Sunday, October 26, 2014

Commentaries (1)

Not all Bible Commentaries are created equal, either in size, purpose, or detail. A good Bible student is aware of this, and will have different Bible commentaries that vary in technical matters, expository matters, homiletic matters, theological matters, devotional and/or applicatory matters. The student should be aware of what type of commentary he is using. Here are the main types of commentaries: 
  • Critical: Emphasis on technical and critical matters center on the composition of the text rather than its meaning. Many times they will deal with the integrity of the text; philological, redactional, and literary issues; background of the text; and analysis of disputed text. (e.g.  International Critical Commentary series). They have a highly academic focus, rather than Pastoral or laymen centered.
  • Expository: These fall into two types—First, original language emphasis. The give detailed exposition of the text primarily from the original Greek or Hebrew. They usually require some knowledge of the original languages (e.g. Expositor’s Bible Commentary, New International Greek Testament Commentary; Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament). Second are those that have a English text emphasis. They like the first, give detailed exposition. They do not usually deal with critical issues and do not require original language knowledge (The New American Commentary; IVP New Testament Commentary). While academic, they are also useful and focus on the series student, and the professional Pastor.
  • Summary: By this term I mean mostly one volume commentaries on the New or Old Testament. They are neither technical nor detailed, but focus on the main ideas and conclusions. They are aimed more at laymen. They are helpful to get the big picture of the passage and its teaching.  (e.g. Bible Knowledge Commentary).
  • Theological:  These tend to be the more classical works of the past, but not exclusively. They center upon theological teachings of the text. Normally, they are nontechnical. (e.g. Banner of Truth Geneva series; John Calvin Commentaries; Brazos Theological Commentaries). Helpful to both Bible and theological students, and Pastors.
  • Applicatory and Homiletical: Suitable for laypeople, usually with more of an applicatory focus. Helpful to Pastors to motivate sermon ideas and applications. Homiletical commentaries tend to be sermon series. (e.g. NIV Application Commentary; Lloyd-Jones works; W.H. Griffith Thomas works;).
  • Devotional: Centers upon personal spiritually rich texts. Edification is their focus. The difference between this type and the Applicatory/Homiletical commentary is that the devotional mainly center upon ones own relationship to God, rather than general application. (e.g. The 365 Day Devotional Commentary).
These type of commentaries fall within one or more of these categories:
·         Technical. Very academically focused. Critical commentaries always fall within this category. Some of the Expository commentaries fall here as well. Technical commentaries center upon detailed analysis of textual issues, structure, redaction issues, literary issues, and interact substantially with other scholars.
·         Serious. Not as detailed as the technical commentaries, but can deal with technical issues, but on a reduced scale and more simple terms. They avoid much of the detailed technical matters. They center more on explanation of the text than on technical detail. Although some knowledge of the original language may be needed, but not in all cases. Most of the Expository and Theological commentaries fall within this category.
·         Popular.  Avoid the technical matters and no knowledge of the original language is needed. They assume the reader has no or little knowledge of the biblical material, and try to explain the meaning in simplest terms. They are basic in their focus. Summary, devotional, and applicatory commentaries mostly fall within this category. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Snapshots of Jesus in Mark #5

Mark 4:35-40

Photography is not just about capturing images of people. It is about capturing candid and natural photographs about life. That is exactly what Mark does in his recording of Jesus stilling the Storm. The location is the Sea of Galilee. Sudden and violent storms are a normal occurrence there. This snapshot captures the candid nature of the believer and Jesus. We are on a journey through a storm infested life. Jesus is with us. We are all in the same boat. I want you to notice three things about this snapshot by Mark:

  1. We tend to focus our attention of the storms of life, and not the sufficient Savor. Storms have a way of clamoring for our attention. They are a clear and present danger as we see in this storm. We have a fierce gale, waves harshly beating against us, and the boat filling. There is a sense of urgency about this picture.
  2. There are things we tend to forget in the storm: (1) The promise we will reach the other side—Mark 4:35, (2) The presence of Jesus. Jesus is in the boat with them. He is there.  His sleep did not mean he did not care, but a sign of peace in the storm. (3) They needed to focus upon Jesus and call upon him. O’ how often we forget. We are a forgetful people.
  3. Jesus is sufficient for the storms of life. Turn to Jesus, He works in and on the storms of life. Notice He gives two rebukes in this snapshot: First to the storm: “Be still” (Mark 4:39). These are the same words he spoke to in Mark 1:25. This speaks of His sufficiency in both the external storms of life and the internal storms of strife. Second, he rebukes the faithlessness of his disciples (Mark 4:40). This is common theme of His teaching to His disciples, and a common occurrence that is experienced by all believers. In this snapshot Mark captures our insufficient nature. But he also captures our sufficient Savior. He is willing to give us peace. To give us peace in every aspect of our lives. He gives us peace in the storms of uncertainty and tension because of problems that assault us. He gives peace in the storms of anxiety that are within us. He is our Peace! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sermon in a Nutshell #5

Text: Jeremiah 10:10-16

Majesty comes from the Latin meaning great or greatness. God expresses the greatest of our God (Psa. 93:1-2: 145:1-7).

I.                   THE GREATNESS OF HIS KNOWLEDGE (Ominiscience). Cf. Romans 11:33-34.
II.                THE GREATEST OF HIS PRESENCE (Ominipresent)
III.             THE GREATEST OF HIS POWER (Ominpotent)

The Majesty of God invokes two things: (1) Worship   (2) Praise.

We can know His Majesty. (1) We have witnesses to it (2 Peter 1:16 / John 17:3)

(2) He is present with you (3) The power is available to us (Phil. 4:3).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Observations on Acts 26

Acts 26 reports the defense of Paul before King Agrippa. It is the longest defense recorded in Acts. However, this is not to be considered a legal defense since it has been acknowledged that Paul is innocent and the meeting is neither legal nor official. It is more like an informal fact finding meeting. This does not lessen the idea of a defense for two reasons: (1) Paul is defending his actions before the king. He later calls it bearing witness (26:22). (2) Paul may have considered it a trial, or even better he sees it as a continuation of the legal process that started with Felix and will climax in Rome (Acts 26:6). Since he appealed to Caesar there could be no official legal or judicial proceeding until he stood in front of the Emperor. The defense in not the usual judicial defense, but a personal witness; communicating and defending his mission and ministry. The witness is an autobiographical  apologetic, but evangelistic as well (Acts 26:27-29). 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snapshots of Jesus in Mark #4

Mark 1:29-31

Photography began the social media revolution. It was the first major social media in history. In fact the computerized social media has its roots planted deep into the ground of photography. Photography started by centering upon people and events. Our early photographs are mainly people (portraits) or events (political, social, or military). Many of the most remembered pictures are done in a series (Civil war battles; pictures of the Great dust bowl; the depression). Mark has an interesting series of snapshots on the miracle healings by Jesus. He gives us a series of eight healing miracles (1:29-31, 40-45; 2:1-12; 3:1-6; 5:25-34; 7:31-37; 8:22-26; 10:46-52). This does not include other types of miracles portrayed in the gospel.

The first snapshot of Jesus as healer is a family affair. Is this not appropriate? It is the home that should see the healing power of Jesus. After being in synagogue on the Sabbath, he enters the house of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, with James and John. Mark 1:29-31 gives us a snapshot of the event.

The background is that which touches us all. It is a picture of every home at one time or another, when sickness strikes a loved one. It is a common event that hits us all. None are exempt from the suffering, stress, and strain of illness in the family. It strikes at our very heart, emotions, and physical well-being. It brings us to the reality of our helplessness not only for the one sick, but the family as well.  I am struck by threefold action in this snapshot:

  1. The Disciple’s action. It was immediate. The word is used twice in the text. Jesus immediately left the synagogue and entered the house (1:29). As soon as Jesus and the disciples entered the house, Simon and Andrew bring the situation before the Lord. There was no hesitation, no words of welcome, no small talk. “Immediately they spoke to Jesus about her” (1:30). The text in the Greek describes her condition more seriously than the English translation. It reads literally—“lying prostrate, burning with fever.”[1] Luke calls it the great fever (4:38). It is a present active participle built on the word fire and indicates a fever that is holding her in its grip.  Feel the sense of the urgent. Feel the sense of need. Feel the sense of desperation. This moves them to look to the person of hope—Jesus. The sense of dependence was placed in Jesus. They make their request known to Him. It is the natural place for the disciples to turn. And turn they did! “Therein there lies the very essence of the Christian life,” observes William Barclay. [2]
  2. Jesus’ action. Notice first of all, it is a silent action. Not a word is spoken by Jesus. He simply moves into action. Is this not the case in most of our lives? Jesus simply moves and works his ways silently and mysteriously in our midst. He makes no great pronouncement, but just acts in reply to our request. He silently moves with compassion, grace, and sufficiency. This has been called the private miracle. It is away from the crowds; done in the privacy of the home. The miracle is done simply by the touch of the Master’s hand. Upon taking her by the hand, the “the fever left her.” Is the touch of the Master’s hand in your home and your life?
  3. The mother-in-law’s action. She is raised to serve. It reads as if it is the most natural thing in the world—“she waited on them” (1:31). These simple words manifest many things. It demonstrates the completeness of her healing. No weakness or lingering effects as a normal ordinary recovery would display. It demonstrates the healing action by the serving action of the one healed. It is an action of appreciation and thanksgiving. It demonstrates newness of purpose: serving the one that healed her. It pictures the reality of the saying: “saved to serve.”  How about us? We who have been saved from the feverishness of sin—are we serving the one who touched us?  

[1]  D. Edmond Hiebert, THE GOSPEL OF MARK, [Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, 1994],
[2]  William Barclay, DBS: MARK, [Westminster Press, Philedelphia, 1973], 38. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sermon in a Nutshell #2


Text: Eph. 2:18 / Rom. 5:1-2

Direct access to God is amazing. A believers we have this privilege. We have access to God.

The way we have access
1.      Through the Son
2.      By the Spirit

The Reason we have access
1.      Granted by Justification by Faith
2.      Granted by Peace with God
3.      Granted by Grace in which we stand