For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Theological commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ teaching on murder, referencing the 6th of Moses’ Ten Commandments, was more than just a difficult standard to achieve. It demanded that his hearers view him as either God himself, or at the very least, as equal with God.

In ancient days, all teachers of Scripture used “borrowed authority” as the means of justifying their teachings. Rabbis quoted the Law and the prophets, and cited esteemed rabbinical leaders of the past to support their opinions. Prophets spoke as ambassadors of God, couching their every message in phrases like, “Thus says the Lord.” Had Jesus been simply another teacher or prophet of that kind, he would have done the same.

But he didn’t.

Jesus declared, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” to emphasize his total authority as the human incarnation of the divine. The “I” in this phrase is rendered as an emphatic utterance, which could almost be interpreted as “I!” As one classic theologian explained, “Christ claims for his words the same authority, and more than the same authority, as for those once spoken by God.” That was, and still is, a very serious claim.

Jesus apparently saw no need to appeal to any other authority but himself while teaching the true meaning of God’s Word, because he considered himself to be God who authored that Word.

 

Works Cited:

[IB7, 295; PC15, 159]

 

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Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the time when Jesus walked the Earth, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were regarded by Jewish society as easily the most righteous of all people. They spent day and night studying and codifying Scripture for themselves and others (much like today’s pastors, theologians and Bible Study Nerds…!). Yet Jesus demanded even more, declaring that “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

So if the Pharisees were the best, yet still not good enough, how can anyone measure up? Theologian R.T. Kendall offers helpful insight into what it means to have a “surpassing righteousness.”

First, Pharisaical righteousness “is surpassed by an imputed righteousness. Jesus fulfilled the Law as our substitute. Therefore, the moment you and I transfer trust…to what Jesus has done on our behalf, the very righteousness of Jesus Christ is put to our credit.”

“Second, one surpasses the piety of the Pharisees by an implanted righteousness. This means that the Holy Spirit imparts the Word into our hearts…the promise of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.”

Third, Pharisees are outdone by the means of “internal righteousness. The Pharisees had only external righteousness…But Jesus has an internal righteousness in mind.”

Fourth, surpassing the Pharisees is accomplished by “an integrated righteousness. It is something that affects the whole person’s life—not just in public, but in private. Not only before men, but before God…This integrated righteousness gives an ever-increasing awareness of the Holy Spirit—an experience that was alien to a Pharisee.”

 

Works Cited:

[SOM, 108-109]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

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Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the modern practice of the Christian faith, we often live as though the New Testament has abolished the Old Testament, and therefore the Old Testament can be ignored. That was not Jesus’ view.

“Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished,” he said, as recorded in Matthew 5:18. But what did that mean to his original hearers? Those listeners at the Sermon on the Mount would have known immediately that the “smallest letter” Jesus referred to here was the yod (sometimes translated as “jot”) in the Hebrew alphabet, and that its use was often optional in a text. Likewise, “the least stroke of a pen” (keraia in the Greek) referred to minor strokes a writer added to help the reader distinguish one letter from another.

Both of these literary notations were considered generally insignificant. For Jesus to lift them up as examples emphasized his commitment to both the sovereignty and divine complexity of all of Scripture.

Jesus was not alone in this viewpoint, or in using this kind of example. Later rabbis taught a fable about Abraham’s wife to communicate that same message. As the legend goes, God removed the yod when he changed her name from Sarai to Sarah. The yod complained about this for centuries until God finally relented and added a yod into the name of Joshua.

The point of the yod in Matthew, however, was not that this “smallest letter” was so important, but that Jesus was determined to honor—and fulfill—even the most seemingly trivial inclusions in the Old Testament Scriptures. We would be wise to do the same.

 

Works Cited:

[ID2, 820; BBC, 57-58]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

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Bible Resource Spotlight: Illustrated Life of Paul

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Seminary Professors and Students

Genre: Biography / History

FBSN Rating: C+

As far as biographies go, the Illustrated Life of Paul can seem a bit dry. It comes off as more of a “travel guide to the life of Paul” than an actual story of Paul’s life. Author, Charles L. Quarles, is a seminary professor writing for other seminary professors, which explains his deliberately academic, sometimes inaccessible writing style. He clearly expects this book to be used as a textbook in Bible schools across the nation, which is fine except for the fact that his knowledge of the Apostle Paul’s life presented in this way obscures it from millions of “pew-sitter” Christians who would otherwise love it. That kind of purposeful academic exclusivity feels elitist and shortsighted to me…but I digress.

From an academic perspective, this “dry” reading of the Apostle’s life is a treasure trove of detail and history that’s hard to match anywhere else. Quarles clearly enjoys his subject matter, and he’s delivered a well-researched, thorough exploration of what we know about Paul and his writings. And that’s a big deal, considering that roughly one-third of the New Testament is either about Paul or written by him. And as time has proven, Paul was the most influential Christian theologian in all of history. Deepening our understanding of his life, times, and letters is not only a worthwhile pursuit, but a necessary one for any true Bible Study Nerd. In that way, the Illustrated Life of Paul is a true gem of a resource, though it might take a little digging to get to the real treasures herein.

Additionally, this book contains over 150 color illustrations (maps, photos, charts, illustrations) which really do help break up the text and offer unique visual insights into the content. Background information on every one of Paul’s New Testament letters is invaluable, as is Quarles’ chronological approach that places those letters within the context of the Apostle’s missionary journeys and other life events.

In all, though I’d prefer that this were a book I could share with non-academics, the Illustrated Life of Paul still offers a wealth of history that any serious student of Scripture will find rewarding.

Illustrated Life of Paul by Charles L. Quarles

Illustrated Life of Paul by Charles L. Quarles

(B&H Academic)

 

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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

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Theological commentary)
Jesus’ teaching on murder, referencing the 6th of Moses’ Ten Commandments, was more than just a difficult standard to achieve. It demanded that his hearers view him as either God himself, or at the very least, as equal with God. In ancient days, all teachers of Scripture used “borrowed auth

posted 12:00:21pm Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Theological Commentary)
In the time when Jesus walked the Earth, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were regarded by Jewish society as easily the most righteous of all people. They spent day and night studying and codifying Scripture for themselves and others (much like today's pastors, theologians and Bible Study Nerds

posted 12:00:35pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Cultural Commentary)
In the modern practice of the Christian faith, we often live as though the New Testament has abolished the Old Testament, and therefore the Old Testament can be ignored. That was not Jesus’ view. “Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law

posted 12:00:34pm Aug. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Bible Resource Spotlight: Illustrated Life of Paul
Reader Appeal: Seminary Professors and Students Genre: Biography / History FBSN Rating: C+ As far as biographies go, the Illustrated Life of Paul can seem a bit dry. It comes off as more of a “travel guide to the life of Paul” than an actual story of Paul’s life. Author, Charles L. Q

posted 12:00:41pm Aug. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Bible Difficulties)
Jesus’ vehemence about the sacredness of the Law and the Prophets seems to contradict his other teaching and actions, particularly in his flagrant disregard for Sabbath rules and his teachings on ritual purity. Does that mean he was lying, or worse, simply placating his Pharisaical opponents with

posted 12:00:33pm Aug. 13, 2014 | read full post »


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