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Bible Resource Spotlight: Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III: Luke

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Seminary Students

Genre: Commentary

FBSN Rating: A

 

The risk with Christian history and theology is that voices from our shared past are often drowned out by the voices of today’s popular thought leaders and megachurch pastors. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with listening to modern theologians. It’s just that sometimes we overemphasize to current at the expense of the past.

In Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III: Luke, editor Beth Kreitzer aims to expand our view beyond just today.

This commentary series, according to general editor Timothy George, “seeks to introduce its readers to the depth and richness of exegetical ferment that defined the Reformation Era.” In other words, Kreitzer’s Luke collects the wisdom of pastors, teachers, priests, and leaders of the Reformation and places it in reader-friendly segments that cover every major passage of the good doctor’s gospel. The sheer scope of that task is daunting to say the least, and all the more impressive because the finished work is both insightful and accessible for even the novice Bible Study Nerd.

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Kreitzer has collected excerpts of sermons, commentaries, treatises, and confessions from the foremost theologians of the 16th century, translated many into English, and organized them into easy-to-follow commentary that takes us from Luke 1:1 all the way to Luke 24:53. This includes several schools of exegesis from medieval times, including Biblical humanism, the Wittenberg school, Strasbourg-Basel tradition, Anabaptist thought, Genevan reformers, the Zurich group, and more. It also includes biblical insights from well-known Reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and Huldrych Zwingli, as well as lesser-known thinkers like Lancelot Ridley, Johann Gerhard, Katharina Schütz Zell, and others. The result is fascinating, like a glimpse of both the past and the future. These people literally changed the world with their thinking, and it’s sometimes exhilarating to follow their chains of thought in reference to specific passages from Luke—and to see how that might apply to us today and tomorrow.

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In addition to the Reformers’ commentary, Kreitzer offers helpful background on the history of the Reformation and biographical sketches of its major influences, both people and documents. Subject and Scripture indexes round out the tools provided for the reader.

In all, this is a well-researched, surprisingly interesting, unique commentary on the gospel of Luke. It’s a worthy volume to add to the shelves of any pastor, teacher, or Bible Study Nerd.

 

Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III: Luke edited by Beth Kreitzer

(IVP Academic)

 

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Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

It’s interesting that John asked an academic question, recorded in Matthew 11:3, and Jesus responded with a legal answer (Matthew 11:4-6). John’s question really only required a yes-or-no reply, but instead of giving that simple solution, Jesus convened an impromptu, informal court—right there in front of God and everybody.

Figuratively speaking, to answer John’s great question, Christ took off the cloak of Rabbi and put on judicial robes instead. “Go back,” he instructed the Baptist’s disciples, “and report to John what you hear and see…”

  • Exhibit A: “the blind receive sight,”
  • Exhibit B: “the lame walk,”
  • Exhibit C: “those who have leprosy are cleansed,”
  • Exhibit D: “the deaf hear,”
  • Exhibit E: “the dead are raised,”
  • Exhibit F: “the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

Anyone familiar with Old Testament prophesies of Isaiah—and John was—would recognize fairly quickly that each and every one of these miracles was overwhelming proof of the promised Messiah, the Coming One. In this way Jesus conclusively and forcefully answered John’s faith crisis by placing the Baptist squarely in the jury box and saying essentially, “Look at the evidence, Cousin. You’ll find the truth in there. ”

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Why did Jesus change the parameters of John’s simple question into something of a courtroom drama? The author of Hebrews gives us a clue: “Faith,” he said, “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV, italics mine).

Perhaps John needed more than a simple assent regarding what he couldn’t see; perhaps he needed evidence of those unseen things. Jesus gave to John substance on which to pin his hope and clear evidence to believe. In doing so, he gave to John the gift of real, unshakeable faith—a faith that would endure in the depths of prison, a faith that would remain strong even when the executioner came to bring a savage end to John’s earthly life.

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See also: Isaiah 29:18, 35:5, (blind see); Isaiah 35:6 (lame walk); Isaiah 53:4 (lepers healed); Isaiah 29:18–19, 35:5 (deaf hear); Isaiah 26:18–19 (dead raised); Isaiah 61:1 (good news preached to poor).

 

Works Cited:

[GSM, 107-108]

 

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Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

When John the Baptist was in prison and heard that Jesus was nearby, he sent his disciples to ask of Christ himself: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3).

Why did he ask this question?

Legendary preacher John Wesley explained John’s question as a manipulative teaching exercise. John sent his disciples to ask this question of Christ, Wesley decided, “Not because he doubted himself, but to confirm their faith.”

Huh.

I suppose that contrived explanation could be true; after all John Wesley has been right on many other counts. But it appears that there was really only one (obvious) reason why he asked the question: John wanted to know if Jesus was the one who was to come.

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You see, John the Baptist was, in some ways, a victim of his own mistaken expectations. Jews of his time—John included—expected a militaristic Messiah, a political power who would rain judgment down on enemies of righteousness. John himself had preached that the Messiah’s “winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17). John’s faith in the Messiah was defined by his expectation of God’s judgment on evildoers—especially folks like Herod Antipas and all his minions. But Jesus didn’t fit those expectations, and meanwhile John sat decaying in prison, waiting for Christ to wreak his wrath.

Theologian George A. Buttrick explains John’s predicament this way: “The waiting fretted his soul…Doubt grew chiefly on the fact that Christ did not fulfill either the hope of the Messiah as nationalistically interpreted, or the picture that John himself had drawn.”

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Bravo for John that, instead of stewing in doubt and frustration, he decided to go directly to the source of faith to find out for himself the answer he needed. When he heard that Jesus was nearby, he sent his disciples to ask of Christ: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). I wonder if you and I would have the courage to do the same with Jesus today.

 

Works Cited:

[GSM, 104-106; CBC, 925; IB7, 379]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 11:2-3 reported that, while in prison, John the Baptist heard about what his Jesus was doing, and wanted to know more. What Matthew didn’t report was the conditions John endured in prison.

Historians tell us that John the Baptist was imprisoned in the castle fortress of Machaerus, located just east of the Dead Sea in Judea. King Herod Antipas (also known as Herod the tetrarch) had committed sins of marital corruption and John the Baptist preached publicly against the king’s immorality. Antipas exacted vengeance, locking John up indefinitely in the dungeon of his fortress.

Although we don’t know exactly what John’s prison cell in Machaerus was like, we can make a reasonable guess about this kind of “Roman hospitality” based on the Tullianum prison in the center of the city of Rome (where Simon Peter would later be jailed). The only prison in Rome proper, Tullianum was “a conical, windowless chamber of rough-hewn tufa, the only entrance to which is a hole in the floor of the room above.” According to historians, “Prisoners were flung through this hole into the prison, and on occasion left there to starve and rot.” A Numidian king named Jugurtha was imprisoned here in 104 BC, and his first comment was that it was unbearably cold.

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In Machaerus, it’s likely that John’s prison cell was comparable to Tullianum—and the Baptist suffered more than a year imprisoned there, until he was unceremoniously decapitated in his cell simply to please the whims of Antipas’ cruel wife, Herodias (Matthew 14:1-12).

 

Works Cited:

[GSM, 101-102; ZB1, 71; ARF, 78]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Bible Resource Spotlight: Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III: Luke
Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Seminary Students Genre: Commentary FBSN Rating: A   The risk with Christian history and theology is that voices from our shared past are often drowned out by the voices of today’s popular ...

posted 12:00:14pm Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Inductive Studies)
“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” It’s interesting that John asked an academic question, recorded in Matthew 11:3, and Jesus responded with a legal answer (Matthew 11:4-6). John’s question really ...

posted 12:00:44pm Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Bible Difficulties)
When John the Baptist was in prison and heard that Jesus was nearby, he sent his disciples to ask of Christ himself: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Why did he ask this ...

posted 12:00:43pm Apr. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Historical Backgrounds)
Matthew 11:2-3 reported that, while in prison, John the Baptist heard about what his Jesus was doing, and wanted to know more. What Matthew didn’t report was the conditions John endured in prison. Historians tell us that John the Baptist ...

posted 12:00:42pm Apr. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Bible Difficulties)
  Matthew 10:23 quotes Jesus as saying to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” This appears to be a reference to the second coming of Jesus—and ...

posted 12:00:07pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

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