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For Bible Study Nerds

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For Bible Study Nerds Archives

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Who is the “prince of demons” referenced in Matthew 9:34? Jesus’ enemies were pretty familiar with that guy—so much so that they felt confident accusing Christ of being his evil pawn. So who were they talking about? The “prince of […]

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Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Word Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus is recorded asking two blind men in Matthew 9:27-30. When they responded, “Yes Lord,” he said, “According to your faith will it be done for you.” And their sight […]

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Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Was Jesus Christ really just a shaman, a secretive sorcerer healing people with magic tricks and demonic help? That’s what many of his enemies believed, and continued to believe for hundreds of years. In ancient Jewish society, demons were credited […]

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Bible Resource Spotlight: God in Slow Motion

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Pew-Sitters Genre: Christian Living FBSN Rating: A   Guest Columnist – Jill Wuellner Have you ever read a story from the Bible and let the depth of it slip from your fingers? Missed some of the […]

Bible Resource Spotlight: How God Became Jesus

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Seminary Students Genre: Theology / Apologetics FBSN Rating: B   Bart Ehrman has made a cottage industry of creating new, marketable conspiracy theories about Jesus. In the process, he’s made it OK to talk about religion […]

Bible Resource Spotlight: Jesus the King

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Small Group Leaders, Students Genre: Biblical Study FBSN Rating: A   Guest Columnist – Dr. Norm Wakefield If you want the Bible to come alive and relate to the 21st century then this book is for you. […]

Matthew 9:18-26; A Dead Girl And A Sick Woman (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The story of the “Woman with an Issue of Blood” is told in three of the four gospel accounts: Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-24, and Luke 8:40-53. In addition to Matthew’s details, Luke informs us that “no one could heal her” […]

Matthew 9:14-17; Jesus Questioned About Fasting (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins…” (Matthew 9:17). When Jesus made this comparison statement, it was more than just an explanatory reference of common daily wisdom. In this little allegory, “new wine” represented Jesus himself, causing a […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ healing of the paralytic is a dazzling physical miracle, but even more a stunning revelation and commentary on the spiritual realm. “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven,” Christ said as his precursor to healing. Here’s a little deeper […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” You’d think that the crowd of people hearing Jesus speak those words to a paralyzed man would have rejoiced. In that society and time, illness such as paralysis was directly linked to specific […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The mysterious relationship between sin and sickness is a question that’s brewed for hundreds of generations. Is a man sick because he sins, or is physical sickness independent of spiritual and moral cause? Ancient Judaic thought had settled on the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

What was the deal with the drowning pigs? When Jesus healed two demon-possessed men in the region of the Gadarenes, the demons begged to be exorcised into a nearby herd of swine (Matthew 8:29-33). Jesus granted that request, so the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The first thing that Matthew tells about the two demoniacs in 8:28 is that they were “coming from the tombs.” Mark, in his similar account of the event, reveals that at least one of these men actually “lived in the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

The exorcism account that Matthew tells in 8:28-34 is generally believed to be the same event also documented in Luke 8:26-39 and Mark 5:1-20. Matthew and Luke abbreviate the details, and thus are sometimes assumed to have drawn from Mark […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Lord, first let me go bury my father,” a disciple said to Jesus, asking to defer his commitment as a follower of Christ. There were three historical circumstances that could have prompted that request: 1) The man’s father had just […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Jesus’ time, it was customary for a would-be disciple to pick the rabbi who would become his mentor/teacher. He would scout a “master” much the same way an aspiring student today picks a college, studying his options and picking […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ encounter with would-be disciples (Matthew 8:18-22) is the first time that Matthew records Christ calling himself the “Son of Man.” In all, Matthew will document 32 times that Jesus used this culturally-charged title for himself. The phrase “Son of […]

Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 8:16-17, the gospel writer reports that Jesus “healed all the sick” in order to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:4, which Matthew paraphrases as, “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” This is an odd […]

Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In both the Jewish and pagan cultures of Jesus’ time, exorcising demons was a strict ritual, fraught with risks. Magical incantations (preserved for us today in some ancient texts) were used in many attempts at exorcism. Other efforts to expel […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, he did more than a miracle. He demonstrated for everyone something that the centurion had already recognized: Authority. More specifically, Jesus demonstrated that he possessed the absolute authority of God incarnate, the authority that […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus was in Capernaum when the centurion approached to request a miracle for his ailing servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Here’s what we know about that ancient village: Capernaum was the primary headquarters for Jesus’ ministry in Israel. After his baptism, Jesus […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the days when Jesus walked the earth, the Roman army ruled the land where he walked. Rome’s fighting forces were generally organized into legions, or the equivalent of about 6,000 soldiers. Within each legion, the troops were again organized […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Ever wonder what happened to the former leper after Jesus healed him? It probably went something like this: After healing the man with leprosy, Jesus told him, “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The simple fact is that Jesus broke the law when he healed the man with leprosy identified in Matthew 8:2-4. Jewish law in the time of Jesus regarded leprosy as a grave offense. Upon diagnosis by the priest, the leper’s […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

A few awful facts about leprosy in New Testament times: The term used for leprosy in the New Testament was a general reference to seemingly-incurable skin infections. It could have included the formal affliction, which we now call Hansen’s Disease, […]

Matthew 7:24-29; The Wise and Foolish Builders (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

In exposition of Matthew 7:28-29, George Buttrick has commented, “People listened to Jesus, and then said: ‘That is what I have always known deep down, even though I have no words to say it.’” This, Buttrick explains, is something of […]

Matthew 7:15-23; A Tree and Its Fruit (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 7:21 contains probably the most tragic truth revealed in all of Scripture. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Here are a few observations about that moment in Jesus’ Sermon […]

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Found where it in Matthew 7:12, the “Golden Rule” seems an awkward contextual placement. In modern Bibles, it’s lumped in with Matthew 7:7-11, appearing as the final sentence in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is particularly […]

Matthew 7:1-6; Judging Others (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

It would’ve been hard to be a Pharisee sitting in the audience of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Again and again Christ seemed to deliberately antagonize any religious leaders listening to his teaching—singling them out, calling them unflattering names, and […]

Matthew 7:1-6; Judging Others (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Do not judge…” These words of Jesus that open Matthew 7 have been a source of confusion—and antagonism—for centuries. The problem seems to be that many of us misunderstand the distinctions between similar Greek terms that mean different things. Anakrinō […]

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Generally speaking, fasting was never intended to be used as a badge of honor or as a mark of super-spirituality. It is almost always associated with sorrow for sin and an expression of humility before God alone. In spite of […]

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ instruction about fasting assumes that it is a normal part of a life devoted to God…but why fast? Why did (and do) people go without food and/or water as a religious observance? Here are a few reasons from Scripture: […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Forgiveness is a crucial element of The Lord’s Prayer, and it always carries both vertical and horizontal applications. “Forgive us our debts” Jesus said in Matthew 6:12—a vertical, us-to-God appeal. Then he said, “…As we have also forgiven our debtors”—a […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 6:9-13 is one of the most famous biblical texts of all time. Known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” it records Jesus’ specific instructions for how to pray. It’s important to notice that, immediately before giving this text, Christ warned his […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

If Jesus’ description of flamboyant, hypocritical praying sounds like grand theatre, that’s because it probably was. “And when you pray,” Jesus said in Matthew 6:5, “do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues […]

Matthew 6:1-4; Giving to the Needy (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

“When you give to the needy…” Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. This simple introductory phrase is striking both for its assumption and its audience. The audience first: We must remember that at the time Jesus sat down […]

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Geographical backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

With increasingly hyperbolic language, Jesus addressed the issue of unchecked anger and its potentially disastrous results as part of his Sermon on the Mount. He even went so far as to declare that angrily insulting another by calling that person […]

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Cross-reference comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 5:22, Jesus is quoted as saying that anyone who is “angry with his brother” has committed a sin that’s equivalent to murder. Bible scholar and teacher, Warren Wiersbe, offers this insight on that teaching: “There is a holy […]

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. […]

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 […]

Matthew 5:13-16; Salt and Light (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

It seems significant that, in Matthew 5:16, Jesus commanded his followers to “let your light shine before men.” Notice that Christ didn’t command people to “make your light shine before men,” or even to “ignite your light before men.” The […]

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 5:3-9, Jesus describes seven characteristics of people who are blessed. According to theologian, Herschel Hobbs, those descriptions symbolized “the nature of the kingdom citizen.” He interpreted them as follows: The Poor in Spirit. “Those who recognize that they […]

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The longest recorded sermon of Jesus begins with a repetitive theme word: “Blessed.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are the meek…” Historically, that word was understood to mean “happy”—or in the literal Hebrew translation, “how […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

If we don’t count resurrections (there were three of those), Scripture records 23 specific, miraculous healings performed by Jesus. Among those healings were supposedly incurable diseases, such as blindness, leprosy, deafness, muteness, crippling lameness, withered or appendages, paralysis and more. […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country. Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee by “teaching in their synagogues” and healing people there (Matthew 4:23). According to the tradition at the time, a synagogue could form wherever there were 10 adult men, so chances are good that […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Personality and Character Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know: Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus told Simon Peter and Andrew that he would make them “fishers of men.” The image there was grounded in the fisherman’s trade on the Sea of Galilee. Unlike our modern picture of a single man casting line off a […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ choice of his first disciples was surprising, to say the least. For starters, in that time, religious students chose their mentors, not vice versa. As the famous Rabbi Gamaliel instructed, “Find a teacher and lose your ignorance,” and that […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“People living in darkness have seen a great light…” This prophecy from Isaiah 9:2, which Matthew quotes, is rife with meaning—probably more than we can actually comprehend. In the context of Matthew 4:16, “darkness” (skótos), was a fairly straightforward metaphor […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The phrase, “kingdom of heaven” appears only in Matthew’s gospel, but it is used synonymously with “kingdom of God” found elsewhere in Matthew and in the other gospels. One theologian defines this term as meaning, “the spiritual rule of God […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Archaeological Insights)

posted by Mike Nappa

Capernaum (pronounced “kuh PUHR nay uhm”) in Galilee was the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry and the home of his disciple, Simon Peter. In that time, it was a bustling city of about 6,000 people (both Jews and Gentiles) and was […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Did you notice that only Satan worked miracles during the temptation of Christ? The devil first appeared out of nowhere (Matthew 4:3). Then he miraculously transported Jesus to the highest point of the Jerusalem temple (4:5). Lastly, he transported Jesus […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Factual info)

posted by Mike Nappa

In relating the events of Jesus’ temptation, Matthew presents Satan (“the devil”) without any introduction or explanation except to say he is a “tempter.” The assumption appears to be that Matthew’s Jewish readers a) already knew who Satan was, and […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

According to Matthew, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world as his third and final temptation. Luke 4:5-12, however, appears to indicate that the kingdoms were Satan’s second temptation. Which author got it right? Well, most scholars answer that […]

Matthew 3:13-17; The Baptism of Jesus (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

The baptism of Jesus was a revelatory moment in history, and is generally considered the moment that “marks both His inauguration as the servant Messiah and the dawning of a new age of the Spirit.” In that context, it’s significant […]

Matthew 3:13-17; The Baptism of Jesus (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ request to be baptized by John the Baptist caused unique problems, both for John and for Christians who came later. One Bible historian reports that “There is evidence that some early Christians found Jesus’ baptism somewhat embarrassing, either because […]

Matthew 3:1-12; John the Baptist Prepares the Way (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

John the Baptist identified three types of baptisms: By water, by the Holy Spirit, and by fire. But what do those mean? In John’s use, water baptism was a symbol of repentance in the heart and mind of the person […]

Matthew 2:19-23; The Return to Nazareth (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

During the time of Jesus’ childhood, Nazareth was a tiny, backwater village situated in foothill on the southern edge of what was known as “Lower Galilee.” It was dwarfed by larger towns nearby. With a population estimated by some to […]

Matthew 1:18-24; The Birth of Jesus Christ (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she was “betrothed” to Joseph. Betrothal (in Hebrew, kiddushin) at that time was somewhat similar to our modern-day “engagement,” with a few significant exceptions. First, girls as young as twelve and boys as young […]

Matthew 1:18-24; The Birth of Jesus Christ (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew’s historical account emphasizes Jesus as Messiah and King for a primarily Jewish audience. As a result, one scholar notes, “The [Old Testament] casts a long shadow over Matthew’s gospel. No other evangelist or [New Testament] writer, including Paul or […]

Matthew 1:1-17; The Genealogy of Jesus (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Why begin the story of Jesus with a tedious, and incomplete, recitation of family history? Well, Matthew seems to have had one purpose in mind: To show proof that Jesus, as the adopted son of Joseph, could legally be considered […]

Matthew: A Brief Introduction

posted by Mike Nappa

 “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet…”—Matthew 1:22 The gospel of Matthew is an eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, written by one of the 12 disciples in Christ’s inner circle. […]

Previous Posts

Bible Resource Spotlight: Discovering Romans
Reader Appeal: Pastors, Small Group Leaders Genre: Bible Commentary / Sermons FBSN Rating: B+   When S. Lewis Johnson was a college man in the 1930s, he had little interest in God, let alone in preaching the Bible. All he cared about was golf. He competed in many amateur tournaments

posted 12:00:15pm Mar. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Bible Resource Spotlight: 30 Events That Shaped the Church
Reader Appeal: Bible Students, Pastors, Pew-Sitters Genre: Christian History FBSN Rating: A   It’s rare to find a book that could appeal to both a Bible Study Nerd and the average pew-sitter, but Alton Gansky has made one anyway. 30 Events that Shaped the Church takes a unique

posted 12:00:14pm Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Cultural Commentary)
Who is the “prince of demons” referenced in Matthew 9:34? Jesus’ enemies were pretty familiar with that guy—so much so that they felt confident accusing Christ of being his evil pawn. So who were they talking about? The “prince of demons” was a title for a high-ranking, fallen angel d

posted 12:00:59pm Mar. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Word Studies)
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus is recorded asking two blind men in Matthew 9:27-30. When they responded, “Yes Lord,” he said, “According to your faith will it be done for you.” And their sight was instantly restored! That’s a lot riding on one little word, “Fait

posted 12:00:58pm Mar. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Historical Backgrounds)
Was Jesus Christ really just a shaman, a secretive sorcerer healing people with magic tricks and demonic help? That’s what many of his enemies believed, and continued to believe for hundreds of years. In ancient Jewish society, demons were credited as the “causes of various ailments, such as

posted 12:00:56pm Mar. 16, 2015 | read full post »

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