A sample of lessons that will be taught on an upcoming trip to Liberia to teach at a Pastor’s Conference with CrossWay
It is Friday around 3pm and Jesus is pronounced dead. The long awaited Messiah who would regather the Jews and restore Israel is hanging on a cross. Didn’t He say He was the King of the Jews? Didn’t He say the kingdom was at hand? Where is the kingdom? How can a dead King reign?
When all of Jesus followers had denied and deserted Him (Mark 14:50, 14:66-72; Matt 26:55-56), and even the women who supported Him were at a distance (Mark 15:40-41;Luke 23:49), an unexpected person comes forward to insure Jesus’ body is properly handled. Continue reading
We have been studying the book of 1 John, and I have been catching up on reading Simply Jesus. In doing these two things I thought it would be interesting to re-read through 1 John and apply N.T. Wright’s 5 Act Hermeneutic.
Wright hermeneutic is based on taking the Scriptures as a meta-narrative, laying out its epic story (told in 66 books) in five acts (like a play). This story is about our God who loves His creation and the people in it. In this story there is an enemy, the Accuser who has deceived the people and wreaked havoc on creation. This enemy needs to be defeated. Continue reading
It has been awhile since I posted on my readings through Simply Jesus. Part of that has been the fact that life has been full of other activities. And part of that is because in this chapter Wright addresses an incredibly important question (which I wanted to take time to explore).
Why did the Messiah have to die?
Wright spends much of chapter 13 exploring how God surprised everyone in combining the roles of Messiah, servant, and returning God into the same person – Jesus.
This combination was a small step exegetically, but a giant leap theologically … Nobody, so far as we know, had dreamed of combining these ideas in this way before.
Jesus’s vocation to be Israel’s Messiah and his vocation to suffer and die belong intimately together.
Wright then explains that the reason Jesus had to die was to defeat the true enemy – Continue reading
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
I recently found Robert Law’s commentary on 1 John, called the Tests of Life, available online (pdf). In reading through it I enjoyed how Law dealt with 1 John 4:9-10 and wanted to share it.
‘there are five factors which here contribute to the full conception of Divine Love‘
- The Gift: the magnitude of its gift is set forth. “His Son, His Only Begotten.” … The essence of the manifestation is in the fact, not that God sent Jesus, but that Jesus, who was sent, is God’s Only-Begotten Son. Continue reading
In part 1 (which you might want to read if you haven’t already) I suggested that how we understand the community and false teachers (two of the three groups) addressed in the book shapes which interpretive framework we will use to interpret 1 John. This proposal is based on John’s writing containing a series of tests, which are written out as a comparison of competing claims. One set of claims is made by John (and the apostles). The other set of claims is made by the false teachers.
For example, the test for whether a person’s claim to know God is true or false is based on obeying the commandments (2:3-4) and the test for whether a person is abiding in the light is based on loving and hating others (2:9-11).
In posing the tests in this way John is asking the community – who do you have more in common with – the apostles (who know God, abide in light etc) or the false teachers (who do not know God, abide in light etc)? Whom you choose to partner (or fellowship) with (1:3-7) through shared beliefs and common practices will speak volumes about you. It will be the basis on which you may know whether you are saved (Test of Life) or mature (Test of Fellowship). This idea of asking the community to choose who they are partnering with draws some support from 2 John 1:7,10-11 as well. Here John warns the community not to partner with the same false teachers.
If both the community that John writes to and the false teachers whom he refutes are both considered reborn and in possession of eternal life then the Test of Fellowship framework, which evaluates our spiritual walk and maturity, fits the book.
However, if John assumes that the false teachers are unsaved and writes to encourage the community, whom are saved but struggling with assurance because of the counter claims of the false teachers, then the Test of Life view, which evaluates whether we have eternal life or not, is a better framework. Continue reading
Reading through and interpreting 1 John can be a challenge. The author would make a good software developer as he deals with things in a very binary way. His statements are absolute, black and white leaving little wiggle room for readers. However, this writing is very repetitive in nature, echoing the same themes, and saying the same thing over and over. In the software world, we would say that this writing needs some major refactoring (changes that are made to improve readability and eliminate complexity and duplication).
There are two major views on how to interpret 1 John. One view is known as the Test of Life, the other view is commonly identified as the Test of Fellowship. Both views acknowledge that John is providing his readers with a series of tests. They differ on what these tests are being used to evaluate.
The Test of Life view focuses on salvation. The tests are given to help the readers have confidence that they possess eternal life. Failing the tests would indicate that one is unsaved (or at a minimum should have very low assurance that they are).
The Test of Fellowship view focuses on our relationship with God. It starts with the premise that the readers are already saved. The tests are given to determine the strength of our relationship with God. Failing the tests means that one has a weak relationship with God and lacks maturity (but still possesses eternal life). Continue reading
John opens his writing with what Raymond Brown calls a “grammatical obstacle course”. Here are 5 observations that will help you navigate this challenging passage without breaking too much of a sweat.
1. The main verb – we proclaim to you – occurs in the third verse. It is buried beneath numerous relative clauses (that which …). These clauses expand on the idea communicated by the main verb. They (along with the prepositional phrase) will tell us what is being proclaimed. Continue reading
Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? The one you think is the most important and stands out to you in some special way. For Luther it was Romans (see his preface), for Calvin it was the book of Ephesians (see this TGC article), and for Wesley it was 1 John.
I began expounding the deepest part of the Holy Scripture, namely, the first Epistle of St. John; by which above all other, even inspired writings, I advise every young preacher to form his style. Continue reading
The writing we call 1 John is written by the Apostle John to deal with a specific situation occurring in the churches he oversaw in Asia Minor. False teachers had caused his flock to doubt that they possessed eternal life (1 John 5:13).
1. The false teachers (or prophets) were part of the Johannine Community. They have left the church, or perhaps were forced out. They likely were in leadership positions based on their influence and the fact that they are teachers (1 John 2:18-19; 2 John 1:7-11; 4:1). Continue reading
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