I have added a Greek text + my slightly revised translation, and I answer the odd interpretation of Luke 1:35. Now, in my mind there is no doubt about the answer.
Author Archives: James M. Arlandson
Regeneration: What Is It and How Does It Work?
You must be born again. But what does that mean? Does anything result from rebirth? Or do we just stay the same?
Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 and 17 in Parallel Columns Are Finally Clear
These chapters are on Jesus’s discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (AD 70) and then the Second Coming, which has not happened yet, 2000 years later (and counting). Looking at the chapters side by side clarifies what he really taught.
Basics about Water Baptism
What does baptize literally mean? Can infants be baptized, biblically speaking? What about adults being baptized twice? Questions like these are answered point by point.
The Lord’s Supper in Synoptic Gospels + Church Traditions
We cannot answer all the questions in this overview, but we can exegete the Lord’s Supper in its original context in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This post also looks very briefly at 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 and 11:23-34. Then, what do various churches teach about the Lord’s Supper (or Communion or Eucharist)? I am here to learn. I updated this post with information that startled me. I also learned something new from Exod. 12:14.
What Is Prayer?
In its simplicity, it is “communication with God.” But what do the Scriptures say about it more fully? This post offers a thorough biblical teaching, with many references, on prayer generally.
Does Hebrews 7:1-10 Teach Church Policy of Tithing?
An old fashioned Bible study is offered here, countering a desperate misinterpretation from mega-church guys and TV ministries.
Why Tithing Does Not Apply to New Covenant Believers
God’s New Covenant plan is much better than an obsolete, national, theocratic tax designed to support an obsolete, national, religious system. God has a better way for the New Covenant church.
Yes, Junia Really Was a Female Apostle: A Close Look at Roman 16:7
The only reason this verse has become controversial and complicated is because Complementarians (those who restrict women from full participation in ministry) have made it controversial and complicated. But Rom. 16:7 is straightforward and clear and easily translated. (I updated this post.)
The Names of God
These names and titles and activities and metaphors reveal his character and outreach towards needy humans. Many tables and Scripture references are included.
Sanctification of the Whole Person: Spirit, Soul, and Body
Some Renewalists of the Word of Faith variety say your redeemed spirit is perfect, but not your redeemed soul. True?
What Is Sanctification?
This topic is really unpopular in the “wilder grace” and “freer grace” Renewal circles. But becoming like Christ is scriptural. Unavoidable. Necessary. And a blessing.
Who Were the ‘Sons of God’ in Genesis?
I updated this post yet again. Who were the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis? This post also covers the “sons of the Most High” in Psalm 82 and the “sons of God” in Job 1-2 and other verses. Earlier update: This post also looks into the phrase “because of the angels” in 1 Cor. 11:10.
The Biblical Way to Care for the Poor
We all need to participate. But how exactly?
What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?
What are the Scriptures that reveal them? How are they relevant to my life today? Or have they ceased?
Questions and Answers about Spirit-Inspired Languages
These are more commonly known as ‘tongues.’ Here some of the biblical basics.
Law versus Gospel
It is important to distinguish law from the gospel. If we don’t, we’ll get confused about how to walk the walk.
Is Humankind Two or Three Parts?
Are we body and soul? Or are we body, soul, and spirit? It’s not as clear-cut as most Renewalists believe.
Questions and Answers about Kingdom of God
Let’s use the Q&A format for ease of understanding this major theme of New Testament, particularly the synoptic Gospels.
Are All Sins Equal?
“All sins are the same! Sin is sin!” I have heard this confusion even from pastors. So how can we blame the laity if they get it wrong?
Bible Basics about the Kingdom of God
Some key points backed up by lots of Scripture.
What 1 Corinthians 14 Really Teaches
An old-fashioned Bible study here. There is a lot of confusion in certain quarters of the global Renewal Movement about what revivals involve. How can we clear up the confusion? What did Paul really teach in 1 Corinthians 14? Are we willing to obey his teaching or just run roughshod over it?
Basic Definition of Kingdom of God
This short post should help define the term. A simple five-step explanation of the Kingdom is included, as well.
The Meaning of the Names of the Twelve Apostles
What do their names mean? Why do the lists of the twelve in the New Testament have a slight variation? Can it be resolved?
‘Total’ Inerrancy and Infallibility or Just Infallibility?
A brief history of a controversy over the Bible in America, since the 1970s. I offer my view of Scripture, at the end.
Does God Cause Natural Disasters to Punish People Today?
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis—natural disasters slam humankind every year. Did God do that? What does the Bible say? Two different covenants make all the difference—a progressive revelation.
What Happens at Judgment to People Who Never Heard Gospel?
I used to teach world religions for a number of years. I learned that even though many people never got the chance to hear the gospel, they still lived impressively moral lives. What happens to them at judgment?
Grace Is a Verb
Grace means God’s unmerited, unearned favor. But once you have experienced it, you must show it.
God Is Your Redeemer
You did something you regret. You said something that you want to take back. Good news! You’re a prime candidate for God the Redeemer to deliver you out of your troubles and buy you out of your self-inflicted prison.
How Jesus Christ Fulfills the Law: Matthew 5:17-19
Christ fulfilled or paid off your debt to the Law. It’s paid in full. He accomplishes this by fulfilling the holiness demand in the law and the fullest revelation of God’s character.
How Christians Should Interpret the Old Testament
When the Old and New Testaments are interpreted carefully and rightly, using Scripture to interpret Scripture, this truth will emerge: Jesus Christ fulfills the old law, in many, many areas.
How to Forgive Adultery and Fornication
Sometimes the church can be self-righteous and condemn a sinner in the name of holiness, ignoring mercy. Or it can be permissive in the name of mercy, ignoring holiness.
What Does ‘Turn the Other Cheek’ Mean?
Does the verse allow violence to be done to Christians, without self-defense?
The Biblical Norm for Marriage
In the current confusion in society, we need clarity. The Bible still has wisdom to teach us, if we listen.
When Jesus Used Harsh Language
Don’t try this at home or elsewhere, unless called of God to take down systems!
Why Did Ananias and Sapphira Drop Dead?
In the book of Acts, they dropped dead. Why? To understand what happened, it is important to keep the Old Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant separate.
Two Kinds of Righteousness
This is important for our walk with God. Don’t get them confused!
Revenge in the Old and New Testaments: Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth
Does the Old Testament demand literal retaliation for a wrong? Should an eye or a tooth be gouged or knocked out—physically? What about the teaching of Jesus? Does he raise our vision to a higher calling? How do we forgive a tort or a physical injury? How do we get compensated for damages?
1. Two Natures in One Person: Key Terms and Concepts
Let’s learn about these key Christological points together, in the Q & A format.
2. Two Natures in One Person: He Was Human and God
Let’s place his two natures side-by-side with verses from Scripture to see who he really is.
3. Two Natures in One Person: Basic Questions and Answers
This topic is about Jesus Christ in his full personhood. Let’s use the Question and Answer format for clarity and conciseness.
4. Two Natures in One Person: Tough Questions
This post answers a series of tough questions about this vital and indispensable doctrine.
5. Two Natures in One Person: If Jesus Got Hungry, Did God?
Good question, and the answer is clear, based on one biblical truth. Other questions are included here, as well.
6. Two Natures in One Person: Definition or Creed of Chalcedon + Commentary
From the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). English, Greek, and Latin are included; the post discusses how the definition opposes three deficient teachings about Christ and answers the objection that the fifth-century church just made it all up.
7. Two Natures in One Person: Review and Conclusion
Two natures (deity and humanity) are united in one person—the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s use the Q & A format, for clarity and conciseness.
Women Really Did Work as–and Were–Overseers, Elders, Pastors: A Close Look at 1 Timothy 5:9-10
I updated this post with a new table. Let’s explore this thesis, by comparing three passages, plus 1 Peter 5:1-5 and 1 Timothy 3:11, 12-13 (later), describing male elders and overseers and pastors, with elderly widows. All of them took care of the churches–the women functioned as pastors, elders, and overseers throughout their redeemed lives, because they were those things, when they saw the needs arise and because of their high-quality character and walk with God. (We also take a look at Titus 1:5-9 and 2:3-5).
About the Site
Welcome to the website! (A post office box is at the end of this post, if you wish to contribute to this teaching ministry)
Theories about the Atonement
Are some theories about it better than others?
Luke’s Birth Narrative: Pagan Myth or Sacred Story?
Many claim that the birth narratives in the Gospels–here the third Gospel–were merely reshaped copies of Greco-Roman myths. True?
Reconciling Matthew’s and Luke’s Genealogies: Mission: Impossible?
Some scholars say they are irreconcilable, while others say reconciling them is not so difficult. I favor plausible harmonization. It’s all in the family. Bonus: see the American family “the Roosevelts” in a chart for parallels.
What Is Redemption in the Bible?
This is an easy-to-follow word study in Hebrew and Greek, with all the words transliterated into English. And then redemption and ransom are applied to our lives today.
Women in Ministry: Replies to Objections
Updated: Here are twenty-nine objections in a list that Complementarians raise. Replies are given to each one. Many important verses are discussed here, like Genesis 1-3, Galatians 2:28, Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Timothy 2:11-15, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 7, 11:2-16, and Acts 6:5.
Does Acts 13:48 Teach Divine, Hard Determinism?
In this context, ‘divine, hard determinism’ means the people had no choice but to believe and be saved. God ‘appointed’ them to eternal life.
Foundation of Biblical Healing in Exodus
These verses on healing and deliverance are foundational for the entire Old Testament and for the entire Bible.
Healing Infertility in Genesis
In Genesis healing is about fertility. It is God’s promise to those who live by his commands. It is his blessing. And this first book of the Bible teaches us that God can answer prayers for fertility, to remove the sadness of infertility.
New Testament Must Always Filter Old Testament
American Bible teachers appear confused about biblical interpretation between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). Some claim, for example, that David will share the throne with his superior descendant, Jesus. A third temple will be built, and animal sacrifices will be reinstituted. Christians must keep the Sabbath by command today. What about replacement theology? So confusing!
Does the Land of Israel Belong to Jews Today by Covenant?
How do biblical covenants bear on that extremely important question today? Does the New Covenant cancel the Abrahamic covenants? What does the remnant mean in the Bible?
What Is a Miracle?
What is it? Do they happen today? Can you experience one?
Bible Basics about the Church
This post is an old-fashioned Bible study, offering a clear understanding of the church.
Balanced Worship in the Psalms
Yes, the first-person pronoun “I” is in that old biblical songbook (Psalms), but so is “God” without “me.” But when do we take “me” too far?
What Is Biblical Thanksgiving?
It is the key to the Christian life. What does the Bible say?
What Is the Biblical Character of Worship at Church?
What should worship look like, biblically, in a church service? What are its component parts? Is the church today imbalanced by omitting some things? Included here is a teaching about prayer and intercession, based on the Lord’s Prayer.
Deconstruction: The Language Games People Play
Everybody seems to use the term. I’ve seen it in movie reviews. “The scene was ‘deconstructed’ nicely.” But what does it really mean?
Word Study on Holiness and Sanctification
This is so important to God. It should be to us too.
The Biblical Case for Limited Government and Low Taxes
Liberalism, generally, favors a bigger government and higher taxes to pay for it, while conservatives advocate moving in the opposite direction: limited government and low taxes. What does the Bible say about this?
Word Study on Hope
In a world filled with despair, we need this gift of God more than ever.
What Is the Image of God?
We live in a society that degrades humankind with cursing people, promiscuously sharing our bodies with various partners, doing drugs, and other dehumanizing things. God calls us to something higher.
Bible Basics about Satan and Demons and Victory Over Them
Renewalists believe that Satan is real and attacks people, but in Christ they can have victory over the evil spirit being.
The Spirit in the Church and Believers
Renewalists have a robust and biblical pneumatology (doctrine of the Spirit). The church is a living organism, and the Spirit is guiding it. But the church is made up of individual believers. The Spirit works in them too.
Will Breaking Moral Law Break America?
Is America experiencing inevitable decline? A nervous breakdown?
Slavery and Freedom in the Bible
Critics of the Bible forget that it also advocates liberty. It’s the Grand Arc of the Biblical Narrative, from Genesis to Revelation. Let’s see if we can discover universal truths from these historical, culture-bound slave laws.
How to Get Past Your Past: Forget the Devil’s Playground
Do you remember when you messed up? When you got drunk and went too far? What about the flirtation that went too far? What about saying stupid stuff at the job or Thanksgiving? When you lost your temper? What about your bad behavior generally? What about that abortion? Shoplifting?
God Is Love
This study looks at this attribute of God from a personal point of view. It is relevant to your life.
What Does ‘Salvation’ Mean?
Start with this post, if you want the Bible basics. It will boil things down and clarify them. Key Hebrew and Greek words, too.
Postmodern Roots of Leftist Policies
Prepare to get your hands dirty. This post attempts to dig up the roots of wild and crazy public policies.
God’s Love and Grace in Hebrews, General Letters, and Revelation
All the verses are here. This post is good for your personal edification or for pastors and teachers who wish to build a Bible study or sermon series.
God’s Love and Grace in Paul’s Epistles
All the verses are here. They are great for your personal edification or for pastors and teachers who wish to build a Bible study or sermon series.
God’s Love and Grace in the Gospels and Acts
It’s about God’s love and favor, not yours for him. Great for a series of sermons or Bible studies or your personal edification.
God’s Love and Grace in the Prophets
Here are the verses where the words love and grace in their various forms appear in the biblical prophets. Great for a series of sermons and Bible studies or your personal edification.
God’s Love and Grace in Job, Psalms, and Proverbs
This is for your Bible study and sermon series and personal edification. All the words for love and grace in these three books of the biblical Wisdom literature are found here. Great for your personal edification or a series in a Bible study or sermons.
God’s Love and Grace in Old Testament History Books
Even though these verses have an ancient historical context, they are spoken to you today. Such verses are timeless and universal in that way, if we interpret them properly. Great for a sermon or Bible study series or your personal edification.
This chapter is full of information about church leaders. I look more carefully at the women leaders than the men, though everyone gets a comment.
God’s Love and Grace in the Torah
The Torah is the first five books of the Bible. Yes, God’s love and grace can be found in this section of Scripture. It is not always and only wrath and judgment. Great for your personal edification or a series in a Bible study or sermons.
Why Doesn’t Divine Healing Happen One Hundred Percent of the Time in This Age?
Yes, healing is “in” the atonement, like every biblical benefit. So why not 100% healing right now? (I updated this post.)
Women, Men, and Five Ministry Gifts in Ephesians 4:11
Yes, women really did function in Christ’s five gifts to his church, his temple, to build it up: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors-teachers. Check out the evidence. (I updated this post.)
Are Older Women Restricted to Teaching (‘Only’?) Young Women? A Close Look at Titus 2:3-5
How restrictive are those verses in the title? Does the Greco-Roman household offer any guidance for reading them? What about other verses in the NT?
What Is the Gospel?
How can we proclaim it if we don’t know what it is? After a basic definition offered just below, the gospel also has multiple parts to it. Let’s see what they are. (I recently updated this post.)
New Testament Restricts Authority of Modern Prophets
Yes, prophets of a certain sort rightly exist today, biblically speaking. However, errors are committed in many churches today, usually by “youtube” and “facebook” prophets. They are unscripturally concentrating too much authority in themselves. A closer reading of the New Testament, however, restricts them, their authority, and their ministry.
Should Women Not Speak One Word in Church? A Close Look at 1 Cor. 14:34-36
One older commentator says the prohibition in those verses seems “absolute.” Yet how do we properly read them?
From Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth II
May she be welcomed into heaven because she put her faith in Christ! 1926-2022. Historians of the monarchs of Europe always include several genealogical tables. Here are some of them for your convenience. Further, each monarch massively influenced influenced the Western European church, and the church influenced them. Continue reading
Are Women Allowed to Teach Men? A Close Look at 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Certain interpreters of those verses in the title have restricted women’s full participation in the teaching ministry. But are these restrictions truly biblical? Let’s take a deeper look at the verses in the title.
Do NT Prophets and Prophecy Exist Today?
Many Renewalists say yes for prophecy. The biblical evidence favors them. Now what about prophets? (I have recently updated this post.)
Do NT Apostles Exist Today?
Many Renewalists believe apostles do exist. But should there be restrictions? An old-fashioned Bible study to answer the question. (I have updated this post,)
This is the final chapter of the book of Acts, but not of the acts of God, which go on to this day. Paul gets bitten by a poisonous snake, shakes it off, is unharmed, and then God works healing through his hands. They finally reach Rome, where Paul is at liberty to preach the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8. Postmodernism and the Bible: Conclusion
This article is the conclusion to the series on postmodernism and the Bible. A good summary of the entire series.
7. Interpreting the Bible and Finding the Truth
The words “the truth” will shock postmodernists and deconstructionists. Good. But it asks: How do we study and interpret the Bible? How do we find truth which really is out there, around us? This post is a simple reply to claims of unsolvable ambiguities in the Bible.
Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus go through a storm and shipwreck. An angel stands before Paul and promised everyone safety. When they followed his directions, they safely reach an island.
6. The Reconstructed Jesus: What the Bible Actually Says
It is now time to counter the extreme views spelled out in Part Five. Who was Jesus, really?
Paul delivers a speech before Agrippa and Festus, in Caesarea. Paul recounts his testimony on the road to Damascus. Festus reacts and calls him crazy. Does Paul want to convert him? Agrippa and Festus conclude that Paul is innocent, but he had appealed to Caesar, so the trials go on.
Paul defends himself before Festus, King Agrippa II, and his sister Bernice against the accusations of the Jerusalem establishment, who stood around Paul. He was calm and forceful in his defense. He appealed to “lord” Caesar.
5. The Deconstructed Jesus
Deconstruction overturns privileged hierarchy and meaning. Defenders promise us that they do not practice Anything Goes in their deconstruction of texts. Do they keep their promise? How do we verify it? Click on this link only if you have courage.
Paul defends himself before Felix at Caesarea. He is kept in custody, discussing with Felix, righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come. Felix is succeeded by Porcius Festus.
Paul appears before the Jewish High Council, a Roman commander rescues him, Jesus personally appears before Paul, a plot by assassins is foiled, and he is taken to Caesarea, where he had landed earlier.
Kenneth Copeland Gets a Pacemaker
Included in this post are the link to his video testimony, the transcript of the video, and my embedded comments.
4. Deconstruction: A Primer
Do you want to know what deconstruction really is? Read about it from its practitioners.
Paul delivers his defense (apologia) to the crowds who were demonstrating against him. It is a masterpiece.
This chapter has all sorts of prophetic words about Paul going up to Jerusalem. He arrives there. The chapter also sees James, the (half-)brother of Jesus, tell Paul to go along with a vow to be a good witness to the law-keeping converts to the Jesus Movement, which he did. A riot promptly beaks out when he is spotted in the temple. In v. 16, Paul’s third missionary journey comes to an end, and his journey to Rome via Jerusalem begins in v. 17.
3. Postmodern ‘Truth Soup’
Postmodernism has produced all sorts of confusing interpretations of Scripture. For the postmodernist, Scripture has turned into a pot of stew.
Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. But first he forms a team, sees a boy named Eutychus survive a fall, and delivers his very moving farewell to the Ephesian elders. This chapter also begins Paul’s journey to Jerusalem (20:16 to 21:17). Please see the timeline table that harmonize Acts 18-25 and Paul’s epistles
Paul is in Ephesus and prays for twelve disciples who need the fullness of the Spirit, seven Jewish exorcists get pummeled, a demonstration erupts because of the goddess Artemis and Paul’s monotheism and the gospel. The fifth “panel” is in this chapter. Also see the ministry timeline set in a convenient table.
2. The Origins of Postmodernism
Does postmodernism spring out of the head of Zeus unconceived or misconceived? Or does it carry a heavy debt on its back to earlier movements and trends?
A Misunderstood Biblical Command: “Don’t Judge!”
This is an easy-to-follow word study of key terms in the New Testament and a close look at Matthew 7:1-5. Let’s understand what it really means in context.
Paul finishes up his second missionary journey in v. 22 and begins his third in v. 23. In this chapter, his ministry in Corinth and Ephesus takes center stage. Priscilla and Aquila make their appearance, so does the powerfully effective speaker Apollos, who received more theology about God and the fulness of the Spirit.
Paul is still on his second missionary journey, along with his team, minus Luke, who will rejoin them in Troas (20:5). The Bereans were nobler than the Thessalonians because the Berans searched the Scriptures. Paul preaches his famous discourse to the Areopagus council.
1. Postmodernism and the Bible: Introduction
So begins an eight-past series. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, a pastor reported this conversation (as I recall it) between him and a woman from his large congregation. She apparently wanted him to approve of something.
Paul begins his second missionary trip, with Silas. The Spirit leads Paul and Silas not to go into two big regions but to go to Macedonia; the salvation of Lydia and her household; the deliverance of an oppressed girl; a beating, Paul and Silas singing and praying in prison; an earthquake; and a jailer’s and his household’s salvation. Timothy and Luke join Paul’s team.
The council in Jerusalem decided on how Gentiles could be saved. They held to four requirements, which were designed for peaceful fellowship between Messianic Jews and converted Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas split up. After this, Paul and Silas begin Paul’s second missionary trip, all the way to Acts 18:22. And Barnabas and Mark make a second team. Included: Timeline table of Paul’s journey coordinated with his epistles.
Does Torah Really Order Girl to Marry Her Rapist against Her Father’s Will?
Scripture: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and Exodus 22:16-17. Is the titled question true? Or are there circumstances that clarify what was really going on? A parallel case in colonial Philadelphia is also included here.
This chapter ends Paul’s and Barnabas’s first missionary journey, but not before Paul gets stoned and taken for dead. This chapter includes preaching, a healing miracle, and other signs and wonders. He tailors his message for towards pagans for the first time; then he is challenged by opponents.
This chapter is clearly transitional. In their first missionary journey, Barnabas and Saul go beyond Israel and Antioch and head westward. It includes worshipping and praying and personal prophetic words and spiritual warfare. It has Paul’s first recorded sermon, a masterpiece. This is Paul’s and Barnabas’s first missionary journey (to 14:28). Table: Paul’s travels which is coordinated with a timeline.
7. Torah and Slavery: Marrying Captives of War
Scripture: Deut. 21:10-14. War was a fact of life in the ancient Near East. When a soldier whose army was victorious saw a woman he was attracted to, what could he do? The Torah regulates this cultural fact.
James, son of Zebedee, is executed; Peter escapes miraculously from jail; Rhoda’s exuberance, and Herod Agrippa’s sudden death.
Peter explains his eating with Gentiles, Agabus and his team of prophets appear and predict a worldwide famine, and the disciples are first called Christians in Antioch, and Barnabas and Saul are commissioned to bring relief to Jerusalem Christians.
What the Bible Really Says about Abortion and Prenatal Life
Despite the confusion circulating over the web for years, the Bible unambiguously upholds the sanctity of prenatal life.
6. Torah and Slavery: Foreign Slaves
Scriptures: Lev. 25:44-46 and Deut. 23:15-16 (and Exod. 21:16, again, with its parallel Deut. 24:7). As we have observed in this series, slavery was a cultural fact of the ancient Near East. When an Israelite bought a foreign slave or a foreigner residing among them, what were his obligations to care for them and what rights did the slaves have? This post also has two parallel cases in colonial Virginia.
This chapter is the most important one in all the Bible for the description of including the Gentiles into the New Covenant community of God. This transition could happen only through Peter.
In this chapter: Saul’s conversion and Peter healing Aeneas and raising Tabitha from the dead. Thus, Saul and Peter are paired together in different storylines, and clearly Peter is in the lead, for now.
5. Torah and Slavery: Protecting Slave Women from Injustice
Scripture: Lev. 19:20-22. One OT scholar says that this law protected a slave woman when she was caught in the middle between three men.
In this chapter, because of the persecution of the Messianic Jews, they have to flee Jerusalem. Philip reaches out to Samaritans, and then to the Ethiopian Treasurer. Philip then gets snatched away by God and ends up at Azotus and preaches the gospel in that region.
Stephen’s speech begins the slow transition from dependence on the temple and towards a more global outreach. God does not dwell in temple buildings made with hands. Stephen is martyred.
4. Torah and Slavery: What Happened When Masters Punished Their Slaves?
Scriptures: Exod. 21:20-21, 26-27; Lev. 25:43, 46. There were two cultural (and unpleasant) facts in the ancient Near East, long before the Torah existed: (1) Masters hit their slaves to punish them, and (2) slaves had secondary status. How does the Torah intervene and regulate those two pre-existing facts? (I also include cases of a servant girl dying allegedly from a beating and a servant boy who was flogged for theft, in colonial Philadelphia.)
The Hebrew and Greek widows complain about distribution of resources. The apostles appoint seven servants to handle the issue. Certain members of a synagogue oppose Stephen and drag him before Caiaphas the high priest.
Ananias and Sapphira are instantly judged. God through the apostles worked many signs and wonders, and the people greatly honored the Messianic community. Some feared to join, but others did. Peter’s shadow was cast on them and miracles happened. The council arrested the apostles and put them in prison, but an angel released them. They went into the temple and preached but were rearrested. Gamaliel gave his speech urging caution about executing them. The apostles were flogged and released but never stopped preaching.
3. Torah and Slavery: Impoverished Father Sells His Daughter to Be a ‘Secondary Wife’
Scripture: Exod. 21:7-11. In a culture of arranged marriage and widespread poverty, fathers in the ancient Near East did this long before the Torah existed. Now the Torah has to intervene and tell the men what the daughter’s legal rights were. This post also looks at polygamy.
The council (Sanhedrin) arrest Peter and John and the healed man and threaten them. The two apostles say they must obey God instead of man. They return to the Christian community and report what happened. The whole community pray for boldness and share everything in common. The place where they met was shaken, and they are again filled with the Spirit.
The disabled beggar is healed at the gate called Beautiful. Peter, along with John, preaches the second recorded sermon, which is a great overview of OT Scriptures and themes proving Jesus is the Messiah.
2. Torah and Slavery: Israelite Indentured Servants
Scriptures: Exod. 21:2-6; Lev. 25:39-42; Deut. 15:12-18. The Torah balances out fairness with generosity, yet it is still obviously situated in the ancient world–its own cultural context. It is always best to evaluate these ancient texts on their own terms and in their own times. Let’s see what we can discover. For comparison, this post includes the case of an indentured servant in colonial Philadelphia.
The Holy Spirit arrives with great power at the festival of Pentecost. Peter preaches the first sermon after the birth of the church. He tells the Jewish pilgrims that they must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Three thousand souls were added to the church. Then the earliest community shared everything in common, and more people were being saved.
Luke addresses Theophilus, to whom he dedicated his second volume. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. He commissions disciples to go beyond Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. He ascends into heaven. Matthias is chosen to replace Judas.
1. Torah and Slavery: Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar
Scripture to be studied: Gen. 16:1-4. Hagar was a handmaid to Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Critics claim that Abraham could have sex with Hagar whenever he wanted because she was a slave. This post also looks into polygamy. It also includes a case of a slave woman named Lucy and her three children in 1827-1828, South Carolina, America, just for a comparison.
Book of Acts and Paul’s Epistles: Match Made in Heaven?
How closely and often do Acts and Paul’s epistles agree? Fifteen tables, plus two bonus tables, in this post, laying out the parallels.
False Prophets in Sinai Covenant and Imperfect Prophets in New Covenant: Life and Death Differences
Youtube critics daily, it seems, call for the blood of Christian prophets who are mistaken about some of their prophecies. The critics read Deuteronomy 13 and 18 and demand the death penalty for their ministries. But what did Paul say about them? Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the OT and the NT.
The Historical Reliability of the Book of Acts
Is the book of Acts historically reliable, in comparison to its own Greco-Roman writing culture? Many tables are included, to answer the question.
Women Teachers: New Translation and Reinterpretation of 1 Timothy 2
What if 1 Timothy 2:12-15 is not about women teaching and dominating men at church? What if it is about a husband and wife at home? Or does the house church merge the domestic and public spheres? What would that mean for church policy and women teachers out in public?
15. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels: Conclusion
We come at last to the end of the series. This part, summarizing the previous fourteen articles, can serve as a guide for which article the reader may need in the future. The series has always been about having confidence in the four Gospels so the gospel of the kingdom can go forth.
14. Similarities among John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels
The number of similarities, even between the Gospel of John on the one side and Matthew, Mark, and Luke on the other, is remarkable.
13. Are There Contradictions in the Gospels?
When you read the first three Gospels, you are likely to observe countless similarities. And that is the dominant picture: the places, the names, the crowds, the rural setting, busy Jerusalem. However, some skeptics see insurmountable problems.
Spiritual Sonograms: God Loves You and Your Baby
Whether you want your baby or not, God loves him or her, and he loves you. God can turn your Plan B into his Plan A, and make it better than your plans. Keep your baby, if you have an unplanned pregnancy.
‘Shady’ Interpretations of Constitutional Silence on Abortion
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe. V. Wade. How did Blackmun interpret the Constitution’s silence?
Jesus appears again, this time on the shore of the Lake of Galilee. He miraculously provides them with a catch of 153 large fish. He asks Peter three questions about his love and commitment. He predicts by what manner of death Peter would glorify God. He tells Peter not to get distracted by the beloved disciple’s future. The post-script says that the beloved disciple wrote the Gospel, and his testimony is true. Not even the world itself would have room for all the books containing all the things Jesus said and did.