Just in time for Easter, check out this creative lyric video from The Gray Havens:
Wikipedia’s description of Charles Barkley’s golf swing must be quoted in full:
Barkley is well known for his fondness of golf. However, his swing is often regarded as one of the most bizarre and broken swings in the sport. Barkley’s swing unravels after he brings his club back. He starts to take it forward then jerks to a stop, throwing his body off balance, before wildly striking at the ball.
You have to see it to believe it:
In the most recent issue of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology I have an article entitled “Suffering in Revelation: The Fulfillment of the Messianic Woes.” Here’s the opening paragraph:
In Revelation, John writes as one in affliction (Rev 1:9), to churches in affliction (e.g., 2:10, 13), about the affliction that will take place before kingdom come (see esp. Rev 11–13). The contention of this essay is that John sees the affliction in which he is a “brother and fellow partaker” (1:9) as the outworking of the Messianic Woes that must be fulfilled prior to the consummation of all things. To establish this, we will begin with a summary of the indications of end times tribulation, the Messianic Woes, in Daniel, cross-pollinating this discussion with consideration of how various New Testament authors interpreted Daniel, before considering how John interprets these realities in Revelation. In this essay, I am attempting to do biblical theology by pursuing the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. As followers of Jesus, once we understand the perspective he taught his apostles, our responsibility is to make their perspective our own.
From there the outline of the essay is as follows:
I. The Messianic Woes in Daniel and the New Testament
II. The Messianic Woes in Revelation
A. Encouragement for Those Who Suffer
B. Symbolic Timeline
You can read the article in webpage format, or download a PDF:
“Suffering in Revelation: The Fulfillment of the Messianic Woes,” SBJT 17.4 (2013): 34–47.
Have you noticed the double brackets in the ESV that surround John 7:53–8:11? Those double brackets mean that the ESV’s translation committee does not consider this passage to be original to John’s Gospel. You also find double brackets around Mark 16:9–20.
Do you know what it means that these passages are marked off–correctly–as not coming from the authors of these respective Gospels? If John did not write what is enumerated as 7:53–8:11, that means it doesn’t belong between John 7:52 and 8:12 because it does not come from the author who was “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” If John did not write this passage, it isn’t Scripture because it was not “breathed out by God.” If it isn’t Scripture, it shouldn’t be in the text, and pastors shouldn’t preach it.
That’s what those double brackets mean about these passages. I submit that if a translation committee has come to the conclusion that they should put double brackets around these texts, they would serve pastors and Bible teachers better by putting these texts in a footnote rather than in the text. Those double brackets are too easy not to notice. The ESV puts John 5:4 in a footnote because the editors do not think John wrote that verse. The same should be done with Mark 16:9–20 and John 7:53–8:11.
What is the evidence for such a conclusion? In what follows I will only present the evidence for John 7:53–8:11, evidence that comes from the New Testament manuscripts (external evidence) and from the flow of thought in John’s Gospel (internal evidence). [If you're interested in the Mark 16 issue, I discussed that passage also from the pulpit].
We are dealing with books written long before the printing press and long copied by hand. John 7:53–8:11 is not in any of the earliest manuscripts, and Bruce Metzger notes that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it.” That means that at some point a scribe copied this passage into a manuscript of John’s Gospel, and then that got perpetuated. The fact that we have enough evidence to determine this to be the case should increase our confidence in the text of the New Testament. That there is a consensus on this point should make us more confident in the Scriptures not less.
John 7:53–8:11 is not in any of the best texts: P66, P75, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, etc. As the note above the passage in the ESV states, the earliest manuscripts do not include it. As the footnote in the ESV text states, some manuscripts contain this passage, but not following John 7:52. Some have it after John 7:36 or 21:25 or even Luke 21:38. Again, the fact that we have enough manuscript evidence to arrive at this conclusion shows that we can be practically certain about the original contents of the text of the New Testament.
The Flow of Thought in John’s Gospel
In addition to the manuscript evidence indicating that John the author of the Gospel did not put this passage here, we can also observe that the passage interrupts the flow of thought in this section of the Gospel. The opponents of Jesus are ready to kill him (John 5:18; 7:19–20, 25). They seek to arrest him (7:30, 32), and they are frustrated when the officers don’t bring him in (7:45–47). Their minds are made up. They have just rejected Nicodemus’s counsel that they investigate Jesus (7:51). They are past the point of testing Jesus or seeking charges to bring against him, as the interpolated passage has them doing in 8:6. They do not need charges against Jesus. He has called “God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18), so they can bring him up on charges of blasphemy.
There are accounts in other Gospels similar to this one about the woman caught in adultery, but there are no accounts like this one in John. The passages most similar to this interpolated passage are the ones that depict the scribes and Pharisees disputing directly with Jesus over someone who is in need. Interestingly, the two accounts closest to this one involve the healing of the paralytic and the man with the withered hand. Mark places both of those incidents (Mark 2:1–12; 3:1–5) prior to the Pharisees’ fateful decision to seek to kill Jesus (Mark 3:6).
John Doesn’t Talk This Way
Have you noticed that John always refers to the opponents of Jesus as “the Jews”? Did you notice that John never refers to the scribes? The only instance of the word “scribes” in John’s Gospel is in the interpolated passage at 8:3. In fact there are 14 words in John 7:53–8:11 passage that occur nowhere else in John’s Gospel.
Continuity Between John 7 and 8
If we pass over 7:53–8:11, we find that the setting and situation in the rest of John 8 matches the setting and situation of John 7. As we move to John 8:12, John continues to present Jesus speaking at the temple (7:28; 8:20) on the last and greatest day of the feast (7:37).
Not only is the setting of John 8 the same as that of John 7, the points under discussion are the same. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the water pouring ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles in 7:37–39. That water pouring ceremony likely commemorated the water from the rock in the wilderness (Exod 17:1–7; Num 20:2–13). In addition to the water pouring ceremony there was a ceremonial lighting of candles, likely commemorating the way the Lord lit Israel’s way through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and flame. In John 8:12, Jesus will assert that he is the light of the world. Other points of contact between John 7 and 8 include the following:
- Testimony, 7:18, 28; 8:13
- Where Jesus comes from and where he goes, 7:25–30, 31–36; 8:14, 21–22 (cf. esp. 7:34–35 and 8:21–22)
- Righteous judgment, 7:24; 8:15
- The Jews don’t know God, 7:28; 8:19, 55
- The seeking of glory, 7:18; 8:50, 54
A Plea to Translation Committees
Bible translation committees responsible for the ESV, CSB, NIV, NAS, and any other translation preached from pulpits should do pastors a favor and put these texts in footnotes. Mark 16:9–20 was not written by Mark, and John 7:53–8:11 was not written by John. Those passages do not belong in the text and should not be preached from pulpits. The snake-handlers are woefully mistaken. They should not think there is any warrant in the New Testament for such a practice. Similarly, those who cry that no one should throw stones anytime sinners are called to repentance have misunderstood this interpolated passage (Jesus does tell the woman to stop sinning in 8:11), but still the passage has no business in the text. It was not written by John, and it should not be there interrupting the flow of though between 7:52 and 8:12. Put it in a footnote.
[it was my privilege to preach John 7:53–8:29 at Kenwood Baptist Church today, and for any who may be interested in the way I addressed this issue from the pulpit, the sermon audio is online].
Jim Zaspel writes:
Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? If you love books, your greatest frustration is keeping up – “So many books; So little time!” we say. Books At a Glance is a new online service designed to relieve this frustration, and in doing so it provides a much-needed service.
“Executive summaries” is a familiar concept in the business world, and this is what Books At a Glance now does for Christian readers. Their book summariescondense the leading argument(s) of a book, chapter by chapter, into a mere 7 – 10 pages. This enables you to keep informed and up to date and widen your learning in minutes, without infringing on your schedule. And of course it will help you know which books you want to purchase for a deeper understanding of the book’s topic. You can check them out at www.BooksAtaGlance.com.
In addition to book summaries, BooksAtaGlance.com also offers book reviews, author interviews, and a blog, and their list of resources grows daily.
You will see on their Board of Reference that Books At a Glance comes with rich endorsements, and I am impressed with the excellent staff of Review and Assistant Editors that have teamed up for the work. I’ve been aware of the development of this website for some time, and now that it has launched I expect this to be a very useful tool for many.
Check them out at www.BooksAtaGlance.com.
We’re fans around here of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, and in the run-up to the real release of Book Four, The Warden and the Wolf King, we are reading back over the first three volumes. We just finished volume one, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, which includes this poem, “The Legend of the Sunken Mountains.” The rhyme scheme is clear, there are internal rhymes, and the meter is well paced and fits the message.
Along with its technical competence, this poem captures that haunting, suggestive quality. It’s a bit mysterious, hinting at a back story, tantalizing the reader with the suggestion of an old story high and beautiful. The poet novelist has intrigued us with his first three volumes, and we’re eager to read the fourth. Without further ado, here’s
“The Legend of the Sunken Mountains” by Andrew Peterson
Come forth from sunken mountain calls the sundered summer moon
The eyrie’s fallen dragon king hath groaned his grievous tune
The halls that rose in cloudy steeps now lie beneath the waves
And Yurgen’s fallen kingdom sleeps in bouldered ocean graves
Yurgen’s son, the dragon fair, met Omer son of Dwayne
And so the knight and Yurgen’s heir did battle in the rain
And lo, the dragon wounded lay from Omer’s mortal blow
The knight, in grief, did haste away to save his mortal foe
And Omer, bent with sorrow, bowed in Yurgen’s mountain hall
And told the ancient dragon how his only heir did fall
So Yurgen, mighty dragon king, atop his mountain keep
Asunder tore the glistening and rocky mountain steep
He summoned every dragon for to burrow through the ground
And find at last the fabled ore that makes the maiméd sound
But Yurgen’s heir was cold and killed, and buried in the mount
As dragons tunneled deeper still below the ocean fount
And then at last with thund’rous din the misty mountain climbs
Collapsed upon the beasts within the darkness of the mines
From ocean then did Yurgen rise to seek his dying son
But where his mountain once arrayed a half-moon golden hung
His dragon kingdom moldered, his dragon scion slain
King Yurgen’s sorrow smoldered and he sank away again
The halls that towered in cloudy steeps now lie beneath the waves
And Yurgen’s fallen kingdom sleeps in murky ocean graves
The summer dusk hath split in twain the gilded summer moon
And all who come shall hear again the dragons’ lonesome tune
All families of all nations need to know what the Scriptures say about the training and discipling of children, so I rejoice that Saul Sarabia L. has rendered my essay, “That the Coming Generation Might Praise the Lord,” into Spanish:
And here are Saul’s previous translations:
A Guest Post from Miguel Echevarria:
Do you want to study biblical theology? Do you want to learn how to use it in your ministry? Would you like to be in cohort of men who have come to Southern for this very purpose? If so, we want to encourage you to enroll in Southern’s D.Min. in Biblical Theology.
The D.Min. in Biblical Theology will equip you to understand the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in accordance with the intentions of its Spirit-inspired human authors. Jesus taught the authors of the New Testament how to understand the Old Testament, and Jesus himself learned to understand the Old Testament from the way the Old Testament Prophets interpreted Moses. Our aim is to enhance your understanding of the interpretive perspective that is reflected in the writings of the Old and New Testaments, the interpretive perspective Jesus taught his followers. This is what it means to pursue Christian interpretation of the Bible—which will help you be a more effective minister of God’s Word.
Here is the course of study.
Hebrew Review Course: This course is designed as a refresher for those who fulfilled basic Hebrew requirements during their MDiv programs.
Old Testament Theology: An examination of the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors in the OT. A particular focus will be placed upon the big story they presuppose and the imagery, symbolism, and patterns they use to summarize and further interpret that story.
Greek Review Course: This course is designed as a refresher for those who fulfilled basic Greek requirements during their MDiv programs.
New Testament Theology: An examination of the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors in the NT. A particular focus will be placed upon the big story they presuppose and the imagery, symbolism, and patterns they use to summarize and further interpret that story.
Use of the Old Testament in the Old Testament: An examination of the way later Old Testament authors interpret earlier Old Testament Scripture.
Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament: An examination of the way the New Testament authors interpret the Old Testament.
The D.Min. in Biblical Theology will be led by Dr. Jim Hamilton and will begin July 2014. This is a modular program and the application deadline is March 15, 2014. Only a few spots remain. Click on the following link to apply. http://www.sbts.edu/future-
John Calvin’s essay “Christ Is the End of the Law” is included in Thy Word Is Still Truth, ed. Peter Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin. Calvin writes,
“For this is eternal life, to know the one and only true God, and Him who He sent, Jesus Christ, whom he constituted the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. This One is Isaac the well-beloved Son of the Father, who was offered in sacrifice, and yet did not succumb to the power of death. This is the vigilant Shepherd Jacob, taking such great care of the sheep He has charge over. This is the good and pitiable Brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to recognize His brothers, however contemptible and abject as they were. This is the great Priest and Bishop Melchizedek, having made eternal sacrifice once for all. This is the sovereign Lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit. This is the faithful Captain and Guide Joshua to conduct us to the promised land. This is the noble and victorious King David, subduing under His hand every rebellious power. This is the magnificent and triumphant King Solomon, governing His kingdom in peace and prosperity. This is the strong and mighty Samson, who, by His death, overwhelmed all His enemies.”
HT: John Michael Larue
Saul Sarabia Lopez has translated my essay “The Glory of God in Salvation through Judgment: The Center of Biblical Theology?” I praise God for this brother’s labors. So thankful that he is serving the Lord in this way. Please pass this on to any Spanish speakers you know:
And here are Saul’s previous translations:
For Liam’s Parents at His Funeral
January 15, 2013
O LORD, our Lord, majestic name,
We sit in dust and ash.
Though sorrows all around us crash,
Rejoicing all the same.
We know not why this little one
Is laid to rest today.
He brought us joy, though not yet born,
We know not how to say
What might have been. We’ll never know.
What paths, what joys, what pains?
We would have loved to watch him grow,
To clean up spills and stains.
And so we bring this grief to you,
The one who’ll raise the dead,
For where we thought there would be life,
We’re left with death instead.
We hate it, Lord, but somehow know,
That bonds this too will form.
Through shared sorrow does marriage grow,
Together weather storm.
So bind our hearts in faith and hope,
And never let us go.
As in the darkness still we grope,
And in rough waters row.
O LORD, our Lord, majestic name,
We sit in dust and ash.
Though sorrows all around us crash,
Rejoicing all the same.
January 25, 2012
Augustine’s argument about what really brought Rome down could be spoken of today’s world power:
Well may they scoff, utter scamps and railers as they are, far from truebred sons of those very Romans even, who have to their credit many glorious feats for which they are honoured in the book of history. Nay, they are headlong foes to the renown of their ancestors. Truly they had made the name of Rome, that Rome that was conceived and nourished by the pains of their elders, sink lower while she stood than ever it sank when she fell, forasmuch as in her fall were overturned but stones and timbers, while in their way of living were overturned all the ramparts and splendours, not of mural, but of moral strength. Deadlier were the lusts that raged in their hearts than the flames that raged in their city’s edifices.
-Augustine, City of God, 2.2 (LCL 411.151).
How can the church influence the wider culture and politics? That’s the question I tackle in my essay, “The Church Militant and Her Warfare.”
Saul Sarabia Lopez has now translated this essay into Spanish: La Iglesia Militante y su Guerra: No Somos Otro Grupo de Interés
Here is the growing list of his other translations, for which I’m thankful, and which I hope you’ll help get into the hands of our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters:
What is biblical theology?
I use the phrase biblical theology to refer to the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. So what is an “interpretive perspective”? It’s the framework of assumptions and presuppositions, associations and identifications, truths, and symbols that are taken for granted as an author or speaker describes the world and the events that take place in it.
It was my privilege to discuss biblical theology and the book of Genesis with Steve Ham of Answers in Genesis.
Just as J. R. R. Tolkien set out the parameters of the world in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings would take place, so Genesis sets out the parameters of the world in which the true story takes place.
And I’m so thankful for biblical theology and for the role that mothers play in it. What a blessing to have a mother. What a blessing to be a mother. What a blessing to know the true story of the world. What a God! What a Savior! What mercy. What a blessing to have the Book.
Here’s the link to the Spanish translation: Una Teología Bíblica de la Maternidad
And here are good Saul’s other translations:
Can you imagine anything more vulnerable than a woman laboring to give birth? Women in labor are completely occupied with giving birth. They are not thinking about defending themselves. They cannot strategize about how to escape from danger. They are focused on one thing: giving birth. The process of giving birth is a colossal struggle for life. The whole of a woman’s mental energy, emotional strength, and bodily power are focused on what seems impossible and is nothing short of miraculous. A human being is about to come into the world out of her body, and the baby seems bigger than the birth canal. It looks impossible. It is a miracle of frantic human determination and astonishing divine design.
Can you imagine anything more frightening or threatening than a huge dragon? Let me suggest a way to make a dragon even more dreadful: give it seven heads. Put a horn on each head, and on three of the heads have two horns, so there are seven heads and ten horns.
Put the two images together and you have a drama. A pregnant woman in the process of giving birth, and she is threatened by a massive dragon who wants to eat her baby the moment he is born. She cannot run. She cannot hide. What hope does she have?
Do you want to heighten the desperation and urgency of the situation? The child about to be born, sure to be eaten by the dragon, is the world’s last hope. This is an epic pageant of intense, unprotected goodness confronted with a shocking evil that looks powerful, inevitable, devastating.
John writes in Revelation 12:1–2, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” The first thing we should note is that this woman is a “sign.” She is a portent of symbolic significance. So the symbol is a pregnant woman about to give birth, and she is clothed with the sun.
Imagine a woman wearing the sun as a garment. She has the moon under her feet, and she has a crown on her head. The crown is of twelve stars. These heavenly bodies are reminiscent of Joseph’s second dream in Genesis 37:9, where Joseph says, “Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” Joseph’s father Jacob, a.k.a. Israel, interprets the dream in 37:10 saying, “Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” So in Joseph’s dream, Jacob/Israel is the sun, Joseph’s mother Rachel is the moon, and Joseph’s eleven brothers are the eleven stars, with Joseph evidently the twelfth.
When God created the heavens and the earth he made the two great lights on the fourth day, the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night with the stars (Gen 1:16), and they were “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (1:14). Portraying the family of Israel as these “ruling signs” seems to communicate that Israel will rule the world, and the patriarchal luminaries of Israel bow to Joseph. Revelation 12:1 seems to evoke Genesis 37:9–10 to portray Jesus as a new and greater Joseph.
As for the woman being pregnant, Micah 4:10 presents the “daughter of Zion” being in labor and it seems that Israel will remain in exile until the child is born in Bethlehem (5:2). Micah 5:3–4 says, “Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who was in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.” Psalm 72:8 and Zechariah 9:10 also speak of the Messiah reigning “to the ends of the earth.” So this woman seems to symbolize the nation of Israel in general and in particular Mary, the maiden of Israel, daughter of Zion, who gave birth to Jesus. The birth of Jesus is interpreted here as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that point to the birth of the child bringing redemption for God’s people and ruling over all the nations of the earth. This child is the hope of the world.
There is a second sign in Revelation 12:3–4, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” Imagine seeing this huge red dragon, but it isn’t your ordinary dragon with one head, it has seven heads! With the seven heads, it has ten horns.
The portrayal of the dragon’s tail sweeping down a third of the stars of heaven and casting them to the earth depicts a dragon massive in proportion to have a tail so large. Perhaps the dragon sweeping these stars out of heaven and casting them to earth refers to Satan convincing one third of the heavenly host to join him in rebellion against God.
The dragon being ready to devour the child about to be born to the woman reminds us that God cursed the serpent in Genesis 3:15, putting enmity between the serpent and the woman, between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, and promising that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. These symbols depict the cosmic, epic battle between God and Satan. Satan looks like he has all the advantages—he’s a dragon with seven heads and ten horns against a pregnant woman! Who would you bet on in that conflict?
In Revelation 12:5 we see the identity of the child about to be born to the woman: “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” This clear allusion to Psalm 2:7 identifies the child as the Lord’s Anointed, his Messiah, Jesus. Out of the mouths of babes God has established strength.
Satan goes to war as a dragon, and God overcomes him by a pregnant woman giving birth to a baby boy.
Does it sometimes seem to you that Satan has the upper hand in the struggle of the ages? Does it look like he is the one who knows how to fight to win, and God always seems to pick the losing strategy? Turn the other cheek. Bless those who persecute you. Love your enemies. Preach Christ and him crucified and not with what the world thinks is eloquent wisdom. Choose the weak things of the world.
It’s almost as though God shows up on the playground to pick his team, and instead of picking the guys who look like they can play, he picks the obviously inferior team. And how does it always turn out? God triumphs every time.
Do you ever look around your life and feel like God has dealt you a losing hand? If you’re a student of the Bible, when you see what looks like a losing hand, you know that God is about to triumph in a way that will give him all the credit for the victory. Isn’t that the kind of victory you want? So when everything in your life looks unimpressive, sure to lose, insignificant, let me encourage you to trust Christ and watch for the glory of God to be demonstrated.
This is precisely what happens when the child is caught up to God and to his throne in Revelation 12:5. In verse 4 the dragon is poised to devour the child. God looks like he has the short end of the stick. Satan is a dragon, and God has left this poor pregnant woman and her newborn baby to face the dragon alone. Suddenly victory is snatched from the dragon’s jaws as the child is caught up to God and his throne.
This being caught up to heaven seems to collapse the whole life of Jesus, from ministry to cross and resurrection, so that we go straight from the birth to the ascension. When Jesus died on the cross, it looked like Satan had conquered. God turned certain and total defeat—his own people rejecting and crucifying the Messiah—into the victory that saves the world. When it looked like the last defense against evil had fallen, Christ rose from the dead, decisively breaking the back of evil.
That dragon was thwarted at the baby’s birth.
This post is an excerpt from Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches
The Bombardier Beetle is a miracle. I wish I could embed this video, but I wasn’t tech savvy enough to do it. You really should click over to this page to see the clip of this beetle that is able to perform a chemical reaction within its body that enables it to blast “boiling caustic liquid” out its rear end, and at the same time it’s able to prevent itself from being burned. Stunning.
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- Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling April 11, 2014
- The Stone by The Gray Havens April 8, 2014
- Charles Barkley’s Golf Swing April 5, 2014
- Suffering in the Book of Revelation: Fulfilling the Messianic Woes April 2, 2014
- May Women Teach Men at Church? September 2, 2006
- Q & A on Paul and Jesus, Women and the Law January 21, 2007
- Three Objections Enns Makes to Mohler: Apparant Age, Authority, and World-Picture November 4, 2011
- How Often Should a Church Take the Lord’s Supper? May 3, 2011