• Mark doesn't have as many demonstrable theological distinctives as the other three canonical Gospels for the simple fact that he wrote first and that the others shared several of his emphases. Even John, which is about 80% different from the Synoptics, announces in his purpose statement that what he has included about Jesus is intended to help people believe that he is the Messiah and the Son of God (John 20:31), the very two titles which Mark begins his Gospel with (Mark 1:1). But definitely stressed more in Mark than elsewhere is his famous "Messianic secret" motif: Jesus' silencing people and telling them not to disclose his identity in contexts where you'd think he'd be wanting word to spread. Thus, in 1:25, Jesus silences the impure spirit in a demon-possessed individual who has just acknowledged knowing him to be “the Holy One of God” and then casts him out of the man altogether. In 1:34 Mark generalizes and observes that Jesus consistently did not let demons speak “because they knew who he was” (cf. also 3:12). After healing the leper in 1:43, Jesus “strongly warns” the man to tell no one. On the other hand, after exorcising the man in the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus commands him to return to his own (presumably Gentile) people “and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (5:19). Some would include in this list of warnings to silence Jesus’ teaching in 4:10-12 on why he teaches in parables, including his cryptic remarks about preventing those outside his circle from truly understanding. But this is different enough from not talking about Jesus’ messiahship that it really should be treated more or less separately. The list of examples could be significantly multiplied but these are enough illustrations to establish Mark's pattern. The standard evangelical answer remains persuasive: had Jesus received too much publicity, especially in Jewish circles, especially reaching the ears of the religious authorities of the land, his execution could have come prematurely, before his ministry, as God envisioned it, was complete. Only after his resurrection, moreover, would it be sufficiently clear that his mission was not to reestablish God's earthly, militaristic kingdom (at least not in the 1st century) and rid the land of the Romans (Mark 9:9). Recent studies of the ancient Mediterranean world's culture of honor and shame add some interesting supplementary perspectives to this basic response. Jesus’ message and model of highlighting servanthood above authority required a certain modesty on his part with respect to others publicizing his greatness. A certain amount of publicity was necessary to establish his credibility, but too much could have undermined his own ministry. We live in an age of self-promotion. Neither Jesus nor Paul would have fared well among modern advertising companies or in many churches. When Paul was forced into boasting, he chose to glory in his weakness and sufferings (2 Cor. 12). Jesus knew that signs-based faith were often inadequate and didn't trust that people's allegiance to him based solely or primarily on miracles would hold up if difficult times came. Will we do better? I write this 4th of July blogpost from England, where some of our best friends live and where our daughter is a permanent citizen. The longer I live the more I become ambivalent about patriotic holidays in any country. Last year we were in Singapore for their independence day and it made sense for such a small country to celebrate all the progress they have made since they left the British empire in 1966. But Christians are a "third race" (neither Jew nor Gentile) and their citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We should have more loyalty to our unknown, suffering North Korean Christian brothers and sisters in the underground church there than to our non-Christian neighbors and family members even if we stand or sit next to them at the same fireworks celebration. Do we?
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    Well, maybe if we just move on beyond Paul things will work better! Mark is by most all accounts the earliest of the Gospels. If (and it's a big if), Acts can be dated to 62 because it takes the chronology of Paul up that far and then stops, without any mention of whether or not he got out of house arrest in Rome, then Luke has to be before Acts (61 or 62) and Mark before Luke. But because church tradition says Mark was relying heavily on Peter's oral memoirs (and the two of them were together in Rome), while Luke was a free man also in Rome (while Paul was in prison), Luke could have learned about and relied on Mark's Gospel almost immediately after it was written so that Mark, too, could come from the very early 60s. Mark could therefore easily have come from just about the time Paul was completing most of his letters. Joel Marcus in the Anchor Bible commentary on Mark gives a good catalgoue of the various theological parallels between Mark and Paul. Among the most important are: calling Jesus’ message “good news” (Gk. euangelion) very centrally (Mark 1:1, Gal. 1:6-9, Rom. 1:16-17), stressing Jesus’ crucifixion “as the apocalyptic turning point of the ages,” highlighting “Jesus’ victory over the demonic powers" (via exorcisms in Mark; cf. Rom. 8:38-39, 1 Cor. 15:24), seeing “his advent as the dawn of the age of divine blessing prophesied in the Scriptures” (Mark 1:1-15, Rom. 3:21-22), depicting faith in Jesus as a God-given, new form of spiritual sight given to the elect with outsiders remaining spiritually blind (Mark 4:10-12; Rom. 11:7-10, 1 Cor. 2:6-16), and portraying Peter in a largely negative light (Mark 8:31-33; Gal. 2:1-14). Both Mark and Paul also emphasize that Jesus came not for the godly but for the ungodly (Mark 2:17; Rom. 4:15, 5:18-19), “on whose behalf he died an atoning death” (Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:25, 5:8), that Christ came first to the Jews but then also to the Gentiles (Mark 7:27-29; Rom. 1:16), and that incorporation of both Jews and Gentiles on equal terms in the church of Jesus Christ was made possible by the setting aside of the dietary laws, through the “cleansing” of “all foods” (Mark 7:19, Rom. 14:20). Of course, there are differing emphases, too, as between any two NT authors. But in today's scholarly world, the theological diversity of the authors tends to be emphasized much more than their unity, so rehearsing a catalogue like this is useful. Doubtless the most important of the parallels is the focus by both Mark and Paul on the cross as the heart of the gospel. It seems that much of the church today has lost sight of this crucicentrism. We hear the prosperity gospel preached in every time zone across the planet. And even when we don't explicitly hear that we are entitled to health and wealth, we have a crisis of faith all too often when we suffer. Why did God allow me to go through this? I suspect both Paul and Mark might have replied--whatever made you think that a Christian wouldn't have to suffer? If Christ endured the worst humanity could thrown at him, musn't his followers have to be prepared to follow him to the cross as well (Mark 8:31-38)?
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    I tried writing two posts on Paul within the last month. One appeared here for a couple of weeks but has now vanished. Another seems never to have appeared. The options for pinning posts also seemed to vanish but now have returned. If anybody at Logos is reading this, maybe you know what happened? Also, I did not authorize advertising of ESV reading plans on my faithlife post. As a translator for the NIV, I find it inappropriate to use this space to advertise any version of the Bible. Could someone please remove it?
  • published a newsletter

    ReadCraig Blomberg’s NT334 Book Study: Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

    Thank you for participating in Craig Blomberg’s NT334 Book Study: Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians cohort.

    In the past few months we examined theological topics addressed in 1 Corinthians. We discussed sola Scriptura, church discipline, marriage and divorce, head coverings in Christian worship, factionalism, and other first-century ethical issues, and we explored how these topics are particularly relevant in the church today.


    Segment 39 brought up compelling conversations about engaging in controversial activities and practices for the “sake of reaching the outsider to the Christian community and preserving the apparent insider who looks like they may be on a trajectory to demonstrating that they are not truly saved.” How are we supposed to interact with people who are unsaved and participating in controversial behavior? Many encouraging examples were shared of how others have lovingly reflected the hope of Christ toward the unsaved. 


    Continue to grow in your Christian walk and be encouraged through studying other important theological topics. ED121 Introducing Evangelism taught by Bobby Conway provides useful and proven strategies to face common challenges, answer tough questions, and live out the Great Commission. In AP211 Show and Tell: Apologetics in the Postmodern Context Dr. Jim Belcher discusses postmodern views and applicable apologetics to give you confidence that will help you share your Christian faith.


    Save 40% on on these courses and more as part of the Tough Topics Sale and learn to share Christianity in our current culture and context more effectively. 


    Hurry! Offer ends June 16. 

    1. Congratulations, we are now in our final week studying 1 Corinthians along with the Logos Mobile Ed NT334 course. Thank you for your thoughtful engagement with the text and each other. This week is set aside for general Q&A - what is a 1 Corinthians topic or question that we have not discussed or an key insight from your study? Thank you again and God bless.
      1. This week we look at the last NT334 course unit on the theology of 1 Corinthians.  When you think of 1 Corinthians, what major theological topics come to mind? Do you have any questions on the theology of 1 Corinthians? Thank you! Now that we have completed our unit by unit walkthrough of NT334, we’ll conclude our study next week with General Q&A.
        1. Thank you Dr. Blomberg for staying with this group. I haven't participated much because I've been behind through most of the course and am finally catching up. I particularly appreciated your balanced and humble approach in the areas of Christian freedom and of gender roles. My own church offers "Sunset Yoga" once a week and I've had some concerns but your remarks on the topic gave me some peace about it. We also had a big kerfuffle last fall when the leadership tried to introduce the idea of women elders. Thank you for your teaching on this divisive issue.
        2. I am delighted the class could be of help!  Thanks for posting.
      2.  — Edited

        This week we look at 1 Cor 15:29–16:24 (Bodily Resurrection and Letter Closing) and have just two more weeks to follow in our group study (major theological points next week and finally general Q&A.) Now that we have worked our way through the text of 1 Corinthians, what are your personal “takeaways” from your study and reflection on this epistle? Is there a particular point of application for your walk or ministry that comes to mind when you think of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church? Thank you. As always, if you have any questions about 1 Cor 15:29-16:24 please post them here as well.
        1. Thank you Dr. Blomberg for clearing up the meaning of "flesh and blood" in 1 Cor 15:50.
        2. You are most welcome!
      3. With just a few more weeks in our study through 1 Corinthians we now conclude our look at spiritual gifts and turn to the resurrection (NT334 Unit #12, 1 Cor 14:26–15:28.) One debated topic in this section is the meaning of Paul’s command in 1 Cor 14:34 which includes “women should keep silent in the churches.” Of the various explanations presented in segment 66 (textual variant?, related to elders?, related to lack of education?, this is another Corinthian slogan?) which explanation or combination do you find most compelling? Thank you. If you have any other questions to discuss as a group, comments on this epistle, or ways we need to apply this section please post them here!
        1. Also Dr. Bloomberg what are you doing with Junia being called an apostle in Romans 16:7?
        2. Paul uses "apostle" as a spiritual gift, not to mean one of the Twelve closest followers of Jesus.  An apostle was a "sent one," more or less equivalent to what we might call a missionary or church planter.  Andronicus and Junia may well have been a husband and wife church-planting team.  This poses no problem even for complementarians like Wayne Grudem who takes the same approach.
        3. As for all your other texts, I don't want to create a thread where I triple the length of your post!  You make a lot of good points, although some of the passages are a little more complex.  One of the advantages of Bible college, seminary, or even a good program of self-study is that it exposes you to a fuller range of options for the controversial passages and you understand better why good and godly people disagree the way they do.  You still have to decide what you believe but you can hold it a little less dogmatically.
      4. Our study this week now examines love, tongues, and prophecy in 1 Cor 12:31b–14:25. What is one thing that you have learned about the biblical concept of love and the use of spiritual gifts from this section? If you have any other comments or questions please post them here, thank you!
        1.  — Edited

          Our study this week examines spiritual gifts within 1 Cor 12:1–31a. As churches take varying positions on the use of spiritual gifts, what questions do you have on this familiar passage? What are some ways we need to apply this passage?
          1. 1 Corinthians 12 is often either completely neglected or abused by modern believers.  Many Pentecostals where I'm from will question your salvation if you don't speak in tongues because, to them, it means you are not Baptized in the Holy Spirit... which 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 flat out contradicts but whatever.  My best friend, the best teacher I've ever met, has actually been hurt by this because as he's prayed for other gifts of the Spirit that don't seem to be given, people want to take the "what sin is blocking you from receiving these gifts" approach and that's just harmful.   That's why Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 the way he does.  He's tying it back into 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  We are called to be a community.  God knows human nature and knows that if we all had ALL the gifts we would use them to exalt ourselves rather than His Name.  So some people are teachers, some are healers, some speak in tongues, some interpret.  We need each other.  The hand is no less important than the eye just because it performs a different function.  So it is with the Body of Christ.  Lastly, we as a modern Church no longer see the Book of Acts in our Church because we don't have faith in the gifts of the Spirit or disregard it as something that happened along time ago... or too busy committing gluttony to fast, pray, and wait for the Holy Spirit.  Some Churches understand this and perform healings every Sunday.  I'm don't want to paint with too broad of a brush here but for the most part the American Church does not seek gifts of the Spirit, and even if we do... we use them in direct violation of 1 Corinthians 14:23.  Leading other denominations to dismiss gifts of the Spirit as weird or the product of a bygone era.  It's quite sad actually.  This is not what we are called to be.  The Kingdom of God is radical.  It defies logic, reason, science etc. A few months ago, I cleansed my first house of 5 unclean spirits.  I grew up very NON-charasmatic.  In my weeks of preparation leading up to the cleansing, the guy who was coaching me through the cleansing via phone asked me if spoke in tongues... I said, "no, don't believe it's a thing nowadays."  He said, "you might want to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of tongues because you might run into something in that house you need tongues for."  Later that night, I asked and received.  For 5 minutes I was unable to speak English.  It's been absolutely amazing!!! To be a believer and still go from unbelief into belief is very humbling.   And yes, it was needed.  In the attic, I ran into something.  I couldn't really see it as the eye is used to seeing things but I could barely make out a form.  I could sense the evil and I knew we were making eye contact.  A had a 13 year old seer by my side who was able to see the figure.  Holy Spirit took over and, through me, spoke in tongues until the thing left.  I now pray mostly in tongues, usually privately or under my breath so as not weird anyone out.  Sometimes using my mind to direct as I would normal prayer.  Sometimes not using my mind and just speaking whatever comes out and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me that what needs to be prayed will be prayed.  I earnestly pray as well for the gifts of interpretation, healing, prophecy, dreams, visions, and to see the spirit realm.  I do not know when or if any of them will be granted but I desperately desire *ALL* gifts the Father is willing to give that I might use advance His Kingdom.  I don't resist Him anymore. Prayerfully, that speaks to someone on here.  Especially the more educated, scholarly, intellectual types of which I count myself a member (though I am officially a layperson).  We need each other.  Scripture is more than just Greek and Hebrew and theology.  We must advance the Kingdom.  To be on the offensive.
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          2. Thanks for sharing, Nathan.  You are absolutely right.  There is no true, exegetical support for cessationism and neither is there any support for a "name it and claim" it approach to a particular gift.  We are more than welcome to pray for certain gifts and God may choose to give them to us but he may also choose not to do so.  He gives the gifts as he determines.  In the New Testament the term "baptism/baptize" is used with the "Spirit" only to refer to the Spirit initially coming to live in a person when they first accept Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:13 is very telling because Paul says all the Corinthian Christians have this baptism and yet we know from the whole letter how immature, sin-filled and theologically misguided many of them are on so many issues.  What charismatics call the baptism of the Spirit is what the New Testament calls the filling of the Holy Spirit.  On three occasions in Acts it results in tongues; in all instances in the New Testament it yield bold witness and proclamation of the gospel, which, of course, can't be effective unless there is interpretation of tongues. D. A. Carson in his wonderful little book, Showing the Spirit, makes two very simple statements that if followed would prevent most of the abuse, excess, and wrongheadedness in this area.  If those who have not experienced certain gifts would stop ruling any of them as out of bounds for our age, and if those who have experienced certain more so-called charismatic gifts would stop requiring them as criteria for anything, the two sides would come a lot closer together.  That's probably part of exactly what Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians 14:39-40:  be eager to prophesy and stop forbidding tongues (the one side) but do everything decently and in order, i.e., in line with all the other instructions Paul gives in these three chapters (12-14) (the other side).
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          3. 100% agreed sir.  Will have to check out Carson's book.