Just a few more…

This morning I was fortunate and blessed to be able to visit Koorong and add a few books to my library.

  1. Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament – with CD-Rom.
  2. Lasor, Hubbard, Bush. Old Testament Survey.
  3. IVP. Dictionary of the Old Testament, Wisdom, Poetry and Writings.
  4. IVP. Dictionary of the Old Testament, Historical Books.
  5. Dumbrell, William. J. The Faith of Israel, A Theological Survey of the OT.
  6. NICOT. Job.
  7. NICOT. Proverbs 1-15 & 15-31.
  8. Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Skillful, OT commentary Proverbs.
  9. Tyndale. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Psalms & Proverbs NLT translation.
  10. BST. Proverbs.
  11. Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes.
  12. Goldsworthy, Graham. The Tree of Life, Reading Proverbs Today.
  13. Ironside, H.A. Proverbs and Song of Solomon.
  14. Estes, Daniel J. Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms
That was it for the OT section. For the NT and general section I added. 
  1. Fee, Gordon. Revelation.
  2. Fee, Gordan. Paul & the Spirit, & the People of God. 
  3. Grey, Jacqueline. Them,  Us and Me, How the OT Speaks to People Today. 
  4. Hirsch, Alan & Ford, Lance. Right Here, Right Now, everyday mission for everyday people. 
I really wanted to add the NIV Application Commentary on Proverbs to the list – but it wasn’t available as a single commentary. :(

Over time, I would like to collect more ‘Wisdom’ books. Particularly Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. I have a theory that I  am working on regarding Proverbs and believe that the current research on Ecclesiastes has given a key and the basis of a foundation to follow it through.

God has given us the spirit of love!

2Ti 1:7  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and sound mind.

The love of God is a wonderful gift. For love grants us power, love and sound mind. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear produces hatred, it produces timidity and personal weakness, and it produces confusion.

God loves us so much that he promises to grant wisdom to any who ask him. Of course his wisdom is not like our wisdom at times…so we can at times think / say “What are you doing?”  God’s wisdom is peaceable; its kind and not easily angered…and of course his wisdom is his love…so through God’s love we can have peace in the midst of pain and confusion. We can draw on his power, which helps us through trying times and we can draw on his love to help us to forgive – when the alternative is to hate.

We need to grow bigger.

Dave Black writes an stinging critique of the American church and says that bigger isn’t better, when talking about the enormity of the buildings.

Friday, March 18

6:30 PM Why are we so easily deceived into thinking that bigger is better? We take pride in the enormity of our church buildings, the number of people we have in our congregations, and the size of our budgets. Isn’t this just selfish ambition? I propose to handle this issue in Godworld: Enter at Your Own Risk, my book on kingdom living. It is a deep and difficult subject. But it is worthy of reflection and must be tackled. Lord willing, I hope to get much of this writing done while we are in Dallas.

The tragic truth is that the American church is very unlike Jesus.

I’m reminded of a passage from 2nd Peter; which shows us how we can grow bigger in Christlikeness.

2Pe 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
2Pe 1:6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
2Pe 1:7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
2Pe 1:8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ESV

The problem with God’s ways is that its easier to quote about His ways, then what it is to put them into practice… Lord I pray that you will cause these things to be a reality in my life.

There are times when you read a blog post and go wow!


Justin has started a blog which he calls blogosasarkos which in of its self is a great name. His recent post on “Hell” is well worth the read in how he engages with the passage in Mathew 25:31-46.

Then comes the judgment itself, the criterion of which is the treatment of the downtrodden by those standing trial. Why the downtrodden? Because they are the ones who are the least invested in the kingdom of this world; indeed, they are those whom the world has rejected. This, then, is why the Son of Man identifies himself as king with the hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, and infirmed, for to the extent that the kingdom of this world fails to entice universal allegiance, ground is thus ceded to another kingdom – the hidden kingdom of Christ. The imperative of the parable, then, is this: choose now which kingdom you will serve. For those who choose the kingdom of this world, the way of Christ will always appear foolish and humiliating, since going that way entails forsaking the structures and systems which make living in the current order a pleasant affair.

And he follows with…

What we are about to witness is not the wicked’s, but Christ’s punishment; it is he who will receive sentencing before the throne of the world in the next few chapters. Yet this parable narrates the precisely opposite scenario: the judgment of the nations before Christ. When viewed in light of this contrast, a particular feature of the parable stands out, that is, the qualitatively different nature of Christ’s judgment from that of the world.

I highly recommend you read the whole article and his conclusion as to what he thinks Hell is. Whether you agree or not: he has stated his case well.

The Drama of Ephesians…Timothy G. Gombis

I visited our local Christian book store on Friday with the intention to purchase a required text for Wisdom literature. Unfortunately they were sold out and they would have to get it in for me; with a $6.00 price rise…I said I would go and have a look elsewhere and perhaps get back to them.

I was wistfully looking at the shelves; drooling over Justification – Wright, Introduction to the OT -Walter Brueggemann, Gospel of Luke NICNT and dared not even look in the direction of complete collections of Barth and Bonheoffer; when I spied The Drama Of Ephesians tucked neatly away between some other texts.

I’m yet to start reading it; though I have heard and read some great reviews about this book and am excited to do so.

Is 2 Peter a key to understanding Paul?

This passage of Scripture stood out to me in my morning reading.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. 2010 NIV

Does Peter provide a key to understanding a central thrust within Paul’s engagement with Judaism? 

Eugene Peterson nearly gets it…the parable of the rascal.

I have been reading and pondering Luke 15 for the last few weeks. The story of the 99 sheep in the field and the one lost sheep which the shepherd goes and finds. This is followed by the story of a lady who loses a large valuable coin and after searching for it; she finds it. Again the suspense is built up by the story of two brothers; one who is wayward and takes off and squanders his inheritance, the other son ends up being a bit of a sulker.

Yet the 4th story is one that has really confused me. A business manager is found to be embezzling and is quietly sacked. Before he goes he invites all the customers to come to him and lowers their bill. And in doing this he is commended.

Eugene Peterson; in his book – The Word Made Flesh makes the point that the business manager; managed what could be considered in todays terms a real estate agency. The customers were coming to him and paying him in kind, which was the custom of the day.  A olive farmer; paid in olive oil. A wheat farmer; in wheat. A dairy farmer; in milk, and so the story goes.

Great insight from Peterson and it all started to make sense. However; he didn’t go deep enough into the parable and I feel he has missed an important point. The money he was embezzling wasn’t coming out of the masters money. It was the interest / commission he was charging on top of the rent that he was taking.

Think about it. Jesus was talking to not only the religious leaders; but also tax collectors. He was welcoming and eating with all kinds of people; both respectable and not. Those rat bags who were with Jesus were cheering on and thinking…yeup sick it to those self righteous nits. ..then in his style of hitting you where it hurts; while your defences are down – he turns the tables on the tax collectors and rogues.

Elsewhere in the Gospels; Jesus tells the soldiers to be content with their pay; he tells the tax collectors not to take more than they were supposed to. It was common for them to add a little more to the bill; which they would skim off for themselves. Therefore the business manager represented the tax collectors and the rogues.

Four chapters later Luke records Zacchaeus the tax collector saying;

Luk 19:8  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
Luk 19:9  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.

The shrewd business manager I believe is being commended because in fact he is actually repenting and the adjusted bills are in reality what is actually owed to the master. The commendation is actually a continuation of the practice of the celebrations which we find in the previous 3 stories.

What do you think?

One flesh; Christ and the church.

I was reading this passage in Ephesians tonight in the TNIV.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, people have never hated their own bodies, but they feed and care for them, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Traditionally this passage has been used to support submissive wives….and the chapter heading normally sits above verse 22, saying something like Wives Submit…. yet clearly the chapter heading should sit above verse 21 and saying Submit to one another.Paul finishes this chapter off in verse 33 saying that submission is respect….and the husband is to  love his wife; in the same way he loves himself….

Yet I believe this passage is speaking more deeply than just about human relationships and instead is centred on Christ and the relationship he has with the church. For in the era and community Paul was speaking to; it was common for husbands to treat their wives like crap. And by using the illustration of husbands and wives he is elevating the extreme nature of what Christ actually did and continues to do for the church

Some time ago I made the proposition that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was a call for unity between the Jewish and Gentile believers and that Paul was making a point to an uppity Gentile church who were looking down on Jewish believers. Here I believe that Paul is making a profound statement that has been built up throughout the book to bring about complete unity between Jew and Gentile, such as is found in his prayers in chapter 3. In verse 32 Paul speaks of the mystery that Christ and the Church are one; using the metaphor of marriage, and that verse 33 supports the idea that Paul is speaking about how husbands and wives are to live only as an aside and is not his main point.

He makes it clear there is only one wife and that the church represents the wife and therefore both Jew and Gentiles are one… and Christ laid his life down for them both equally with no favouritism, for they are one with Christ.

Jesus the master of the paraphrase.

I have just finished reading Eugene Peterson’s book; “Eat this Book” In the reading of this book there were times I was really encouraged, there were a few times I was a little bored and there were a few times I felt the knife of the Lord cutting away the dead flesh of my heart as I was rebuked.

One of the areas of faith that I was encouraged the most; was in how I went about reading the Bible. For Peterson, the Bible isn’t a book that we are to know; rather the Bible is a book we are supposed to live.

How often do we hear people talk about the hypocrisy of Christians and the Church? We read, hear and perhaps even see Christians willing to talk the talk… but perhaps not so readily being willing to walk the walk?

I know there are many who like the Message Bible. There are many who don’t. And there are many who have never read it, nor intend to do so for various reasons; some of those reasons being based on its heretical paraphrase nature.

I have been spending time the last few weeks working through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. In regards to the topic of paraphrases; it struck me from Matthew 7 :12…

So in every thing, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.

Jesus himself was and is the master of the paraphrase and that is exactly what the Sermon on the Mount is; its a paraphrase of the Old Testament.

3 witnesses needed for baptism.

I have never really been interested in the genealogy in Matthew or any of the other Biblical books for that matter. I have mostly considered them boring and normally skipped quickly over them.

Yet in saying this I was caught by this passage and stopped to reflect on it.

Mat 1:17  There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were also fourteen from David to the exile in Babylonia and fourteen more to the birth of the Messiah.

And as I reflected I become quite excited. For in this short little verse Matthew points out that Christ is the fulfilment of the promises that God gave to Abraham, David and Micah about the coming Christ. Matthew is drawing on the 3 witnesses of the OT Abraham, David and the Prophets; all whom were told by God of the coming Christ.

Jewish law points that there are to be 3 witnesses for certain baptisms; especially that of a proselytes conversion.

Therefore we must note that the witnessing of baptisms was to be normally done by the Sanhedrin; and so in Chapter 3 we note they were coming down to the river where John the Baptist was baptising people. It was here they were rebuked as being a bunch of vipers.

But when John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, “You children of serpents! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?    Mat 3:7

I think they were coming down in mass force within an official lawful capacity and in doing so were saying; Without our being present here; the baptisms you are performing are illegitimate and will not be recognised by us and therefore will not be recognised by God.

Skipping forward to Matthew 21 we see again this same crowd of officials asking Jesus by whose authority was he doing what he was doing. Jesus used a very Jewish traditional form of answering a questions answered in the form of asking them a question in regards to when John was baptising people and more specifically was asking them if His own baptism by John was legitimate.

Mat 21:23-27  And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.  The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Therefore we can say that for the Jewish readers whom Matthew wrote there is a big challenge as to whose side the readers were on. The religious right who didn’t recognise God in their midst or were they going to accept Christ as being the fulfilment of the law and the prophets.



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