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Articles by Gary Manning Jr



  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    Earlier this semester, my good friend Ken Berding and I were discussing the different views on Romans 7:14-25 and decided that we would each write a blog post summarizing our reasons for holding opposing views on the passage. Last week, Ken gave a great defense of the view that Romans 7:14-25 is autobiographical and is thus about the Christian struggle with sin. I found Ken’s reasons 3, 6 and 7 very strong (Ken also gave a fine experiential discussion of that struggle in an earlier post). As Ken pointed out, there are many smart people on both sides of this issue, so this is not a “slam-dunk” interpretational problem. Throughout Christian history, there have been several opinions about what Paul meant in this passage. The two main options are 1) Paul is referring to his own experience as a Christian, and therefore the general Christian experience; or 2) Paul is referring to the experience of a pre-Christian Jew trying to obey the Law.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    I often get questions from students about the best translation of some verse. Usually, the difference is between "literal" translation (such as ESV or NASB) and "dynamic" translation (such as the NIV or NLT). These two types are also called "formal" (because they try, when possible, to follow the forms and word order of the original Greek or Hebrew sentences) and "functional" (because...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    I grew up hearing and reading the Bible during the transition from the King James Version to NASB and NIV. In my church setting, the transition was mostly welcomed, except by a few godly old-timers who were certain that our prayers were more acceptable to God if they included a generous portion of thees, thous, and Elizabethan-era verb endings. The KJV had the interesting effect of making some very ordinary words into technical religious terms, since the words dropped out of ordinary use in the centuries since the KJV was translated. One of those words is grace. Interestingly, the NASB, the NIV, and even (often) the NLT continue to use this word to translate the Greek word χάρις (charis), even though the meaning of grace in English has changed over the centuries.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    As the father of eight children, I have spent a lot of time with Dr. Seuss. It's scary that I can quote pages of Cat in the Hat from memory. But my time in Dr. Seuss occasionally pays off when I study the Bible. You see, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist in the 1930s and 40s, and political cartoons are ideal analogies for understanding symbolism in Revelation (an idea that I got from Dr. David Scholer, one of my doctoral advisors at Fuller). What is interesting, and what makes this relevant to the study of Revelation, is that Dr. Seuss' cartoons were immediately obvious to readers when they were printed, but are difficult to understand today unless we study history.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    When I teach or preach from the Gospels, I always bring in relevant aspects of the historical and cultural background. Including such details not only helps us in our interpretation of the scene, but also helps us retell the story well – an essential part of preaching from narrative passages. Several passages in the Gospels involve soldiers. Movies about Jesus, and most sermons about Jesus, portray all of these soldiers as Romans. We sometimes get the idea that there were centurions on every street corner. But is this the case? I have pulled together some of the information that we have about soldiers in Judea and Galilee in the first century, and included a few comments about each scene in the Gospels involving soldiers.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    As a resident of Hawaii most of my life, one of the conversations that I have often had with visitors was about what to see when they came to Hawaii. I would tell them to get out of Waikiki, to be sure to visit Hanauma Bay early in the morning, and to try our local plate lunch, among other things. Hawaii is a great place to visit anyway, but hopefully my tips made the trip more enjoyable. I do something similar when I talk to people about the Gospel of John. John is a beautiful book that will bless and delight; but I have some tips that I hope will add to the reader’s enjoyment. Here they are – six questions that make up my traveler’s guide to the Gospel of John.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Gary Manning Jr — 

    Students often ask me about a saying from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “… if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). It’s an interesting saying to study, because it requires us to look carefully at the context, at the Old Testament background, and at some unusual Greek and Hebrew idioms. More importantly, once the passage is understood clearly, it illuminates a key kingdom principle.