Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta — Final Part — HolyLandPhotos’ Blog

Why would tracing the archaeology of a shipwreck be important to the understanding of the bible? One thing, it helps establish the credibility of the chronicler of the account. These indirect or ancillary witnesses are often needed to lend support to the overall story. Here is a partial (see the other posts) explanation detailing some of the events of Paul’s shipwreck on Malta:

Acts 27:29 And fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. As noted previously, the captain, sensing that the ship was approaching land, cast off four “storm anchors” to secure the ship. Mark Gatt notes, logically, that the ship did not spend […]

via Paul’s Shipwreck on Malta — Final Part — HolyLandPhotos’ Blog

Christian Paradox

There are no contradictions in scripture. However, there are apparent contradictions which dissolve with further insight from God-directed studies. Cornelius Van Til used the term “paradox” to describe apparent contradictions in scripture. Here is analysis into his writings about “limiting concepts” which is quite different from the way non-Christians define the term:

I have recently been wading into the thought of the 20th century Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til in order to consider his use of the term “limiting concept.” These words appear throughout his collected works, both in his full-length books and his shorter articles. Our ability to define them is therefore key to understanding both…

via Van Til’s Limiting Concept — Reformation21

The Integrity of Psalm 51

At first blush, the final two verses of Ps. 51 appear out of place for the mere surface reader of this Psalm. However, the bible is filled with metaphors which often winnows the insincere from further study. In Proverbs it tells us it is to God’s glory to conceal the full intent of His disclosure (25.2). Paul, in several places in the New Testament, speaks of “mystery” as a revelation that is initially given in cryptic form but later revealed fully. Additionally, spiritual enlightenment ultimately comes from God the Spirit who decides who, when, where, how, how much- should know the finer points or fuller disclosure. Not everyone needs to know all the fine points for the life and tasks God has given them.

William A. Ross wrote his doctoral thesis on the last two verses of Psalm 51 claiming they cohere with the rest of the composition. The use of analogy often requires the blending of concepts to achieve meaning. Here is his short summary with pertinent proofs:

Jacob Renamed Israel at Peniel

Here is a summary of a journal article that seeks to explain Jacob’s encounter with God at the crossing of the Jabbok River:



The special significance of Jacob’s becoming Israel is the

purification of character. Peniel marks the triumph of the higher

over the lower elements of his life; but if it is a triumph for the

higher elements, it is a defeat for the lower. The outcome of the

match is a paradox. The victor (“you … have prevailed,” Gen.


350                 Bibliotheca Sacra – October-December 1985

32:28) wept (Hos. 12:4) and pleaded for a blessing: once blessed he

emerged, limping on a dislocated hip. How may this be a victory

and a blessing?

The defeat of Jacob. Because Jacob was guilty, he feared his

brother and found God an adversary. Jacob prepared to meet Esau,

whom he had deceived, but the patriarch had to meet God first.

God broke Jacob’s strength before blessing him with the promise of

real strength (the emphasis is on God’s activity).

When God touched the strongest sinew of Jacob, the wrestler,

it shriveled, and with it Jacob’s persistent self-confidence.65 His

carnal weapons were lamed and useless–they failed him in his

contest with God. He had always been sure of the result only when

he helped himself, but his trust in the naked force of his own

weapons was now without value.

The victory of Jacob. What he had surmised for the past 20

years now dawned on him–he was in the hands of One against

whom it is useless to struggle. One wrestles on only when he thinks

his opponent can be beaten. With the crippling touch, Jacob’s

struggle took a new direction. With the same scrappy persistence

he clung to his Opponent for a blessing. His goal was now different.

Now crippled in his natural strength he became bold in faith.

Thus it became a show of significant courage. Jacob won a

blessing that entailed changing his name. It must be stressed that

he was not wrestling with a river demon or Esau or his alter ego,

but with One who was able to bless him.

He emerged from the encounter an altered man. After winning

God’s blessing legitimately, the danger with Esau vanished. He had

been delivered.


What, then, is the significance of this narrative within the

structure of the patriarchal history? In the encounter the empha-

sis on promise and fulfillment seems threatened. At Bethel a prom-

ise was given: at the Jabbok fulfillment seemed to be barred as God

opposed Jacob’s entrance into the land. Was there a change of

attitude with Yahweh who promised the land? Or was this simply a


In a similar but different story, Moses was met by God because

he had not complied with God’s will (Exod. 4:24). With Jacob,

however, the wrestling encounter and name changes took on a

greater significance because he was at the frontier of the land

promised to the seed of Abraham. God, the real Proprietor of the


Jacob at the Jabbok, Israel at Peniel                        351

land, opposed his entering as Jacob. If it were only a matter of mere

strength, then He let Jacob know he would never enter the land.66

The narrative, then, supplies a moral judgment on the crafty

Jacob who was almost destroyed in spite of the promise. Judging

from Jacob’s clinging for a blessing, the patriarch made the same

judgment on himself.


On the surface the story seems to be a glorification of the

physical strength and bold spirit of the ancestor of the Israelites.67

However, like so much of the patriarchal history, it is transparent

as a type of what Israel, the nation, experienced from time to time

with God.68 The story of Israel the man serves as an acted par-

able of the life of the nation, in which the nation’s entire history

with God is presented, almost prophetically, as a struggle until

the breaking of day.69 The patriarch portrays the real spirit of

the nation, engaging in the persistent struggle with God until

they emerge strong in His blessing. Consequently the nation is re-

ferred to as Jacob or Israel, depending on which characteristics


The point of the story for the nation of Israel entering the land

of promise is clear: Israel’s victory will come not by the usual ways

nations gain power, but by the power of the divine blessing. And

later in her history Israel would be reminded that the restoration to

the land would not be by might, nor by strength, but by the Spirit of

the Lord God who fights for His people (Zech. 4:6). The blessings of

God come by His gracious, powerful provisions, not by mere phys-

ical strength or craftiness. In fact there are times when God must

cripple the natural strength of His servants so that they may be

bold in faith.