JETS Article: “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope”

I contributed an article to the latest edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, JETS 57.3 (2014): 467-480. The article is called “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope: Exploring its Early Presence and Deep Roots.” Originally it was a paper presentation at the November 2013 meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR), and I’m grateful JETS accepted a revised version for publication. Here’s the outline of the article:

I. Introduction

II. New Testament Validation of Resurrection Hope in the Torah
1. The Words of Paul in Acts 24
2. The Words of Jesus in Matthew 22

III. Seeds of Resurrection Hope in Genesis
1. The Life-Giving God who Makes the World (Gen 1:9-13; 2:7)
2. The Tree of Life and Immortal Physicality (Gen 2:9; 3:22)
3. The Defeat of the Serpent (Gen 3:15)
4. The Death of Abel and the Birth of Seth (Gen 4:1, 8, 25)
5. The Unusual Departure of Enoch (Gen 5:24)
6. Lamech’s Hope for His Son Noah (Gen 5:29)
7. The Death and Resurrection of the World (Gen 7-8)
8. Life Granted to a Dead Womb (Gen 21:1-2)
9. Abraham’s Trust in God to Preserve the Seed (Gen 22:5)
10. The Burial of Bones in Canaan (Gen 25:9)

From the second paragraph of the Introduction: “By looking at certain passages in Genesis, we will be putting our ear to the ground to hear the faint but discernible rumblings of what will arrive later and louder in the words of the prophets. Even though some scholars insist that ‘there can be no suggestion that belief in resurrection was implicit in the Old Testament before Daniel,’ I will contend otherwise. The roots of resurrection hope go deep, and the seeds were sown early.”


Filed under Articles, Genesis, Resurrection

The Cyclical Structure of Matthew 11–12

Matthew has demonstrated great care and design in the flow of his Gospel, and chapters 11 and 12 illustrate this. Scholars have discerned that these two chapters are arranged in three cycles, and each cycle contains two sections of unbelief and rejection followed by a section of discipleship and faith.

  1. Cycle 1 (11:2-30)
    1. Rejecting John the Baptist and Jesus (11:2-19)
    2. Unrepentance Despite Mighty Works (11:20-24)
    3. “Take My Yoke and Learn from Me” (11:25-30)
  2. Cycle 2 (12:1-21)
    1. A Criticism from the Pharisees (12:1-8)
    2. A Conspiracy by the Pharisees (12:9-14)
    3. “In His Name the Gentiles Will Hope” (12:15-21)
  3. Cycle 3 (12:22-50)
    1. Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit (12:22-37)
    2. The Evil and Adulterous Generation (12:38-45)
    3. “Here are My Mother and My Brothers!” (12:46-50)

Two Observations:
1) 11:2 is the proper starting point for Cycle 1 because 11:1 belongs with the previous unit (10:1–11:1), evident by the inclusio at 10:1(-5) and 11:1. The chapter division obscures this feature.

2) The previous narrative passages (8:2–9:38) were also arranged in three cycles (8:2-22; 8:23–9:17; 9:18-38), which suggests Matthew views a cyclical arrangement to be an appropriate and effective way of telling the story of Jesus.

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Are the Psalms Randomly Ordered?

“There is almost a sense among some Christians—and among some scholars—that someone took 150 scraps of paper, numbered them 1 through 150, put them in a bowl, threw them in the air, and, however they landed, this is how the current order and arrangement of the book of Psalms was determined. It’s an absurd notion, of course, but it is not that far from the de facto manner in which many people approach the book, simply as a collection of unrelated psalms that happened to arrive for us in a rather haphazard arrangement. . . . There are signs that the Psalter is more than simply a random collection of unrelated psalms, that there is an intentional order and arrangement of the Psalter.”

–David M. Howard Jr., “Divine and Human Kingship,” in The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul, ed. Andrew J. Schmutzer and David M. Howard Jr. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2013), 198.

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Filed under Hermeneutics, Psalms, Book of

Review of “The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther”

Lindsey, Andrew J. The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2013. 100 pp. $11.95.

God gifted his Church with the person of Martin Luther at an appointed time and place. It is hard to underestimate the significance of Luther regarding the years of the Reformation and the abiding influence of his works. While we may know specific events of Luther’s life or memorable quotes from his works, Andrew Lindsey wants you to consider his life as a whole. The title of his book aptly conveys his goal: to take the reader on a journey through the life, teaching, and legacy of Luther. Lindsey’s degree in and devoted study of church history make him a trustworthy guide.

In the opening sentence of the introduction, Lindsey writes, “It is my goal in writing this work to render an account of Martin Luther’s life that is brief, simple, accurate, and evangelical” (ix). In my judgment, Lindsey succeeded in this goal. There are hefty tomes on Luther, and some biographers may not prioritize writing on a level that almost anyone could appreciate, so Lindsey has done readers a great service by providing a concise treatment that touches on the important issues of Luther’s life while at the same time not being intimidating with jargon or word-count. Adults will benefit from this book, and it is something their children can read as well.

Lindsey is a gifted writer in his clarity and presentation of Luther. The twelve chapters are short but stocked with helpful information.
1) Origin, Education, and the Monastery
2) Early Monastic Career, First Mass, and the Pilgrimage to Rome
3) Professorship in Wittenberg and Evangelical Experience
4) Background to the 95 Theses
5) Posting the 95 Theses
6) Interview With Cardinal Cajetan
7) The Leipzig Disputation and the Papal Bull
8) The Diet of Worms
9) “Sir George”
10) Marriage and Family Life
11) The Augsburg Confession
12) Death and Legacy

Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection and discussion. Sprinkled throughout the book are sketches of Luther and individuals and events associated with him, and these sketches add to the book’s aesthetic appeal. The bibliography at the end is an invitation to go even deeper into Luther’s life and works.

Do you know why Luther became a monk? Do you know the verse that was influential in his conversion? Do you know why he nailed 95 Theses on a church door? Do you know why he was declared a heretic by the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church? Do you know the context of his famous “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise”? Do you know about the amazing writing feats he accomplished in Wartburg Castle? Do you know why he, who previously thought he’d remain a single man, decided finally to marry? Do you know Luther’s last written words? Do you know what Luther called the essence of the Bible’s theology? Do you know which of his books he deemed to be chief among his other works?

Here’s the bottom line: Christians need to know about Martin Luther, and The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther is the place to begin. I’m thankful for Lindsey’s work on this project, and I know Christian schools and churches would benefit from using his book. More so, families will be edified by reading it and discussing it. As is the case with any good but concise treatment of a subject, Lindsey’s book on Luther will leave you wanting more!

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Filed under Books, Church History, Martin Luther

“Pastor, Would You Do Our Wedding?”: 20 Questions to Think About Ahead of Time

At some point every minister will hear this question: “Pastor, would you do our wedding?” And that is not the moment when you should begin to formulate principles and guidelines on the issue of weddings. You should develop convictions on the subject, or at least have an idea of where you land on certain questions, as soon as possible. The context for the following questions is a man and woman wanting you to officiate their wedding. Pastors will not always agree on the answers, but these are the questions you must think through:

(1) Will you do weddings for people who are not members of your church?

(2) Will you make premarital counseling a condition to officiating the wedding?

(3) If “yes” to #3, will you insist on giving the premarital counseling yourself?

(4) If one person professes to be a Christian while the other does not, what will you do next?

(5) If one person is a Christian and the other is not, would you offer premarital counseling but not officiate the wedding?

(6) Would you consider marrying two unbelievers?

(7) If two professing Christians are living together before marriage, do you perform the wedding as soon as possible, or do you ask one of them to move out until the wedding?

(8) Would you insist that the couple read any books together, and would your book choices differ if the couple were unbelievers?

(9) How would you handle a situation where one or both sets of the couple’s parents were against the wedding?

(10) How would you proceed if you discovered that the couple’s relationship began in adultery?

(11) Would you officiate a wedding where one (or both) has a previous spouse still alive who is unmarried?

(12) Would you officiate a wedding where one (or both) has a previous spouse still alive who has remarried?

(13) If you believe there is biblical support for divorce in certain cases, does a biblical divorce in the past of one or both people permit remarriage?

(14) If you believe there is biblical support for divorce and yet a divorce occurred for unbiblical reasons in the past of one or both people, would you officiate the wedding?

(15) How would you proceed if a couple–one a professing Christian and the other not–has had children together?

(16) Could there be any practical issues that might make you reconsider officiating a wedding (such as a couple’s financial instability, lack of steady employment, differing views on manhood and womanhood, differing views on raising children, vast age difference, irreconcilable denominational convictions, etc.)?

(17) How would you proceed if you learned that there had been physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse in the relationship?

(18) How would you proceed if you learned that one or both of the persons had a criminal background?

(19) Would you make it a condition that you preach the Gospel at the wedding, no matter if the couple consists of believers or unbelievers?

(20) Have you thoroughly studied passages like Genesis 2:18-25, Ezra 10:18-44, Song of Songs, Ezekiel 16, Malachi 2:10-16, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-10, Mark 10:1-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:1-6, 1 Corinthians 7, 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1, Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-19, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Peter 3:1-7, Revelation 19:6-9, Revelation 21:1-5?

No couple is exactly alike, so more questions, sub-questions, and follow-up questions may be necessary for you to make a decision. The previous twenty can lead to some pretty tough conversations, so pastors must pray for a heart of humility and words of kindness.

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The Literary Arrangement of Matthew 8-9

Scholars have noted that Matthew 8-9 is carefully arranged with miracles grouped in threes. After each cycle of miracles is a section of teaching on discipleship and/or mission.

Cycle One
1–Jesus cleanses a leper (8:1-4)
2–Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (8:5-13)
3–Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (8:14-17)

Teaching (8:18-22)

Cycle Two
1–Jesus calms a storm (8:23-27)
2–Jesus heals two demoniacs (8:28-34)
3–Jesus heals a paralytic (9:1-8)

Teaching (9:9-17)

Cycle Three
1–Jesus raises a girl and heals a woman (9:18-26)
2–Jesus heals two blind men (9:27-31)
3–Jesus heals a mute man (9:32-34)

Teaching (9:35-38)


Filed under Hermeneutics, Matthew

What Part of Scripture . . . ?

You know this: what part of Scripture . . . 

  • was written by an apostle
  • had a multiple and circular readership
  • had readers in Asia
  • had an opening where you can discern the Persons of the Trinity
  • had the word “blessed” in the opening verses
  • spoke of testing faith
  • had the phrase “revelation of Jesus”
  • ascribed praise and honor and glory to God
  • spoke of angels
  • spoke of Jesus as a Lamb
  • used temple language
  • spoke of an earthly ruler
  • mentioned spirits in prison
  • spoke of Jesus in heaven
  • declared that the end was near
  • mentioned “elders”
  • foretold Christ’s return
  • promised a crown of glory
  • featured warnings about the devil
  • used the word Babylon
  • extolled God’s eternal kingdom
  • talked about a “morning star”
  • warned against false prophets
  • spoke of angels committed to chains
  • referred to Sodom
  • promised vindication for the godly and punishment for the ungodly
  • mentioned Balaam
  • specified a “thousand years”
  • prophesied that the heavens would pass away
  • held out hope for a new heavens and a new earth

The answer? The letters of 1-2 Peter, of course. Surprised? Well, pray tell, what book were you thinking of?

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Filed under 1 Peter, Letter of, 2 Peter, Biblical Theology, Eschatology, Revelation