“Jesus told stories to make himself easier to understand”

20170910_203840A while back I was invited to participate in what was originally slated to be a series over at The Gospel Coalition on the “difficult words of Jesus.” I drew the “Parable of the Sower”-vis-a-vis-Isaiah 6:10 passage, for which I was delighted. It’s a challenging text, and one which is central to understanding Jesus’ parables. In my writeup, I make the case that, as Jesus reveals via his use of the OT, he doesn’t teach in story form to make himself easier to understand—contrary to popular conception—but almost the opposite, at least for those who do not have “ears to hear.”

As it (I assume) turns out, the broader series is not happening, so my contribution appeared recently as a standalone article. Without the context of the broader series, it probably seems rather random and a bit curmudgeonly (not unlike my unintentionally sort-of-viral Saul/Paul writeup: TGC, but originally here), but it wasn’t really intended that way.

(It also happened to appear right as hurricane Irma was approaching. Most trolls will say, “Don’t we have more important things to worry about?” Yep…but I didn’t pick the timing.)


A Framework for Navigating Discontinuity and Continuity of the OT Law

I have been teaching through Covenant Theology at River Oaks Church for the past few months, and we recently have been discussing the covenant God made with Moses at Sinai. Understanding how this Mosaic Covenant fits within the OT as a whole, the covenant of grace, and God’s plan of redemption is a challenge in its own right—see my series on “Rescuing Moses from Exile” (1, 2, 3, 4). But the even more difficult task is figuring out what we should make of this covenant, and the law on which it is centered, in the NT and Christian era.

Continue reading A Framework for Navigating Discontinuity and Continuity of the OT Law

“Unto Him” in Eph 1:5—A Minority Report on the Christological Option for an Oft-Overlooked Pronoun

When I stumbled on it last year in preparation for teaching Ephesians, I was stunned. Where did this “unto him” come from that I had never seen before in the English translations of my youth? And what does it mean?

In this post, I will explore a little phrase at the middle of the justly famous “adoption” verse of Ephesians 1:5, which does not even show up in some English translations.

Continue reading “Unto Him” in Eph 1:5—A Minority Report on the Christological Option for an Oft-Overlooked Pronoun

Review of a Great New Book on Acts

While we were in the UK, I had the privilege of sitting near Dr. Osvaldo Padilla at the Tyndale House when he was there on sabbatical. Osvaldo teaches NT at Beeson Divinity School (from which RTS-O just hosted Timothy George for our Spring lecture series). Our families go to know one another during their stay—their son was our daughters’ “boy-friend,” as they would say. We were sad to see them depart after their short stay.

Continue reading Review of a Great New Book on Acts

Reading the Psalms with Jesus

Tonight I got to spend part of the evening with a group of students at Reformation Bible College, as part of their biweekly Abide fellowship. Lots of familiar faces from my church were there.

I did a short talk on how to read (at least some of) the psalms in the way Jesus (and other NT writers) guide us to read them. Not merely as anticipating him, but as giving voice to his own words and in many ways shaping his identity.

Continue reading Reading the Psalms with Jesus

No … “Saul the Persecutor” did not become “Paul the Apostle”

(Abridged version posted at TGC)
(Spanish version available at Coalición por el Evangelio [Spanish TGC])

A ‘sticky’ misconception I keep coming across both in the church world and in the seminary world is the notion that God (or, specifically, Jesus) changed the name of a certain figure of importance that we now typically refer to as “St. Paul.”

In a recent sermon, I heard, “Just like Saul the persecutor can become Paul the apostle, God is gracious to us…”

On an exam by one of my brightest students, I found written, “It is Saul, who is re-named as Paul, who is the primary messenger of the gospel…”

From a church member who came from a Roman Catholic background, I was asked, “Wait…you mean Jesus didn’t change Saul’s name to Paul on the Damascus Road?”*

The problem is that such a view, however common it may seem (just search for ‘Saul-Paul name change’ to find loads of posts on the apparent significance of this event), is not accurate. I hate to ruin the fun. Continue reading No … “Saul the Persecutor” did not become “Paul the Apostle”

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