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For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Bible Resource Spotlight: The Study Bible for Women

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Mothers; Bible students; Teens

Genre: Study Bibles

FBSN Rating: B+

Envisioned by women, for women, and created by more than a dozen biblical scholars, The Study Bible for Women features the accurate-and-readable Holman Christian Standard Bible translation and a host of other study aids.

Each book of the Bible is prefaced by a summary that covers interesting  “Who, When, Where” background. This is particularly helpful for many of the Old Testament prophesy books (such as Isaiah and Jeremiah). Additionally, each book introduction offers a “Why should women read…” section that really helps to draw relevance for today’s woman from the ancient texts. Learners will also appreciate “How to read…” tips for each Bible book, especially when trying to make distinctions between historical, poetical, and prophetic manuscripts. Very helpful.

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The heart, and strongest appeal, of this Study Bible lies in the thousands of background notes and commentary placed in the margins (and sometimes in sidebars), always near the text that it discusses. The commentary is generally evangelical in nature, with an emphasis on accurate understanding of Scripture. I found the most interesting aspect of these sections to be the periodic “Word Study” sidebars that highlighted key words in Bible verses and then shed new light on the meaning and nuances of those words.

Essays on biblical womanhood also appear throughout, though I’ll admit these were hit or miss in terms of interest, with some being well-crafted and relevant, and others, well, not so much. Character profiles of people from Bible history were fascinating, offering rich cultural background and personality insights that added much to Scripture stories. Additional features in this Bible include:

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  • “Answers to Hard Questions.”
  • “Written on My Heart” devotional readings.
  • Timelines and book outlines.
  • A short concordance.
  • And more.

In all, The Study Bible for Women is an attractive, helpful resource for anyone wanting to gain deeper understanding of Scripture. It’s a great gift for the curious Christian woman in your family—mom or teen—and also worth buying just for yourself.

 

The Study Bible for Women edited by Rhonda Harrington Kelley and Dorothy Kelley Patterson

(Holman Bible Publishers)

 

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Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

What if Matthew had said no when Jesus came calling (see Matthew 9:9-13)?

We know that Matthew (also known as Levi) had mortgaged himself to gain a substantial portion of wealth in his world. We know that when Christ came around, he was forced to choose between that poverty of riches and the richness of poverty with Jesus. We know that leaving his position as a tax collector meant Matthew could never go back to it—Herod and the others in Roman civil government wouldn’t allow that. So it was all or nothing for Matthew—and he chose the all to be found in having nothing but Jesus.

And then what?

History and tradition tell us that after Jesus’ resurrection, Matthew spent about eight years preaching in and around his home territory of Judea in Israel. After that, it’s believed that he took the message of Jesus to Arabia, Syria, and Ethiopia. Somewhere in there, likely around 70 AD while in Syria, Matthew put down the stories of Christ in written form, sealing his place in history and creating for us a record that would literally lead millions and millions to faith. He finally suffered a martyr’s death, being killed by the sword (or axe) while preaching in Ethiopia.

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Can you imagine the theft to history—and to your own personal experience with Jesus—if Levi the tax collector had said no when the Messiah called? Or what might happen if you said no to Christ’s personal call in your life?

It makes you wonder…

 

Works Cited:

[BBC, 202; AAB, 254; ASB, 1556; GSM, 52]

 

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Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Why all the hatred toward “tax collectors” in Jesus day? Sure, nobody really likes paying taxes, but everybody does it anyway. So why were tax collectors so universally despised?

Tax collectors in that time were so reviled that their occupation (telōnēs in Greek) became synonymous with the word “sinner” (see Matthew 9:10-11). In fact, the simple act of eating a meal with a tax collector like Matthew enraged the religious elite of that day. Why? There were two main reasons:

1) During the time of Christ, Jewish tax collectors were traitors to the nation of Israel. Living in God’s Promised Land under the occupation of the Roman army was onerous to nearly all Jewish people. Tax collectors, though, not only accepted that circumstance, they embraced it, extorting money from their fellow citizens to turn it over to the oppressive Roman government. They were collaborators with the enemy and even worse, aides to godless, unclean Gentiles. Pastor Chuck Swindoll explains, “Tax collectors had betrayed their people, rejected their heritage, despised their temple, and renounced their God. Tax collectors had sold themselves to foreigners, which put them on the same level as shameless harlots.”

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2) During the time of Christ, tax collectors were thieves and abusers of people. The Roman government used a system of “tax farming” to collect monies from its conquered peoples. An entrepreneur would “buy” the obligation to pay taxes for a certain region, then would strong-arm people into overpaying their tax obligations to the state. The entrepreneur would pay the monthly quota owed to Rome, and then pocket the rest to amass personal wealth. These tax collectors literally had a license to steal—and they used (abused!) that power freely.

In that context, it’s hard to say which was more astounding: that Jesus would dare to ask a tax collector (traitor! sinner! thief! abuser!) to be his disciple—or that a reprobate tax collector would actually follow Jesus’ call.

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Works Cited:

[SLU, 135; ELB, 269]

 

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Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Personality and Character Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Walking through Capernaum (“his own town”—Matthew 9:1), Jesus came across Mathew sitting at a tax collector’s booth. Christ plucked the man out of obscurity with these two words, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9). Here’s what we know about that man:

  • The name Matthew means “gift of Jehovah,” or “gift of God.”
  • Matthew was also called “Levi” (see Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-28) which may have been his birth name, changed later by Jesus to Matthew. Or it may have been a nickname. Or it may have been a tribal designation meaning he was from the Israelite tribe of Levi. Or it may have been part of his full name as in, “Matthew Levi.”
  • He was a known tax collector, a lucrative but despised occupation in ancient Israel. Matthew was well-acquainted with other tax collectors and “sinners,” and invited them to a large party where Jesus was the guest of honor.
  • Some scholars believe that Matthew and Jesus knew each other, or at least knew of each other, prior to the day when Christ called for the tax collector to follow. The assumption is that Jesus’ family would have had to pay taxes at Matthew’s toll booth at one time or another, and also that Matthew would have heard about—or even heard firsthand—Jesus’ preaching in the area of Capernaum.
  • He left his career as a tax collector and became one of Christ’s twelve, trusted “inner circle” disciples. He is named in every list of disciples as such.
  • He is generally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Matthew included the New Testament. Scholars theorize that he wrote this gospel sometime between 60 and 90 A.D., and that he used at least three sources (including the Gospel of Mark) to compile his account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In fact, about 95% of the Gospel of Mark is included in some form in the Gospel of Matthew.
  • Matthew preserved for history the best, and most complete record of Jesus’ teachings on various subjects, including the now-famous compilation of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and a collection of Jesus’ kingdom parables.
  • Tradition tells us that, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew preached as a missionary in Ethiopia and that he was martyred there, killed by either an axe or a sword.

 

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Works Cited:

[WWB, 306-308; DOS, 394-395; AMB, 232; JOB, 134]

 

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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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