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     Genesis   35 - 37


Genesis 35

God Blesses and Renames Jacob

Genesis 35 1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.

5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.

9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

27 And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.


Genesis 36

Esau’s Descendants

Genesis 36 1 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, 3 and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 And Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)

9 These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 14 These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 18 These are the sons of Oholibamah, Esau’s wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs.

20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in the land of Seir.

31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33 Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36 Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. 38 Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.

40 These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.

Genesis 37

Joseph’s Dreams

Genesis 37:1 Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the generations of Jacob.

Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.   “It isn’t the style or the stuff in the coat, nor is it the length of the tailor’s bill. It’s the stuff in the chap inside of the coat that counts for good or ill.”   The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances  4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11 And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 14 So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.”

If Jacob had realized that when Joseph left for Shechem, the back of his head was the last Jacob would see of his beloved boy for twenty years, I’m not sure he would have sent him. But God was in control of the circumstances, and it was actually better for Joseph to be isolated from his home but in the center of God’s plan, than to be at home but isolated from God’s purposes. The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances

So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

18 They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. 24 And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” 31 Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

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Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit”?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/10/2018

     There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is a gnostic document called The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus. Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus:

     The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (120-180AD)

     Two versions of The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit were discovered in 1945 among the papyri of the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt. Based on the Gnostic contents of the text and its position among other documents, scholars place the writing of the book in the 2nd century as yet another Gnostic Sethian document.

     Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable?

     The text is a 2nd century document and is therefore far too late to have been written by one of the apostolic eyewitnesses. More importantly, The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit has been dramatically influenced by the heretical Sethians who predate Christians. Sethian Gnosticism was condemned as heretical by many early Church Fathers.

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #1: “The Term ‘Canon’ Can Only Refer to a Fixed, Closed List of Books”

By Michael J. Kruger 4/2/2012

     Graham Stanton has correctly observed, “In discussions of the emergence of the canon, whether of the Old or the New Testament writings, definitions are all important, and the devil is in the detail.”[“The Gospels in Justin and Irenaeus,” 370.] Indeed, one’s definition of canon drives one’s historical conclusions about canon–particularly regarding its date. And precisely for this reason, there has always been a vigorous debate amongst scholars over what we mean by the term “canon.”

     However, in recent years, that debate has taken an interesting turn. One particular definition of canon has begun to emerge as the dominant one. In fact, scholars have suggested that we must all use this definition lest the entire field of canonical studies be thrown into confusion and anachronism. And that definition is the one that says canon only exists when one has a closed, final, fixed list. You can have “Scripture” prior to this time, but not a “canon.” This can be called the exclusive definition.

     The impact of this new “consensus” has been profound on canonical studies: If you cannot have a canon until books are in a closed, final list, then there could not be a canon until the fourth or even fifth century at the earliest. Thus, this definition has been used to push the date of canon further and further back into the later centuries of the church. Remarkably, then, the date for canon has become later and later while the historical evidence hasn’t changed at all.

     But, is the exclusive definition the best definition for canon? And are we obligated to use it to the exclusion of all others? Although this definition rightly captures the fact that the boundaries of the canon had fluid edges prior to the fourth century, I think it creates more problems than it solves. A number of concerns:

     1. It is difficult to believe that the sharp Scripture-canon distinction drawn by modern advocates of the exclusive definition would have been so readily shared by their historical counterparts in the second century. Would early Christians have regarded Scripture as fluid and open-ended and only canon as limited and restricted? If they were able to say that certain books in their library were Scripture, then that implies they would have been able to say that other books in their library were not Scripture. But, if they are able to say which books are (and are not) Scripture, then how is that materially different than saying which books are in (or not in) a canon? Thus, it seems some degree of limitation and exclusion is already implied in the term “Scripture.”

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #2: “Nothing in Early Christianity Dictated That There Would be a Canon”

By Michael J. Kruger 4/10/2012

     Contemporary challenges to the New Testament canon have taken a number of different forms over the years. For generations, scholars have mainly focused upon the problem of the boundaries of the New Testament. The perennial question has usually been “How do we know we have the right books?” But, in recent years, a new challenge has begun to take center stage (though it is really not new at all). While the validity of the canon’s boundaries is still an area of concern, the attention has shifted to the validity of the canon’s very existence. The question now is “Why is there a New Testament at all?”

     The answer, according to critics of the canon, is not to be found in the first-century—there was nothing about earliest Christianity (or the books themselves) that would naturally lead to the development of a canon. Instead, we are told, the answer is to be found in the later Christian church. The canon was an ecclesiastical product that was designed to meet ecclesiastical needs. Thus, the New Testament canon was not a natural development within early Christianity, but a later, artificial development that is out of sync with Christianity’s original purpose—it was something imposed upon the Christian faith. Gamble argues this very point: “There is no intimation at all that the early church entertained the idea of Christian scriptures…Therefore, the NT as we think of it was utterly remote from the minds of the first generation of Christian believers.  The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning

     However, are we really to think that there was nothing about earliest Christianity that might have given rise to a new collection of scriptural books? I will argue here that the earliest Christians held a number of beliefs that, especially when taken in tandem, would have naturally led to the development of a new collection of sacred books—what we could call a “canon.” In other words, the theological matrix of first-century Christianity created a favorable environment for the growth of a new written revelational deposit. Let us consider what three of these theological beliefs might have been.

     1. The earliest Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the eschatological fulfillment of foundational Old Testament promises about God’s redemption of his people. It is important to remember the Jews of the first century period were in a state of anticipation—waiting and longing for God’s redemptive deliverance of Israel. In other words, Jews of this period viewed the story of the Old Testament books as incomplete. When the Old Testament story of Israel was viewed as a whole, it was not viewed as something that was finished but as something that was waiting to be finished. N.T. Wright observes, “The great story of the Hebrew scriptures was therefore inevitably read in the second-temple period as a story in search of a conclusion.”  The New Testament and the People of God  What made the earliest Christians unique is that they believed that the story of the Old Testament had been completed. It was finished and fulfilled in the coming of Jesus of Nazareth. The long-awaited redemption of God had arrived.

     If so, it is not difficult to see how this belief might impact the production of new scriptural books. If Christians believed the OT story had now been completed, then it reasonable to think that the proper conclusion to the Old Testament might then be written. Otherwise the OT Scriptures would be a play without a final act. This possibility finds confirmation in the fact that some of the New Testament writings seem to be intentionally completing the Old Testament story. It is noteworthy that the first book of the New Testament begins with a genealogy with a strong Davidic theme (Mat 1:1), and the (likely) last book of the Hebrew canon begins with a genealogy that has a strong Davidic theme (1 Chronicles 1:2). This structural feature led D. Moody Smith to declare, “In doing so, Matthew makes clear that Jesus represents the restoration of that dynasty and therefore the history of Israel and the history of salvation. Thus, Jesus continues the biblical narrative. [When Did the Gospels Become Scripture?] Davies and Allison agree that Matthew “thought of his gospel as a continuation of the biblical history.  Commentary on Matthew VIII-XVIII: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (International Critical Commentary, Vol. 2)

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon: #3: “The NT Authors Did Not Think They Were Writing Scripture”

By Michael J. Kruger 4/23/2012

     Sometimes, even in the academic world, things get said so many times that people assume they are true. And when that happens, no one bothers to look at the historical evidence in a fresh way. This has certainly been the case when it comes to this third misconception about the New Testament canon. It is routine these days to assert that the New Testament authors certainly did not think they were writing Scripture, nor had any awareness of their own authority. Mark Allan Powell, in his recent New Testament introduction, affirms this view plainly, “The authors of our New Testament books did not know that they were writings scripture.”  Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey   &   The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority  Gamble takes the same approach, “None of the writings which belong to the NT was composed as scripture…[they] were written for immediate and practical purposes within the early churches, and only gradually did they come to be valued and to be spoken of as ‘scripture’.”  The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning

     Now, from one perspective, I understand what these authors are trying to say. Certainly none of the NT authors wrote with an awareness of a 27 book canon and understood their place in it. They could not have fully foreseen the shape and scope of this collection. But, these scholars imply that there was no authoritative intent when the NT authors wrote—and that is a very different thing. McDonald even declares, “[Paul] was unaware of the divinely inspired status of his own advice.”  The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon

     But, is it true that the NT authors had no awareness of their own authority? My contention here is simple: the NT authors show evidence that they understood their writings to contain authoritative apostolic tradition. Since the apostles were commissioned by Christ to speak for him, and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so, then these writings would have borne the authority of Christ himself. Thus, whether we call these books “Scripture” is a bit beside the point. To the earliest Christians, they were “the word of God.”

     Now, in a blog post such as this we can hardly work through each book of the NT (nor would we need to do so in order to establish the overall point). So, we will offer a brief comment on a few select passages:

     1 Thess 2:13. In perhaps Paul’s earliest letter, he is explicit about his own authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ when he reminds the Thessalonians, “You received the word of God, which you heard from us, and accepted it not as the words of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (2:13). By the phrase “word of God” (λόγον θεοῦ), Paul is no doubt referring to the authoritative “apostolic tradition” which they had already passed to the Thessalonians through their oral teaching and preaching. But, if Paul’s apostolic instruction bears divine authority, are we to think that the instruction contained in 1 Thessalonians itself does not? Is this letter somehow exempt from that very authority? Paul acknowledges elsewhere that the mode of delivery for his apostolic instruction is secondary, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thess 2:15). Thus, commenting on 1 Thess 2:13, Ernest Best is able to say, “Paul makes here the daring claim which identifies his words with God’s words.”  A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (Harper's New Testament Commentaries)

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 7

In You Do I Take Refuge
7 A Shiggaion Of David, Which He Sang To The Lord Concerning The Words Of Cush, A Benjaminite.

6 Arise, O LORD, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.

8 The LORD judges the peoples;
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.

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10 Misconceptions About the NT Canon: #4: “Books Were Not Regarded as Scripture Until Around 200 AD”

By Michael J. Kruger 5/9/2012

     The date of the NT canon is one of the most controversial questions in biblical studies today. As a prior post indicated, part of the answer to the question of date is dependent upon one’s definition of “canon.” But, even if we take the functional definition of canon—books are canonical when they are being used as Scripture—there is still debate about how early this took place.

     In recent years, however, somewhat of a quasi-consensus has been building that the canon was first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century (c.200). McDonald is representative of this view, “[New Testament] documents were not generally recognized as Scripture until the end of the second century C.E.”  The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority

     The reason for this focus on the end of the second century is not hard to find. It is at this point that the major figure Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, offers some of the clearest and most comprehensive statements on the canon to date. Most notable is his affirmation that the four gospels were so certain that their existence is entrenched in the very structure of creation, “It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer than the number they are.” Because of Irenaeus’ confident language about the NT canon, Scholars have sought to paint Irenaeus as an innovator. Up to this point, supposedly no one else was concerned about such things. Ireneaus broke new ground and, in essence, single-handedly created the NT Canon.

     But, was Irenaeus really alone? Was he the innovator scholars have made him out to be? Let us consider a number of historical sources which show that others during this same time frame (and earlier) also regarded NT books as Scripture. As we briefly examine these sources, we should remember that we are concerned here not with the extent of canon but with the existence of canon. Although the boundaries of the canon had not yet solidified at this point, it is still clear that many of these books were viewed as Scripture long before 200 AD.

     In terms of Irenaeus’ contemporaries, two key sources tell us that he was not alone. The Muratorian fragment (c.180) is our earliest canonical list and affirms approximately 22 of the 27 books of the NT, remarkably close to Irenaeus’ own position. Moreover, writing just slightly later than Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria (c.198) had a remarkably similar position, affirming the 4 gospels, 13 epistles of Paul, Hebrews, Acts, 1 Peter, 1&2 John, Jude, and Revelation. Such a widespread affirmation of these books could not have happened overnight (sort of a “big bang” theory of canon), but would have required some predecessors. Let us examine who some of those predecessors were (and here we must be brief):

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #5: “Early Christians Disagreed Widely over the Books Which Made It into the Canon”

By Michael J. Kruger 6/1/2012

     1934 was a big year for Germany. It was the year that Adolf Hitler became the Führer and complete head of the German nation and the Nazi party. And, as we all know, it wasn’t long after that time, that Germany invaded Poland and began World War II.

     But 1934 was a significant year for another reason. Very quietly, behind the scenes, a book was published that would change the landscape of early Christian studies for years to come. Walter Bauer published his now famous monograph, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. Compared to Hitler’s rise, this was not very newsworthy. And Bauer’s book did not have much of an impact at first. But, in 1971 it was translated into English and since that time things have radically changed in the academy of the English speaking world.

     As is well known now, Bauer’s main thesis was that early Christianity was a bit of a mess. It was a theological quagmire. No one could get along; no one could agree. There was in-fighting and competition between various competing factions, all warring it out about what really constituted “Christianity.” Thus, for Bauer, there was no such thing as Christianity (singular) during this time, but only Christianities (plural). And each of these Christianities, argues Bauer, had its own set of books. Each had its own writings that it valued and thought were Scripture. After the dust settled, one particular group, and their books, won the theological war. But, why should we think these are the right books? These are just the books of the theological winners.

     Bauer’s thesis has seen a strong resurgence in recent years, particularly in the writings of scholars like Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman, and Helmut Koester. And it is the basis for a very common misconception about the NT Canon, namely that there was very little agreement over the books that made it into the canon until the fourth or fifth century. Before that, we are told, early Christianity was somewhat of a literary free for all. No one could agree on much of anything.

     But was that really the case? Several considerations:

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     10. The second class of objections is akin to the former. They allege the promises in which the Lord makes a paction with our will. Such are the following: "Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live," (Amos 5:14). "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it," (Isaiah 1:19, 20). "If thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then thou shalt not remove," (Jer. 4:1). "It shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all the commandments which I command thee this days that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth," (Deut. 28:1). There are other similar passages (Lev. 26:3, &c). They think that the blessings contained in these promises are offered to our will absurdly and in mockery, if it is not in our power to secure or reject them. It is, indeed, an easy matter to indulge in declamatory complaint on this subject, to say that we are cruelly mocked [181] by the Lord, when he declares that his kindness depends on our wills if we are not masters of our wills--that it would be a strange liberality on the part of God to set his blessings before us, while we have no power of enjoying them,--a strange certainty of promises, which, to prevent their ever being fulfilled, are made to depend on an impossibility. Of promises of this description, which have a condition annexed to them, we shall elsewhere speak, and make it plain that there is nothing absurd in the impossible fulfilment of them. In regard to the matter in hand, I deny that God cruelly mocks us when he invites us to merit blessings which he knows we are altogether unable to merit. The promises being offered alike to believers and to the ungodly, have their use in regard to both. As God by his precepts stings the consciences of the ungodly, so as to prevent them from enjoying their sins while they have no remembrance of his judgments, so, in his promises, he in a manner takes them to witness how unworthy they are of his kindness. Who can deny that it is most just and most becoming in God to do good to those who worship him, and to punish with due severity those who despise his majesty? God, therefore, proceeds in due order, when, though the wicked are bound by the fetters of sin, he lays down the law in his promises, that he will do them good only if they depart from their wickedness. This would be right, though His only object were to let them understand that they are deservedly excluded from the favour due to his true worshipers. On the other hand, as he desires by all means to stir up believers to supplicate his grace, it surely should not seem strange that he attempts to accomplish by promises the same thing which, as we have shown, he to their great benefit accomplishes by means of precepts. Being taught by precepts what the will of God is, we are reminded of our wretchedness in being so completely at variance with that will, and, at the same time, are stimulated to invoke the aid of the Spirit to guide us into the right path. But as our indolence is not sufficiently aroused by precepts, promises are added, that they may attract us by their sweetness, and produce a feeling of love for the precept. The greater our desire of righteousness, the greater will be our earnestness to obtain the grace of God. And thus it is, that in the protestations, if we be willing, if thou shalt hearken, the Lord neither attributes to us a full power of willing and hearkening, nor yet mocks us for our impotence. [182]

11. The third class of objections is not unlike the other two. For they produce passages in which God upbraids his people for their ingratitude, intimating that it was not his fault that they did not obtain all kinds of favour from his indulgence. Of such passages, the following are examples: "The Amalekites and the Canaanites are before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you," (Num. 14:43). "Because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh," (Jer. 7:13, 14). "They obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them," (Jer. 32:23). How, they ask, can such upbraiding be directed against those who have it in their power immediately to reply,--Prosperity was dear to us: we feared adversity; that we did not, in order to obtain the one and avoid the other, obey the Lord, and listen to his voice, is owing to its not being free for us to do so in consequence of our subjection to the dominion of sin; in vain, therefore, are we upbraided with evils which it was not in our power to escape. But to say nothing of the pretext of necessity, which is but a feeble and flimsy defence of their conduct, can they, I ask, deny their guilt? If they are held convicted of any fault, the Lord is not unjust in upbraiding them for having, by their own perverseness, deprived themselves of the advantages of his kindness. Let them say, then, whether they can deny that their own will is the depraved cause of their rebellion. If they find within themselves a fountain of wickedness, why do they stand declaiming about extraneous causes, with the view of making it appear that they are not the authors of their own destruction? If it be true that it is not for another's faults that sinners are both deprived of the divine favour, and visited with punishment, there is good reason why they should hear these rebukes from the mouth of God. If they obstinately persist in their vices, let them learn in their calamities to accuse and detest their own wickedness, instead of charging God with cruelty and injustice. If they have not manifested docility, let them, under a feeling of disgust at the sins which they see to be the cause of their misery and ruin, return to the right path, and, with serious contrition, confess the very thing of which the Lord by his rebuke reminds them. Of what use those upbraidings of the prophets above quoted are to believers, appears from the solemn prayer of Daniel, as given in his ninth chapter. Of their use in regard to the ungodly, we see an example in the Jews, to whom Jeremiah was ordered to explain the cause of their miseries, though the event could not be otherwise than the Lord had foretold. "Therefore thou shalt speak these words unto them; but they will not hearken unto thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee," (Jer. 7:27). Of what use, then, was it to talk to the deaf? It was, that even against their will they might understand that what they heard was true, and that it was impious blasphemy to transfer the blame of their wickedness to God, when it resided in themselves.

These few explanations will make it very easy for the reader to disentangle himself from the immense heap of passages (containing both precepts and reprimands) which the enemies of divine grace are in the habit of piling up, that they may thereon erect their statue of free will. The Psalmist upbraids the Jews as "a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright," (Psalm 78:8); and in another passage, he exhorts the men of his time, "Harden not your heart," (Psalm 95:8). This implies that the whole blame of the rebellion lies in human depravity. But it is foolish thence to infer, that the heart, the preparation of which is from the Lord, may be equally bent in either direction. The Psalmist says, "I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes alway," (Psalm 119:112); meaning, that with willing and cheerful readiness of mind he had devoted himself to God. He does not boast, however, that he was the author of that disposition, for in the same psalm he acknowledges it to be the gift of God. We must, therefore, attend to the admonition of Paul, when he thus addresses believers, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," (Phil. 2:12, 13). He ascribes to them a part in acting that they may not indulge in carnal sloth, but by enjoining fear and trembling, he humbles them so as to keep them in remembrance, that the very thing which they are ordered to do is the proper work of God--distinctly intimating, that believers act (if I may so speak) passively in as much as the power is given them from heaven, and cannot in any way be arrogated to themselves. Accordingly, when Peter exhorts us to "add to faith virtue," (2 Pet. 1:5), he does not concede to us the possession of a second place, as if we could do anything separately. He only arouses the sluggishness of our flesh, by which faith itself is frequently stifled. To the same effect are the words of Paul. He says, "Quench not the Spirit," (1 Thess. 5:19); because a spirit of sloth, if not guarded against, is ever and anon creeping in upon believers. But should any thence infer that it is entirely in their own power to foster the offered light, his ignorance will easily be refuted by the fact, that the very diligence which Paul enjoins is derived only from God (2 Cor. 7:1). We are often commanded to purge ourselves of all impurity, though the Spirit claims this as his peculiar office. In fine, that what properly belongs to God is transferred to us only by way of concession, is plain from the words of John, "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself," (1 John 5:18). The advocates of free will fasten upon the expression as if it implied, that we are kept partly by the power of God, partly by our own, whereas the very keeping of which the Apostle speaks is itself from heaven. Hence, Christ prays his Father to keep us from evil (John 17:15), and we know that believers, in their warfare against Satan, owe their victory to the armour of God. Accordingly, Peter, after saying, "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth," immediately adds by way of correction, "through the Spirit," (1 Pet. 1:22). In fine, the nothingness of human strength in the spiritual contest is briefly shown by John, when he says, that "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him" (1 John 3:9). He elsewhere gives the reasons "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," (1 John 5:4).

12. But a passage is produced from the Law of Moses, which seems very adverse to the view now given. After promulgating the Law, he takes the people to witness in these terms: "This commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it," (Deut. 30:11, 12, 14). Certainly, if this is to be understood of mere precepts, I admit that it is of no little importance to the matter in hand. For, though it were easy to evade the difficulty by saying, that the thing here treated of is not the observance of the law, but the facility and readiness of becoming acquainted with it, some scruple, perhaps, would still remain. The Apostle Paul, however, no mean interpreter, removes all doubt when he affirms, that Moses here spoke of the doctrine of the Gospel (Rom. 10:8). If any one is so refractory as to contend that Paul violently wrested the words in applying them to the Gospel, though his hardihood is chargeable with impiety, we are still able, independently of the authority of the Apostle, to repel the objection. For, if Moses spoke of precepts merely, he was only inflating the people with vain confidence. Had they attempted the observance of the law in their own strength, as a matter in which they should find no difficulty, what else could have been the result than to throw them headlong? Where, then, was that easy means of observing the law, when the only access to it was over a fatal precipice? [183] Accordingly, nothing is more certain than that under these words is comprehended the covenant of mercy, which had been promulgated along with the demands of the law. A few verses before, he had said, "The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live," (Deut. 30:6). Therefore, the readiness of which he immediately after speaks was placed not in the power of man, but in the protection and help of the Holy Spirit, who mightily performs his own work in our weakness. The passage, however, is not to be understood of precepts simply, but rather of the Gospel promises, which, so far from proving any power in us to fulfil righteousness, utterly disprove it. This is confirmed by the testimony of Paul, when he observes that the Gospel holds forth salvation to us, not under the harsh arduous, and impossible terms on which the law treats with us (namely, that those shall obtain it who fulfil all its demands), but on terms easy, expeditious, and readily obtained. This passage, therefore, tends in no degree to establish the freedom of the human will.

13. They are wont also to adduce certain passages in which God is said occasionally to try men, by withdrawing the assistance of his grace, and to wait until they turn to him, as in Hosea, "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face," (Hosea 5:15). It were absurd (say they), that the Lord should wait till Israel should seek his face, if their minds were not flexible, so as to turn in either direction of their own accord. As if anything were more common in the prophetical writings than for God to put on the semblance of rejecting and casting off his people until they reform their lives. But what can our opponents extract from such threats? If they mean to maintain that a people, when abandoned by God, are able of themselves to think of turning unto him, they will do it in the very face of Scripture. On the other hand, if they admit that divine grace is necessary to conversion, why do they dispute with us? But while they admit that grace is so far necessary, they insist on reserving some ability for man. How do they prove it? Certainly not from this nor any similar passage; for it is one thing to withdraw from man, and look to what he will do when thus abandoned and left to himself, and another thing to assist his powers (whatever they may be), in proportion to their weakness. What, then, it will be asked, is meant by such expressions? I answer, just the same as if God were to say, Since nothing is gained by admonishing, exhorting, rebuking this stubborn people, I will withdraw for a little, and silently leave them to be afflicted; I shall see whether, after long calamity, any remembrance of me will return, and induce them to seek my face. But by the departure of the Lord to a distance is meant the withdrawal of prophecy. By his waiting to see what men will do is meant that he, while silent, and in a manner hiding himself, tries them for a season with various afflictions. Both he does that he may humble us the more; for we shall sooner be broken than corrected by the strokes of adversity, unless his Spirit train us to docility. Moreover, when the Lord, offended and, as it were, fatigued with our obstinate perverseness, leaves us for a while (by withdrawing his word, in which he is wont in some degree to manifest his presence), and makes trial of what we will do in his absence, from this it is erroneously inferred, that there is some power of free will, the extent of which is to be considered and tried, whereas the only end which he has in view is to bring us to an acknowledgment of our utter nothingness.

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #6: “In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books”

By Michael J. Kruger 6/25/2012

     One of the most common claims by some critics of the NT canon is that apocryphal writings, particularly gospels, were as common and as widely-used as the NT writings. Helmut Koester is a good example of this trend. He laments the fact that the terms “apocryphal” and “canonical” are even used by modern scholars because they reflect, according to him, “prejudices of long standing” against the authenticity of these apocryphal texts.   The Non-Canonical Gospels (T&T Clark Biblical Studies)  Koester then argues, “If one considers the earliest period of the tradition, several apocryphal gospels are as well attested as those which later received canonical status.”  The Non-Canonical Gospels (T&T Clark Biblical Studies)   William Petersen offers a similar approach when he says that apocryphal gospels were so popular that they “were breeding like rabbits.” [W.L. Petersen, “The Diatesseron and the Fourfold Gospel,” in The Earliest Gospels (ed. C. Horton; London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 51.]

     But, is it really true that apocryphal gospels were as popular and widespread as the canonical gospels? Were they really on equal footing? Three pieces of evidence suggest otherwise:

     1. Extant manuscripts. The physical remains of writings can give us an indication of their relative popularity. Such remains can tell us which books were used, read, and copied. When we examine the physical remains of Christian texts from the earliest centuries (second and third), we quickly discover that the New Testament writings were, far and away, the most popular. Currently we have over sixty extant manuscripts (in whole or in part) of the New Testament from this time period, with most of our copies coming from Matthew, John, Luke, Acts, Romans, Hebrews, and Revelation. The gospel of John proves to be the most popular of all with eighteen manuscripts, a number of which derive from the second century (e.g., P52, P90, P66, P75). Matthew is not far behind with twelve manuscripts; and some of these also have been dated to the second century (e.g., P64-67, P77, P103, P104).

     During the same time period, the second and third centuries, we possess approximately seventeen manuscripts of apocryphal writings such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, the Protevangelium of James, and more. The Gospel of Thomas has the most manuscripts of all, with just three.

     The implications of this numerical disparity has not been missed by modern scholars. Hurtado argues that the low number of apocryphal manuscripts “do not justify any notion that these writings were particularly favored” and that whatever circles used these writings “were likely a clear minority among Christians of the second and third centuries.”  The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins   Similarly, C.H. Roberts observes, “Once the evidence of the papyri is available, indisputably Gnostic texts are conspicuous by their rarity.”   Manuscript, Society and Belief in early Christian Egypt (Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology)   Charlesworth agrees, “If the ‘heterodox’ were in the majority for so long, the non-canonical gospels should have been preserved in greater numbers in Egypt.” [Scott Charlesworth, “Indicators of “Catholicity” in Early Gospel Manuscripts,” in The Early Text of the New Testament (ed. C.E. Hill and M.J. Kruger; Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).]

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament



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#1 Michael Bess | Vanderbilt University

 

#2 Saul Friedlander | Vanderbilt University

 

#3 Nicholas Stargardt | Vanderbilt University

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Don’t label people – love them
     1/12/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.’

(2 Co 5:16) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. ESV

     If you tend to associate only with ‘your own kind’, think about this: ‘We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.’ Jesus went miles out of His way to meet a Samaritan woman at a well. From a cultural and religious point of view, it was a bad move. First, she’d been divorced five times so she had a tarnished reputation. Second, she was a Gentile. And in those days a Jew couldn’t drink water drawn by Gentiles or eat their food. Jewish physicians couldn’t attend to non-Jewish patients. Jews actually referred to Gentiles as ‘unclean’, believing that by mixing with them they too would become unclean. But Jesus was all about including people, not excluding them: ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood’ (John 1:14 MSG). Jesus touched lepers, loved foreigners, and spent so much time with partygoers that religious leaders called him a ‘lush, a friend of the riffraff’ (Matthew 11:19 MSG). Jesus didn’t label people; He loved them. And when you follow Him, He puts His finger on your prejudices and makes you deal with them. That’s because He wants to change the way you look at people, not seeing them as Jews or Gentiles, insiders or outsiders, liberals or conservatives, etc. ‘We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.’ Today you may come across some discarded people like the woman at the well. They may have been thrown out of church, or just turned off by church – and you’ll have a chance to label them or love them. Honour God – and love them!

(Jn 1:14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ESV

(Mt 11:19) The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” ESV

Genesis 27-28
Matthew 8:18-34

UCB The Word For Today

IMHO
     January 12, 2016

     I got my new glasses yesterday. $200! And that was after my Medicare deduction! I don’t care what the commercials say, if you think people are more important than money than you are so wrong. At the end of the 1993 movie blockbuster Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler laments how many more people he could have saved if he had enjoyed fewer luxury items. That was a very accurate portrayal of the condition of our modern world. Stuff is more important than people.

     Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Jesus Prayer) Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, set up your kingdom in our midst. Holy Spirit, breath of the living God, renew me and all the world. Hear, O Israel; YHWH our God, YHWH is one; and you shall love YHWH your God with all your heart. (Shema) There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we to him; and one Lord, Jesus the Messiah, through whom are all things, and we through him.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This famous quote was from British statesman Edmund Burke, who was born this day, January 12, 1729. Considered the most influential orator in the House of Commons, Burke stands out in history, for as a member of the British Parliament, he defended the right of the American colonies to be free and strongly opposed the slave trade. Edmund Burke stated: “What is liberty without… virtue? It is… madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     Secretly there was the sharpest kind of hope that the two years at Harvard might bring with them an opening for teaching philosophy in some university in the East. But the spring of 1932 with its crushing economic depression wore on and the opportunity did not come. An offer to return to Earlham College had been generously held open until late spring, for Earlham College wanted Thomas Kelly to return. But to return seemed like renouncing the future and retreating into the past, and the decision to do it almost crushed Thomas Kelly. In June 1932, he wrote Professor Gillett of his letter of consent to return to Earlham College, "I cannot put into words what that letter cost me, but there is no use talking about it for there seems to be no other way." In August he was on top again and could write to the same friend that able obedience. And there you will find that humility is not merely a human virtue. For there is a humility that is in God Himself. Be ye humble as God is humble. For love and humility walk hand in hand, in God as well as in man.      But there is something about deepest humility which makes men bold. For utter obedience is self­forgetful obedience. No longer do we hesitate and shuffle and apologize because, say we, we are weak, lowly creatures and the world is a pack of snarling wolves among whom we are sent as sheep by the Shepherd (Matt. 10:16). I must confess that, on human judgment, the world tasks we face are appalling-well-nigh hopeless. Only the inner vision of God, only the God-blindedness of unreservedly dedicated souls, only the utterly humble ones can bow and break the raging pride of a power-mad world. But self-renunciation means God-possession, the being possessed by God. Out of utter humility and self­ forgetfulness comes the thunder of the prophets, "Thus saith the Lord." High station and low are leveled before Him. Be not fooled by the world's power. Imposing institutions of war and imperialism and greed are wholly vulnerable for they, and we, are forever in the hands of a conquering God. These are not cheap and hasty words. The high and noble adventures of faith can in our truest moments be seen as no adventures at all, but certainties. And if we live in complete humility in God we can smile in patient assurance as we work. Will you be wise enough and humble enough to be little fools of God? For who can finally stay His power? Who can resist His persuading love? Truly says Saint Augustine, "There is something in humility which raiseth the heart upward." And John Woolman says, "Now I find that in the pure obedience the mind learns contentment, in appearing weak and foolish to the wisdom which is of the World; and in these lowly labors, they who stand in a low place, rightly exercised under the Cross, will find nourishment."

     But God inflames the soul with a burning craving for absolute purity. One burns for complete innocency and holiness of personal life. No man can look on God and live, live in his own faults, live in the shadow of the least self-deceit, live in harm toward His least creatures, whether man or bird or beast or creeping thing. The blinding purity of God in Christ, how captivating, how alluring, how compelling it is! The pure in heart shall see God? More, they who see God shall cry out to become pure in heart, even as He is pure, with all the energy of their souls.

     This has been an astonishing and unexpected element for me. In this day of concern for social righteousness it sounds like a throwback to medieval ideals of saintliness and soul-combing. Our religious heroes of these social gospel days sit before a battery "the calibre of a man is found in his ability to meet disappointment successfully, enriched rather than narrowed by it." Once back at Earlham he gave himself to his teaching and to the spiritual and intellectual nurturing of a little group of students that used to gather at his home. John Cadbury and John Carter were two whose lives he influenced that year and they were not alone. He wrote to John Cadbury who had gone to Cornell University in 1933, "I wish we were nearer together in space and could have again an evening before the fire reading, discussing and meditating. The year has been going along in average mediocrity. There is no especial excellence, no especial defect in it. It's just it. And that's damnable. For the world is popping with novelty, adventure in ideas. And we aren't getting them here. We are safe and sane."

     This last note represented the shadow of these second Earlham years. Many in this same period found in his teaching a source of great intellectual excitement. "He was a great teacher here, always eager, ardent, alive in the classroom. I remember still one of his students said in 1934, ‘Professor Kelly is going to grow all the time.' That was the sense he gave his students."

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7


Why read your Bible? A popular philosopher said,
Those who do not remember the past
are condemned to relive it.
--- George Santayana
There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end.
--- James Nayler, 1616-1660


It is a sad thing to be Christians at a supper,
heathens in our shops,
and devils in our closets.
--- Stephen Charnock

Is religion subjective? Nay, its soul is in objectivity, in an Other whose Life is our true life, whose Love is our love, whose Joy is our joy, whose Peace is our peace, whose burdens are our burdens, whose Will is our will. Self is emptied into God, and God in-fills it.
--- Thomas Kelly

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 3:11-12
     by D.H. Stern

11     My son, don’t despise ADONAI’s discipline
or resent his reproof;
12     for ADONAI corrects those he loves
like a father who delights in his son.

9     Honor ADONAI with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your income.
10     Then your granaries will be filled
and your vats overflow with new wine.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers


                Have you ever been alone with God?

     When they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples. ---
Mark 4:34.

     Our Solitude with Him. Jesus does not take us alone and expound things to us all the time; He expounds things to us as we can understand them. Other lives are parables. God is making us spell out our own souls. It is slow work, so slow that it takes God all time and eternity to make a man and woman after His own purpose. The only way we can be of use to God is to let Him take us through the crooks and crannies of our own characters. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harbouring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage?

     We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves, it is the last conceit to go. The only One Who understands us is God. The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit. If we have ever had a glimpse of what we are like in the sight of God, we shall never say — ‘Oh I am so unworthy,’ because we shall know we are, beyond the possibility of stating it. As long as we are not quite sure that we are unworthy, God will keep narrowing us in until He gets us alone. Wherever there is any element of pride or of conceit, Jesus cannot expound a thing. He will take us through the disappointment of a wounded pride of intellect, through disappointments of heart. He will reveal inordinate affections — things over which we never thought He would have to get us alone. We listen to many things in classes, but they are not an exposition to us yet. They will be when God gets us alone over them.

My Utmost for His Highest
Measure for Measure
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Measure for Measure

In every corner
     of the dark triangle
sex spins its web; the characters
are ensnared; virtue
is its own undoing, lust posing
     as love. Life's innocent
need of itself is the prime sin.

And no-one able to explain why
at the margins of her habit
the fifteenth phase of the flesh
     so mercilessly dazzles.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Take Heart
     January 12



     About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. --- Acts 16:25.

     All of us exercise unconscious ministries. (Wind on the Heath (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The)) When we never dream we are affecting anybody, we are touching others all the time. We sing at midnight because God is with us and prisoners in other cells are cheered.

     We never know what we are doing when we do it. Like Faithful in the Valley of the Shadow, we lift our voices because our hearts are strong. And some poor Christian, stumbling on behind us also on the way to the Celestial City, thanks God and takes courage at the music. Be quite sure that the very humblest life is full of unconscious ministries. There is not a note of song we ever raise but the ear of some other prisoner will catch it. Words that we utter and then forget—a smile in passing, the clasp of hands in comradeship—have their work to do and will meet us in the dawn.

     This unconscious helpfulness is one of the chief ministries of happiness. Happiness is sometimes selfishness, but happiness is sometimes service. The one who resolves at all costs to be happy is generally a very miserable person. In this world the things we set our hearts on are often the things we never get. When anyone is genuinely happy, then happiness is unconscious benediction.

     The ones who can sing at midnight because God is with them are doing something for others all the time. To be happy when the shadows deepen and the cross is heavy is one of the finest of life’s unconscious ministries.

     I believe that much of our Christian service must always be of that unconscious character. I trust that when this life is over, you and I will each have the well done. That is the only thing worth living for, the only welcome that I want. But I have sometimes thought that the great surprise of the dawn will be the kind of thing for which it is the reward. Certain ministries of which I knew nothing as I went out and in among you will waken the trumpets on the other side.

     People who do their best always do more, though they are haunted by the sense of failure. Be good and true, be patient, be resolute. Leave your usefulness for God to estimate. He will see to that you do not live in vain.
--- George H. Morrison

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
On This Day   January 12
     The Hampton Court Conference

     How odd that the most famous Bible in history should bear the name of a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, ego-driven homosexual who rejected all demands for reform within the church.

     James VI of Scotland, son of imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, was raised in drafty Scottish castles by self-serving lords. He grew up religious and well-trained in theology. He went to church every day. But he was rude, rough, loud, conceited, and bisexually immoral. He was also shrewd. At age 37 he managed to succeed his cousin, Elizabeth I, as England’s monarch.

     As he traveled from Scotland to London, he met a group of Puritans bearing a “Millenary Petition” signed by nearly 1,000 pastors. It demanded renewal within the church. The Puritans, stirred by the Geneva translation of the Bible and by Foxe’s popular Book of Martyrs, wanted to purify the church.

     The established clergy opposed Puritan demands, and the new king realized his kingdom was torn. He convened a conference for church leaders at his Hampton Court estate on January 12, 1604, and the Puritans vigorously presented their concerns. James rejected their requests, sometimes thundering against them, white with rage. At the conclusion of the conference he flung his arm toward the Puritans, shouting, “I shall make them conform or I will harry them out of this land, or do worse.”

     Many of the dispirited Puritans, abandoning hope for the Anglican Church, began worshiping in small groups as they felt the Bible taught them. They were tagged Separatists, but from these persecuted cells came the Baptists in 1611, the Pilgrims who fled to America in 1620, and other dissenting groups.

     But on one issue at Hampton Court the king and Puritans had agreed. When Puritan John Rainolds requested a new translation of the Bible, James promptly approved it, saying, “I have never yet seen a Bible well-translated. But I think the Geneva is the worst.” Seven years later the Authorized Version was unveiled, ironically making vice-prone King James one of the best recognized names in English church history.

     The LORD controls rulers, just as he determines the course of rivers. We may think we are doing the right thing, but the LORD always knows what is in our hearts.
--- Proverbs 21:1-2.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 12

     “Ye are Christ’s." --- 1 Corinthians 3:23.

     “Ye are Christ’s.” You are his by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; his by his bloody purchase, for he counted down the price for your redemption; his by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to him; his by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of his brethren and joint-heirs. Labour practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Jesus. When tempted to sin, reply, “I cannot do this great wickedness, for I am Christ’s.” Immortal principles forbid the friend of Christ to sin. When wealth is before you to be won by sin, say that you are Christ’s, and touch it not. Are you exposed to difficulties and dangers? Stand fast in the evil day, remembering that you are Christ’s. Are you placed where others are sitting down idly, doing nothing? Rise to the work with all your powers; and when the sweat stands upon your brow, and you are tempted to loiter, cry, “No, I cannot stop, for I am Christ’s. If I were not purchased by blood, I might be like Issachar, crouching between two burdens; but I am Christ’s, and cannot loiter.” When the siren song of pleasure would tempt you from the path of right, reply, “Thy music cannot charm me; I am Christ’s.” When the cause of God invites thee, give thy goods and thyself away, for thou art Christ’s. Never belie thy profession. Be thou ever one of those whose manners are Christian, whose speech is like the Nazarene, whose conduct and conversation are so redolent of heaven, that all who see you may know that you are the Saviour’s, recognizing in you his features of love and his countenance of holiness. “I am a Roman!” was of old a reason for integrity; far more, then, let it be your argument for holiness, “I am Christ’s!”

          Evening - January 12

     “I have yet to speak on God’s behalf.” --- Job 36:2.

     We ought not to court publicity for our virtue, or notoriety for our zeal; but, at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed upon us for the good of others. A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but “a city set upon a hill;” he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all. Retirement may be lovely in its season, and to hide one’s self is doubtless modest, but the hiding of Christ in us can never be justified, and the keeping back of truth which is precious to ourselves is a sin against others and an offence against God. If you are of a nervous temperament and of retiring disposition, take care that you do not too much indulge this trembling propensity, lest you should be useless to the church. Seek in the name of him who was not ashamed of you to do some little violence to your feelings, and tell to others what Christ has told to you. If thou canst not speak with trumpet tongue, use the still small voice. If the pulpit must not be thy tribune, if the press may not carry on its wings thy words, yet say with Peter and John, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” By Sychar’s well talk to the Samaritan woman, if thou canst not on the mountain preach a sermon; utter the praises of Jesus in the house, if not in the temple; in the field, if not upon the exchange; in the midst of thine own household, if thou canst not in the midst of the great family of man. From the hidden springs within let sweetly flowing rivulets of testimony flow forth, giving drink to every passer-by. Hide not thy talent; trade with it; and thou shalt bring in good interest to thy Lord and Master. To speak for God will be refreshing to ourselves, cheering to saints, useful to sinners, and honouring to the Saviour. Dumb children are an affliction to their parents. Lord, unloose all thy children’s tongue.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 12

          JESUS, SAVIOR, PILOT ME

     Edward Hopper, 1818–1888

     Thou wilt show me the path of life. In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11 KJV)

     “Lord, save us; we perish,” the disciples cried, and instantly Christ arose to rebuke the winds of the storm and calm the sea. Today’s hymn expresses in 19th century sailor’s language the universal human need for divine help.

     Edward Hopper, a gentle, humble man, was a Presbyterian minister with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. His most fruitful ministry, however, was with the sailors at the small Church of the Sea and Land in the New York harbor area, where he ministered until his death. Hopper wrote today’s text especially for the spiritual needs of these sailors from around the world; it became their favorite hymn.

     “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” uses only three of the original six verses written by Dr. Hopper. One of the omitted stanzas is an interesting reminder of our constant need for Christ even when there are no disturbing storms and life seems calm.

     Though the sea be smooth and bright, sparkling with the stars of night, and my ship’s path be ablaze with the light of halcyon [peaceful] days, still I know my need of Thee; Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

     Edward Hopper died at the age of 70 as he was sitting peacefully in his study, pencil in hand, working on a new poem about heaven. At his funeral this tribute was given: “Suddenly the gentle, affectionate spirit of Edward Hopper entered the heavenly port, as he had requested—safely piloted by that never-failing friend, Jesus, whose divine voice was still tenderly whispering to him, ‘Fear not, I will pilot thee.’ ”

     Jesus, Savior, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea; unknown waves before me roll, hiding rocks and treach’rous shoal; chart and compass come from Thee—Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
     As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild; boist’rous waves obey Thy will when Thou say’st to them, “Be still.” Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
     When at last I near the shore, and the fearful breakers roar ’twixt me and the peaceful rest—then, while leaning on Thy breast, may I hear Thee say to me, “Fear not—I will pilot thee.”


     For Today: Psalm 89:9; 107:28–30; Matthew 8:23–27; James 1:6.

     Join the sailors’ chorus in a sincere plea to our faithful pilot for His constant guidance in our lives during this new year. Sing this prayer as you go ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Genesis 35 - 37
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


House Cleaning Genesis 35:1-7
s2-023 | 3-30-2014






Genesis 34-36
m2-021 | 4-02-2014





What Is Hate Speech? Genesis 37:1-5
s2-024 |4-06-2014






Genesis 37
m2-022 | 4-09-2014




     ==============================      ==============================


Genesis 35 - 37
Lean-into-GOD





Whole Hearted Devotion
Alistair Begg






Simply Jesus
Alistair Begg





Life, Liberty, Happiness
Alistair Begg






Teaching That Accords with Sound Doctrine 1
Alistair Begg





A Trustworthy Saying
Alistair Begg






Pastor and People
Alistair Begg





An Unashamed Worker
Alistair Begg






John Wesley: Origin of Evil
Fred Sanders | Biola University





Discernment: Decision Making
Chad Miller | Biola University






The Advent: Waiting for Christ
Lisa Igram | Biola University





Useful to the Master
Alistair Begg