Ancient writings were largely circulated within communities through copying and distributing, with no legal copyright or formal system to control plagiarism. Once a work began to circulate the author became powerless to control the quality of the copying process or to select the audience that would read the work. The permanency of writing and the…
Above: An approximation of Parmenides’ “what is.” THE CONFLICT There is an ongoing conflict between Biblical studies and philosophical theology. N.T. Wright sums it up this way in his essay “Historical Paul and Systematic Theology”: “In a famous conversation between Paul Tillich and C. H. Dodd at Union Seminary in New York, Tillich basically said that […]
Our next bioarchaeography is about one of the most fiercely-debated figures in the Old Testament. Some scholars believe King David was more myth than man who, if he existed, was nothing more than a tribal chief, and certainly not the historical king of a dynasty in Israel. For example, University of Sheffield Professor, Dr. Philip […]
2 Peter 1.5-7
For this reason expend all efforts to supplement to your faith excellence; then, to excellence, knowledge; then, to knowledge, self control; then, to self control, endurance; then, to endurance, godliness; then, to godliness, human kindness; then, to human kindness, love.
These disciplines that Simon Peter lists are regarded as crucially important to the early Christians since he wants to repeatedly remind his readers to deploy them in their lives (vss. 12-13). These followers of Christ already knew the disciplines, but Peter wanted to continually remind his audience, and to even record them for posterity, before his own prophesied death (vss. 14-15). These qualities, then, form Apostolic instruction for The Church of Jesus since they were given by an Apostle of Christ, and, as such, have received completed instruction (John 16.12-13) and are placed first in the Universal Church as a foundation (1 Cor. 12.28).
Proverbs and the Disciplines
Conceptually, how should these disciplines (or qualities) be viewed in regard to other instructions in the bible? In analyzing The Book of Proverbs, it is easy to recognize the similarity to 2 Peter. Both works are instructions for godly living to someone operating in the context of a redeemed community, yet exposed to dangers and temptations. Solomon’s Book (Proverbs) deals mostly with relating horizontally among others, whereas The Mosaic Law, with its temple and sacrifices, dealt primarily with the vertical relationship between a person and God.
The Book of Proverbs helps believers, during their time on earth, to navigate their way successfully. The proverbs instructs on how to build character or discipline oneself to interact with others while on a temporal earth. Neither Solomon’s Proverbs nor Peter’s list of disciplines promise any direct reward for keeping them. Rather, the disciplines function as preparatory for other blessings. The Book of Proverbs and the list of disciplines in Peter provide “a ground” or a basis for continually living successfully on earth (2Pe.1.10: “you will never stumble”).
In Pr. 1.2, a summary statement appears at the beginning of Solomon’s work indicating purpose: “to know wisdom and instruction.” This idea of knowing (lada’at) speaks of realizing, perceiving, personal internalization, according to Bruce Waltke’s study of The Book of Proverbs. This “experiencing of wisdom” that Solomon calls his listeners to in 1.2 is, in essence, what Peter says the disciplines he lists accomplishes by the term epignosko (knowledge) of Jesus Christ in 2Pet. 1.8. This is a fuller knowledge than in 1.5 since that term “knowledge” (gnosin) is distinguished as preparatory, and, in part, toward the experiential knowledge (epignosko) of Jesus Christ. All the elements Peter lists completes this knowledge, so it seems, in context, that epignosko indicates a fuller realization or an experiencing of the spiritual wisdom that is in Christ.
The believer may struggle, initially, if they try to build excellence in their lives, if they do it by their own strength. Also, the first attempts may not be perfect, but the believer will find by walking with Christ, that He will guide them to excellence in the Spirit. These disciplines are by faith and Christ will teach the believer aspects about themselves, and also, about Himself. Therefore, this full experiential knowledge (epignosko-vss. 3,8) is attained by walking with Christ to become more like Him.
Verse 8 also tells us the default nature of a believer is bareness without these qualities. These disciplines are exercised by faith and upon faith (vs. 5). Grace and peace will be dispensed by God as the believer deploys the disciplines in their lives (vs. 2). Also, those things necessary for life and godliness arrive with this fuller knowledge of Jesus Christ (vss. 3, 8).
The New Covenant promised to Israel had as its most distinguishing feature that all individuals would “know” the Lord (see Jer. 31.31-34). This means that all under (or in) The New Covenant would “know” the Lord intimately in their hearts. The Lord would now be “in” them directing and teaching His chosen ones through a new, fuller relationship provided by Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and conquering death through His resurrection. The New Covenant was promised to Israel, and so it was fulfilled to Israel in that Christ fulfilled the Passover, and, 50 days later (Pentecost), sent The Spirit, fulfilling the feast of Shavuot. The embryonic church was all Jewish and they were the ones with whom The New Covenant was made. Thus, the New Covenant was made with The House of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer. 31.31). It is also inclusive to the gentiles according to promises such as Isaiah 49.6 (He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”).
As I mentioned, these disciplines were to be added to the faith we have received (vss. 1,5). Therefore, after believing in Christ, as an act of faith, Peter urges us to add these qualities to our lives as a foundation for fuller understanding Christ through The Spirit. These qualities will ensure that we do not quench or grieve The Spirit.
The first of these disciplines, then, is excellence (some translators render arete as goodness, virtue). Generally speaking, translators have struggled to define the term as it relates to the recipients to whom Peter was writing. Originally, the term appears in ancient Greek as what characterized the Olympic contestants: physical prowess. The Greek Games eventually included poetic readings and the term arete also was used to refer to the qualities of oratory. By first century usage, the term is understood to connote an “all-around excellence.” In vs. 3, the term is used of God in that He has called the believers either to or by this excellence (the preposition’s meaning is governed by context and so an interpretive choice needs to be made). It seems “to” is the better choice if the goal were seen in an idealistic sense. Christians will not be able to have complete excellence but see it as something to aspire towards. For the most part, however, either rendering of the preposition hardly makes a difference. God has inherent excellence by which He calls us or He calls us to imitation of Himself.
In connection with faith and excellence, Christians are to add “knowledge” (gnosin). A question arises whether this is biblical and theological knowledge or general and useful information. On one hand, in a very real sense, “all truth is God’s truth.” Many areas of study will either directly indicate God’s truth or support it indirectly. Pr. 23.12 seems to speak generally: Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. The more theological viewpoint is reflected in the whole of Pr. 2 which is probably better aligned to 2 Peter 1. Bible knowledge is necessary regardless of what other knowledge is gained as indicated by vs. 19: “we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” The study of the scriptures is assumed by the writers of the N.T. since they quote so much of the previous given revelation contained in the O.T.
The next discipline is self-control, which Peter connects with knowledge, and, as itself, is connected with arete. While the disciplines are all interconnected, they are added to our faith (vs. 5); therefore, they are performed in faith. Noting their progressive nature, the disciplines seem more defined as they are listed. While excellence is added to faith, it needs some knowledge to perform cogently. Overall, excellence is directed by knowledge. Knowledge, though, may overextend itself if not corralled by self-control. Self-control may give up without perseverance. Perseverance may devolve into stubbornness without true godliness refining the Christian along biblical ways. Godliness can be cold if it is merely an exercise without a horizontal dimension of brotherly kindness toward others. Brotherly affection will remain earth-bound if another quality is not present: love.
Simon Peter tells his readers that great promises toward Christians will enable them to experience the divine nature and so not be mired in things which corrupt: inordinate desire (vs. 4). These disciplines continually performed and perfected contain two promises: 1. Will never stumble into sin (vs. 10), and 2. A rich entrance provided into the eternal kingdom (vs. 11).
It is that time of year when many of us think about making “New Year’s Resolutions”—only to find that after the third week in January we have forgotten all about them (sigh)! One resolution that some make is that “I will read through the Bible in One Year.” And so, they print out a year […]
Matthew states some surprising things to a modern’s way of thinking. The problem is in us (if we don’t understand it). Folks today, if they are going to understand the bible, will need to temporary forsake the Greco-Roman way of thinking in absolutes. There is the Hebrew prophets way of analogical or correspondent thinking about how God is revealing what He is going to do. Sometimes biblical events hearken to future greater fulfillments in unexpectant ways (at least to us). Here is a podcast from Dallas Seminary (which thankfully has transcription) about Matthew’s use of O.T. material.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, NIV) Christmas is a joyful time for many parents, but also a time of grief for those who have lost children. (This is also true for other deep relational losses, some of which my wife and I have experienced, but…
Reading the bible gives us God’s perspective on life to both explain and remedy our predicament. However, to understand the bible accurately, the text has to be taken as a whole; that is, all sixty six books need to be accepted by the reader. This acceptance does not mean human interpretations need to be believed about controversial passages. What I mean is, the reader bringing preconceived ideas to the text. Instead, the reader should let the text speak for itself.
All sixty six books cohere together since the themes interconnect. Also, the N.T. writers of scripture and Jesus quote earlier texts to show fulfillment of promises. 2 Tim. 3.16 affirms all scripture is God-breathed and is advantageous for teaching, for conviction, for rectification, and for training in righteousness.
Of course, not all of the bible is equally important or relevant in itself. For instance, Christians today do not perform pilgrimages or invest a priest with Aaron’s garments. Instead, Christians are pilgrims and priests, intrinsically, since they are under The New Covenant. Also, Jesus stated that some matters were more important than others in the bible when disputing with the Pharisees: but you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness (Mt. 23.23 NIV). God disclosed His word in many portions, and in various ways (Heb. 1.1), but the whole of it is profitable to us today.
The prophetic part of the Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. From these accounts, it is clear that Matthew agrees with Mark in substance. Luke’s account is the one which gives supplementary material that helps us decipher the various elements. Jesus used the phrase “pregnant women and nursing mothers” twice in giving this discourse to His disciples. In this view, neither Matthew or Luke are complete in reproducing fully what Jesus said to His disciples.
Luke 21.20-24 records the first use of the phrase (vs. 23) referring to the distress of the fall of Jerusalem during the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 C.E. This is clearly indicated by vs. 24: They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The second usage of “pregnant women and nursing mothers” is given in Matthew and Mark and refers to the time of the “end” of the age. This key phrase is often conflated by students of scripture. Recognizing its two usages, referring to both 70 C.E. and the consummation of the age, will clarify about when the various events transpire.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” –Excerpt from Lewis…
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.” (Luke 2:1-3) Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (or Cyrenius in the Greek) was a well-known […]
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.” (Luke 2:1-3) While he is only mentioned once in Scripture, Caesar Augustus plays […]
And you should not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, you should fear the One who is able to annihilate (apollumi) both body and soul in Gehenna. -Mt. 10.28
This contrasting phrase explicitly teaches that God will destroy human souls in the final judgment. This is just punishment for sins committed during earthly life. Here is another post I wrote about terminal punishment: https://beliefspeak2.net/terminal-punishment/
Clearly, the bible teaches that both the righteous and the wicked will be resurrected and have bodies to respectively experience blessedness or punishment. Acts records Paul’s confession at trial before the Roman governor Felix: and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked (24.15 NIV). However, there is a distinct order of the resurrection since Christ rose three days after His crucifixion. 1 Cor. 15 gives the sequence of the various entities: But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (vs. 23 NIV). The resurrection of the wicked occurs after the thousand-year reign of Christ (see Rev. 20.5). It seems the wicked will be given a temporary resurrected body in order to experience torment for the offenses committed during their time on earth before they are destroyed.
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. (Ez. 26.3)
Every surfer and coastal dweller knows that waves arrive in sets. Except for extraordinary events, such as Tsunamis, the usually prominent waves come in repeatable series with lulls separating the wave events. So, when Ezekiel’s prophecy mentions “many nations” and “like the sea casting up its waves”(26.3), the informed reader would know that Tyre’s destruction would be accomplished by different forces and not all at one time during the campaign of Nebuchadnezzar. Also, the subject of the destruction is specific: the independent political entity who grew rich and haughty from the monopoly of maritime trade. So, even if a city named Tyre exists in the country of Lebanon today, and shares the same location, it doesn’t have any of its namesake’s advantages of independent sovereignty, monopoly, and power.
Thus, Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign was the first set of waves to afflict haughty Tyre. He destroyed or subjugated the island’s support system on the Lebanon Mainland. Tyre, during Nebuchadnezzar’s siege, had to have fresh water (and other necessities) supplied by sea. A Mainland Tyre existed as a supply depot for the island fortress which could, normally, easily barge out what the islanders needed. Though the city state survived, it was greatly afflicted by the Babylonian tyrant.
The independent city state of the island fortress of Tyre was razed by Alexander who built a causeway out from the mainland in 332 B.C.E. Still, Antigonus needed to lay siege against a revived Tyre in 315 B.C.E. to subject it again. In 126 B.C.E., it received independence from the Seleucids (Greek) in it’s desperate attempt to regain the glory and power it once enjoyed. Since the island became a peninsula, however, after Alexander’s engineering feat, no natural advantage remained where it could support itself against siege, and so, by Roman times it was administered by regional powers and independence disappeared.
The strength of Tyre derived from its wealth, which was a product of it’s virtual monopoly of trade to the lands west of the Fertile Crescent. The Tyrians were expert sailors who controlled commerce in the Mediterranean, generally. Natural land barriers and hostile kingdoms prevented traders from exploiting all the overland routes, and so, The Tyrians filled this lucrative gap and reaped the spoils.
The ancient Fertile Crescent, as it is called by some, was not a crescent at all and the idea misinforms a salient point. The Promised Land of Israel was “beautiful,” not because it was more scenic or filled with wonders. It was “beautiful” because of how it was situated in a sort of choke point between the two fertile areas in what, today, we term The Mideast. If we were to represent it pictorially, a bent dumbbell comes to mind instead of a crescent which is fat in the center. Geographical Israel constitutes a land bridge in the narrow area between the two fertile river valleys of both Egypt and Mesopotamia. This fact informs what Ezekiel wrote which cartographers and commentators often get wrong.
Cartographers (map makers) in the medieval era usually centered Israel and its capitol Jerusalem in the center of their charts following what is stated in Ezekiel 5.5: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. This probably speaks to God’s originally calling Abram to this area as a way to display His power and redemption in the midst of outside nations as sort of a witness to them.
Also, this “beautiful land” had certain other advantages besides being center stage. Trade routes crisscrossed Israel since each of the separate fertile regions enjoyed different products of commerce. Israel would have been exposed to other languages, peoples, and products. They could also act as middlemen dealing with these entities. Not only could God’s working in Israel be on display but also Israel could act as gatekeepers to others in areas of commerce. The Tyrians were jealous and greedy when they said: ‘Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper’ (Ezekiel 26.2). Tyre was not satisfied to rule the Mediterranean Sea trade, she wanted the land routes too.
In our series of bioarchaeographies, we’ve used archaeology to explore the lives of the great Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, and the great Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II. It seems fitting that we should look at a king from the next dominate empire in history: the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. Cyrus II was the founder of […]
After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’ —
things known from long ago. (Acts 15. 16-18)
The number of commentators who regard this clause as referring to a pilgrimage tent is surprising. Some think it refers to eschatological Israel. Perhaps I do not have access to more cogent works. Never the less, an alert bible reader is attuned to the concepts of the text and not merely its overt terms.
James obviously saw Jesus as the fulfilled inheritor of the Davidic Covenant since Amos is saying that as a result of the covenant’s completion (rebuilding its ruins and restoring it) would result in the Gentiles trusting the Messiah and be joined to God’s community. Isaiah says the same thing: I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles (49.6). When David’s Son appears he would give His blood in the New Covenant for both Jews and Gentiles.
“Tent” a cipher for “house” which originally was used and understood in an ambiguous manner itself. 2 Samuel 7 and 1Chron. 17 gives the account of David receiving what became known as the Davidic Covenant and is universally recognized by believers in referring to the Messiah as its ultimate fulfillment.
The ambiguity in the promise is that the word “house” can refer to a structure or dynasty. In the account when David speaks to Nathan the prophet, he wanted to build a more permanent structure than the existing tabernacle (which was essentially a tent). When God used the term “house” He meant a dynasty that continued forever through one of David’s descendants. This word-play is typical of how important, if cryptic, promises are often given. The parable is another example of cryptic revelation and used extensively in both testaments. I am suggesting that the term “tent” in Amos 9. 11-12, and quoted by James in Acts 15.15-18, refer to this same “dynasty” that “house” means when originally given in 2 Samuel 7 that speaks to the promise of the Messiah and the fulfillment of His work.
James (the half-brother of Jesus) was a descendant of David also through both his father and mother (Lk. 3 gives Mary’s line through David’s son Nathan). James would have undoubtedly recognized the “tent” reference in Amos. The language God gives is unusual (perhaps a clue): How can a tent have “ruins” and be “restored?” A tent collapses when fallen; it doesn’t consist of any permanent structures. Obviously, the Amos text signals elements when the promise was given that God said he moved around in a tent all those years (the Mosaic Tabernacle) and this figure is equated with the promised “house” (dynasty) when David received the prophecy recorded in 2 Samuel 7.
Solus Christus (Christ Alone) versus Totus Christus (the Whole Christ). If one wants to capture the difference between the evangelical faith and Roman Catholicism, here it is. On the one hand, the evangelical stress on the uniqueness of Jesus’s person (the God-man) and His atoning work; on the other, the Roman Catholic insistence on the…
First of all, I should say that Peter Gentry does not mention or refer to Michael Heiser’s idea that the core thematic message of the bible is contained in Gen. 6.1-4. Peter Gentry’s exegesis, analysis, and solution seek to address this difficult text more by scripture witness than the speculative ideas of Michael Heiser.
When I first heard about Heiser’s ideas about giants (Nephilim), I was intrigued and so I bought a couple of his books. It was not long, however, before the level of speculation and tenuous connections he was seeking to make affected me. What disturbed me the most was that he was shifting the long-held narrative about the bible away from the recognition of Gen. 3.15 as the redemptive kernel. He was saying that Gen. 6.1-4 was the germ idea governing interpretation. This will always fail because it has no solid basis of scriptural reference (recurring motifs which signal theme).
The ministry of Jesus recorded in the Gospels corrects many false notions, both of His disciples and current generation. The correction for the false myths of the 2nd and 3rd century B.C.E. regarding these Nephilim were addressed by Paul in 1Tim. 1.4, 4.7.
In our series of bioarchaeographies, we’ve been using archaeology to tell the life story of biblical figures. So far we’ve studied King Hezekiah, Pontius Pilate, Nebuchadnezzar, Gallio, and Tiglath-Pileser III. With each of these biblical characters, we’ve seen direct archaeological evidence that affirms their historicity as well as specific details in Scripture. Sometimes in archaeology, […]