Articles by Joseph H. Hellerman



  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    My students in Exegesis In The Gospels (a second-year Greek course) were delighted to discover that (in the words of one news agency) “Christian conspiracy theorists have gathered clues that suggest the end of the world is nigh" ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Many persons in vocational Christian service got their start by working with young people. Youth ministry is great preparation for future service in other capacities. But it is much more than that. Youth pastors have the potential to impact the world for Christ in a powerful way, because young people often make important decisions about their future lives under the influence of church mentors and student ministries workers ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Is the church here to help me to grow in Christ as an individual? Or has God put me here to help the church grow both qualitatively and quantitatively? The easy answer is “Both!” And that’s not completely wrong. But the early Christians clearly prioritized the health and growth of God’s community over the goals and desires of individual believers. This group-first mentality is not only characterized the early church, it characterized family life throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. This is why families arranged marriages. The goal of marriage in the ancient world was the not relational satisfaction of the individuals involved. It was the honor and ongoing viability of the two families who brokered the marriage. The group — in this case the family — came first ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Israel cried out, “Give us a king!” (1 Samuel 8:6). Against his will, God gave his people what they wanted. A real superstar. Saul was the handsomest and tallest man around (9:2). That didn’t work out very well, did it? It never does ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    This year we are studying 1 Corinthians at Oceanside Christian Fellowship. I preached the message on 6:12-20, with the above title. I began by explaining Paul’s foundational principles in verse 12: (1) not all things are helpful, and (2) I will not be dominated by anything. The rest of the sermon outlined the “Five Good Reasons” (subtitle, above) as follows ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I came to Christ as a last resort after a year-long quest to find God back in 1975. With two thriving evangelical churches just a few blocks from my doorstep, why did I explore the Christian faith last instead of first? The cool factor, of course! I was a long-haired, pot-smoking keyboard player in a rock band. Eastern and New Age religion were “spiritual” and cool — Christianity definitely was not ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Seminary students are among the busiest people I know. Church + Family + School + Work makes for a challenging time of wise prioritizing. A Talbot professor back in the early 1980s gave his busy seminarians some pointed advice. He instructed us not to spend a lot of our time in local church ministry. “This is your training time,” he asserted, “and seminary is where you need to focus for this season of your life.” At the time it sounded like good advice. Now I’m not so sure ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Dr. Joseph Hellerman, Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, talks about his volume on Philippians in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I wrote a book titled When The Church Was A Family. Considering its rather narrow focus, it has sold pretty well. I am particularly delighted that the book has become required reading in one of our Talbot Spiritual Formation courses. One person who has read When The Church Was A Family is Mark DeNeui. Mark is a New Testament scholar who has been training Christian leaders in Europe for over twenty years. He and his wife Lisa have been on furlough from the mission field and will shortly return to France. I was Mark’s youth pastor back in the late 1970s, I officiated at their wedding a decade or so later, and my wife and I have remained close to the DeNeuis all these years ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Maybe you didn’t know that he was gone. He was. The prophet Ezekiel saw it all in a vision. God abandoned his temple during the Babylonian Exile in the sixth-century BC ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Are you a Friday person or a Sunday person? Each year Easter gives us a special opportunity to stop and recalibrate our outlook on life. What is the difference between a Friday person and a Sunday person? Well, a Friday person is basically a pessimist, viewing every circumstance in a negative light, and always anticipating the worst: That little noise under the hood probably means I need to have my engine rebuilt. I’ll never be able to please my demanding boss. Nobody likes me. I’ll never get out from under these financial pressures. I guess I’m just meant to have a lousy marriage. This persistent pain in my side is probably cancer. A Friday person is someone who looks at a half-glass of water and thinks, “A lot of good that’ll do. I have a whole forest fire to put out!”

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Students often ask, What does a Christian leader need in order to experience an effective life of ministry in the local church? A key part of the answer has to do with the kinds of people we gather around ourselves. As I look back over some thirty-five years of local church ministry, four kinds of relationships (besides God and my natural family) have proven indispensable to the health and vitality of my own pilgrimage as a pastor ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    As indicated in a previous post, Talbot School of Theology will be well represented this year at the Evangelical Theological Society's national meeting [need link here]. For those unable to attend (most of you, I assume!), here is a video clip that touches upon some key ideas that I will be sharing in my plenary address. The interviewer is Dr. Jason Cusick, a pastor at Journey of Faith Church in Manhattan Beach, CA. The clip was shown in a church service as part of a series on the church and the family.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I am often asked my opinion of the mega-church model of ministry. I find the model lacking, frankly, but not for the reasons you might think.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I recently read a fascinating book by Richard Nisbett, who compares and contrasts contemporary Asian and Western worldviews. It just so happens that the strong-group mentality of Nisbett’s Asian culture corresponds in some important ways to the mindset of people in the New Testament world.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Each August the Hellermans spend several weeks vacationing in the mountains, in Mammoth Lakes, CA. One afternoon, on one of our getaways, our oldest daughter (then thirteen years old) came out of her room with a play she had written. Rebekah has always been into drama. She had participated in a number of children’s theater productions at our previous church. On the home front, Rebekah recruited neighborhood friends and staged “plays” before a captive audience of indulgent parents ... So began an adventure that continues to unfold today, sixteen years later.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    ... Among the unique aspects of early Christianity, when compared to other religious options in the ancient world, are the relationships the early Christians shared across geographical boundaries. The church was a family—not only locally but also from town to town ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Last Saturday evening, my wife and I had a delightful dinner out with two of our very best friends, John and Leah Hutchison. Before we left the house, I had about fifteen minutes to kill while Joann was still getting ready. The nerd in me has something laying right on my nightstand for just such occasions: a volume of Josephus’ Antiquities. I picked it up, intending to read a little Greek, and stumbled across a story that had escaped my memory but is worth revisiting ...

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I am working on a sermon about the church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3). As I prepare, I am struck by the open-handed generosity of this church, with respect both to financial resources and personnel.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    I am not particularly enthralled with the spiritual gifts debate that is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts, via John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference and publications. Been there. Done that. I was a new believer when the same debate was raging back in the late 1970s, and it is a bit discouraging to see the church divided, once again, over a topic that was beat into the ground a generation ago.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    One of my self-imposed projects over the January break is to read through N. T. Wright’s (most recent) magnum opus, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. The work is actually two separate books (@ 600 and 1200 pages, respectively!). Book I is primarily concerned with backgrounds, and Paul’s worldview vis-à-vis paganism and Judaism. Book II deals with Paul’s theology and more directly engages the text of his letters.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Allow me to introduce you to Brett McCracken. Brett is a Talbot student and Biola employee whom God is using in some very strategic ways to represent Jesus and his people at the national level. I became acquainted with Brett through my oversight of the Good Book Blog. I am thankful and proud that this humble and gifted young man is part of the Biola/Talbot community, and I think that you will be, too, after you read the following interview.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Literally. This morning I was jogging on the beach and came across four people: (1) a minister, (2) photographer, (3) a young man in a tux, and (4) a young lady in a wedding dress. I think the ceremony had just ended, because they were signing the marriage license as I ran by. What was sad was that there was not another person in sight.

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    Remember 7th grade, when your English teacher taught you how to diagram sentences? You know, “main clause,” “subordinate clause,” and all that other stuff you have likely forgotten long ago? I still diagram sentences. And I teach my students how to diagram sentences, too—Greek sentences!

  • The Good Book Blog

    Joseph H. Hellerman — 

    We at Talbot, and especially in the philosophy department, are deeply saddened with the homegoing of our mentor and friend, Dallas Willard.