• I notice that seven months have elapsed since my last post. We've been through a lot of transition at my church since I ceased to function as an interim pastor myself on July 1, and this has taken a great deal of energy for me -- an appointed pastor who decided to take early retirement after three months here, another interim who wasn't me (but was a great guy), and now another new appointed pastor as of January 1. Nevertheless, I have recently completed a draft of "A Week in the Life of Ephesus" for InterVarsity Press, the seventh and probably last installment in their "Week in the Life of" series. The "week" I have chosen starts on September 23 in the year 89, one month before the inauguration of the great Temple of Domitian in Ephesus that won for the city its first imperial "neokorate," the honor of hosting a province-wide temple of the imperial cult. We follow the scenes and pressures largely upon two people -- an Ephesian elite who is also a Christian and host of a house church and an Ephesian merchant who is a Christian and host of a smaller house church -- so as to navigate the two world of cult and commerce, the pressures and temptations Christians face in both, all in the service of creating a plausible reconstruction of one "reading scenario" for Revelation. It was great fun thinking about the story and how to bring the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary witnesses to life in Roman Ephesus to life for a week. This week I've started in earnest filling in the gaps in my research on Revelation for the purpose of trying to bring about "Discovering Revelation: Content, Interpretation, and Reception" to draft form by the end of September for SPCK and Eerdmans. I think that the goal of the series is to provide an orientation to a particular book of the Bible suitable for an upper-level college course or a pastor preparing for a Bible study or preaching series. In the meanwhile, Lexham Press has been kind enough to accept from me a collection of the sermons I preached during my interim pastorate. Those sermons were about all I was able to write during that nine-month stint (which fortunately coincided with the church year from All Saints through Trinity!), and I'm grateful to have found a publisher for them. "In Season and Out: Sermons for the Church Year" is expected to be released in digital and print form in September. During this past Fall, I also gave attention to some resource more immediately appropriate for general use in the church -- a revised and updated version of Bruce Metzger's study of Revelation, "Breaking the Code," which should be released by Abingdon in May along with a DVD, and "Galatians" for the One Book: Daily/Weekly series published by Seedbed, the publishing arm of Asbury Theological Seminary, also with a DVD. Glad to have opportunities like that to leaven personal and group reflection on the Scriptures in our congregation!
  •  — Edited

    I am delighted to be able to report that my commentary on Galatians in the NICNT has finally been published. Monday (9/18) is the official release date. I hope that Amazon and CBD will begin distributing the books then. I am grateful to Faithlife for jumping on the preparation of a digital edition of the same for use within the Logos ecosystem. A few sentences from the preface that give something of the theological flavor of the work: "I find in Paul’s response to the situation in Galatia the following theological convictions and interests: (1) Paul—like the rival teachers and like the Galatians themselves—is deeply interested in the God-given means to attaining righteousness, which all parties would agree to be prerequisite to acquittal on the last day. (2) Paul—unlike the rival teachers—lays great emphasis on the importance of the Holy Spirit (essentially the promised inheritance that Christ died to secure for Jew and gentile alike) as that means. (3) The 'faith' that Paul regards as the response to God that leads to acquittal is far more than a 'belief that.' It is a reliance upon Jesus and upon what Jesus has gained for his own at such great cost to himself, namely, the Holy Spirit; it is a single-hearted and consistent investment of oneself in the life that the Holy Spirit seeks to bring about within and among the believers, which is nothing less than Christ living in and through them. It is a faith that invests itself in loving action and that, consequently, leads to righteousness, all by the Spirit’s guiding and empowering intervention."
  • NT331 is the resource. In the "Occasion of Romans" textbook Rome is referred to as the "Big Olive". How did it get that name?
    1. Greetings. I grew up outside of New York City, which was always referred to as "the Big Apple" (I never knew why). So "the Big Olive" seemed a cute way to talk about the ancient metropolis of Rome. :)
  • At Ps 46.9 in LLXXI, there is a very helpful note ("(TR) The MT varies considerably from the LXX. .... ). But it seems to only show up with the full interlinear displayed. It would be very helpful and useful to have it displayed in the base greek text (wo interlinear turned on) so that the reader who is not using the interlinear could see it. Could the asterisk that is attached to "Mighty Ones" (English of interlinear) also be attached to g:krataioi in the base text? I'm aware that the note shows up with a hover over g:krataioi but there is no way to know that unless the reader were to hover over every word looking for notes, which is not a great reading strategy. Thank you!
    1. I finished this book just about a week ago, and I have had some questions I wondered if you could answer. *Forgive the following "train of thought" questions* I have been wondering if you could clarify a little more about the distinction you see between "failures in the course of discipleship and failing to pursue transformation". You mention that there is a difference between falling into the sins mentioned in Gal. 5 and continuing in them as if they were routine, but how might you envision this distinction playing out in the daily life of the everyday Christ follower? Should they consider that when they sin (either against God, others, or themselves) as a "fall perchance" into these sins, or as intentional acts of rebellion to God's rule in their lives? Also, how should they distinguish between a failure in discipleship and a practice of sin (since, I am assuming, that nobody commits even unintentional sins only once as a Christ follower)? A related question I had while reading this section (The Necessity of Transformation) was how you understand the "guidance and empowerment" of the Spirit to work? How is that defined in a practical way?
      1. Greetings, Corey, and thanks for your questions. I can't answer them with precision, which is the frustrating thing about being under grace rather than law. :) Let me simply speak from my own experience. I have a sense that my overall orientation remains directed toward God, toward desiring to put myself at the Spirit's disposal, toward allowing Christ to live more and more fully in and through me. Along the way, when I catch myself giving room for the flesh -- or when a brother or sister points out that there's a bit of the flesh gaining the upper hand -- I recognize that this is not in keeping with God's goals for me (goals that I have embraced). So I give the matter over to God and ask for the Spirit's help to die a bit more there to my own inclinations and get back on track with the overall trajectory. This happens with annoying frequency, but these are still intrusions of the flesh into a Christ-ward life. That life looks significantly difference for this overall trajectory than it would were I to embrace a different, flesh-driven TRAJECTORY rather than merely be pushed a bit off course here and there by the odd fleshly impulse. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant. I am very much aware that I am what I am because of the Spirit's gracious interventions and striving on my behalf.
      2.  — Edited

        Thank you for even taking the time to respond, David. I would imagine that with the recent release of your Galatians commentary (which I have just begun perusing), combined with the obligations typically surrounding the holiday season, that you are most likely a very busy guy. Also, to reassure you, I didn't perceive your response as arrogant in any way. However, I do want to try and clarify your response so that I can make sure I am understanding it correctly. You are saying that… - since the Spirit has brought about within you a personal desire to love God with your whole person (overall sense, and a new trajectory?)... - the Spirit (with "annoying frequency" ;-) ) brings to your attention where you have acted out of the desires of your flesh in contrast to God’s desires for you (God's goals for you)... - and with that Spirit given knowledge of personal error, you then ask God (along with the Spirit) to assist you as you attempt to treat your fleshly inclinations as if they were dead (or, as if they have lost their control over you)... - All of this, so that you may continue living out your new, Christ-ward, life. Is that correct? I realize that it looks as if I am trying to make your answer a precise systematized formula (Granted. Using makeshift bullet points is admittedly bound to give that impression), however, since reading the book and reflecting on it more, it occurred to me that I honestly didn't remember reading much in the book on how the Christ follower is to process their own personal sin experienced as a daily reality (whether accidental or intentional). Not to say that nothing was said at all on personal sin (or how one is to understand overall experiences with sin as a Christ follower), but all I could remember reading from an individual’s perspective was what I quoted originally. Now, maybe there is simply nothing more that can be said on the issue, and my desire to seek more information on this within the pages of your book is simply a plea from my typically guilty conscience concerning my overly negative view of my own personal failures to conform to Christ, but after reading the book I kept thinking "Wow. Transformation is absolutely awesome, and crucial for our salvation (now, and eternally, lived out)! Wait. What am I supposed to think of the continual failures of myself and my brothers and sisters to follow Jesus as he desires us to? Is it even ok to consider ourselves Christ followers if we succumb to temptation and sin regularly, or worse, habitually? Wait. Does that mean we are not being transformed? WAIT! Does that mean I don’t have the Spirit?! WAIT!!! *insert all questions that typically flow from this train of thought ad nauseam*)” More to the point, should we, as Christ followers, consider the sins we commit as a type of "struggle" in which we are working to actively "put their flesh to death" but even in our failures, remain Christ followers? Or is it more serious than that? For example, is it more like how you mention Paul to understand the tension, "From Paul’s point of view, moreover, there are really only two directions for our investment of ourselves—feeding the agenda of the “flesh” and feeding the agenda of the “Spirit.” (pg.22) where it seems as though the eternal scales tip with each "investment" we make? Does any of what I said make sense? Haha!
      3. Hi Corey, Your query to David struck a chord in my heart. The problem of “striving” to be the Christian we should be is a tough one. Here is my response to some of your questions: ....Question?? What am I supposed to think of the continual failures of myself and my brothers and sisters to follow Jesus as he desires us to?...... The more I study Old & New Testament scriptures, read history books, and watch the local & national news, it becomes more & more vivid to me how easy it is for all of human-kind, believer or non-believer, to fall short of the Glory of God. The cycle of falling short never ends, as is easy to see in Biblical & secular history. It seems that it is an innate proclivity of human-beings to want to take the wide fleshly path [I call it worshiping at the “Church of My Own Way”- been there, done that, got the t-shirt, still go there sometimes], rather than consistently choosing the path of obedience to our LORD God. How do I deal with that in my own life? First, I acknowledge my short-fallings to LORD God Almighty, ask for forgiveness, and then surrender those negative proclivities I have to the Holy Spirit, a million times if necessary. I know that God sees into the deepest darkest depths of my heart and knows my heart better than I; while I hate falling short, I know He still loves me. The Holy Spirit is very good at piercing my conscience to get my attention. I believe that God who knows all, is ever patient, and never fails to guide those who love Him and have a surrendered heart for Him. We need to be sincerely open & willing to respond to the reproof by the Holy Spirit. LORD God knows that while in this world we will never reach the perfection that He has planned for each of us until He makes His final reclamation of His children and establishment of His Kingdom forever. Here’s my bottom-line: Worry less about what to think of our continual failures, and see them more as opportunities to grow and learn from the best Teacher that ever existed, YHWH: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. With a surrendered heart, rejoice that believer’s fleshly tendencies have been crucified with Christ Jesus. YHWH the Son has made us all new in the sight of YHWH the Father! YHWH the Holy Spirit is our helping hand here in this earthly life. ....Question?? Does that mean we are not being transformed?....... As I have experienced in my own life, the Holy Spirit has been very active in my life over the years, even through the years that the LORD God saw more of my back than my face and even though I do not always see it in the moment. I see it now in retrospect and am grateful that He didn’t give up on me! When I finally turned full face forward to the LORD God [I believe it was only due to the pursuit by the Holy Spirit], I began to learn how to surrender my heart; now I learn how to surrender my minutes, days, years, friends, wants, wishes, pride, “stinking old baggage”, “my control”, “guilt over failure”, etc. etc. etc. Yes, Corey, as believers with surrendered hearts, we are being transformed whether we realize it or not. I’m sure of it. .....Question?? More to the point, should we, as Christ followers, consider the sins we commit as a type of "struggle" in which we are working to actively "put their flesh to death" but even in our failures, remain Christ followers?.... I believe we humans need to let the Holy Spirit slay our recalcitrant flesh, because I am sure that we humans are truly incapable to accomplish the task. We must surrender our hearts & fleshly side to YHWH, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, then remain surrendered to, open to, and accepting of the reproof from the Holy Spirit, Who will transform us; I believe this is how we “work actively in the struggle”. Not exactly pain-free, but with perseverance we will come out on the other end where the LORD God wants us to be. Your sister in Christ Jesus, Edie
    2. Hello David, First, let me tell you how much I have enjoyed several of your MobEd courses; you teach clearly so it is easy to understand the scriptures, bible history, and the points you make; it is clear that you love the LORD God with all your heart. His Blessings be on you. I have a question regarding the repeated phrase in Genesis 1 "There was evening, there was morning, the 'insert number' day." There are various ways to View interpretation of the word Day in Genesis as listed in the FSB: Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. my Question: Would the Ancient Hebrews read the Words of Genesis chapter 1 and think in terms of a 24 hour day for each of the creation sequences? I am positive that Almighty YHWH indeed could create the universe in any number of hours, days, years, nanoseconds, etc. which He would choose. I always think of YHWH as being outside of time [therefore time means little to Him - I'm thinking He created time for the benefit of Humankind] The sun & moon, made to be for signs, seasons, days & years and to rule over the day & night, weren't created until Day 4. This makes me wonder if YHWH didn't use the "numbered Day" phrase for each creation sequence to provide ordering of creation information for the sake of humankind's understanding of His creation story. Am I off the beam, thinking that we shouldn't try to put YHWH in any particular "time" box of one kind or another in Genesis 1? I am very willing to accept the "whatever/how ever" that YHWH wills [and not know His exact answer to my feeble questions] even in the face of feeling pressured in my Bible study group to believe a certain way about the "day" language in Gen 1. Again, how would the ancient Hebrews read Genesis "day" language? Thanks, Edie
      1. Greetings, Edith. Genesis 1 is an area of specialty for OTHER people, but I have tended to read it as a statement of God's orderly and rational process of creation that says most when it is heard in contrast to other ancient Near East creation stories (some of which speak of facets of creation coming about as a result of violence between warring deities -- like Marduk fashioning the ground and the firmament by beaten out the two pieces of Tiamat's corpse into nice thin membranes!). Genesis 1 says a lot about the genuine God and God's relationship to creation in such a cultural context. And, yes, the absence of sun (the primary cosmic ticker of the 24-hour block) in days 1-3 should say something about the figurative nature of the "days" in creation. That's all I've got.
      2. Thank you so much for your answer. It helps me to relax regarding this topic (and others like it), giving others the space to make up their own minds about the topic, and focus on keeping the "main thing the main thing"... YHWH's reclamation plan for human beings and the rest of creation. I have studied Genesis with Dr. John Walton's MobEd & one of his books which has also helped. Learning about the culture of the ancients is important. The study has been very good for me in helping gain insights that I've not had before. YHWH is Great!
    3. David, I am using your material on the Seven Cities of Revelation while teaching through Revelation. The timing of it being released was perfect, at least for my uses. It really helps to bring to life, for the folks attending, that these are real cities with real issues at the time. Thank you.
      1. Hello Dear, With Respect, Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I expect that this mail will not come to you as a surprise, since we have not yet known or written before. Upon the receipt of this mail kindly contact me on my private Email contact below: ( elyse.francky@yahoo.com ) I am Miss. Elyse Francky the Only Daughter of late Mr. Brown Francky. Before the death of my late father, He called me on his bedside and told me that he has a sum of $5.500,000.00 Million USD in a financial Bank here. Deposited in one of the prime bank here in Abidjan Ivory Coast that he used my name for the next of kin in depositing of the fund. I will need your assistance as follows: 1) To assist me in retriving this money from the bank. 2) To serve as the guardian of this fund. 3) To make arrangement for me to come over to your countryto further my education and to secure a residential permit in your country. Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15% of the total sum as compensation for your effort/input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated account overseas. For more details Reply to my private e-mail box below: ( elyse.francky@yahoo.com ) Awaiting your urgent reply. Regards, Miss. Elyse
      2. The most sophisticated Bible software developer on the face of the planet and there's no way to filter out spam/phishing posts? LOL!
      3. I agree that is amazingly surprising. I contacted tech help several weeks ago about these posts and they said 2 Things: 1] they can't prevent people from signing up for an account and 2] that if we click on the the "more" button and select "flag as inappropriate" the tech folks would be alerted and would remove it. So, I'm going to do that after I post this. We'll see if it works. ;-)
    4. You are such a HUGE blessing! Thank you, Jesus, for all you do to conquer the goliaths out there in many minds and heart through this beloved David of yours! Blessings!
      1. hi
    5. A year ago I accused myself of being "the world's worst blogger, poster, and author group host." I return today to prove my earlier claim. :) It has been, however, a wonderfully productive year. I look forward to the second edition of my INTRODUCING THE APOCRYPHA: MESSAGE, CONTEXT, AND SIGNIFICANCE coming out with Baker Academic at the end of this month. I spent about three months revising the text, bringing it in line with my own thinking on various issues since 2002 and bringing it up to date with the face of "Apocrypha scholarship" through about 2016. I finally finished my manuscript -- and, at this point, all the editing and proofing -- for my contribution on THE LETTER TO THE GALATIANS for the NICNT series published by Eerdmans. I anticipate this to appear in late August. Finally, I took another three or four months to update my best-selling book (not that it's a "best seller" by any stretch, but among my books it sells best!), AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT: CONTEXTS, METHODS, & MINISTRY FORMATION. Along with a rather thorough revision of about half of the chapters (and light revision of the other half -- but I've admittedly not done a lot of thinking about John's Gospel, for example, since 2003!), it will also feature mostly new, and perhaps more judiciously selected, photographs from my own travels throughout the lands of the NT. I'm grateful to my partners at Baker, Eerdmans, and IVP for allowing me these great opportunities to contribute to people's thinking about what I consider to be some matters of the greatest importance. In early October, I was given a "field promotion" to interim pastor at the church I had been serving (and continue to serve) as director of music and organist. This, as the pastors among my readership well know, spells the end for writing for a while, save for a few shorter pieces that, being contributions to collaborative ventures, I can't fail to produce and, of course, a steady stream of sermons. If any of you are at all interested in what it looks like when this NT scholar tries to proclaim the word to a congregation, you are welcome to read the transcripts of any of my sermons on my blog: https://apocryphalwritings.wordpress.com/. I anticipate that this "gig" will continue through June. Thanks to all of you who have not left the group in disgust over my lack of posts! :)
      1. These are two ways FL has given one a voice on what to pursue! I'd say if it garners much attention, the request would be honored!
      2. I have placed a number of resources here for one to vote on and comment support in hopes of seeing them published including several volumes by a wonderful scholar named David A. deSilva! Go check it out and add a few of your own!
    6. Both Witherington (New Testament Guide to Rhetoric) and Lincoln (Hebrews) suggest that Hebrews 12:18-29 acts as the peroratio, rather than 13:17-25. I am curious why you haven't considered or discussed 12:18-29 as a peroratio.
      1. I think chiefly because I view 12:18-29 (and 13:1-16) as more than "wrap up," and I especially resist the analysis that makes of 13:1-21 little more than an appendix (what's left, after all, AFTER the peroratio?). Also, and more and more, I'm inclined less to try to stretch the NT text over the template of the four- or five-part oration and inclined more to use classical rhetorical theory as a tool for analyzing invention (and the function of whatever material is there) and style, and less arrangement. Sorry I'm checking in here so late!
      2. That's very interesting! Thank you. You're commentary is great by the way, really helpful both academically and in preaching. Thank you.