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Articles by Joe Hellerman



  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    One Sunday not too long ago I preached on Daniel 4, where Nebuchadnezzar discovers the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 17). I serve a wonderful, God-loving congregation of mostly conservative Republicans. A couple weeks earlier, I had delighted my people by informing them that I would not make a very good Democrat, because I don’t trust big government. Their delight was short-lived, however, because I immediately said that I also wouldn’t make a very good Republican, because I don’t trust big business. Then, I really got ‘em thinking when I added that I probably don’t make a very good pastor—at least not according to current American evangelical criteria for pastoral success—because I don’t trust big institutional churches.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Scenario #1: A single mom is in a small group with a first-year seminary student. The young man just completed an introductory course in biblical hermeneutics. During the group’s sharing and prayer time, the following interaction unfolds: MOM: I have been really struggling to make ends meet. But just this week I found a verse that has really given me confidence and peace about my finances: ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). STUDENT: You might wanna be careful about claiming that verse as a promise for your personal finances. As the context of Philippians indicates, that is a specific promise Paul gave to a local church because of their sacrificial financial contribution to his missionary efforts. It is not a generic promise to be claimed by just any individual Christian struggling with his or her finances.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    As we approach the Passion Week, it might help to think about Jesus’ crucifixion in a threefold way: 1. Cross-Bearing: The physical pain of Jesus’ death 2. Sin-Bearing: The spiritual anguish of Jesus’ death 3. Shame-Bearing: The public humiliation of Jesus’ death

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    The following post outlines some of the nuts-and-bolts of leading a church as a plurality of pastors. It is an excerpt from a manuscript tentatively titled, When Pastors Were Servants: Recapturing Paul’s Cruciform Vision for Authentic Christian Leadership.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Consider the following observations from two Christian thinkers representing two different theological traditions (Anglican and Eastern Orthodox): Fleming Rutledge comments on the earthquake catastrophe in Haiti: A frequent response heard from Christians is, “God has some purpose in this.” “Something good will come out of this.” “Haiti will become stronger as a result of this.” In one sense, all these things are true; however, these are deeply wrong responses, both theologically and pastorally….Glib, monochromatic responses to catastrophe should have no place in our faith.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    I am presently at work on a book about the use of power and authority in Christian leadership. The provisional title is When Pastors Were Servants: Recapturing Paul’s Cruciform Vision for Authentic Christian Leadership. The primary biblical materials in play are Paul’s letter to the Philippians and the apostle’s ministry in Philippi, as related by Luke in Acts 16.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    If we’ve learned anything about Romans in recent years from the New Perspective folks, it is that Romans is not just about me and God. It’s also about me and you. Paul, in fact, leverages many of the familiar soteriological truths that we typically associate with the book of Romans in the service of what I take (at least in part) to be an ecclesiological agenda. The church at Rome was apparently divided along ethnic lines. Paul’s letter to the Romans represents (among other things) the apostle’s concerted effort to address the issue, in order to restore some inter-racial harmony in the congregation.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Have you ever put together a relational biography? A relational biography describes the special people that God has used in your life over the years to get you where you are today. Try it. You’ll be amazed to discover just how much you owe to the influence of others over the years. As it turns out, I owe them just about everything! What follows is a list of but a few of my creditors, past and present.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    I have found it rather easy over the years to convince our Talbot students of the value of expository preaching. The challenge comes when our students leave the classroom and find themselves ministering to church folks who live in a sound-bite culture, and who have a strong affinity for topical sermons that “scratch ‘em where they itch.”

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    I recently spent an hour with a Talbot guy who is really ‘getting it.’ Not only is Peter a bright, disciplined student of the New Testament. He is also up-to-his-ears in local church ministry.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Third semester Greek is a challenging place to be for our seminary students. Many of these folks are doing well just to hang on to what they learned back in Greek 1-2. Learning intermediate grammar finds our students negotiating a sharp turn deep in the tunnel of language acquisition. The proverbial light at the end of this tunnel—where knowledge of Greek pays significant exegetical dividends—gets almost snuffed out for a season by Wallace’s thirty-some categories of the genitive case.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Don’t gimme no theology. Just gimme the Bible! Ever heard someone say that? Well, at times theology comes in handy. That might sound like a no-brainer coming from a pastor/seminary professor, but as a historian I much prefer interpreting a biblical passage in its historical and literary context (my task as a New Testament scholar) to systematizing various portions of Scripture around a single theological truth (the task of a theologian).

  • Biola Magazine

    Who's Yo Mama?

    Putting Luke 11:27-28 in context

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Does Jesus ever surprise you with the ways that he responds to certain individuals in the Bible? The following interchange certainly cries out for...

  • Biola Magazine

    Joe Hellerman — 

    Next time you go to church try not to think about me and God. Think about us and God instead. Why? Because that’s how the early Christians...