Tuesday, February 25, 2014



Boyd Seevers
Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2013

This book seems to be written for a double audience: Those interested in the history of the Old Testament and military history. He offers a survey of military history in the Old Testament. I must admit I was looking forward to this book, but came away somewhat mixed. It does help in understanding the biblical and military descriptions of the battles that were fought. His approach is interesting, combining fiction with reality. He opens with imaginary narratives about the historical situation and warfare from the view of the soldier on the ground. However, he does so honestly and in the spirit of the events taking place. It upholds both Biblical and Archaeological records.  He does a good job connecting the relationship of the nations to the nation of Israel.

He does a good job of giving the tactics and descriptions of the weapons involved. It is  well researched. One will learn more clearly about each of the nations involved. It is organized well and aids the reader.  It is very readable and enjoyable. He speaks of things that are vital in areas of military battles—including, logistics, psychological elements and usage; and seasons of warfare confrontation. 

However, I am disappointed in certain aspects of the book. While the layout of the book is topnotch, much of the graphics remind me of graphics we saw 50 years ago—black and white line drawings.  Computer graphics could have substantially upgraded this, and it should have been done. Second, the maps are helpful, but they are not as detailed as most battle maps. Some are hard to follow just because of the colorizing of the maps, (for example the maps of Egypt and Babylon on p 253 is hard to follow the red lines of the road because of the red coloring on the Babylonian empire.) Yet, the map of the city of Babylon is very good. Third, it would have been helpful if there were more of theological background concerning what happened militarily and historically.

As a whole this is a welcome edition to both military warfare and Bible historians. It will aid the Old Testament student to bring understanding of the Biblical record.

 I received this book free from the publisher Kregel Academic. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Friday, February 14, 2014

4 Qualifications to understand the Bible

1) Salvation (1 Cor. 2:14-16)
2) Sensitivity to the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-12)
3) Be a seeker of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15)
4) Prayer (Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:18)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Study of Philippians 2:25-30

Examples of Humble Service—Phil. 2:19-30 (Continued)

2. Epaphroditus—Phil. 2:25-30

The next humble servant that Paul mentions is Epaphroditus. His name means lovely or charming, and not to be confused with Epaphras (Col 1:7, 4:12). It is interesting that Paul when speaking of humble service to God does so across ethnic lines: Paul was a Hebrew, Timothy was a Jew and Gentile, Epaphroditus was a Gentile.  Being a humble servant has nothing to do with lineage, but the heart.

He was being sent to them first, instead of Timothy. This should not be thought as if he was a consolation prize. Paul makes clear the reasons Epaphroditus was being sent to them right away, and not Timothy. 
·         It was needful to keep Timothy with him temporarily (2:23).
·         Epaphroditus’ concern for them (2:26).
·         Paul “thought it necessary” (2:25). Interestingly, most consider “thought” as an epistolary aorist; an action viewed as past, or from the view of the recipients when they read the letter. Paul therefore sent this letter with him to Philippi. “Epaphroditus should be viewed as the bearer of the letter,” notes Silva.[1]  

a. His description—2:25

But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier…” (Phil 2:25a). As Paul describes this humble servant, he does so in very descriptive terms.[2] These describe Epaphroditus in relation to Paul. First, is that of “brother.” This speaks of their spiritual relationship. They are brothers in the Lord; members of the family of God. However, in this context in combination with the other descriptive nouns, it should be taken to mean more than just a Christian. It is evident that there is a close personal relationship between the two, forged by common work and conflict. Paul uses it here as a term of affection. Second, He is a “fellow-worker.” The Greek word here is sunergon, meaning fellow-laborer, helper, or associate. It speaks of their union in the work of God; of their working together.  Third, he is a “fellow-soldier” with Paul. He is a companion in combat.

Warren Wiersbe notes that these terms parallel with the descriptive terms in chapter one.[3] We could diagram the parallels as such:

“my brother” (2:25)
“fellowship in the Gospel” (1:5)
“my fellow-laborer”
“furtherance of the Gospel (1:12)
“my fellow-soldier”
“the faith of the Gospel” (1:27)

Lightfoot notes that it shows their, “common sympathy, common work, common danger and toil and suffering.”[4]

In relationship to the church at Philippi, there are two descriptive terms used of Epaphroditus: “who also is your messenger and minister to my need” (Phil 2:25b). That these terms are connected with his work with the church is indicated by the word “your.” He is their “messenger.” Here the word messenger is the word apostle (apostolon). However, it should be taken in its non-technical sense as one sent from the church at Philippi. It is “indicating someone who has been delegated by the church to carry out an assignment.”[5] The technical sense applies only to those who have been commissioned directly by the Lord Jesus Christ. The church’s commission to Epaphroditus is to bring a gift and to be a gift to assist Paul and his ministry. Thus, the second description of Epaphroditus is “minister.” The Greek word is leitourgia, which originally indicated a person of means who performed public service as his own expense, but in the New Testament indicates on who serves—a servant or a minister.

It should be noted that humility does not mean irresponsibility. Epaphroditus was anything but irresponsible. Humility, if anything, makes one more responsible to his duty. Humility is maintained by the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ emphasizes being a servant and being task oriented. Christ came to serve and to do the will of the Father.

b. His Distress —2:26-28.

Notice the cause of his distress—“because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick” (Phil. 2:26). He is concerned not about himself, but for those who sent him to Paul. He “was longing for” them. The Greek “epipothon en” is an imperfect of the present participle, indicating a constant and intense desire for them. The source of his distress was because he was causing them concern. He, like Christ, did not look upon his own things and serve to the point of death (cf. 2:6, 8). Some suggest this is a sign of his homesickness. Nevertheless, his center of attention remains to be the Philippians. He was sorry that his sickness became a focus for them. Even though this sickness “was to the point of death” (Phil. 2:27), but God had mercy on Epaphroditus and Paul. One was spared death and the other sorrow.

c. His Return—22:28-30

Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned [about you]”[6] (Phil 2:28). The reasons why Paul thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus back home are:
·         Neither Paul, nor Timothy, was free to travel at this time.
·         Epaphroditus was homesick.
·         Because the Philippians were anxious concerning to know how Epaphroditus was faring.
·         Paul had anxiety over his welfare as long as Epaphroditus was with him.
·         To encourage the Philippians that they may rejoice over his return. Their joy had been marred by Epaphroditus’ sickness, and seeing him would restore their joy. 

In coming to them, they are to “Receive him then in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in high regard” (Phil 1:29). This reminds us of the words and principles Christ gives in Matthew 10:40-41. It speaks of hospitality and the benefits of giving hospitality to the servant of God. Here the word receive has the idea of an enduring welcome. The phrase “receive him then in the Lord” reminds us of Romans 15:7. There the word accept means wholehearted acceptance. They are to receive and accept him, as we are to one another—for God’s glory. Newell tells us that this means “exercising constant careful love to one another.”[7] The servant of God is to be held in high regard, which is really the word honor. Notice it says we are to honor them, not worship them. Honor speaks of giving respect for their position and work; worship means to place them on a higher plane than they are worthy to receive, making them a god. Many today do not see the difference.

The reason is the sacrifice Epaphroditus was willing to make: “Because he came close to death for the work of Christ risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me” (Phil. 2:30). Humility sustains sacrifice and service. No cost is too high. Humility breeds commitment. They were to honor Epaphroditus for three reasons:
·         His motivation: to do the work of Christ. The work of Christ was his passion and life.
·         His example: Christ in his humility was “obedient unto death,” and Epaphroditus came close to death. Christ was his example as Epaphroditus was their example. O’Brien points out that “the echo is deliberate.”[8] He, as Christ, was selflessly devoted to his ministry.
·         His willingness to pay the cost. Paul says he was “risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.” Notice carefully he was going beyond what the Philippians sent him to do. This acknowledges there was a lack (deficiency), of which Epaphroditus tried to fulfill at great personal cost (risking his life). He did so willingly. He was conscious of a need, and was willing to meet that need in spite of the cost.
Epaphroditus in sacrificial service dared all and did all in following Christ by obedience unto and including the possible point of death.

to be continue...

[1]  Siva, PHILIPPIANS, 161.
[2]  Lenski says these are arranged on an ascending scale. PHILIPPIANS, 819. Also see O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 330.
[3]  Wiersbe, Warren W., BE JOYFUL, 76.
[4]  Lightfoot, J.B., PHILIPPIANS 123.
[5]  Hendriksen, PHILIPPIANS, 139.
[6] Notice that in our text [about you] is not in any Greek text, but added by the translators. These words should not be in the text at all. It is clear that it was added to clarify, but in reality it simply gives an opinion. The Greek text reads: “that I may be less anxious.” There is no indication what was causing this anxiety in Paul
[7]  William R. Newell, ROMANS: VERSE BY VERSE, 523.
[8]  O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 343.

Sunday, February 9, 2014



I was reading and studying in Luke today. My attention was on the appearance of the angel to Zacharias in the temple (Luke 1:13) and its context. He was told by the angel that “your petition has been heard.” The natural question is what prayer? The natural assumption is a prayer for a child, since the answer is bound up in the announcement he and Elizabeth will have a child. However, the text does not reveal the subject of the prayer, but only the fact of the prayer.

Things to consider are:
(1) The word prayer is singular. It refers to a specific prayer.
(2) It is doubtful at their age they would be praying for a child (cf. 1:7). Zacharias’ own words seem to rule out that he was praying for a child (1:18). The statement indicates he was beyond hope of having a child. Why would he be praying for something he did not believe would happen?
(3) It could be a prayer that he was praying at the time of the appearance of the angel.
(4) It is doubtful that he would be as a consecrated priest praying for his own interest and not that of the people.
(5) Evening prayers centered upon the nation and its hope.

There is no question that “the answer to the prayer is bound up with the birth of a son to Zacharias.”[1] Therefore, many believe the angel’s appearance was a result of a prayer that Zacharias was praying at the altar, and that the subject of the prayer was the hope of Israel in the coming of Messiah. It seems in answering the nation’s prayer “God was tackling two problems at once. He was dealing with something absent from Zechariah’s personal life, while dealing with Israel’s prayer and plea. God’s answers sometimes come at a surprising time, in a surprising place, and in a surprising way.”[2] Thus, Zacharias and Elizabeth’s role in the redemption of Israel was an act of grace.

[1]  I. Howard Marshall, NIGTC: COMMENTARY ON LUKE, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1978), 56.
[2]  Darrel L. Bock, BECNT: LUKE 1:1-9:50 (Baker, Grand Rapids, 1994), 82-83.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Roman citizenship was important at the time of Paul when there were over 5 million Roman citizens (Tacitus, Ann. 11.25).  Roman citizenship had certain advantages:
·    The right of protection from being tortured or whipped. Claiming citizenship called for an immediate cessation of punishment until legal status of citizenship could be proven. Citizenship could be proven by having in a diploma civiitatis Romane or a copy of one’s first registration. The text does not indicate Paul used such documents, but it is a possibility.
·         The right to a legal trial in a proper court to defend oneself.
·         The right to appeal the decisions of magistrates.

Paul in Acts claims a number of times to be a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-38; Acts 22:25-28), which was bestowed by birth (Acts 22:28). The claim of the Acts record is consistent with what we know about Roman citizenship. In the providence of God the Roman citizenship helped Paul spread the gospel.