Do Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5 Contradict? On the Contrary . . . 

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
     lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
     lest he be wise in his own eyes. [Read more…]

What Is the Proper Context for Interpreting the Bible?

The Four Evangelists, Jacob Jordaens, 1626–1630, commons.wikimedia.org

Anyone interested in Bible study, from the new believer to the biblical scholar, has heard (and maybe even said) that if you want to correctly interpret the Bible, you have to interpret it in context. I’m certainly not going to disagree. But I have a question: What does that mean? Put another way, just what context are we talking about? [Read more…]

Bonhoeffer and a Prison Reflection

Today marks the beginning of the Days of Remembrance, the United States’ annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi regime systematically persecuted and murdered an estimated six million Jews, as well as millions of others it deemed “politically, racially, or socially unfit.”1 Though well documented, the horrors of the Holocaust remain unfathomable. [Read more…]

5 Insights for Interpreting the Deaths of Ananias and Sapphira

The Death of Ananias by Raphael

The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 is difficult. It strikes many readers as harsh, a return to Old Testament retribution. “Why this swift act of judgment? Why no opportunity of for repentance and restoration?”

No amount of commentary will ever take the edge off this passage—and that may be the point. [Read more…]

If Bible Study Doesn’t Feel Like Work, You Aren’t Really Doing It

One of my favorite scholarly quotations about the hard work of seriously engaging the biblical text—what we popularly call Bible study—is that of the renowned Greek lexicographer, Frederick W. Danker (the “D” in BDAG). Danker famously said that “scholars’ tasks are not for sissies.” He was right, and I’m grateful he was willing to say what needed to be said. [Read more…]

Why the ‘Date’ of Palm Sunday Is so Profound

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.

— Isaiah 46:10, NIV

The significance of Palm Sunday was lost on me as a child. I suspect it’s lost on most Christian adults, too. [Read more…]

3 Reasons David Chose Jerusalem—and 1 That Trumps Them All

Thirty-three miles east of the Mediterranean Sea on a limestone plateau in the Judaean Hills rests one of the oldest cities in the world: Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times in the Old Testament and 141 in the New—more if you count all its synonyms like Zion, city of God, and Salem.1

No city has been written and sung about as much as Jerusalem.2

Or fought over. [Read more…]

Constantine, Conspiracy, and the Canon

Dan Brown’s bestselling conspiratorial thriller The Da Vinci Code seems like ancient history now. At its peak of popularity, the novel set records both for sales and for irritating scholars with its view that Jesus and the 12 apostles held to gnostic heresies. The book’s bizarre plot focuses on Jesus’ bloodline extending through a child born by Mary Magdalene. Within that narrative, Brown asserts that the New Testament canon was determined by the [Read more…]

Are You a Drunk Preacher? You Are When You Use the Bible This Way.

By David Helm

Scottish poet Andrew Lang once landed a humorous blow against the politicians of his day with a clever line indicting them for their manipulation of statistics. With a slight alteration in language, the quip could equally be leveled against many Bible teachers today: “Some preachers use the Bible the way a drunk uses a lamp post … more for support than for illumination.” [Read more…]

A Brief Primer on Christian Mission

The word mission is used today in a plethora of contexts. Diplomats, fighter pilots, and some elementary school teachers refer to their work as a mission. Virtually every business, from auto-parts distributors to fast-food restaurants, possesses an articulated mission statement. [Read more…]