jesus-coming-soonBen Witherington III has argued that references to Jesus returning “soon” are based on a mistranslation of en taxei. Rather than referring to when Jesus will come (soon), it refers to how Jesus will come when He does (quickly).  This is important to claims that the NT teaches that Jesus was expected to return in the first century, or the expectation of a pre-tribulation return of Christ.

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[1]Ben Witherington III, “’En Taxei’ – Quickly or Soon?”; available from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2015/01/25/en-taxei-quickly-or-soon/; Internet; accessed 17 February 2015.

That’s an easy answer: p52 (a fragment of John 18).  Perhaps not.  P52 is typically dated to A.D. 125-175. There is a fragment of Matthew 21, p104, that is dated to A.D. 100-200.  The mean age of both manuscripts is A.D. 150, but if p104 is as early as its terminus a quo, then p104 may be the earliest NT manuscript.

P52

P52

 

P104

P104

Of course, there is still the possibility that we have a fragment of Mark’s gospel dated to before A.D. 90. The court is still out on this one since the research on this fragment has yet to be published. If it turns out to be a valid date, it would be the first NT fragment from the first century to be discovered – an exciting prospect indeed!

Country music star and confessing Christian, Carrie Underwood, has voiced her support for homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the past.  Now, her pastor – Stan Mitchell of GracePoint Church in Franklin, Tennessee – has followed suit.[1]  He announced to his church that

Full privileges are extended now to you [practicing homosexuals] with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.

What?  Expectations of holiness and godliness?  How can they be holy and godly when they are engaging in sexual behavior that the Bible condemns as abominable?  That’s like telling adulterers in the congregation that their behavior is fine so long as they have sex outside of marriage in holiness and godliness.  Their behavior is the opposite of holiness.  (more…)

Cannabis leaf on grunge background, shallow DOF.Now that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, more Christians are asking whether smoking marijuana is truly immoral. After all, it’s legal.[1] Joe Carter has a thoughtful article on this issue that I found extremely helpful.[2] He argues that smoking marijuana is immoral. Here is Carter’s argument in a nutshell (with some ad-lib on my part at certain points): (more…)

porneiaDavid Janzen wrote an article in 2001 that was published in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament on the meaning of porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.[1] In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce, Jesus only allows for divorce in cases of porneia.  But what does this refer to?  It’s usually translated as “adultery,” but the Greek word for adultery is moicheiaPorneia has a wider semantic rate, referring to a range of sexual sins.  It can be used of adultery, incest, pre-marital sex, etc.

Janzen argues that Jesus’ use of porneia is best understood from the cultural context.  In Jesus’ day, some argued that divorce could be obtained for any reason, while others argued that one must have just cause.  All agreed, however, that the husband only had to return the wife’s dowry to her if had just cause for divorcing her.  Jesus sided with those who taught that the only justification for divorce was a just cause.  He identified that cause as porneia.  What does porneia refer to?  Is he referring to a wide range of sexual sins?  Janzen argues that the cultural context makes it likely that porneia refers specifically to something akin to adultery.  Why didn’t Matthew use moicheia, then?  The most likely explanation is that Jesus did was not limiting the exception to sex with another person during the marriage (adultery), but was also including sex with another person during the betrothal period (which, in Jesus’ day, was as legally binding as marriage).

Check out the article: Porneia in Mt 5_32 and 19_9–Janzen

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[1]David Janzen, “The Meaning of Porneia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9: An Approach From the Study of Ancient Near Eastern Culture,” in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2001; 23; 66; available from http://jnt.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/80/66.

Lions Daniel FastWhenever an all-church fast is called, pastors commonly give people a range of fasting options to engender wider participation.  On the one extreme, total abstention from food and drink (except water) is called for.  On the other extreme is what is often called “the Daniel Fast.”  This is usually defined as eating only vegetables and drinking liquids.

Two passages of Scripture are called upon to support the Daniel Fast: Daniel 1:8-16 and 10:2-3.  We’ll look at both in turn to see whether either of them teach a fast involving the eating of only vegetables. (more…)

Most Christians are conExperienceGodvinced of God’s existence based on their personal experience of God rather than by rational argumentation (though some are convinced by a combination of experience and argument).  This is a rational justification for such a belief. After all, we generally take our experiences to be veridical unless and until we have good reasons for thinking our experience was not veridical. An argument for God’s existence based on personal experience goes something like this:

  1. I seem to have had an experience of God
  2. I should trust my experiences unless I have good reasons to doubt their veracity
  3. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of my experience of God
  4. Therefore, I have experienced God
  5. Therefore, God exists

Atheists will often claim that they would also believe in God if they had a similar experience.  It’s not uncommon for this claim to be followed up by a question: Why, if God exists, have they not experienced Him?   (more…)

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