Did Jesus Have Female Apostles?

Paul’s final greetings to the Roman Church seem typical. We might just skim over the list of names without a second thought. But one name within that list has become the focus of controversy and heated debate:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (Rom 16:7) [Read more…]

Forgiven: The Corporate Identity of God’s People

This is a guest post from Dr. Samuel Lamerson, professor of New Testament at Knox Theological Seminary.

While I was in graduate school, I paid my bills by working as an entertainer. I was a juggler, magician, and ventriloquist. Every so often, someone would ask me what else I did, and I would explain that I was writing a PhD dissertation. Then they’d usually yawn and ask for more card tricks. [Read more…]

4 Easy Ways to Breathe New Life into Bible Study

Most of us desire to study the Bible, but sometimes we get into a rut. Bible study can become more of a chore than an exciting time of learning and growing in your understanding of God’s Word and in your relationship with Jesus.

Author, Bible study teacher, and radio host Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares four tips for keeping Bible study fresh and exciting—adapted from the free guide Study the Word: 12 Christian Leaders on Bible Study. [Read more…]

Should Missing Apostolic Letters Cause Us Concern?

Unless you’ve been on an extended vacation from popular culture, you know there’s been discussion about how we got the New Testament. Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code based its conspiratorial plot in part on the notion that other gospels had been eradicated by spiteful church authorities and an emperor openly partial to orthodoxy. The success of the novel prompted many churchgoers to ask whether or not all the books that should be included in the New Testament actually were. [Read more…]

Behind the Magic: Peter, Simon, and an Episode in Samaria

The book of Acts is a favorite of preachers, so you are likely familiar with the showdown in Acts 8:9–24 between Peter and Simon the Magician. Luke tells us that Simon had practiced his magic in a city in Samaria where he had been hailed as “God’s Great Power.” Simon heard the gospel preached by Philip and believed, but later, after Peter’s arrival, he tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter. [Read more…]

5 Reasons Studying Greek Is Worth the Pain

To learn Greek will require some drudgery. But, as they say, “No pain, no reading the Greek New Testament.” I well remember sitting at my desk in grad school, cramming vocabulary into my head like a duck willingly stuffing its body for foie gras. At that desk I said to myself, This is boring and hard and I really don’t like it I need sugar or TV or a TV program about sugar. [Read more…]

Born Again . . . and Again . . . and Again

Was Jesus open to the idea of reincarnation? The question may seem odd, but it’s one that many people, even biblical scholars, contend has a positive answer. The idea comes from a passage you’ve likely read dozens of times:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but in order that the works of God might be made manifest in him (he was born blind). We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:1–4) [Read more…]

What Walking on Water Really Means

Tales of tempests battering ships inspire respect for the sea. En route to Capernaum, Jesus’ disciples watched these stories become reality as the roaring wind transformed the waters around them. As they fought against the waves and wind, they witnessed a miracle: “They saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat” (John 6:19).

Appearing in three of the four Gospels, this event inspires Sunday school lessons and has become ingrained in our portrait of Jesus’ life. As spectacular and unforgettable as the event is to us, however, a Jewish audience would have seen in it a profound theological meaning against the backdrop of the Old Testament.

An Old Testament Symbol

In the Old Testament, the unpredictable sea is a common symbol of cosmic disorder—conditions contrary to God’s design for an ordered world. This symbol for cosmic anarchy is also personified as a sea monster, known as Leviathan or Rahab. The image of chaos as an untamed monster in a churning, erratic sea was common throughout the ancient world. People accustomed to land would naturally view the vast, raging ocean as uncontrollable and potentially deadly, filled with terrifying unknown creatures.

Religions across the ancient Mediterranean often depicted their important deities destroying or subduing the sea dragon, thereby calming the sea and restoring order. In the Old Testament, it is Yahweh, the God of Israel, who conquers the forces of chaos and imposes order in the cosmos (Job 26:12–13; Psa 89:5–14). This imagery is applied even to the exodus from Egypt (Psa 74:12–17), where God split the sea to deliver his people, thereby conquering the forces of evil that sought their demise.

Final Victory

God’s ultimate victory at the end of the age is also depicted as God dominating the forces of the sea: “In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the twisting serpent, Leviathan the crooked serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea” (Isa 27:1). This is why the description of the final paradise of the new heaven and new earth contains the phrase, “the sea was no more” (Rev 21:1).

The prophet Daniel’s vision of the end of days and the kingdom of God includes four beasts that emerge out of a storm-tossed sea (Dan 7:1–8). These beasts are not aquatic creatures by nature. They come from the sea because they represent chaos. God’s heavenly court sentences the beasts to death (Dan 7:9–12), after which the “son of man” arrives immediately to receive the kingdom of God (Dan 7:13–14). All of this imagery informs John’s account of Jesus walking on the sea during the storm.

Jesus Christ, Lord over the Sea

John identifies Jesus as the Son of Man to whom the Father has given the authority to execute judgment (John 5:27; compare Matt 26:57–68). John also asserts repeatedly that Jesus is God incarnate. In John’s Gospel, Jesus invokes the divine name (“I AM”) seven times in reference to himself (e.g., John 6:35; 15:1). He declares oneness with the Father (John 10:30), and he proclaims that the Father is in him and he is in the Father (John 10:37–38).

For John, a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, the image of Jesus walking on the sea was a dramatic portrayal that Jesus is Yahweh—the one who subdues the forces of chaos and imposes his will on the waters and everything the waters represent. The kingdom of the Son of Man had begun, and all forces opposing God’s ordained order would now be defeated. Like Jesus’ disciples, we can find comfort in knowing that the one who treads upon the volatile sea can subdue whatever chaos threatens to overwhelm us.

QUICKBIT: The three accounts of Jesus walking on water are found in John 6:16–21, Matthew 14:22–33 and Mark 6:45–52—the Gospels authored by Jewish writers. Luke doesn’t include this detail, likely because he was a gentile writing to a gentile friend, Theophilus (Luke 1:1–4).

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What Walking on Water Really MeansDr. Michael S. Heiser is a scholar-in-residence for Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He is the author of The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible and has taught many Mobile Ed courses, including Problems in Biblical Interpretation: Difficult Passages I.

This article is excerpted from Dr. Heiser’s book I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.

Discover more fascinating aspects of the Bible with Dr. Heiser

Keep exploring the strange, perplexing, and mysterious aspects of the Bible with these excerpts from Dr. Michael S. Heiser’s The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. Or dive deeper into the supernatural world of the Bible and pick up a copy of The Unseen Realm today.

Someone Plagiarized My Book a Century Before I Was Born

In my recent book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, I argued that there were two major kinds of archaic words in the KJV, not one.

And in the most flagrant example I’ve ever seen of plagiarism by time machine, I just discovered a commentator from 150 years ago saying precisely the same thing.

In his Lectures Exegetical and Practical on the Epistle of James, published in 1871, Robert Johnstone quotes a verse from the King James Version: [Read more…]

Search Original Languages for Word Meaning with Unique Logos Tools

When you’re studying Greek or Hebrew, searching morphological forms with Logos is a huge timesaver. Ἀγάπη (agape) in the dative singular? Got it! A third-person singular Hebrew verb in Qal stem with a 3MS pronominal suffix? Bam!

But Logos can see something else in the Bible that you might not realize: meaning.

A computer can parse forms fairly well given a few rules; that is, a lot of such work can be done automatically. But it takes many man-hours and coffee breaks to teach the computer to see meaning in the Bible. It literally takes years to mark up the Bible with all that data. But it’s worth it. Now you can search the original languages for a meaning—like the figurative use of “brother” as opposed to the literal, or like the most frequent subjects or objects of a given verb. And that means you can execute more targeted searches, with fewer but more accurate results. You can find what you need to find in your Bible study. [Read more…]