Thursday, April 17, 2014

Al Mohler And Peter Williams On "Technology In Learning Biblical Languages"

You will definitely want to check out the video below. Al Mohler and Peter Williams discuss the use of the tools when learning the biblical languages. I love this one quote: "Don't look down on interlinears and the various Bible software that help you just read." In my classes, students can bring any and every resource that they want to bring! There is no partiality and no "toolism" in my classroom. I think I just coined a new word right then! Just to clarify, I'm using the English noun suffix-ending –ism in one of its three uses, specifically to identify unfair treatment of a group of people or things things.

The tools are should not be viewed as life preservers for people who have sailed the seas in the comfort of a giant ship, only to find that, when they are thrown into the waters of ministry, the only thing that will keep them afloat are the tools. I believe the biblical language tools are as valuable to ministry preparation as a computer is for all of our other classes. They are as valuable to ministry preparation as calculators and stats programs are for running statistics. Who wants to go back to the days of typewriters? Who wants to sit around and draw tables? Who wants to tabulate data and run equations manually? Who wants to use beans or an abacus to count? Not me. So why not incorporate the tools into the curriculum? My thought is we can use the tools and grow in our knowledge of the grammar at the same time. We don't need to postpone using the tools to a point when we realize in ministry that there just isn't enough time to do all that we were shown in seminary. I agree with Williams. We need to get into the text as soon as possible. We can't wait until we work through ten chapters of grammar before looking at the Word of God.

I really appreciated Al Mohler's words! Coming from a guy I highly respect and from someone at the helm of the one of the greatest seminaries in the world, his words warrant our attention. Check out the video and enjoy!

Hey, you can also watch my newest video: "Twenty-Seven Reasons for Learning the Biblical Languages (Minus a Few)." See below or click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thinking About The Word βαπτίζοντες In The Great Commission

I had a student chime in on a conversation I was having with a couple of individuals this afternoon. We were talking about the lordship salvation issue. I shared with them about a conversation Ricky B. and I had with John MacArthur while living in Los Angeles. I remember John MacArthur saying how kind Charles Ryrie is to him whenever he is in the Dallas area. You might have thought the two never talked considering what they write in their works The Gospel according to Jesus and Basic Theology. It surprised me. They actually were on talking terms, and they were loving each other with the love of Christ. That conversation said a lot to me.

The student who chimed in said he disagreed with me about lordship salvation, specifically that repentance, when defined as a "turning away from sin," is a necessary component of salvation. Here is one of the things he said: "The Greek word μετανοέω only means 'change of mind.'" There are few words, if any, that can only mean one thing. The very nature of language, especially with limited vocabulary, encourages wide semantic range. Some words have a wider semantic range than others. But words have ranges of meaning. How do you narrow down what a word means when you encounter it in the Bible, or any communication for that matter? You have to consider the context. The next thing that the student said was this: "John emphasizes faith. That's what's necessary." It's true the word πιστεύω occurs bookoos of times in the Gospel of John. No doubt. But there's a danger when you consider only what that author wrote and do not consider whether or not the word, translated mostly as "believe" in the Gospel, could involve more than just a mental affirmative assent concerning the gospel and what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

That leads me to this consideration. Could an author use a word and more be entailed by the use of that word? I think we see a perfect example of that in Matthew 28:19–20, the passage known to us as the Great Commission. I really like Dave Black's translation. Let me share it with you here before we hone in on one of the participles:
"Wherever you go, train everyone you meet -- the people in every nation -- how to be my followers. Mark them publicly by immersion in the triune name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them not just in knowledge but in the practice of everything I've commanded you. And as you do this, remember this: I will be with you, day after day after day, until the very end of the age."
What are we going to do with the participle βαπτίζοντες? Well, first of all, don't you love how his translation takes it to immersion. The famous transliteration of the root with "baptiz" that we see in all of our translations of the Bible really only maintains an intentional ambiguity that helps with marketing and sales. In other words, the ambiguity is retained generation after generation just so the translation can be attractive to a wider audience. Okay, so that's a tangent.

But back to my point. What's involved with the word βαπτίζοντες? Which of us would ever say that it only refers to the act of immersion in water? That's of course what Jesus tells us to do. But we are not supposed to be immersing people just for the sake of immersing them. What Jesus is commanding his own apprentices to do is not just go in to the world and get people wet! Involved in this participle are the following ideas:
  1. His disciples were supposed to clearly explain the gospel. No one could be marked as a Christian who had not first heard the gospel. 
  2. Those who heard the gospel and responded to the gospel were to be publicly identified with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. 
Three participles are given in the Great Commission to enunciate what is involved in making disciples of all the nations, i.e., "training everyone everywhere." We might expect to see something like κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, like found in Peter's Gospel, but we don't see anything like it here. In fact, in Matthew's Gospel, we probably would expect to see an added participle, the use of κηρύσσοντες, between μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη and βαπτίζοντες. The use of another participial clause is really unnecessary though. Isn't the idea of sharing the gospel caught up in and implied by the use of βαπτίζοντες. I think so. We only baptize those who respond to the gospel. Let's think for a moment about what would happen if we found a κηρύσσοντες clause in place of the βαπτίζοντες clause. If we did, we would miss the connection Jesus makes to the teaching aspect of the Great Commission. What I see in the Great Commission is this:
  1. We share the gospel with everyone everywhere. 
  2. We concentrate on teaching everything Jesus commanded us to obey (not just the gospel) to people who have responded to the gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, our teaching concerns the gospel, over and over and over again. 
I think a lot of churches confuse these two points. They want to teach everyone everywhere first and hope that they respond to the gospel somewhere along the way. That's not the way Jesus puts it. By including the participle βαπτίζοντες where and how he does, Jesus makes this point definitive. We must first be telling people the gospel. They can't be baptized unless they hear the good news. There's no significance of a Jesusless, gospelless baptism. The teaching of everything Jesus commanded comes after that! Until then, we teach them some of what Jesus commanded, namely the gospel and how they should respond to Jesus' substitutionary death on the cross and his resurrection three days later.

So this leads me to my concluding thought and question. Why do some of us want to restrict John's many uses of πιστεύω to just mental affirmative assent (minus repentance)? Repentance is an essential component of the gospel. Jesus called people everywhere to repentance (see Matt. 4:17). When he sent his disciples out, he told them to carry the same exact message (see Mark 6:12). Repentance was an important component of Jesus' teaching even after the tragic day that Israel rejected him as the rightful heir to the David throne (see Matthew 12–13 for the "tragic" day; and see Luke 13:3, 5; 16:30; 17:4; etc.). I have no doubt that the Apostle John understood that repentance was an intricate piece of what we call salvation.

Be careful when you base your theology on a single lexical definition, ya'll. Exercise major caution when you hear someone else do it. With that said, don't swing to the other side of the pendulum and ascribe every semantic possibility to a word. Let the context limit and expand what a word means!

You can download the PDF version of this essay here.

Mid-Atlantic Christian University's Sixteen "Payoffs" For Learning The Biblical Languages

It's very rare to see a long list for why someone should learn the biblical languages. I enjoyed reading Mid-Atlantic Christian University's list earlier this evening. I'm posting the list below. If you go to their page, you can read the comments that they provide about each one.
  1. You can study the actual words that the authors wrote. 
  2. You have insight into options that cannot be conveyed in a translation. 
  3. You can gain a better grasp of Scripture and theology. 
  4. You can understand English translations better. 
  5. You can better understand poetry as the author intended. 
  6. You can better understand the literary devices the author used. 
  7. You can better understand the modes of thought of the cultures of the Bible. 
  8. Your study of the Bible is more independent – it is yours! 
  9. You can use more and better understand resources that make reference to Greek and Hebrew: lexicons, word studies, theological works, grammars, concordances, journal articles, commentaries, etc.
  10. You are better able to evaluate the study of others. 
  11. You can preach better expository sermons. 
  12. Your sermons can come to life with meaning and interest. 
  13. You will find that you better understand language in general. 
  14. You will be better prepared for further studies in graduate school. 
  15. At MACU you cannot get an F on your transcript for first semester Greek and first semester Hebrew; they are “fail safe.” 
  16. For fun there are T-shirts available to students and alumni who have completed at least one semester of Greek and Hebrew.
I loved the list! Very cool. Can I add a few more? 
  1. You will pay attention to every word of Scripture. We often get comfortable with the readings in English. Looking at it in the original language forces us to consider "everything that is written down (morphemes, lexemes, mood, tense, voice, person, number, word order, etc.)" (something Dave Black used to tell us in class all the time).  
  2. You get to show everyone at your local church how much smarter you are than everyone else, especially when you pronounce Greek words from the pulpit or put them up on the screen. Students, never, ever, ever, ever, ever fall into this temptation! Your task is to make much of the Lord Jesus Christ when you teach. Like John said about his own ministry, you decrease; he increases. Your responsibility is to faithfully and accurately explain the meaning of a passage. Let your satisfaction come from the silent "well done" that comes from knowing you showed yourself approved. 
  3. You will internalize the Word of God more. When you labor over a passage like you do when you study Hebrew and Greek, you will remember it like never before. The harder you work at something, the more you have to show for it.
  4. You don't have to share the gospel anymore. You are more valuable to Jesus as a Greek scholar than as a missionary. May it never be! Students, don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever fall into this temptation! I don't care how much Greek you know, studying Greek is not your marching orders. The Great Commission is! If you're living for anything other than the Great Commission, you're not living the life Jesus intends for you to live. 
  5. You will be able to do your own textual analysis of passages like, in the New Testament, Matthew 5:22, John 7:53–8:11, the ending of Mark, and others. Why's that King James Version different than your trusty New American Standard Bible? Without a knowledge of the biblical languages, you're at a handicap evaluating textual issues. 
  6. Building on number five above, learning the languages will help you understand more about biblical inspiration. Divine inspiration and the inerrancy of the Word of God deal with the original manuscripts. You don't really understand why there are differences in Bible translations and different manuscripts until you learn a little about the languages. 
  7. David Alan Black will sign and mail you a copy of my book Luke 6:40 and the Theme of Likeness Education in the New Testament. Actually, I mistyped. He only signs books that he has authored, so no free book. Sorry. 
  8. I will sign a copy of Black's Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek and mail it to you. Actually, that's not going to happen either. My study on Luke 6:40 taught me that, "after being fully trained, the disciple will be like his teacher." Like Black, like Hudgins. 
  9. The spiritual benefit from learning the biblical languages outweighs the spiritual benefit from watching The Price Is Right with Drew Carey by a ratio of 120:1. The truth is you will grow spiritually in learning the biblical languages. 
  10. You get to experience God's grace and power in your life, firsthand. I've never met a Hebrew student or a Greek student that didn't say something like, "It was by the grace of God I got through that!" Why would you want to miss out on an opportunity like that? 
  11. You will finally get to understand the issue between so-called "literal" translations and non-literal translations. The goal in Bible translation is not keeping the number of receptor words to the absolute minimum (i.e., one word for one word as much as possible). The goal in Bible translation is faithfully recreating in a receptor language that which is communicated in an original language. 
Alright, it's getting near bedtime. Here's the takeaway: Learning the biblical languages is worth it. Mid-Atlantic has got a great list. I can't stress to you enough how much I appreciate them making their list available online.

Are you interested in learning Greek? Order a copy of Dave Black's Greek DVDs. Check out our New Testament Greek Portal. Check out my YouTube page. Download Jacob Cerone's Quizlet files. Take a class with me at Capital Seminary and Graduate School. Here's another possibility: I've heard through the grapevine that one of my current students is going to teach Greek at his local church in the very near future. Need anything else? Shoot me an email. If I can assist you in anyway, I'd be glad to. Just let me know.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Welcome Video On Our YouTube Page

Here is the new video that just went live on our YouTube page. Be sure you use full-screen to get the full effect when watching. Enjoy!

Making Videos For The MOOC

This afternoon I was able to work on the videos for our MOOC course. I've shared here before how CSGS asked me to put together a MOOC. My selection for the first course was The Biblical Covenants. If you ask me, the biblical covenants are the single most important reference points in the entire Bible. Failure to properly understand the covenants is dangerous to our study of the Word.

I would appreciate your prayers as we put together this MOOC. One thing you might not know is I am doing it in English and Spanish. Two birds, one stone.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hanging Out With A New Friend

Lesly hung out with a new friend yesterday. Her name is Nana. We met Nana at an Ethiopian restaurant near Inner Harbor, Baltimore a few weeks ago. The schedules finally worked out so that they could spend some time together yesterday. I went down to Silver Springs with the girls, but they ditched me and visited some stores. So, I hung out with my Greek New Testament in the downtown for part of the morning. I read through 1 Corinthians 6–7. We all met up again at lunch time and went to Chipotle. Lesly and I were there for a very historic moment, Nana's first experience with Chipotle. We had to snap a picture! That's a moment you'll never forget! It was interesting listening to the conversation over lunch. "What do you like about the United States?" "What is the hardest thing for you?" The similarities between Lesly's answers and Nana's were striking. They could have answered for each other.

Awesome Trip To See The Cherry Blossoms

Lesly and I went downtown to the Tidal Basin yesterday to see cherry blossoms. Everything was absolutely beautiful. Awesome date with my awesome girl in an awesome town with awesome weather. Unforgettable!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Short Essays Available Online

I have a number of short essays posted online via if you are interested. At present the essays housed here are: "Apostleship," "Apollos (Ἀπολλῶς),"Brothers and Sisters of Jesus," "The Marriage of the Lamb (ὁ γάμος τοῦ ἀρνίου),""Onesiphorus (Ὀνησίφορος)," "Simon the Leper (Σίμωνος τοῦ λεπροῦ)," "Star in the East," "Teach," "Teacher," and "Wanting and Desiring."

You can download and view them by clicking here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Word-Study Fallacies, Be Gone!

I recently got to look over a book on theology. The author of the book is a graduate of one of the major seminaries in the United States. He earned a Th.M. and a Th.D. Which seminary he went to really isn't the point though. I just want you to know he went to a major one,  one that doesn't print your diploma the day after you're accepted as a student. You know what I mean. Okay, now let me throw this out there. He went on and got another doctorate, a Ph.D., from another very well known seminary. Now under his belt, he's got 30 years of teaching in over 40 countries in the world under his belt. God's using him, no question about that.

Flipping through his book, I found this opening line dealing with ecclesiology:
"The church (ekklesia) is the 'called-out one' of God. The word ekklesia is a compound word taken from kaleo 'to call,' and ek, 'out from.' The word ekklesia means 'the call-out ones.' As the word refers to the church, it means a people called out from the world to be a people of God, a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10), the bride of Christ…" 
When it comes to exegetical fallacies, especially word-study fallacies, D. A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies is the go-to resource. Another great resource that I hope all of my students will have is Biblical Words and Their Meaning by M. Silva. Do you know about Benjamin Baxter's "In the Original Text It Says"? Don't forget about Dave Black's Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek! Check out Bock's "New Testament Word Analysis" in Introducing New Testament Interpretation, too. Get them. Read them. Practice what they tell you to do. And watch out for what they tell you to avoid.

One of the things I hope to do is show my students the importance of not erring with the Word of God in lexical analysis. It's a sensitive step in the exegetical process. Temptations lie around every corner. Make the whole passage mean something based on the meaning of the word? No way, that's dangerous exegesis. Get your theology from a single word (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:10; Rev. 3:10)? Whoa! No! No! No! I think the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 13:8 have ceased. But it's not because I hinge it all on the meaning of τὸ τέλειον in 13:10. I believe in a pretribulational rapture, but not because of the use of ἐκ in Rev. 3:10. You can't bank your theology on the meaning of a word. Students, listen to me. Don't drink from a poisoned well. The temptation is great. I know. You get to be the one to "tell 'em what the Greek says," and they'll "oooh" and "ahhhh." But we can't do this type of indiscriminate exegesis anymore. In fact, I tell my students to never use the word "Greek" when they teach and to never utter a single Greek word when they teach. The real skill is to make known what the Word of God says without doing so. Can it always be done? Maybe not. But let's aim for never doing it, and if we have to once or twice over the next ten years, we'll ask for forgiveness.

Avoiding the sort of lexical fallacy mentioned above is a well established principle now in exegesis. Committing lexical fallacies like this is folly. I'm not expecting to never see these fallacies again. But, by God's grace, I'll never see them in the ministries God gives to the students I teach!

The Women At The Cross

I appreciated this post on Justin Taylor's website: "Who Were the Women at the Empty Tomb?" Justin and Southeastern professor, Andreas Köstenberger, just had a book published called The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. Talk about a title of a book that I really love! My favorite class at The Master's Seminary was the one I took with Robert L. Thomas. It was The Life of Christ. We used Thomas and Gundry's harmony in that class. I bet Taylor's book would have been a great book to supplement Thomas' harmony.

In Taylor's post, he points out a syntactical issue. What are we going to do with John 19:25?
Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή.
How many women are present? Option A:
  1. ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ 
  2. ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ
  3. Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή
Or, is it like the following, Option B:
  1. ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ 
  2. ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ
  3. Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ
  4. Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή
Taylor writes, "Under option A, the reference is likely to Salome (which would make the sons of Zebedee—James and John—the cousins of Jesus). However, option B is more likely, meaning that Mary the wife of Clopas is Mary’s sister (or sister-in-law) and thus Jesus’s aunt."

Of course, what are we going to do with uses of the coordinating conjunction? Take another look:
Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή. 
The issue is whether or not you see two groups of women, each containing two and paired together by καί, or, whether you see a καί before the mention of a new female in the list. In other words, "his mother and his mother's sister" and "Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary, the woman from Magdala."

So, which one is it?

One thing I'm reminded of tonight is Mary was a popular name in the first century! Hey, so was Jesus! And so was Judas. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jesse Johnson On Mercy Ministries: A Better Way

You definitely want to go and read what Jesse Johnson writes on The Cripplegate blog today. The post is called "A Vision for Better Mercy Ministry." Here is just a snippet:
"A better approach is to do mercy ministry through local churches. Churches with elders (or some accountable and godly leadership) are better equipped to know how to minister to people in their community than a multi-national aid organization. They know the needs, they know the people, and most importantly, they know the gospel. This is why the New Testament model is churches helping churches."
Be sure you check it out.

On Campus This Week

This week I walked through structural analysis one more time with my Greek students. I think they've seen the value of doing a structural analysis. That was one of the things I appreciated most in David Alan Black's classes. He would do a structural analysis in almost every class, and, then, he would walk through it with us. Priceless! I was always blown away how you can get your teaching outline right from your structural analysis!

As you can see from the first picture below, my students are still praying together. This is one of the hallmarks of the class, if you ask me. I think the students feel the same way. As a result, they are closer as a class.

Yesterday I met with one of our student workers, Patrick. We sure our thankful for our student workers!!!!

And, finally, after class last night I did one of the things I love to do most--go downtown and walk around the White House and monuments! Living in D.C. is great. What a nice time to walk and pray! You might be thinking that D.C. is hopping right now in the evenings, but that's not true. The national mall is pretty quiet at night. All you see is the occasional tourist and the occasional jogger. It'll pick up a little more toward the summer, especially over at the Lincoln Memorial, but not much.

Getting Our Eyes Checked

Lesly and I went to get our eyes checked on Wednesday. We are both still 20-20, thank the Lord! Lesly and I were joking the whole time. It was fun!