How to Use Logos Like a BibleWorks Pro

My first serious Bible software program (December, 2002) was BibleWorks, and as soon as I got it I was hooked. I persuaded dozens of others to get it, and I even became an unofficial BibleWorks trainer for about ten years. I taught multiple whole-Saturday sessions on the software. I still use BibleWorks for one ongoing project. Everyone I knew from the company was a true Christian brother and a class act. I’m genuinely sad to find out that BibleWorks is closing up shop. [Read more…]

The Easy Way to Do a Responsible Bible Word Study

Oh man. They give me these topics sometimes. I’m supposed to make responsible Bible word studies “easy.”

Next week: Middle East Peace Negotiations for Beginners.

But no—we can do this. We can. Because the key word is “responsible,” and that mainly means you avoid claiming more for your Bible word study than your work really justifies. And the best way to do that is to calibrate your expectations beforehand. What are you actually hoping to accomplish from a Bible word study?

These five easy steps will show you both what to expect and how to get there. [Read more…]

What’s the First Thing You Need to Know About NT Greek?

I’m in the middle of a series of posts on learning Greek, and each time I write I find myself wanting to start by holding up a warning sign. Here’s the last one, I promise (sort of): “Greek is not math.”

The first thing you need to know about New Testament Greek is that it was a normal human language spoken by real people in all social strata throughout the ancient Western world during the three centuries on both sides of Christ’s birth. These speakers and their language are now dead, but they left a whole lot of important writing and unimportant writing—which is important. [Read more…]

4 Simple Language Principles That Will Improve Your Bible Study

Learning New Testament Greek is a fantastic idea, and perhaps an intimidating one. I don’t want to add to the difficulty.

And I also kind of do.

I have a suggestion that will help you in the long run: try learning about language more generally before learning Koine Greek in particular. [Read more…]

Should Barbarians Get to Have God’s Words?

Salmon are anadromous.

That’s a $25 word that feels how terms found in encyclopedias are supposed to feel: formal, scientific. It’s in a higher register of English.

But if you know a little Greek, you’ll see immediately that all it means is “running back.” The salmon “run back” upstream to spawn. And it’s not to avoid confusion with American football that we say anadromous instead of “running back”: it’s because in our culture, scientificky terms are supposed to sound highfalutin.
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The Key to Not Being a Bad Bible Reader

Psalm 37:8 is one of the most important illustrations of the most important concept in my new book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. As I’ve been working on promoting the book, I’ve been talking about Psalm 37:8 in the KJV again and again. I’ve recited it probably 50 times to various people in the last year as I’ve explained my project:

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Psalm 37:8 KJV)

But on Sunday at my church we read through the entire psalm in a contemporary translation and I, to my chagrin, noticed something: I’d spent so much time quoting the verse that I’d forgotten the context. I’d violated the cardinal rule of Bible interpretation. Bad Bible reader! Bad!

By itself Psalm 37:8 sounds oracular, proverbial. It sounds like a memory verse for a guy who is prone to blowing up at his kids. At least the first half of the verse sounds good for that purpose:

Cease from anger and forsake wrath.

[Read more…]

How to Write a Funeral Sermon

If you are a preacher of the Word, you will one day have to preach a funeral. And that one day might be Tuesday. Even if you’ve heard a lecture in class on how to prepare for a funeral, it’s almost impossible for that lecture to cover all the bases: every death is different, because every human is a special creation of God.

Though every funeral sermon should also be, therefore, unique and different, the central task is still the same as that of any sermon: to faithfully herald what God has said in Scripture. You will have to face this question:

How can I write a faithful, concise, powerful, comforting sermon for this particular funeral service?

God has a great deal to say to the bereaved, and these principles will help you share his message at a funeral.
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Some Say “Easter” Is Pagan. Is it Really?


Some of the angriest comments I’ve ever received came on a post I wrote about Easter. I honestly forgot that some Christians are very upset about the use of a(n allegedly) “pagan” word to describe the preeminent Christian holiday. Here’s what one commenter wrote:

Easter is a bad translation of a word that does not appear in the original language.… Easter is a carryover from the Greco-Roman world; which was engulfed in sun-worship…. The holiday and the word should be changed back to Passover.

This was one of the best comments from the say-no-to-Easter perspective: it was clear, avoided ad hominem, and was written in lower case. But you should have seen the abuse I got behind the scenes. I am a closet pagan; I am destroying the Christian faith; I am the most ignorantest person ever (that last one may be true, I’ll admit, but not the other two).
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How to Use a Critical Commentary If You’re an Evangelical

Logos sells many different commentaries. Literally thousands. They all fall into different categories, and here’s one schema you could use to organize them (borrowed from here, though there are others):

  1. Devotional/practical commentaries (NIVAC, LABC) focus on applying the Bible to real life.
  2. Pastoral/homiletical commentaries (REC, MNTC) were originally sermons and primarily provide models for other preachers.
  3. Exegetical commentaries (NAC, NICNT) go deep, but typically reserve Greek and Hebrew for footnotes.
  4. Critical commentaries (ICC, WBC) go a bit deeper and assume knowledge of the original biblical languages.

[Read more…]

Good and Bad Goals for Studying New Testament Greek

You want to study New Testament Greek? I talked last week about good and bad motivations for the work. Now let’s get more practical and talk goals.

If you set unrealistic goals you’ll never arrive at them. You’ll get discouraged and give up, and you won’t want to try again. And if you set goals that are too low, you’ll be missing out on some Bible study riches.

So set the right goals. Let me suggest three goals you should not set, and three goals you should.
[Read more…]