rarely/never uses Greek phrases, keeping the book fluid for non-Greek readers. On occasion he’ll touch on a Greek word to explain it’s use in the verse and other verses for a fuller possible meaning. 

Overview

Mayhue adds a lot of gray, boxed-out “Overview” sections in his commentary, and they’re pretty helpful. These sections are discourses on a particular subject Mayhue mentions in the text. Rather than talk about them in the text, you can by-pass the gray Overview box and return to it after you are finished reading. They are topics such as how the Day of the Lord is spoken of in the Old and New Testaments, facts about the resurrection, titles of Christ, what it means to know God, first century AD expectations of the coming Messiah, and more.

There are study questions at the end of each section. These are helpful whether you are using this book in a classroom, a home group Bible study, or for your own devotional time. They are not just posed to the reader for information, but for reflection. The Bible should change us, not simply give us more information to spit out. It is informational and transformational.

Dispensational

This is a Dispensational pre-tribulation take on 1 Thessalonians. So being a dispensational, premillennial look at 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Mayhue takes the view that the rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation. His arguments are sound, he gives plenty of Scripture to look at in his defense, and he adds two appendixes at the end of the book (1: Different Millennial Views and 2: The Time of the Rapture).

However, Mayhue let’s the reader know that it is his own opinion. He says that no one knows the times nor the seasons (Acts 1:7). But we do know enough to know how to produce a godly lifestyle. While Mayhue takes a pre-tribulational view, he doesn’t make any claims to know the day or the hour of Christ’s coming (Matt. 24:36) except that it would be before the Great Tribulation.

Little Spoil

One thing I didn’t particularly care for was the way the book is divided. Not the way Thessalonians is outlined, but the way the sections in the book were separated. When Section A ends, the next paragraph begins Section B. This is only an issue because the Headlining font is not much different than that of the rest of the book. It might be italicized or in bold, but it’s not any (or much) bigger than the rest of the words. As you flip through, it’s hard to tell one section from the next. This is only a minor problem though that everything feels to run together. There is at least a sectional guide on the top of each page that includes the range of verses in view so you are not without hope.

Recommended?

Though I haven’t looked at any other Thessalonian commentaries (besides the NIVAC which seems to be pretty good), Mayhue does a good job in this devotional commentary. You get some history, some of the flow of Paul’s argument, fuller word studies, and it would be good to use for a Bible study setting, Sunday school, or, of course, your own devotional time. If you aren’t a dispensationalist, then you may want to look elsewhere (though, no doubt, this would still be helpful). If you are a dispensationalist,  if you have no idea, or if just don’t care, and you don’t want a commentary that goes too in-depth, then this might just be for you. 

Lagniappe

[Special thanks to Derry at Christian Focus for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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Review: The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory  

Since going to Bible college, I’ve been introduced to various forms of studying the Bible, and it’s always interesting being introduced to another (legitimate) way to study the Bible. I first heard of the Honor Discourse through David deSilva’s Introduction to the New Testament which I found very interesting. The book is huge and is an excellent introduction.

This book is a much, much more condensed version of that book. It’s a sort in introduction to Honor Discourse and the New Testament Interpretation. Essentially, in the first century there was a lot of Honor/Shame going on. If someone asked you a question amongst a public group, it was a form of a test where, if you passed you gained honor for yourself, and if you failed you lost honor (Mt. 5:39; 9:3, 14; 12:2; 19:3; etc). Honor was brought on by the individual, but it was very much for the family/community/church.

If a baseball player is caught taking steroids, what is done to him? He’s usually suspended from the game until further notice with repeat offenses resulting in expulsion from the group. Why? Because he’s not playing the game according to the rules that all teams agree upon. In doing so, he is not participating on the same level as the rest of his team consequently giving them a bad name.

Corinthians

We see this in 1 Corinthians 5 (really, all over the book and it’s sequel). A man in the church is having sexual relations with his fathers wife (forbidden in Lev. 18:8), yet the church is doing nothing about it. In fact, they are priding themselves on the fact that they are so accepting of this man’s sin! Paul tells them their glorying is not good. They believe themselves to be so wise, yet they can’t seem to lay hold of the wisdom of Christ. How do they think they are going to judge angels if they can’t even judge the matters of this life?

Thessalonians

We are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14; Jam 4:4), and that does not only mean in marriage. The church is holy and set apart for God, yet we are supposed to walk in those good works that He has set before us and are not to look like the world. The Thessalonians were being shamed by those in society who saw them as “atheists” who were turning away from the Roman pantheon of gods (1 Thess. 1:9) who ‘gave’ Thessalonica it’s free status as a city.

Yet Paul encourages the church by reminding them of His love for them and his friendship with them, and most of all that God knows them and loves them. His opinion matters more than that of society, for “it is a righteous thing with God to pay with tribulation whose who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:6-8).

But the Thessalonian church has also grown to a point that now they can work to shame (or redirect) uncooperative members. Paul warns of idleness in 2 Thess. 3:6-15. v6 says if one doesn’t work (and has no intention to but is instead a leech on the society) they should not eat. Yet don’t admonish them out of anger. “If anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:14-15). The point isn’t to make on feel ashamed of themselves because you hate them. Admonish his as a brother, one who you love. They are not the enemy.

Matthew

However, Matthew (18:15-20) says that there will come a point after some points of confrontation, the uncooperative man will have to be let go from the church community. “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Mt. 18:17).

This comes between the parables of the lost sheep (18:10-14) and of the unforgiving servant (18:21-35). The heavens rejoice when one who has strayed is found and brought to repentance, and we are to be ready to forgive. But in the midst of that, we do need to confront open sin in love in effort to turn a sinner from the error of his way, to save a soul from death, and to cover a multitude of sins (Jam. 5:20).

If this person really desires to follow God, the ‘Patron’ who has shown them unmerited grace, they should repent. However, if they don’t, then they are not cooperating with the community and the One who makes the standards (Jesus Himself), and are to be let go in hopes and prayers that they will repent, turn from their sin, and return to the believing community.

Recommended?

Indeed. There’s not much more I can say about this book, except that it wasn’t a quick read (but still worth it). If you’ve read the rest of my review, and you still aren’t interested in the book, then I would advise you to look up some articles by deSilva and see if they pique your interest.

This approach to studying the Bible is not viewed as the best way. It’s simply another way to enhance our investigation of the Bible’s many layers of meaning and application. It’s a good way to remember that we serve the One who gave everything to gain us. Our actions, thoughts, and desires matter in our every day life. Do I live out what I say I believe? Do I act as if I am the great Storyteller? Or do I realize my place under Him, and live to honor Him and His bride?

Lagniappe

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock (July 1, 2009)
  • Amazon
  • Reader Level: College, Pastor, Teacher
  • A link to deSilva’s book page of his blog site

[Special thanks to James Stock at Wipf & Stock for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]

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