Theology


SinMany Christians wonder whether God will forgive them for intentional sin – particularly premeditated and habitual sins.  It’s easy to believe God will forgive us for accidental sins, but not for sins that we plan out in advance or choose to do over and over again.

So, will God forgive such sins?  Before we answer that question we should be clear about what God thinks of these sins.  He hates them because He hates all sin.  Sin is contrary to His holy nature.  Sin ruptures God’s relationship with us, and this grieves Him.  He has given us the power to choose righteousness (Romans 6; 8:1-4), and yet we choose unrighteousness instead. (more…)

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!

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…)

Open LoopSome believe the Biblical stories were myths or exaggerations.  At worst, everything is an invention.  At best, just the miracle claims were invented.  When you examine the Gospels, however, you find plenty of evidence that the authors were being faithful to what really happened, even when it was embarrassing.  Examples abound, including Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus calling Peter “Satan,” the disciples not understanding Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection, etc.  This is called the principle of embarrassment, and is one of the key principles historians use to judge the historicity of a report.

While reading Matthew the other day, another example of this principle stood out to me in a way it had not before.  We are told by Matthew that the chief priests went to Pilate “the next day” after Jesus had been crucified and buried to ask for guards to be posted at the tomb (Mt 27:62-63).  Why?  Because Jesus had predicted that He would rise from the dead, and they feared that the disciples might come and steal his body from the tomb and then claim Jesus’ prediction had come true (Mt 27:64).  (more…)

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