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  • Historical Theology, New Testament

    Kenneth Berding — 

    It is rare for someone using critical methods to argue for a position more conservative than that taken by most conservatives. Such is the case with David Trobisch’s argument for the dating of the “closing"1 of the New Testament canon (The First Edition of the New Testament [Oxford University Press, 2000]).. Trobisch argues that the New Testament (NT) canon, containing the same 27 books as are found in our NT (though in a slightly different order than they are presently arranged), was published some time in the middle of the second century. Trobisch argues against the current consensus that the NT canon was a result of a long and complicated process that continued for a few centuries. Rather, in his own words, “The history of the New Testament is the history of an edition, a book that has been published and edited by a specific group of editors, at a specific place, and at a specific time (p. 6).”

  • Biblical Exposition, New Testament

    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.

  • Ministry and Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Theology

    Rob Lister — 

    I loved my time in seminary. The seminary years were formative and growth-filled for me in many ways. I learned more about God in a concentrated period of time than ever before. My professors were scholar-pastors. I was blessed to be part of a healthy church. I made some of my best (and lifelong) friends during seminary. And God graciously started and grew our family during those years.

  • Biblical Exposition, Church Life, New Testament

    Matthew Williams — 

    ▶Jesus' interactions with people in the Gospel of John...and today I would like to begin a series that looks at stories in the Gospel of John in which we find Jesus interacting with various people who need help—physical help and spiritual help. As we look closely at these individuals, we will often see that they are dealing with shame, though this theme is usually hidden in the historical background of the first century. Thus, over the course of this series, I will explore how Jesus interacts with them not only to take away their shame, but also to raise them up and give them honor!

  • Biblical Exposition, Church Life

    John Hutchison — 

    In a recently posted blog (Marriage: The Power of Communication), I quoted Ephesians 4:29 to affirm the healing power of spirit-controlled communication between a husband and wife : “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Even with good intentions, however, all marriages encounter conflict. When the “storm clouds” gather, how important it is to understand the role of disagreement in marriage. Where does it come from? Is it all destructive, or are there constructive attitudes that will strengthen a relationship?

  • New Testament

    Mickey Klink III — 

    Beginnings of ancient books were important. Ancient writers were well aware of the importance of narrative beginnings. As Morna Hooker explains (“Beginnings and Endings,” in The Written Gospel, ed. Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005], 184), “In the introduction … an author would give some indication of the purpose or contents of the book. Some genres of literature – history, biography, scientific, medical, or technical works – begin with a formal preface, indicating the author’s purpose or method.” This narrative function of beginnings, therefore, provided information regarding purpose, method, and contents – key information needed to understand the rest of the narrative.

  • Biblical Exposition, Christian Education

    Kevin Lawson — 

    Over the next several months, I will be addressing the problem of the shallow impact of many teaching ministries in our churches and ways that we might “Teach Deeper” for greater openness to God’s transforming work. In this second blog I share the first half of a proposal for how to understand the goals of our teaching to more naturally help those we teach both understand and begin to respond to God’s Word in ways that can lead to lasting change.

  • Church Life, Ministry and Leadership

    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.

  • Biblical Exposition, Church Life

    John Hutchison — 

    I recently asked one of the elders of our church this question, “If you were choosing one factor that is most crucial in strengthening a marriage, what would it be?” He and his wife regularly do “crisis” marriage counseling with couples seeking help and on the verge of divorce. The response: “Bear one another’s burdens—learn to be a good listener, pray for your spouse, and communicate that you really care.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But even with the best of intentions, practicing this requires good communication skills. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB) says . . .

  • Biblical Exposition, Culture

    Rick Langer — 

    We live in one of the most materially prosperous cultures that the world has ever known. We live with full stomachs and warm houses, surrounded by technological toys, secured by gates and walls, tended by the best of medical practice, and endlessly entertained by a 24/7 stream of media. There is only one thing we are missing: contentment. Why is "enough" so hard to find?

  • Spiritual Formation

    Judy TenElshof — 

    Last weekend Gene, my husband and I were up in Idyllwild at Hilltop, a renewal center God has given us and we were serving a church elder board. We knew that snow was predicted and we warned everyone to drive up early but Friday night four of the men came up late. At 11 pm, after it had snowed for a couple of hours, they were unable to get up the last hill. They struggled getting their chains on, and while working to get the chains on, left the front car door of their car open which was then mangled by a tree when the car slipped backwards. At that point they called to ask for help. Their souls and ours were anything but beautiful, they were full of turmoil and angst, but nothing prepared us for the change in our souls the next morning when we awoke. Two feet of fresh fallen snow and it was still coming down. We were able to see God in all of His magnificence as we opened our eyes to his beauty in the very thing that had caused us angst. A true picture of God in his gentle, silent, purity creating a picture of his workmanship in our souls. What a contrast to the night before.

  • Christian Education, Ministry and Leadership

    Dave Keehn — 

    One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a student who rose to speak at a “thank you” celebration when I left my first church. I had been involved in youth ministry at this church for 14 years, the last ten as the youth pastor. I had begun to recognize the benefits of developing a comprehensive mentoring program for the youth ministry and invested many hours in the lives of a few young men. All five of these men are currently serving in full time ministry today, most as youth pastors. This particular student, James, was one of those five I poured myself into during the last few years at that church. As many people stood to say nice things to my family and I, this young man silenced the room when he simply said, “You are my Paul and I am your Timothy!” And with that he sat down. The emotion I had been trying to control burst forth at that moment and I realized I was finished. I had completed the task God had called me to at that church. What a compliment that student paid me; on my worst days, I think about that moment and smile. Mentoring may be a “buzz-word” in the business world but the practice of developing another person for specific purposes of skill development or leadership (Smith, p. 95) has been around since the beginning of civilization, evident throughout Scripture – especially in the lives of Paul and Timothy.

  • Apologetics, Biblical Exposition

    Clinton E. Arnold — 

    Over the weekend, I spoke at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon where Talbot alumnus Ken Wytsma serves as pastor. In the “Redux” (Q&A) session that followed my message, someone asked me, “What is Spiritual Warfare?” Here is my response:

  • Biblical Exposition, Old Testament, Spiritual Formation

    Rob Price — 

    O Heavenly Father, how typical of us it is to look, not first to you, but straight at our many foes, and then shrink back from our difficult situations and listen far too readily to those who question your goodness to us. Forgive us, Father! Our foes and troubles and doubts are not our final reality. Jesus Christ is our final reality!

  • Biblical Exposition, New Testament

    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.

  • Christian Education, Culture

    Freddy Cardoza — 

    Ideas are not neutral and irrelevant. They are constructs of language that can have helpful or hurtful cooresponding effects. All ideas are not equally valid and are not necessarily even true... but, true or not, ideas can have powerful effects and great care should be taken in our handling of them.

  • Biblical Exposition, Church Life

    John Hutchison — 

    Just think about the meaning of the words in our wedding vows—“for better or for worse . . . in plenty and in want . . . in joy and in sorrow . . .in sickness and in health . . . as long as we both shall live.” What a commitment we make in that moment of time, with “God and these witnesses” listening! Are these just empty words of tradition, or do they represent a genuine promise of commitment? The longevity and quality of your marriage depends upon it!

  • Church Life, Theology

    Ashish Naidu — 

    A friend of mine has a coffee cup with the following words printed on the outside, “Presbyterian Coffee: Predestined to be brewed decently and in order.” I chuckled when I saw it for the first time several years ago. The humorous one-liner nicely captures a couple of representative ideas that are associated with a particular church denomination. An amusing tongue-in-cheek way to integrate the love of coffee, a distinctive theological perspective, and a related view of church polity, one might say! Funny sayings aside, the hallmark of church polity of things being done “decently and in order” actually derives from Paul’s remark in 1 Cor. 14:40, where he instructs believers to be orderly in their worship and to avoid discord and confusion. I suggest that this regulative principle of church polity can be of great service outside its walls, especially in conversational contexts that can be potentially explosive.

  • Biblical Exposition, Old Testament

    Kenneth Way — 

    I recently read an article by a renowned scholar in an obscure publication that really got me thinking. The article was by the prolific Jewish commentator, Jacob Milgrom (“The Desecration of YHWH’s Name: Its Parameters and Significance” in Birkat Shalom: Studies in the Bible, Ancient Near Eastern Literature…Presented to Shalom M. Paul, eds., C. Cohen, et al., 69-81. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008). Towards the end of the article Milgrom makes some compelling suggestions about the meaning of the name YHWH based on the testimony of God himself in the account of the burning bush (Exodus 3:9-15).

  • Apologetics, Church Life, Theology

    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.

  • Biblical Exposition, Church Life

    John Hutchison — 

    This summer my wife and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary . . . I am discovering when we say that publicly, there are noticeable gasps from the audience, and even a little applause now and then! Different from my parents’ generation, marriages that last have become the exception rather than the rule. What is it that makes marriage work well and last long? I have reflected on that a bit lately, and I’m convinced that the ancient wisdom of God’s Word, practically lived out in our complicated world, will bring longevity and quality to any marriage. Here are a few thoughts from the “blueprint” of marriage in Genesis 2:20-24.

  • Church Life, Ministry and Leadership

    David Talley — 

    In addition to my faculty responsibilities at Biola University, I am a member of a pastoral team at a local church ( We do not have a senior pastor. Our understanding of this is captured in two ministry values, namely “Elder Leadership” and “Spirit-led Decision Making.” It is my hope that the following summary of these ministry values might challenge you in your understanding of how the body of Christ is to function.

  • Church Life, Spiritual Formation

    Kenneth Berding — 

    “It really doesn’t matter whether I go to church. I have Christian friends, Bible classes, and chapels at Biola; why do I need a church?” I’ve heard some version of this statement at least three times during the past week. Although many Biola students truly understand the importance of the local church and are actively involved in their churches, some of our students still don’t get it. They think that they already have plenty of access to good Bible teaching, fellowship, worship services, and opportunities to go on short-term missions trips. So what’s the big deal about the local church?

  • Ministry and Leadership

    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.

  • Church Life, Theology

    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.