Sunday, May 26, 2013

Philippians 1:9-11 / PAUL'S PRAYER [Part 2]

Paul’s Request for the Philippians (1:9-11)

After expressing his thanksgiving for God and these believers, Paul proceeds to his petitions for these believers. He gives us the substance of the prayer which he only referred to in v. 3-4. Like the other prayers of Paul (Ephesians 1:17-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-14), it gives us good insight into the Paul’s desire for believers.

As we look at the prayer we notice it falls in three parts:

The Request (Phil. 1:9)

I pray that…” denotes the object of Paul’s prayer. The word “that” indicates, identifies, and points to the subject of the prayer: “your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.”  This is a request for maturity, which entails abounding love, knowledge, and discernment. Notice these three are essential and work together: To have love alone leads to emotionalism; Knowledge without love leads to pride; discernment is empty and uncontrolled without love and knowledge.  All three elements must be present in a Christian, if he is to have a balanced maturity. A balanced maturity will help us avoid two temptations that confront every believer: First the danger of living merely on experience and feelings. Second, is intellectualism, becoming academic in our study of the Word. To avoid these we must be balanced in love, knowledge, and discernment. Without these one becomes unbalanced in life, which leads to and is a sign of immaturity. 

The love spoken of here is not simply natural love. It is the love of God which comes by an infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The believer has the love of God implanted in him. We are to walk in love (Eph. 5:2), imitating God (Eph. 5:1), who is characterized by love (1 John 4:3). Like God’s love who’s object is the world of mankind (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8), likewise our love is to be directed toward men (Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Cor. 2:4, 8; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 1:15; 4:2). 

This love is to abound. The word is perisseuo in the Greek, meaning over and above, abundantly, or overflowing bounds. This is one of Paul’s favorite words, using it 16 times. He wants the believer to abound in faith (Rom. 15:13); faith, utterance, knowledge, earnestness, and gracious work (2 Cor. 8:7); also in comfort (2 Cor. 1:4-5); thanksgiving (2 Cor. 4:15); generosity (2 Cor. 8:2), and of course every good work (2 Cor. 9:8). Yet, he reminds us that our ever-increasing love is to be a discriminating love. It is to be controlled by two things:

[1] Knowledge. “True love does not act in ignorance,” observes Gromacki.[1] Love is to be directed or controlled by knowledge.  Epignosis, used in the Greek text, denotes exact or full knowledge.  It describes the type knowledge.  It indicates a “comprehensive sense of knowing God through Christ in an intimate way.”[2]  It is knowledge that The Holy Spirit gives, and the Apostle prays for it. We are to “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9).

[2] Discernment. Spiritual knowledge must be tied and lead to spiritual discernment. The Greek word is aesthesis, which means understanding, judgment, or perception. It denotes the practical outworking of the knowledge we have, and not simply factual knowledge. It is perception with the mind and the senses. It involves knowledge grounded by experience. Without discernment we are not able to discern between what is good and evil; what is false and true; and what are incorrect or correct actions. Love needs these controls lest it harms rather than blesses.

The Reason (Phil. 1:10a)

The reason they need discriminating love controlled by a discerning knowledge is “so that you may approve the things that are excellent.” The phrase starts with the Greek word eis, a preposition of reason. It denotes the reason of the preceding action. It is so one can examine things. The Greek word dokimazo means to test, or assay, and denotes approval after testing. It indicates testing to see what is genuine. The word excellent comes from a word that means to carry two ways, thus to carry different ways, or to differ.[3] Thus, the literal translation of the phrase is to “test the things that differ.” This is needed because it is not always easy to distinguish between the true and the counterfeit. The verb points to the results of the examination and to accept it as approved.[4] It speaks of choosing what is true and vital. This is true concerning doctrine, ethics, and life. Notice that is a continual process for the believer, and indicated by the present participle. Thus, it speaks of continual analysis on our part to know what is excellent between things that are true and counterfeit; virtue and vice; primary and secondary; spiritual and carnal; and eternal and temporal in the choices we are to make. The process of testing implies enablement to recognize what is approved and make choices wisely.

The Purpose (Phil 1:10b-11).

The Greek word hina indicates purpose or intended results and should be translated “in order that.”  The purpose of discriminating love and discerning knowledge that enables us to test the things that differ is “in order to” reach certain goals. These goals are described by three adjectives. These adjectives describe our sanctification, not our position. While we may have aspects of these because of our position in Christ, the object of Paul’s prayer is our practice.

[1]  Sincere. The word sincere means pure, spotless, unmixed, and well established that has the sense of moral purity in the biblical world. The word is derived from the compound words which has the sense of being “tested by the light of the sun.”[5] It pictures holding up to the sunlight to see if there are cracks in pottery or spots on clothes. Dealers in pottery often filled cracks in pots with wax and so one would hold it up to the sun to reveal the flaws because wax would allow sunlight to penetrate and be seen. It speaks of relationship to our own character. Likewise, we should test the purity of our life by the light of the Son.

[2] Blameless. The word is aproskopoi, meaning to be without offense. It speaks of not causing others to stumble (cf. 1 Cor. 10:32; Rom. 14:20-21), or not stumbling ourselves (Acts 24:16). It carries the idea of being not worthy of blame. It speaks of our relationship to others in not being offensive, or bringing down another. We are not to be a rock in the path of another that causes him to stumble. At the same time, we are to watch that we do not stumble on the path we walk.

[3] Filled with fruits of righteousness. Righteous fruit come from a righteous root. Cf. 1 John 3:7. This is produced through Christ, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are to have the quality of the righteousness of Christ in a practical way that others can see. O'Brien points out it is in the middle voice translating it “bringing forth a full harvest” of righteousness.[6] It is a quality we are to bring out in our life in addition to sincerity and blamelessness.

The result of which is to bring glory and praise to God. This is a fitting conclusion to Paul’s prayer, as it is our life. We are to do all to the glory of God.

[1]  Gromacki, Stand United in Joy, 44-45.
[2]  O'Brien, Philippians, 76.
[3]  Kenneth S. Wuest, PHILIPPIANS,  37.
[4]  O'Brien, 77.
[5]  Buchsel, (Kittel), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:397.
[6]  O'Brien, 79. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


James Gray

Luke does not tell us much about the events of the seven days at Tyre, except he concentrates on one thing: the believers concern for Paul, thereby “they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem” (21:4). This presents a dilemma for the Bible student. On the one hand Paul talks about being “bound by the Spirit” to go to Jerusalem (20:22); on the other hand, now the saints are telling Paul through the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem. (Of course in considering this we cannot overlook the prophecy of Agabus in 21:11). Some Bible students and scholars indicate that Paul simply ignored this plea.[1] Others indicate Paul went on under the permissive, not the direct will of God.[2] I do not accept these views. I believe that the point has been missed on this text and context for the following reasons:
  • The text falls in a context that confirms the Holy Spirit directed Paul to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23).
  • It is also a context that is prophetic in nature revealing what will happen to Paul if he goes to Jerusalem (Acts 20:23; 21:10-11).
  • The text (21:4) omits why the people were telling Paul not to go. However on the basis of the overall context we can surmise that it was based on prophetic revelation that Paul would suffer if he goes to Jerusalem. Bachand brings out that the Greek negative particle me, is subjective and hypothetical, indicating a possible translation “that [perhaps] he should not go….”[3]
  • There is no prophetic revelation given stating that Paul is not to go to Jerusalem (20:23; 21:22-23). It is clear from the context what revelation that is given concerning the suffering of Paul waiting for him in Jerusalem (21:4, 12). The warning may have been a form of preparation and confirmation of his imprisonment and the events that would be experienced by Paul going to Jerusalem.[4]

In the light of the context and the prophetic revelations given in this section, Paul was not out of the will of God to go to Jerusalem. The context centers upon the persecution that would result, the warning of not to go seems subjective and suggestive, reinforcing the concern of the believers and prepares Paul for the coming persecution. Schnabel’s wise comments are worthy of note: “Paul hears that warning and receives it as a revelatory word; yet without doubting the Spirit’s inspiration, he concludes in his assessment that it does not invalidate the earlier revelation of the Spirit that he must go to Jerusalem even though it would mean imprisonment and persecution.[5]

[1]  Porter, PAUL IN ACTS 90; Bock, BECNT: ACTS, 637.
[3]  Bachand, ACTS 470; also THE COMPANION BIBLE, Appendix 105, II; 150.
[4]  Polhill, NAC: ACTS, 433.
[5]  Schnabel, ECNT: ACTS, 855.


EXPLORING THE BOOK OF DANIEL by John Phillips. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. 2004.
Exploring Daniel  -     
        By: John Phillips

John Phillips has given us a delightful nontechnical expository commentary of the key prophet of Daniel. It is very reader friendly, ideal for preachers, Sunday school teachers, and laymen. He writes from a preacher and teacher’s heart aimed at the ordinary believer. Daniel is just one commentary in a set that includes a number of Old Testament books, and the whole New Testament.

In this commentary your will find:
  • A presentation of the prophet Daniel that is clear, practical, and concise. He has a gift that enables him to outline in a clear understandable way. (Outlining seems to be a gift and a valuable feature of his writings).
  • His exposition is not a verse-by-verse presentation, as much as it is a section-by- section that teaches the basic content of Daniel in which the historical and the prophetic are weaved together in an understandable exposition of the book.
  • His exposition is from a dispensational premillennial view, upholding the futurist view of the tribulation and millennium.
  • It is a homiletical goldmine, practical with good illustrations of the truths contained in Daniel.
  • He upholds the Divine inspiration and authoritative view of Daniel.
  • He includes a number of appendixes which deal with such things as Daniel’s authorship; the testimony of Christ; Babylon; certain prophecies; and dates. There are 23 in all which are informative and concise.

This commentary will delight you heart and inform your head. It is an ideal, basic commentary for all.

[Thanks to Kregel for providing a free copy of this book for my honest review.] 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Thanks to Charles Savelle for the mention of BIBLE MAGAZINE and the link for his readers to the latest issue of Bible Magazine  His blog is one of the best, which I read daily. Check it out as

Monday, May 13, 2013



James R. Gray
[Reprinted from our website:] 

Elijah stepped into the pages of history from nowhere.  He did so because he was a man with a message.  He gave God’s message precisely and clearly; no rain except by his word.  Now God commands him to go into hiding. The place he was to hide is at a spot by the brook Cherith. The revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us:
Traditionally this place is identified with Wadi Qelt, which is above Jericho on the west side of the Jordan; but this location is flatly contradicted by the biblical description in 17:3, “the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan.”1

The exact location remains unknown.  We do know the region of Gilead, Elijah’s native land, is such a place.  It is east of the Jordan and extends from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  It is an unglamorous place with steep mountains, a region loaded with caverns, deep recesses, towering cliffs, and numerous streams that feed the river Jabbok which empties into the Jordan. The brook Cherith may well have been one of the streams.  One thing is for sure: wherever the Lord led Elijah along the brook, it was a lonely, remote piece of wilderness—deserted, except for him, the ravens, and God.
William Petersen observes:
God does things like that. He sends us back home to Cherith when we think we are ready for confrontations on Carmel.  Life is humdrum beside the brook; it’s lonely.  Even God’s sustaining miracles can become commonplace there.  But you learn lessons at Cherith that you can learn nowhere else.2

Cherith was more than a hiding place: it was a place of higher education.  Its classroom was creation; its caretakers were ravens; its teacher, God; its only student, Elijah; but it’s courses were universal. Let us look through the window of the text and see what courses were taught.


New college students need guidance.  Guidance 101 is a basic course.  Elijah was taught the basic principles of knowing the will of God.  The text clearly reveals these principles:

Principle 1: The Word of God reveals the Will of God.

The Word of God revealed the will of God to Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-3).  The Word of God is a fulfillment of the promise of God to instruct and teach us the way we should go (Psa. 32:8).  The Word instructs us. It clearly reveals the will of God in black and white in many areas of our lives. For example, note 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “This is the will of God…that you abstain from sexual immorality.”  Immorality under any circumstances is not in the will of God.

Yet, even with the many directions and clear-cut commands on moral and social matters given in the Word,  some believers seem to want supernatural visions or voices of verification.  I know of a case where a young lady married an unbeliever because God revealed to her that he would be converted after they were married. When confronted with the Scripture of not being unequally yoked together, she dismissed it on the grounds of what she felt God revealed to here.  The husband was never converted, and her life with him was years of hurt.  The voice she heard was not God’s, but that of her own passions and desires.  God’s guidance will never be contrary to His revealed Will in the Word of God.

Principle 2: The Will of God is revealed progressively.

As you read of the life of Elijah, one thing stands out about the will of God.  It was never revealed to him all at once, but one step at a time (17:3, 9; 18:1).  When Elijah delivered his message to the king, he did not know what was the next step of God’s will for his life.  It was only after he delivered the message that the word came, telling him that he was to hide himself by the brook. Notice also that the next step is not revealed until he takes this step. 

Principle 3: The key to knowing the progressive will of God is obedience.

Theodore Epp brings this principle out clearly when he writes:
With God obedience always comes first; then He reveals the next step.  Too many of us in doing the work of God want to see the end.  But that is not trusting God: that is trusting sight.  Faith does not see—it trusts and obeys.  It was when Elijah had delivered his message to Ahab that the word of the Lord came to him telling him what his next step was to be.3 

If we are to experience the guidance of God in our lives, the first thing we must do is act in obedience to what we know.  We need to obey what we do understand of God’s will.  Then, and only then, more explicit guidance will come.  Obedience is what builds the chain of God’s will for out lives, but only a link at a time.


The next course that Elijah was introduced to was protection and provision.  God knew that once the message began to be comprehended, Ahab would be determined to find Elijah (18:10). Elijah would be in danger.  Thus, God commanded that he hide and a hiding place was provided. The hiding place was for protection.  However, protection alone was not enough. To stay in the hiding place, Elijah would also need provision.  Protection and provision go together.

This course teaches three important principles:

Principle 1: God’s Protection and Provision are based upon God’s Promise.

God made the promise in verse 4: “I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”  God’s will was clearly known by Elijah.  The command was given – go hide.  With the command came a promise –I have provided for you.  Howard Hendricks points out that: “God never gives a command without providing the dynamic to fulfill that command.  He never calls you to a task without providing all the resources you need to accomplish it.”4

Like Ezekiel 1:3, those who hear the Word of God and obey it will feel the hand of God.  The Word instructs; the hand protects and provides.

Principle 2: The Protection and Provision of God may be natural, supernatural, or both.

Elijah experienced both natural and supernatural protection and provision.  The natural is seen in the hiding place that had water.  God provided water from nature.  But the place of hiding was not sufficient to grow food.  His food came by a supernatural process.  Here we have one of the first fast food delivery services.  Ravens delivered it.

Although some feel that this was a natural process where Elijah simply ate leftovers from what the birds fed their young, the text indicates it was more than that.  First, the text definitely says that the ravens were “commanded” by God to feed Elijah (17:4).  This suggests not a continuation of something that is normal, but special intervention of the supernatural.  The text also says, “the ravens brought him” food (17:6).  It is personalized.  God’s personal carriers deliver God’s personal promise of provision.  Second, it is doubtful that the natural process of feeding young birds would have lasted long enough.  The feeding of young ravens by their parents lasts only a few weeks.  Elijah was at Cherith longer than a few weeks.  Most estimates place him at the brook for about a year.

Principle 3: Protection and Provision comes in response to Obedience and Faith.

For Elijah to find the protection and provision of God, he had to go to Cherith.  He would not find it anywhere else.  He had to obey by faith and continue there.  Once he obeyed, he had to continue to trust.  Each meal was an exercise of faith.  As Leon Wood declares:
He could not hunt the coney in the rocks, for the animal (i.e. raven) was unclean.  There was no fish in the stream, for the ascent was too steep from the Jordan.  Neither could he plant and raise food, for his possible “garden” was solid rock; and further, there was not rain.”5


Taking a stand means certain cost and consequences.  The cost will affect the person who takes the stand.  You would think that since God was going to protect and provide, the cost and consequences for Elijah would be very little.  That is not the case.  Just as the rivers dried up west of the Jordan, so did those on the east side.  Thus, “the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land” (17:7).  In fact, being a brook, it dried up faster than the rivers.  Elijah was affected by the message he himself delivered.  This course teaches:

Principle 1: Obedience brings Testing.

God tests His servants.  Hendricks is absolutely correct when he comments: “The moment we take a significant step of obedience, we’re going to be put into the crucible; we’re going to be tested.”6  Testing is a natural result of obedience.  Yet, this testing is never for our determent, but always for our betterment.  It is to make us stronger.  It is to build us up, not tear us down. That is hard to understand when we are in the midst of our brook drying up.  Too often we look at God through the circumstances, instead of looking at the circumstance through God.

Principle 2: Trust and Obey in Spite of Circumstances.

It is one thing to have faith when the blessings are flowing, but another when they begin to dry up.  We must remember God is in control.  The brook dries up for a reason. Too many of us come to depend upon the gifts, instead of the giver.  It is God’s way of producing change in our lives.  The calamity of a slamming window opens a door of blessing.  We must trust and obey in spite of the circumstances of the drying brook.

The key is to avoid bitterness, depression, and disaster.  At such times we need to stop, wait and begin to listen to the voice of God.  Trust in Him, His faithfulness.  Waiting is not easy, but it is necessary.  Trusting is difficult, but needed  until the voice of God speaks again.

The University of Cherith was not an easy school for Elijah, and it is not easy at the school God sends us to.  It gave Elijah a valuable education, as it is for us.  Hendricks warns us:

Don’t despise the educational experience of your drying brook.  Don’t throw in the towel.  Don’t perform an abortion upon the divinely devised process.  Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete.  He wants to make you just like His Son.7 ƒÞ

2  William Petersen, MEET ME ON THE MOUNTAIN, (Victor, Wheaton), 37.
3  Theodore Epp, ELIJAH: A MAN OF LIKE NATURE, (Back to the Bible, Lincoln), 26.
4  Howard Hendricks, TAKING A STAND, (Multnomah Press, Portland), 22.
5  Leon Wood, ELIJAH, PROPHET OF GOD, (Regular Baptist Press, Des Plaines), 35.
6  Hendricks, 27.
7  Ibid., 28.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


[This is a reposting from our Website:  Because of some renewed interest we are also posting here on the blog] 

One of the major events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the transfiguration.  It is an astonishing event.  Yet, evidently few theologians see much theological significance to the event.  In a search of works on Theology, the vast majority of them never treat it.  Nothing beyond a sentence or two, if any, can be found in theologies of Charles Hodge, William G. T. Shedd, A. H. Strong, Henry Thiessen, Wayne Gruden, Charles Ryrie, or Charles Baker.  I did find some treatment to it in works of J. Oliver Buswell and Lewis Sperry Chafer.  Why is that, especially in the light that it is given in all three of the Synoptic Gospels and in the epistles of Peter? I wish I knew.  It has been mostly left to the task of the commentators to give us the significance of this important event.

In referring to the event, Matthew and Mark use the term, transfigured, which is the word metamorphoo in the Greek.  The word means to change into another form, or change forms.  It is used four times in the New Testament, two of which are used of this event (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2).  The Gospel of Luke how ever uses the word “altered.’” It is the Greek word egeneto heteron, which means to become different. Peter mentions both events in his letters (1 Pet. 5:1; 2 Pet. 1:15-21).  Peter calls himself a “partaker of the glory that shall be revealed,” thus referring to the event by the word glory. At the transfiguration he partook of the glory of Christ that will be revealed to all in the future. And in 2 Peter 1:16 he confirms that he was an eyewitness to His (Christ’s) majesty, which refers to the event of the transfiguration.  The New Testament places great importance and significance to the event.

Luke chapter 9 is centered upon identification of Jesus as the Messiah.  In this chapter, Herod wants to know who Jesus is, he fears him to be Elijah, or even John the Baptist resurrected (9:7-9).  The population commonly entertains these opinions. Edersheim reminds us that “however men differed on these points, in this all agreed…they regarded Him not as an ordinary man or teacher.”1 However, Christ asked his disciples who He was, and Peter makes his great confession that He is the Messiah [Christ] of God. (Luke 9:18-21).   What the masses missed, and the leadership of the nation refused to entertain, Peter knew and professed. This marks the great turning point in the ministry of Christ.  Before this identification, Jesus never taught of his coming death.  Matthew says “from this time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matt. 16:21).  Why is that important?  Because the disciples needed to know who He was before He could teach them what He was to do.  If they saw him just as a great man, then there would be no significance to his death.  He was the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) But He being the Messiah, the Son of the living God, now that is another thing.  A week or so later, Jesus continues to reveal his identification of who He is by showing them His glory at the transfiguration.

The Announcement (Luke 9:27).

At the end of his teaching, Jesus tells them “there are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27). That is an interesting statement. The announcement entails three things.  First, some, but not necessarily all, of them will be a part of the event. Second, they will not die before that happens.  Third, what they will see is thekingdom of God.  But what is the meaning of this?

The Actual Event (Luke 9:28-36)

All three of the Gospels connect the announcement with the event of the transfiguration. The event took place 6 days later says Matthew and Mark, while Luke places it 8 days later. Some have wondered about the difference, but this is easily explained.  As Baker points out, “There is no contradiction.  The six days are exclusive; the eight are inclusive.”2 In other words, Mark and Matthew count the days between the events, while Luke included the days these things happened in his count.  At that time, Jesus took Peter, John, and James up into a mountain to pray. Thus, this event was limited to some of the Twelve not all of them, for these four were “all alone” (Mark 9:2) upon the mountain.  Their purpose of going was prayer. During this time, several distinguished features took place.

1.      The Glory of Jesus was Revealed (Luke 9:29)

The picture is clear.  Jesus is praying, the disciples are asleep (29-32).  During this time, the Lord was transformed or transfigured.  It must be made clear, as Brock points out, “this is a transformation, not a vision.”3 “The fashion of His countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling,” declares Luke. Matthew (17:2) adds, “his face did shine as the sun.” The emphasis is on the outward appearance of Jesus. This glory radiated outward from the very essence of His being.  God rolled back the veil of humanity, and allowed the divine glory and splendor of deity to shine forth, revealing Christ in all the majesty of His Messiahship. “This was none other than a revelation of the essential glory of God that belongs to Jesus Christ,” declares Pentecost.4  He is the “brightness” of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3).

2.      The Appearance of Moses and Elijah (29:30-31)

Moses and Elijah appear “in glory” with Christ during this time.  All three Gospels witness to this fact.  Various reasons have been given why these two made their appearance.  Some suggest it shows the unity of the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah).5 If this was the case, wouldn’t Isaiah be a better representative of the prophets, since he centers his prophecy on the coming Christ or Messiah?  Others seem to say these two represent that the kingdom will include saints that died (Moses), and saints that did not see death (Elijah).6 This does not seem likely, since the truth of the rapture of the church was not revealed, and had nothing to do with their expectation of the earthly Kingdom.  It seems to me, a better explanation centers around what they discussed with Jesus.  They “spoke of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.” The Greek word used by Luke and translated decease is the word Exodus!  Why Moses and Elijah?  Because they best represent what Christ was to accomplish upon the Cross.  As the Exodus accomplished redemption and liberty to the nation, so the work of Christ does the same for all the saints. Before the earthly Kingdom could be established the Messiah must suffer and die.  Elijah signifies the hope of the coming kingdom after the death of Christ. The last prophecy of the Old Testament ties the coming kingdom to the appearance of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6).  Bock notes that Elijah “is consistently a figure of eschatological hope” of end time deliverance.

3.      The Witness of Peter, James, and John (29:32-33)

It is no accident that the disciples woke up during this time.  The appearance and transfiguration lasted long enough for them to become “fully awake,” and see the glory and the two men. They also fully recognized Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  They saw it in its reality; this was not a vision.  John testifies to that when he writes: “and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14).  Peter testifies He knew the power and coming of the Lord because he was an eyewitness of His majesty, and saw that Christ received honor and glory, when he heard the voice of God upon the mountain (1 Peter 1:16-17).

In fact, Peter on seeing the event suggested they build three tabernacles, one for each person in the transfiguration (29-33).  Pentecost says Peter was suggesting an observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.  For the feasts was a memorial to the Exodus, and it also “anticipated Israel’s final gathering as a nation…under the beneficent rule of the promised Messiah.”8 However, if this is so, Peter himself did not know what he was saying (Luke 29:33).

4.      The Voice from Heaven.

While Peter was making his suggestion, a cloud came and overshadowed them.  As the disciples entered the cloud, they were scared.  At that point they heard the confirmation of God speaking from heaven.  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him,” (Matt. 27:5). God “authenticated both the person and work of Christ.”9 Stein observes that, “In contrast to the Voice at Jesus’ baptism, which was addressed to Jesus…here the Voice is addressed to Peter, James and John.”10 They fell to the ground in worship and reverence.  Matthew says Jesus came and touched them and told them to arise, and upon lifting their eyes. When they opened their eyes they saw only Jesus.  Instantly everything was back to normal.

The Aim of the Transfiguration.

There is great theological significance to the transfiguration; even though most theologies do not deal with the event or significance.  The event was designed to do several things:

       (1) It is a fulfillment of the promise given to the twelve that some of them would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God. The Gospel writers all connect the promise and the event.  The transfiguration “was a miniature and premature picture of the Second Coming of Christ to established His Kingdom.”11  This was necessary because of the coming postponement of the kingdom because of Israel’s rejection of the King and His Kingdom. However, this postponement was still a mystery and was not revealed until the Apostle Paul revealed Israel’s fall (Rom. 11:25).  It in no way replaces the future of the earthly kingdom in the Millennium, which will be established at the Second Coming of Christ.
(2) It confirms the identification of Jesus as the Messiah.  He is the Messiah that the Law and the prophets foretold.  This event was the heavenly ratification of His Messianic calling and glory, and a foretaste of His kingdom.
(3) It confirmed that Israel’s Messiah would experience a cross and then a crown. The transfiguration, while it revealed His glory, confirmed His work as Saviour, by His death.  His death was necessary for His crown.  His exodus was necessary to accomplish His kingdom. In the plan of God it is clear that the crown (kingdom) would come by the way of the cross (His death). 
(4) It confirms the reality of life after death.  Moses and Elijah both continued to live.  They were present with Christ at this event.  They talked and communicated.  Walvoord points out that “the fact that they both have bodies gives some support to the idea of an intermediate body in heaven prior to the day of resurrection.”12 It is also a testimony to the fact of the resurrection to possess the kingdom.  Death will not prevent the believer from full participation in the kingdom of God.

The transfiguration is vital to the understanding of who Christ is and what He was and is to do. It affirms His deity, glory and Messiahship.  To Israel it speaks of the realization of the coming earthly Kingdom when Christ comes again and rules over them and the world as the prophets has promised. To the saints of this dispensation it affirms the reality of what also awaits us when Christ comes for His Body, the Church, and takes us into “His heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18).  For Paul declares that at the rapture, “we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (1 Cor. 15:51-52.) The word changed is the word “transfigured.” We will have a body like His glorious body. The transfiguration is truly a glimpse of the future!

1  Alford Edersheim, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965), 2:79.
2  Charles F. Baker, UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPELS, (Grace Publications, Grand Rapids, 1978), 135.
3  Darrell L. Brock, LUKE, (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1994), 172.
4  J. Dwight Pentecost, THE WORDS AND WORKS OF JESUS CHRIST, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1982), 256.
5  Alan Hugh M’Neile, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (Macmillan, London, 1915), 251.
6  Margaret Thrall, “Elijah and Moses in Mark’s Account of the Transfiguration” NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES, 1970, 305-17.
7  Bock, Darrell L, JESUS ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, (Baker, Grand Rapids, 2002), 173.
8  Pentecost, 257.
9  Pentecost, 258
10  Robert H. Stein, JESUS THE MESSIAH, (InterVarsity, Downers Grove, 1996), 172.
11  Pentecost, 256.
12  John Walvoord, MATTHEW: THY KINGDOM COME, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1974), 129.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Preaching and Teaching

Michael Patton, of Credo House Ministries, recently gave these differences between preaching and teaching on difficult passages:

  • Preaching is exhortation; teaching is education.
  • Preaching is the discharge of the gospel of hope; teaching is discipleship of the gospel of hope.
  • Preaching puts wind in the sails; teaching put an anchor in the ground.
  • Preaching raises our eyes to the things we know with great conviction; teaching helps us to understand what things we can have legitimate conviction about.
  • Preaching tells you which option is correct; teaching gives you all the options.
  • Wednesday, May 1, 2013


    Lars Kierspel (Kregel, Grand Rapids, 2012).
    Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul  -     
        By: Lars Kierspel

    This is the second issue of Kregel Charts of the Bible. While books on charts can be limited, this series is the exception. This volume covers a wide range of issues. While the charts are divided into four sections: Paul’s Background and Context; Paul’s Life and Ministry; Paul’s Letters; Paul’s Theological Concepts. In these sections one will find numbers details that will aid any student of the Bible. The charts are timely and deal with up to date issues (even includes a chart on the new perspective, and modern Jewish views). It also has an up to date bibliography, including articles from major journals. It gives good snapshot charts of each of Paul’s epistles. I really appreciate the charts of key words in each epistle.

    One weakness of many charts is the lack of explanations, however in this series there is a section on chart comments. I really appreciate this and find it a great help, although brief. What is helpful is that in many of the explanations there are references for more and deeper information.

    There are two things I like about this series. First, as a student of the Word, it condenses what you get from wordy commentaries with good summaries; yet lets the student know where to go to find more detailed information. Second, it greatly aids the student, teacher, and preacher with useable and practical charts. Not all of the 111 charts have the same weight or value, especially for the Pastor. However, even those can aid his in study of the Word. It is a time saver. These charts provide a seed to use to help you blossom in deeper study of His Word. It will also stimulate you to deeper study of the subjects that the charts cover. This book is a true aid; not simple charts to show. It is simplistic with profound information what will aid any level of student. It is a valuable resource that should be in every teacher’s and Pastor’s library.

    I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.