30 Days of Psalms and Proverbs

30 Days of Psalms and Proverbs

Every year, I make it a point to read through the book of Psalms and Proverbs, and by taking two Hebrew language classes as part of my doctorate program, there’s a greater significance to this yearly practice.

Why 30 days of Psalms and Proverbs?

One, it is a great reminder of the value and weight of God’s words of wisdom and encouragement, the Psalms and Proverbs hold for us. Along with addressing themes close to humanity’s heart of seeking God, sadness, joy, and more, reading Psalms and Proverbs keeps the believer of His word, grounded in faith in God.

Second, for many, it is easy to start and stop a year-long plan. Obviously, reading the Bible is a lifetime discipline and not simply one that starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. There’s no start or stop, but rather a “when,” and reading the Psalms and Proverbs 30 Days of Psalms and Proverbsthroughout the year, and if my calculations (math is not my strongest suit) are correct, by going through the book of Psalms and Proverbs, on every month that has 30 days, we would have read them four times in one year.

The reading plan I use has a set of Psalms with one from Proverbs to be read each day, for thirty days, making it palpable. However, for a serious study of all the Psalms and Proverbs, I wouldn’t recommend the plan to be done, but rather devote the year instead, if possible and even then, no promise, in one year, one can finish a serious study of all the Psalms and Proverbs.

As an addendum, I would suggest reading C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, as an additional read, but either way, making it a ‘habit’ of reading through all the Psalms Proverbs is something I would recommend to anyone.

On CornerTable, an accountability group called “30 Days of Psalms and Proverbs,” which is open to anyone, and the point of the group, isn’t for serious discussion. However, I’m sure there is room for it, but instead, a place for encouragement and accountability to make reading through Psalms and Proverbs an addition to anyone’s life. If you’re interested in joining me and others there, here’s the direct link: https://cornertable.us/psalmsandproverbshttps://cornertable.us/psalmsandproverbs.
There’s a copy outlining reading the book of Psalms and Proverbs in thirty days available in the group for download.

So with the New Year around the corner, if there is any new habit or resolution to start, consider making it a part of your daily routine, even if it’s for thirty days, of reading the book of Psalms and Proverbs.

Fighting the Fear Within

First published on BellatorChristi.com,March 14, 2020.

It isn’t enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertainty, we are so sure that villains lurk around every corner that we will create them ourselves if we can’t find them – for while fear may keep us vigilant, it’s also fear that tears us apart – a fear that sadly exists only too often – outside the Twilight Zone.-Rod Sterling, Episode: “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.

Growing up, the Twilight Zone was a Saturday morning favorite, only to develop years later into a New Year’s and Thanksgiving tradition and watched first on SyFy and before the era of Netflix and Prime binging marathons. Ranging from spooky tales to social commentary on both politics and culture, there was always the anticipation of the start of a brief scene, followed by the recognized theme song, and finally the intro and ending commentary by Rod Sterling. Of all the episodes, one episode stands out especially in light of current events, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. With the subtle message surrounding suspicion and prejudice, Rod Sterling observed at the end:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices…to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill…and suspicion can destroy…and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own.”[1]

In many ways, not only in the field of apologetics but whether it’s a daily conversation, social media or simply searching for information, confirmation bias in the daily world can often rear its head and moving conversations from civility and rational understanding, to emotional-filled claims and searching for specific information to back up presumptions and personal beliefs. In the apologetics world, confirmation bias understood to be the tendency to search, interpret, recall, and even lean toward specific views that confirm one’s firm belief or claims. Confirmation bias can be seen as a form of cognitive bias to back up or hold up ambiguous evidence as proof for a firmly held existing position without consideration of either the fluidity of a situation or in many cases basing decisions to feed either overconfidence in personal beliefs or maintain face in light of contrary evidence. Confirmation bias in many cases seen not only in politics but emotionally charged ideas and beliefs and even persistence despite the presentation of contrary thoughts or ideas.

Somewhere on Youtube, there’s a video where the speaker presents a method called the 72-hour rule. The basis is, in any news event, no matter the topic, it takes 72 hours or three days, for enough details to emerge to warrant a response or idea of a given situation or topic. The basis for the 72-hour rule is one to instill calm versus panic, and logic over irrationality. As a character in the Twilight zone episode observed, in the video, the idea is to prevent the dissemination of rumors, bad information, and even paranoia and panic, and instead allow a time frame to gain enough if any information to make a decision or assessment about a topic in a calm, but logical manner.

With the fast-paced nature of news and the proliferation of social media posts quickly turning from one hot topic to another, there are many things to gain from both the 72-hour rule and the Twilight Zone episode. One is sometimes the perceived monsters might be human nature itself and the tendency to quickly be tossed from one side to another (Ephesians 4:14), due to the influence of the telephone game-like nature of social media and the rating push for news in media in the modern world. Especially when there are pressing matters affecting our world today, from rumors of possible wars to pandemics, there is a need for a call to calm and not only cooler heads, but the time allowed for information to process cycled through and eventually settle on the real story in the news or wherever one gets one information.

There is the need today for the time needed not only for real research not based on 140 characters, photo memes or “reshares”, but practicing the example of distinguishing primary sources from secondary sources. Either way, the tendency for everyone to weigh in with an opinion regardless of contemplating both the cost and the investment, demonstrates an observation Tom Nichols made in his article, “The Death of Expertise”[2] where everyone with access to the Internet becomes an expert without the need of the expertise. Instead of genuine sharing of information, which is beneficial regardless of the side, everyone fights to confirm their side of a view without contemplating the information that lays in the middle. So instead of productive discussion, discussions become criticism and in some cases accusations on Maple Street while the truth lays within reach of the residents arguing and posturing.

The danger of confirmation bias is the ease the Internet has become to find not only general or primary sources to research, but in many cases, secondary sources that offer some information, but enough opinion to lean one way or the other without really providing any real information to either party. Confirmation bias can lead to overconfidence which borders on arrogance (1 Samuel 2:3; Romans 12:3; Luke 18:9-14; Proverbs 12:15). If there is anything to gain from a television episode, an article on the loss of expertise or simply from a major event that ends up dividing than uniting, in the quest for understanding, it is easy to get caught up in enough misinformation where neither party comes to an understanding nor truth can come to light.

In apologetics, where the goal is to defend and share the faith and the truth of the Scriptures, it is easy to encounter many times, people who are so determined to not think beyond their own beliefs or refuse to look at any evidence beyond what they are determined to look at, conversations can easily turn to argument and rather than develop relationships or unity, discord can instead take the place. If there is something to learn from “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and especially during times of crisis when social media especially is flooded with information from different directions, sometimes the simplest thing is instead of persistence, stepping back from a situation and taking some time, even 72 hours to come back and look at what is presented along with countering evidence with different eyes, being open to learning and not simply to proclaim.

But also, in times of panic, when there is a need for calm, instead of presenting waves after waves of information, less from a standpoint of insisting on reading the

20180702142343-11656twilightmonsters-jpg-ddf1f0458ffcba0251f36c8
“The Monsters are due on Maple Street” aired on March 4, 1960.

information, there’s a need to turn the focus on efforts to encourage, develop dialogue or simply be there to listen which is the hardest for anyone to do in any conversation. Humanity lives in a time and place, where information is now endless and changing at a rapid pace. In an instant, all forms of normal no longer become normal, but instead of looking for scapegoats or pointing out what’s wrong with everyone else, there comes a need instead to look for common ground, and ways to work together as a team, not as rivals. If we are to take anything away from the episode “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” it is how easy to give in to fear and even suspicion and let it destroy the best of us and instead turn us into the worse and even the very monsters we fear are hiding in the unknown.

As Christians, we are called to not give in to the spirit of fear (1 Timothy 1:7 ) because we know no matter what, all things will work for the glory of God and a testament to Him (Romans 8:28). In the Bible, “fear not” is used approximately 80 times and it’s because God knows the enemy, Satan, uses our fear against us to turn our eyes away from Jesus Christ, to turn our focus God is in control despite whatever it is going on, and we all have a reason for the hope we have to share with others. (1 Peter 3:15-16). Despite what is happening in the world right now or what could happen, there will always be something happening on a day to day basis in our 24-hour news saturated live. However, God is in control and we have the opportunity each day to serve and represent Him by the way we choose responsibly to respond to news events, to daily life circumstances and more than anything, to respond like a living testament to Jesus Christ.

[1] “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”. 2020. En.Wikipedia.Org. Accessed March 14, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monsters_Are_Due_on_Maple_Street.

[2] Nichols, Tom, and Tom Nichols. 2014. “The Death Of Expertise”. The Federalist. Accessed March 14, 2020. https://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/.

About the Author

VT Clark received a Masters in Theological Studies from Liberty University, Rawlings School of Divinity, and a Bachelors in Christian Ministry with a minor in biblical studies. VT is currently working on a certificate in Apologetics from Biola University while waiting to begin a doctorate in May in the Bible Exposition program. In the meantime, when not teaching Bible studies or apologetics, VT is a fulltime geek and nerd whose focus is on family, missions both local and overseas, and culture.

 

© 2020. BellatorChristi.com.

Resurrection and the Christian Faith: An Apologetic Defense

Background: Originally submitted as part of a final paper requirement for Systematic Theology II on November 29, 2019

Introduction

A crucial foundation of the Christian faith lays in the basis of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary and as a result, His resurrection from the dead three days later. Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14,” Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Chris whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.”. The impact of the resurrection for believers is  Jesus is God, and the authenticity granted to His ministry (Matthew 16:1-4), to the event witnessed by hundreds (1 Corinthians15:3-8), demonstrates the power God has to raise the dead, giving hope to Christians of a  future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Nevertheless, the concept of the resurrection of the dead is not unique to Christianity. In the Jewish faith, belief in the resurrection of the dead is stressed in the Mishnah[1] and is twofold, which, if denied could result in the denier losing a share of the world to come for them. One belief stemming from the Jewish faith is that the Torah is from Heaven. The other belief stemming from the Mishnah is the belief in the resurrection of the dead itself. The result showing the Jewish faith had a prior understanding of resurrection though differing from Christianity and how it applies to Jesus as Messiah.  According to scholar David Mishkin, traditional Judaism, while containing mixed interpretations held two dominating views[2]: the presence of a messiah but pertaining metaphorically to the nation of Israel. For the Christian faith, Matthew 8:17, Act 8:32-33, and 1 Peter 2:22 points toward Jesus and with the resurrection, the challenge as C.S. Lewis describes in his book, Mere Christianity, Jesus is either a madman, a liar or he was a charismatic teacher or with the Resurrection, Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God.[3] Even in modern times, there are scholars such as the collective group which calls themselves, “The Jesus Seminar”[4] in a quest to understand the historical Jesus.[5]  By debating on the “Jesus of Faith”[6] and attempting to understand the deity of Christ, the end goal is to provide to the public whether or not the sayings and deeds by Jesus are considered authentic. Some of the skepticism has included the names of the twelve disciples close to Jesus. As a result, the resurrection has created a theological boundary[7]   between Christianity and the Jewish faith as well as other faiths, while based on the historical and biblical evidence, there is reliability in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a foundation for the Christian faith and belief.

Doctrinal Basis for the Resurrection

Understanding and belief in the Resurrection factors in every area of the Christian belief and practice, but especially as noted by scholar, Stephen Thornhill, in the spiritual transformation of the believer.[8] For the Apostle Paul, the doctrine regarding the Resurrection played a central theme in his preaching and writings. Also, Paul is considered a witness to the post-resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Paul’s preaching during his missionary journeys, Paul reflected consistently Jesus, verified by virtue of his resurrection is the Christ foretold in prophecy, recounted the living witnesses who saw Jesus post-resurrection and because of the Resurrection there was reassurance for believers especially for themselves eternally and when it came time for the Lord to return and resurrect believers via resurrection of the dead. Noted is that there are two kinds of resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection and the resurrection of the dead, which happens upon the Second Coming.

The Second Coming to which the Apostle Paul referred is essentially stating that Christ’s resurrection serves as a reminder there will come a time after God casts final judgment and in the Second Coming or parousia (παρουσία)[9] believers both living and dead reconciled by God. (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) establishes for all believers, the beginning of the eschatological resurrection and hope. During this time is the main harvest of believers. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and Philippians 3:11) followed with the resurrection of unbelievers, as noted in John 5:28-29 and Revelation 20:11-15.

While the Resurrection is found in 1 Timothy 1:10,   1 Corinthians 15 holds the New Testament’s earliest post-resurrection account of the appearances of Jesus and an affirmation for the groundwork for the Christian faith.  The Apostle Paul, writing about the Resurrection, begins with verses 1-34, with a demonstration of the Resurrection and what it means to Christians of the future reality for the resurrection of the dead. In verses 35-58, Paul gives believers hope in the eventual bodily resurrection of believers beginning with the first fruits of Jesus’ own resurrection and show of God’s power over death. A fundamental doctrine for believers, throughout Acts, the emphasis for the preaching rests on the Resurrection (Acts 2:24,32,3:15,26;4:10;10:40;13:30-37). Theologian, Henry Thiessen when writing about the Resurrection emphasized three qualities present[10]: the actual event, bodily resurrection and the uniqueness of the Resurrection. In addition, there is recognition the resurrection provides believers four results of which: attesting to Christ’s deity, acceptance of Christ’s work and ministry, establishment of Jesus Christ as our high priest and through Christ only, believers have repentance, forgiveness, regeneration and the Holy Spirit (John 16:7; Acts 2:33; 3:25;1 Peter 1:3).

Overall the Resurrection for Christians bears testimony to Jesus Christ as the Son of God and a reminder for believers of optimistic hope they have in Christ alone. Death in its context is not to be feared or seen as one of terror or an unknown part of transition, but the significance for “when he rose from the dead Jesus was the “first fruits”[11] (1 Corinthians 15:20,23) and representing a new kind of life for humanity to look forward, so not only is their salvation, but because of Christ, and eternal life which was marked free of weakness, aging and death.

The doctrinal significance lays in the centrality the resurrection plays along with-it being part of the early creed. If Jesus had not risen as promised and claim, then the Christian faith had no standing. Looking at the current issues which faced Christian theology, W.Marxsen addressed how the Resurrection played a decisive part of which, if believers were uncertain or approach the belief in the resurrection with hesitation, “there is a risk of jeopardizing more or less everything”[12] to the a Christian faith which is based on the reality the Resurrection had to happen, and Jesus rose from the dead, three days later.

Historical Claims of the Resurrection

Beginning first with the New Testament, historical claims to the authenticity of the resurrection began with the Apostle Paul and his personal experience with Jesus on the Damascus Road. Despite pressure from disbelieving Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, and even the Roman government, belief in the claims of the Risen Christ grew and along with with it the growth of the Christian church. In addition to the Gospels, accounts of the resurrection also appear in non-biblical sources, such as in the writings of Josephus in A.D. 37. Writing about Jesus in Antiquities of the Jews and quoted by Eusebius, Josephus’s writings, presents Jesus in a matter of fact way, although Josephus himself is not a Christian but Jewish. His writings lend to the authenticity and historicity of the resurrection accounts while mentioning Jesus, the focus of his writing is less about Jesus and more about Ananus, a priest, and focuses on describing the execution of James [13]. The creditability attributed to Josephus’ account is the information provided about the timing and background to support the writings and accounts of the apostles and eyewitnesses.

Early Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine recognized the importance of the resurrection and its role with the Christian Faith.[14] Augustin appealed to several contributing factors as evidence why the Resurrection was to be believed in and cited as evidence, the resurrection coming from created nature, evidence recorded in human history, and appealing to the desires and experiences of the witnesses to the resurrection although there are deniers in the historical, scholarship and critical explanation of the resurrection such as David Mishkin who writes while he acknowledges the matter of faith when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the matter of it happening presents an obstacle.[15] Throughout the Bible, doctrinally the resurrection plays a part for the Christian faith as it echoes from Isaiah 25:7-8; 25:19 and to Revelations 21:4.

There is no question on the historical and medical reality of the crucifixion. Dr. Joseph W. Bergeron, a surgeon, examined descriptions of Christ’s crucifixion as described in the Synoptic Gospels, only to find it consistent with other historical records of the crucifixion. In line with modern medical knowledge,[16] Bergeron found the shock and progressive blood loss is an acceptable explanation for the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross. The resurrection, however, while it cannot be scientifically proven, as stated in 1 Corinthians 15, points to an event that was significant enough for witnesses to be willing to continue to testify and base their faith in Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, the Resurrection is not merely limited to Jesus Christ, but as laid out by theologian Steve Edward Harris, there are three kinds of resurrections that are seen in the light of Jesus’ resurrection, as explained in the New Testament.[17] First of all, there is the particular and temporary resurrection via divine power, the singular resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15), and then there is the universal resurrection on the last day as described in Revelations and is the promised hope for believers.  Believers’ eternal hope is closely connected to the resurrection and as laid out in the words of the Apostle Paul, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:16)

When it comes to the historical Jesus, what is recognized are the ties between the Gospels, the letters of Paul and with the “People of Israel”[18] Otherwise, there is the question why would anyone prior to the Enlightenment and especially those dedicated to pagan beliefs, would have bother to care about a first-century Jew, claiming to be God. In the context of the resurrection, for a man born, died and raised a Jew[19] Scriptures documentation of the Resurrection (Matt 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1:21-25) notes the hasty burial of Jesus which is consistent with the Mosaic Laws’ requirement. Based on the tradition recorded in the New Testament and attested in the Mishnah, the practice refers to the command laid out in Deuteronomy 21:22-23. When it comes to burial rules about an execution, an individual executed by hanging cannot be left hanging overnight; otherwise, it would violate the commands laid out for the Jewish faith.[20] Although there are disagreements when it comes to some parts of the resurrection, there is unifying agreement for the motivations for Jesus to be buried according to Jewish custom and for the reactions of the disciples.

Something significant had to have happened for belief in the Resurrection to become rooted in the emerging Christian faith and for the believers. Dr. Gary Habermas, in his paper, Experiences of the Risen Jesus, listed eight points, four of which are Pauline based and the remaining four from other sources. One of the eight points is, contemporary scholars genuinely agreed Paul was a primary witness to the first resurrection and whose claims help substantiate the belief in the resurrected Jesus.[21]Even atheist Michael Martin attributed Paul’s witness as evidence of a contemporary witness for a post-resurrection Jesus.[22]

Further testimony to the historical claims of the Resurrection includes Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-A.D. 165) who penned Dialogue with Trypho, wherein the beginning of chapter 108, Martyr recorded a letter which was circulated within the Jewish community and in the contents was the description of a Jewish tomb. During the reign of Tiberius, Tacitus(A.D. 56-A.D.120) records the execution of Jesus Christ under the reign of Judea by Pontius Pilatus. The writings of Tacitus described as careful and precise,  lacked Christian influence. The result is not only the authenticity of the writings, but his writings are known for mentioning Jesus as being the reason for Nero using Christians as scapegoats, In addition,  Pontius Pilate mention in  Tacitus writings, bolstered the reliance on Tacitus work for supplying historical support to the authenticity of Jesus and Pilate as historical figures. [23]

Recounting Saint Augustine’s ( A.D. 354-A.D.430) Easter octave of 418, Gerald O’Collins notes Augustine telling those present, “Let us believe in Christ crucified, but in him who rose again on the third day. That is the faith that distinguishes us from the pagans, distinguishes us from the Jews, the faith by which we believe that Christ has risen from the dead.[24]  Augustine sermon goes back to the Apostle Paul telling Timothy in his letters, to remember in part, the gospel lays in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Due to this, the Christian faith differs from other religions with the centrality of the Gospel based on the belief in the Bible, Jesus proving to be God via his resurrection. Matthew 27:25, ark 1:24-25 and Matthew 16:13-17 bear testament of the impact the resurrection had on the disciples and witnesses. For O’Collins, Easter in itself, is a time to know the risen Christ, and O’Reilly agreed with Michael Levering reasoning when it comes to faith, it “cannot proceed without demonstrating the truth historically.”[25]

For the resurrection to have been a hoax or even based on legend, warnings, threats, and e imprisonments of the disciples and witnesses would not have been necessary. The lack of a body and the bribing of the Roman soldiers as documented in Matthew 28:12-15, indicates despite the lack of historical proof, an event had happened which cause enough concern before burial, the Jewish leaders ensured the tomb was sealed to prevent the disciples from mimicking a resurrection. (Matthew 27:62-66). In Acts, Luke records the priests, Sadducees, and even captain of the Temple commanded the people to not speak or teach about Jesus. (Acts 4:1,2, 18, 21). The overwhelming support from the Gospels, church fathers and even from sources outside of the Christian faith in writings,   demonstrated not only the historical authenticity of Jesus Christ but due to the impact of the Resurrection, the event motivated both believers and non-believers to recognize the difference in the Christian faith from all other faiths.

Challenges to the Resurrection 

Belief in the Resurrection came with its challenges. In A.D. 180, a pagan philosopher by the name of Celsus wrote the first comprehensive challenge against Christianity titled, “The True Doctrine” or Alethes Logos. According to Celsus, he writes how Christians were misunderstanding Plato’s doctrine of reincarnation and called the belief in the corporeal body being raised and reconstituted by God as absurd.[26] Prior to the Enlightenment, challenges, and questions regarding the Resurrection was divided into two evaluations:  Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians whom regarded the New Testament as both inspired and historical truth and the Jewish detractors of the Christian church[27], whom held the thought, the resurrection was either a mistake or fraud and upheld the already stated belief, the body seen in Matthew 28:11-15:25, had in fact been taken by the disciples.

Attempts have been made to connect the Resurrection with the mythology of Osiris. The basis for explaining the disciple’s belief Jesus Christ according to Dr. Gerald  Bostock was speculating Paul, in his search for a coherent doctrine of the resurrection, utilized the Egyptian myth of Osiris in order to explain the resurrection of Jesus Christ.[28] Multiple theories attempted to reach plausible explanations regarding the Resurrection. Theories ranging from hallucinations, conversion disorder, bereavement-related visions and even in his book, The Miracle Myth, Larry Shapiro tried to present the resurrection and supernatural as unjustified and implausible to have happened.

Not surprising, as Michael Licona was exploring the topic of the arguments against the historicity and resurrection of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, he found three arguments that were used to dispute the plausibility of it happening. One of the three arguments was historians rejecting the possibility of miracles. Karl Barth is one such individual said to have an aversion in accepting biblical miracles as proof of the resurrection. Another argument is the reincarnation was the invention of the early church, and Licona surmised the final argument lays in the failure of the disciples to have expected Jesus’ violent death and eventual resurrection. In modern-day arguments, Bart Erhman expressed the belief there is no historical claim for the resurrection, yet if this is the case, then it is a contradiction to the worlds of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians.

According to Ehrman, he questioned as a historian of the lack of proof for the resurrection, unlike what is present for the crucifixion, and faith in itself was not substantial to say a resurrection had happened.[29]Ehrman also challenges the lack of proof in the resurrection, stating the Apostle Paul did not prove the resurrection and was assuming Jesus Christ rose from the dead.[30] Paul’s claims are even attributed to simply citing a confession or creed, which according to Ehrman[31] Paul, was familiar with and used as a basis to explain not only the Resurrection but even the future resurrection of believers. For Barth Ehrman, there is no proof other than belief. Reflective is understanding outside of the miraculous and supernatural, the ability for anyone to go against the laws of nature and return from the dead. While there is historical and even medical support for the crucifixion, the resurrection reflected a different nature for scholars to grasp, especially outside the realm of the miraculous and with little evidence aside from faith.

When it comes to abandoning the miraculous as proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, one factor which plays into historians unwillingness to consider this as a factor attributed to the Enlightenment, which led to an anti-supernatural bias and attribution support for miracles to be a basis as bad scholarship, another consideration was embracing miracles is a challenge for skeptics and even historians, there is no ignoring the historical fact, not only the effect the resurrection had on the disciples which Chuck Colson, once said, unlike Watergate, there was no reason for twelve men to testify Jesus had risen from the dead at their own risk[32], but during the 40 days of Jesus resurrection and then ascension, Jesus Christ made ten specific appearances to various individuals and groups. In one case, 500 disciples and the apostles witness Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance. (Matt 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18;1 Cor 15:6). Unlike legends or mythologies such as Osiris, which take time to develop and take root, belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ led to the rapid growth of the Christian church and conversion of believers.

Besides, had the resurrection of Jesus Christ been based on a lie or a hoax, the disciples would have no reason to have gone back to Jerusalem, especially if the tomb was not empty or there was a body that would have to discredit their claims. Throughout the centuries and even in modern times, there is still an ongoing debate about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, despite continue scholar debates, there is no denying the historical reality of Jesus Christ. When it comes to the resurrection, Dr. Gary Habermas’s methodology when it comes to the resurrection is a “minimal facts”[33] approach to the resurrection. The theological and doctrinal reality of the resurrection is that it is a significant event that led to spiritual transformation to witnesses, and because of it, it is a significant core foundation for the Christian faith.

Conclusion

            Unlike other religions, Christianity through the centuries has stood out to be unique in its core foundation, and the faith-based on 1 Corinthians 15. Dr. Gary Habermas recognized that when it came to the Christian faith, there was not a faith that existed outside the core foundation of the resurrection[34]. The resurrection of Jesus is dependent on the belief three days after Jesus Christ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. He rose from the dead three days later and prove He is the Son of God.  For someone to have survived the crucifixion and escaped under heavy guard from a tomb would have been a remarkable feat, especially given in the context of the space and time for the Gospels.

G.K. Chesterton vividly described the Resurrection in his book, The Everlasting Man, where the disciples realized in different ways the growing significance of what they were witnessing of the post-resurrection Jesus and “God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening, but the dawn.”[35] In three days, humanity’s relationship with God will change through the resurrection. The consequences of the Resurrection being a hoax would have outweighed the benefits and the impact of the moment for the people of the time transcended across time and space. In every other area of the gospel truth, the resurrection became the point of which “all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would matter”[36] despite the claims of skeptics and non-believers.

Understanding the Resurrection is not a simple study, but multi-faceted, and many such as Dr. Gary Habermas have devoted a lifetime studying and understanding the theological and doctrinal properties. While the New Testament does not directly describe the resurrection, the New Testament and the biblical account in itself are considered reliable accounts.  There is no question the theological and doctrinal consequences for not believing in the historicity and supernatural claims of Christianity, but along with it, the effects of not believing in the inerrancy of the Bible as the genuine, reliable and authentic source of God’s authority and wisdom.

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Baruch Brody. “Jewish Reflections on the Resurrection of the Dead.” The Torah u-madda journal. 17 (January 1, 2017): 93–122.

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Chesterton, G. K. The Everlasting Man. [1st]. ed. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925.

Colson, Charles .“The Paradox of Power,” Power to Change, http://www.powertochange.ie/changed/index_Leaders.

Crossan, John Dominic. “The Resurrection of Jesus in Its Jewish Context.” Neotestamentica. 37, no. 1 (2003): 29–57.

Dale Allison, “Explaining the Resurrection: Conflicting Convictions,” Journal for the study of the historical Jesus. 3 (London, Eng. ; Continuum Pub, 2005), 117–133.

Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. 2015.

Evans, Craig A. “Jewish Burial Traditions and the Resurrection of Jesus.” Journal for the study of the historical Jesus. 3, no. 2 (2005): 233–248.

Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009.

Habermas, Gary, “The Case for Christ’s Resurrection” (2004). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 110.http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/110.

Habermas, Gary R., and John Ackerberg. Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith? Revised. Lynchburg, Virginia: GaryHabermas.com, 2015.

Habermas, Gary R. “Experiences of the Risen Jesus: The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection” 45, no. 3. Dialog: A Journal of Theology 45 (2006): 288–297. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=21909880&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Habermas, Gary, “Jesus’ Resurrection and Contemporary Criticism: an Apologetic (part II)” (1990). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 25. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/25.

Harris, Steven Edward. “On the Three Kinds of Resurrection of the Dead” 20, no. 1. International Journal of Systematic Theology 20 (2018): 8–30. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=127900405&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

The Jesus Seminar – Westar Institute”. 2019. Westar Institute. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.westarinstitute.org/projects/the-jesus-seminar/.

 

Levering, Matthew. “Historical Memory and the Resurrection of Jesus: Encountering the Risen Christ.” International journal of systematic theology. 20, no. 2 (April 1, 2018): 157–185.

Lewis, C. S. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. [San Francisco, Calif.]: Harper: San Francisco: California, 2002.

Licona, Mike. The Resurrection of Jesus : A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633420&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

MacArthur. John. 1 Corinthians Chicago: Illinois Moody Press.

Martin, Michael. The Case Against Christianity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991. Accessed November 4, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Mishkin, David. “The emerging Jewish views of the messiahship of Jesus and their bearing on the question of his resurrection.” HTS Teologiese Studies 71, no. 1 (2015). Gale Academic OneFile (accessed November 4, 2019). https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A458646364/AONE?u=vic_liberty&sid=AONE&xid=3c96583c.

O’Collins, Gerald. “St Augustine as Apologist for the Resurrection of Christ” 69, no. 3. Scottish Journal of Theology 69 (2016): 326–340. Accessed 2019. https://www-cambridge-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/core/article/st-augustine-as-apologist-for-the-resurrection-of-christ/A247FD6CEB0EFD59B88868F4B4486096.

“Strong’s Greek: 3952. Παρουσία (Parousia) — A Presence, A Coming”. Biblehub.Com, Last modified 2019. https://biblehub.com/greek/3952.htm.

Thiessen, Henry Clarence. Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977.

Thornhill, Anthony C. “The resurrection of Jesus and spiritual (trans)formation.” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 5, no. 2 (2012): 243+. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed November 4, 2019). https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A327357690/AONE?u=vic_liberty&sid=AONE&xid=9b8099a6.

The Footnotes:

[1] Body Baruch. “Jewish Reflections on the Resurrection of the Dead.” The Torah u-madda journal. 17 (January 1, 2017). 94.

[2] David Mishkin. “The emerging Jewish views of the messiahship of Jesus and their bearing on the question of his resurrection.” HTS Teologiese Studies 71, no. 1 (2015). Gale Academic Onefile (accessed November 4, 2019). https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A458646364/AONE?u=vic_liberty&sid=AONE&xid=3c96583c 3.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. [San Francisco, Calif.]: Harper, San Francisco, 2002. 50-51.

 

[4] “The Jesus Seminar – Westar Institute”. 2019. Westar Institute. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.westarinstitute.org/projects/the-jesus-seminar/.

 

[5]Mike Licona, 3 The Resurrection of Jesus : A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633420&site=ehost-live&scope=site.,21.

 

[6] Gary Habermas. . Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith? Revised. Lynchburg, Virginia: GaryHabermas.com, 2015.4.

 

[7] David Mishkin. “The emerging Jewish views of the messiahship of Jesus and their bearing on the question of his resurrection.” HTS Teologiese Studies 71, no. 1 (2015). Gale Academic Onefile (accessed November 4, 2019). https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A458646364/AONE?u=vic_liberty&sid=AONE&xid=3c96583c 3.

, 4.

 

[8] Anthony Thornhill, “The resurrection of Jesus and spiritual (trans)formation.” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 5, no. 2 (2012): Gale Academic Onefile (accessed November 4, 2019). https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A327357690/AONE?u=vic_liberty&sid=AONE&xid=9b8099a6.243.

 

[9] “Strong’s Greek: 3952. Παρουσία (Parousia) — A Presence, A Coming”, Biblehub.Com, Last modified 2019, https://biblehub.com/greek/3952.htm.

 

[10] Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1977.145.

[11] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2009. 608.

 

[12] Gary Habermas. “The Case for Christ’s Resurrection” (2004). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 110.http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/110. 159.

 

[13] Mike Licona. The Resurrection of Jesus : A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633420&site=ehost-live&scope=site.   236.

[14] Gerald O’Collins Augustine as Apologist for the Resurrection of Christ” 69, no. 3. Scottish Journal of Theology 69 (2016). Accessed 2019. https://www-cambridge-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/core/article/st-augustine-as-apologist-for-the-resurrection-of-christ/A247FD6CEB0EFD59B88868F4B4486096,326.

 

[15] Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. New York: New Press, 2013.160.

 

[16] Joseph W. Bergeron. “The Crucifixion of Jesus: Review of Hypothesized Mechanisms of Death and Implications of Shock and Trauma-Induced Coagulopathy,” Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine 19, 2012, http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/science/article/pii/S1752928X11001193111.

 

[17] Steven Edward Harris. “On the Three Kinds of Resurrection of the Dead” 20, no. 1. International Journal of Systematic Theology 20 (2018. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=127900405&site=ehost-live&scope=site 9.

 

[18] Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. New York: New Press, 2013.160.

[19] John Dominic Crossan “The Resurrection of Jesus in Its Jewish Context.” Neotestamentica. 37, no. 1 (2003), 29.

 

[20] Craig A. Evans “Jewish Burial Traditions and the Resurrection of Jesus.” Journal for the study of the historical Jesus. 3, no. 2 (2005), 238.

 

[21] Gary Habermas “Experiences of the Risen Jesus: The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection” 45, no. 3. Dialog: A Journal of Theology 45 (2006) http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=21909880&site=ehost-live&scope=site, 289.

 

[22] Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991. Accessed November 4, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central 81.

 

[23] Mike Licona.  The Resurrection of Jesus : A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633420&site=ehost-live&scope=site.   243.

[24] Augustine, Saint. Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons. Baltimore: Catholic University of America Press, 1959. Accessed November 6, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central. (sermon 234.3).

 

[25] Matthew Levering. “Historical Memory and the Resurrection of Jesus: Encountering the Risen Christ.” International journal of systematic theology. 20, no. 2 (April 1, 2018) 30.

 

[26] Celsus. On the True Doctrine : A Discourse Against the Christians. Cary: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1987. Accessed November 3, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central. 105.

 

[27] Allison Dale. “Explaining the Resurrection: Conflicting Convictions,” Journal for the study of the historical Jesus. 3 (London, Eng. ; Continuum Pub, 2005),117.

 

[28] D.G. Bostock. “Osiris and the Resurrection of Christ” 112, no. 8. The Expository Times 112 (2001): 265–271. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1177/001452460111200804. 266.

 

[29] Bart D. Erhman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. 2015. 72.

[30] Ibid ,75.

 

[31]   Bart D. Erhman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. 2015. 75.

[32] Charles Colson.“The Paradox of Power,” Power to Change, http://www.powertochange.ie/changed/index_Leaders.

 

[33] Mike Licona. . The Resurrection of Jesus : A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2010. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=633420&site=ehost-live&scope=site. 279.

[34] Gary Habermas. , “Jesus’ Resurrection and Contemporary Criticism : an Apologetic (part II)” (1990). Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 25. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/25. 159.

[35] G.K. Chesterton. The Everlasting Man. [1st]. ed. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925.142.

 

[36] John Macarthur. 1 Corinthians Chicago: Moody Press 398.

The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics Book Review

Awareness about Apologetics is growing, especially as society becomes more post-Christian, but so is the need to understand, Apologetics simply isn’t for the academics, but for everyone. The book, The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics, takes Apologetics from an academic understanding to presenting Apologetics in a manner for the layman congregation member to not only understand what Apologetics is but the vital role it plays as part of the personal discipleship experience. Composed of 15 chapters, of which are broken down into three units.

Brian Chilton’s book supplies a manual in navigating the apologetic waters in 51-n4jocm-ryl-sx331-bo1-204-203-200understanding the role of Apologetics, the biblical basis, and the practical application. One observation provided in the book is recognizing culture is secularized, and there is a need not only for pastoral staffs but the congregation themselves, to know how to engage non-believers, beyond evangelism. Non-believers are asking hard questions and simply “because it’s in the Bible” is not enough as an answer.

Paul provides an excellent example in Acts 17. His engagement in the public marketplace is an example of how to talk with non-believers without watering down the message.

Brian Chilton lays out the case for the layman, still unfamiliar with Apologetics, or maybe think they lack the skills the importance of having a foundation in Apologetics. Especially essential and highlighted in the book is the need for Apologetics when it comes to addressing the younger generation. With growing cynicism and skepticism growing among the youth in many cases, the book becomes a contributing resource to understand not only the history but the why’s Apologetics needs to be incorporated actively both at church and in the daily lives of a believer.

Helpful is the suggested method for the reader when it comes to engaging in Apologetics, especially after highlighting the core essentials of Apologetics and the common objections brought to Apologetics. In many cases, Apologetics may be seen as “for the scholars.” Still, the book informative layout of critical topics, historical basis for Apologetics and the Bible, brings to light the necessity apologetics is needed for the Christian faith. Especially true when the reminder is, any defense of any topic is engaging in some form of apologetic. Apologetics is about presenting foundational truths that support the Christian faith and the reasons for the “what” and “why” of the Christian faith as found not only spiritually but also historically and culturally.

Whether one is new to Apologetics, beginner, or seasoned in their understanding of Apologetics, The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics is a helpful and essential companion for them. Especially of help are new students, the congregation, and even the church itself a way to gain a useful method for engaging others when it comes to the Christian faith.

For myself, I hope to have space and group one day to lead and teach a book study using The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics both to encourage others to rethink Apologetics but to get involved in adding Apologetics with their evangelism.

Thoughts about Ephesians 4:7-16 and Church Unity

Going through the New Testament, while there are many commands for unity, it is not surprising to see many examples of disunity as well among believers and the church. One example is in writing Corinthians, and Paul addresses the in-fighting the Corinthians were having not only amongst themselves but in many cases with him. However, as the unfolding passage for Ephesians 4:7-16 stands for believers who make up the church, disunity is not something to be ignored, but addressed biblically. For the post-modern church, an essential need for unity is the growing presence of secular, humanistic thinking which not only pervades modern society but also has begun to manifest itself within the church. While God has imbued believers with different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1) which together are essential for serving the Lord and for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) working together as one (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), believers are not brought through Jesus Christ to work independently but in harmony with one an another.

Disunity is a specific factor of individuals and groups working together. The sanctification of the believer is a daily process, but one which each individual embarks differently and mature differently from the other. However, while one member may seem weaker or immature (1 Corinthians 12:21-22), it is essential to find resolution and common grounds for the church as the body to work together for the edification and glory of God. Unity becomes an essential part of the Christian growth and walks, in order to encourage spiritual maturation and growth, while equipping each other to be ready for ministry through unity and knowledge of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13b).

Passage Context

Literary Style

Reading Ephesians initially, the epistle comes across as Paul’s letters, but buried within the text is a letter filled with complex sentences, rich theology and in one example from 1:3-14 a style is known as barakah, or the “praise cry” with gratitude to for blessing His people. The assumption has been, the writing of Ephesians is a reflection of Paul’s familiarity with rhetoric and the style then reflected in this particular letter by Paul. Other assumptions have been the style of Ephesians would fall into “epideictic rhetoric,” which goes from praise and honor and vices versus virtues in order for the writing to address concerns about the church. Ephesians have been suggested to be a homily, sermon and even a wisdom speech.

Author George Osborne considered Ephesians to be “one of the most difficult books in the New Testament” and church father Chrysostom (A.D. 349-407) used the term, ὑπέρογκος or hyperonkos to describe Ephesians as “sublime” and “difficult.” According to Erasmus, belief is Peter was referencing Ephesians in 2 Peter 3:16. The literary style of Ephesians is seen as anything, but simple, and instead one in which the rich theological traits of the Christian faith were both explored and pursued the growth and maturation of the church body.

For Author Frank Thielman, he notes three features of Ephesians considered unusual: First, the number of long sentences, presence of grammatical and lexical ambiguity and how it affects the meaning of the text and finally, Thielman considered Ephesians as a “highly redundant text.” The presumption is the effect of making Ephesians an obscure text. Scholars have long debated the usage of specific words, develop theories on Paul’s style of writing and overall, created a letter with an unusual style of writing while capturing the thematic elements of addressing the need for unity within the church body, exalting Christ and while filled with high theological content, does not address local problems. Instead, Ephesians conveys a Jewish style homily.

When it comes to the authorship of Ephesians, scholar Ernest Best stated the author must have been Jewish Christian, someone who is at home writing in Greek and instead of writing in a simplistic style, the writing is sophisticated. Best notes while in the ancient world it is not unheard of for pseudonymous writings, and known to have occurred in other books such as Isaiah to have different authors. The basis of who is the author of Ephesians stems from the fact, until modern times, Paul was considered to have written Ephesians (1:1; 3:1). However, church fathers such as Ignatius (A.D. 50- A.D. 180), Polycarp (A.D. 69 – A.D. 155) and Clement of Rome (A.D. 35- A.D. 99) had raised questions if Paul was the author and beginning in the nineteenth central, critical scholars have raised the question if Paul is the author or another individual. The basis for the questions stems from the use of language and style which, when compared to Paul’s other literary writing styles differed. When compared to Colossians, authored by Paul, Ephesians has comparable similarities.

Historical Background

Examining the historical background of Ephesians, at the time of the writing, Paul was a prisoner though scholars differ on where Paul would have written Ephesians and if written when he was in Caesarea as referenced in Acts 24:27, in A.D. 57-59, or in Roman (Acts 28:30) in A.D. 60-62. The consensus, however, is Paul was under Roman imprisonment. Both Ephesians and Philippians do not give any indication of Paul being released from imprisonment until later in 1 Timothy and Titus there is indication Paul was free and was able to also write 2 Timothy before being arrested again and eventually martyred in Rome.

The opening statements in Ephesians do not address any recipients except for one individual, Tychicus. The presence of two words, ἐν Ἐφέσῳ or en Ephesō, which means “ in Ephesus” indicated an intention for Ephesus. Capitol for Asia Minor and consider as the center of the Roman authority of the time, Ephesus geography made it an area is known for religious, commercial and political importance. Due to the geographical and political influence, Paul more than likely places value on Ephesus playing a crucial role in the evangelization of the people. In Acts 19:10, it is recorded, “This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.” Another important feature about Ephesus is it was the home for the pagan worship of the goddess Diana, also known as Artemis. Wealth accumulated by pilgrims to the city, led to Ephesus becoming famous both for harboring the temple of Diana (Acts 19:27), but also a theater (Acts 19:29). Between the two, people or pilgrims came to worship and bring their wealth. Given the historical and location, Ephesians thus is considered part of the “Prison Epistles” (Phil 1:7; Col 4:10; Philippians 9)

Cultural Component

Accepted as one of the “Prison letters” written by Paul while imprisoned by the Roman empire, the cultural factors which would have influenced Paul and Ephesians, was a culmination of Ephesus, the recipient for the Ephesian letters, considered as a major city of influence in the area. Ephesus considered a pro-Roman province and as a result of a significant part of the region for trade. Osborne describes the presence of the temple of Artemis, also known as Diane, as a center where the practice of magic played a part in Ephesus’ daily life. Also, there were three temples devoted to the emperors and the practice of worshipping the emperor as a deity. In Acts 19:13-20, Luke describes the burning of magic books and a fascination with the occult by the general population.

In addition to the pagan practices and worship, there was also a strong Jewish presence in Ephesus. Although the Jewish religion was allowed, eventual so did persecution, with Ephesus playing a part later in Revelation. Ephesus temples also doubled as the city’s banks. The effect of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus was such, as people turned away from idolatry, the conversions also affected the temple’s commerce. In Acts 19:23-41, Luke describes people rioting against Christianity. The Ephesian temple of Artemis, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, created an industry for artisans whose livelihood included creating cultic items such as idols. Paul’s impact on the region was not only spiritual but also economical. The book of Ephesians while subtle, but also complex to match the economic and cultural world of Ephesus.

EXEGETICAL SUMMARY OF EPHESIANS 4:7-16

The book of Ephesians is far from a simple book to read, but instead, a book considered both an enigma and one which conveys to believers, rich theological themes. For Ephesians 4:7-16, the central theological themes conveyed includes the spiritual growth of the believer in Christ and unity through Jesus Christ. The breakdown of the passage Ephesian 4:7-16 begins with an understanding of the purpose of the gifts given by God to believers. Paul tries to define why believers are given spiritual gifts, followed by setting up the theological and scriptural foundation of the roles of the church. Also, addressing the need for maturity, Paul stresses through the unity of the church, how it is in itself a ministry to the world.

Gifts are given to Believers (vv. 7-8)

Beginning with verses 7-8, and borrowing an illustration from Psalm 68:18, Paul describes to the believer’s gifts given to the church by God. God is revealed to be both sovereign and generation with the basis of empowering believers with the ability to serve Him for His name and glory. Regarding verse 8 specifically, the verse evokes Psalm 68:18 with the essence of a military victor and Paul suggests because Jesus Christ has conquered his enemies which is sin and death, the result is the spiritual gifts used for ministry. Author Klyne Snodgrass notes the gifts given by Jesus Christ, lavished with grace, uses the term “measured,” which later appears in verses 13 and 16. Scripture supports each believer endowed with gifts. Important to note in verse 8, the CSB translation uses the word “For” while in the ESV, “Therefore is used” in verse 8. The difference is the use of “Therefore” (Eph 4:9, 5:14; Rom 4:3,6;9:15; 10:16: 11:26) according to Charles H. Talbert, signals quoting scripture. Alluding to Psalm 68:8, the function, especially of Psalm 68, goes back to functioning as a call to God to rescue His people (Psalm 68:1-3). However, it raises the question then, who was being taken captive in Ephesians 4:8.

According to Talbot, there is a belief those who were held captive in v.8 alludes to the use of the pesher. The basis of the pesher is when the citation of a biblical text, then is followed by an interpretation which is introduced by a formula. The formula basis is to connect the text with events connected to the Qumran. Given the verb, “to give” (δίδωμι) is utilized not only in v.7 but also in the context of 1 Cor 12:4-11,27-31 and Romans 12:4-8, indicates the gifts for the believers is a gracious gift from God to the church. However, the gifts are not limited simply to church leaders, but also members of the congregation. The use of the sentence “But to each one of us grace was given or Ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν ἐδόθη ἡχάρις, is noted by Harold W. Hoehner, to indicated moving from the whole church to every individual within the church. Verses 7 and 8 together, lacks a form of differential and seems to convey by Paul an expression of unity within the church not based on uniformity but harmony. A similar message expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, while there is one body, there are many members who serve and edifies God in different ways.

Foundation of Gifts (vv. 9-10)

Verses 9 and 10, the theological foundation for Paul’s appeal to practical efforts for unity by showing Jesus Chris extended his victory over everything, including creation and thus making Christ the one to equip the church. Hoehner describes verses 9 and 10 to be similar to Ephesians 1:20-23, where Paul describes Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God. Paul is described making two assertions about the ascent and the descent: One, the “one” who has both ascended and descended are identical and secondly, the purpose for the ascent and descent, of which is to be like God and to fil all things. Emphasis on the ascent has the direct purpose of emphasizing Jesus Christ’s authority, and through him, there is nothing outside of Jesus Christ’s jurisdiction for he is everywhere, in everything and all placed in a proper role including the believers.

Types of Gifts (vv.11-12)

Verses 11 and 12 layouts the type of gifts bestow upon believers as well as serving as a commentary going back to verse 8. Five kinds of gifted people are specifically named: apostles and prophets, fore mentioned in 2:20 and 3:5 as foundational gifts to the church, evangelists who are engaged in spreading the gospel and followed by pastors and teachers, listed together as part of a settled congregation. Verse 12 lays out the intentions of the gifts: the preparation or discipleship of God’s people for works of service or ministry. The use of the word equipping katartismos or καταρτισμός alludes to Galatians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 13:11 and Hebrews 13:21 of which all exhort for preparing and equipping believers to serve God. Gifts given to others by God are to be used to minister, to help believers to be prepared themselves when it comes time to minister others and not merely to be kept collectively or restricted from others. The goal is for both the building up and edifying the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16). Paul shows that all saints (saints being all believers and not the few) versus a few leaders should be involved in ministry. Paul does not intend for a division within the church of a select and then the congregation, but instead exhorts all saints (Acts 9:13,32;26:10, Phillipians 4:21) Biblically, saints ,coming from the Greek word hagios (ἅγιος) and meaning “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious”, included all those who are set apart by the Lord for Him and His kingdom. Scriptural, saints are the body of Christ, the Christians, the followers who make up the body of the church. According to 1 Corinthians 1:2, all Christians are saints and are called at the same time to be saints, but also are imbued with diverse spiritual gifts.

Maturity of Believers (vv.13-14)

Continuing with verse 13 and 14 of the passage which focuses on the maturity of the Christian, the basis for ministry was intended to move believers themselves toward accomplishing three goals: unity of faith and full knowledge of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, maturity which is essential for the Christian walk and growth and the fullness in Christ. Ron Howard described maturity and unity as being measured in terms of the Head, which is Jesus Christ and His relationship with the body, the believers. For Paul, the purpose of writing Ephesians and the goal of the church was to grow in Christ and rely on Jesus Christ to avoid disturbing aspects to the Christian growth such as spiritual immaturity, instability, and gullibility. Thus Paul writes to the church maturity is defined and supported by the relationship to the corporate body. Believers are to avoid being tossed “by waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” Paul writes about the dangers of false teachings (Colossians 2:8) and false teachers. However, there is no denying fellowship with other believers is essential (Hebrews 10:24-25) One basis is without each other there is lack of discipleship, another is the lack of accountability, and finally, through discipleship, there is an opportunity to mature, grow and sharpen the spiritual gifts given by Jesus Christ.

Church Unity (vv.15-16)

Eventually, as verses 15 and 16 encompasses, harmony can be found not by uniformity, but through diversity. The English word for harmony comes from a Greek term συναρμολογούμενον (sunarmologoumenon) with when translated means “fitted or knit together.” More than anything in verse 15, there is a recognition of essential principles in the New Testament such as truth, love, and continual growth in everything through Christ. While in verse 14, Paul addresses the purpose of unity and growth by focusing on the negative aspects to avoid, verse 15 and 16 embraces the positive aspects of which believers grow by the measure and example of Jesus Christ. Each member, while contributing a different calling or gift, when working together as a group or congregation in harmony, can reach the common goal of serving God, edifying God’s name and growing in Christ. Paul looks to show, the same ability or gift given to him as a gift by the grace of God, but not restricted to him, but freely available to all believers to work in harmony together and not individually. Each believer has a role for the church growth, but the role will differ and not intended to be restricted from others. The goal is in harmony, the growth and equipping of God’s people so through them, God’s name glorified, and through the growth of the church, non-believers can be reached.

CONCLUSION

The opening stanza’s to John Donne’s poem No Man is an Island opens up with the following: “No man is an island entire of itself, every man”.

Same can be said about the Christian faith.

When Paul writes about the church, he uses the word ecclesia (ἐκκλησία) to stand for the gathering of Christians, together for the sake of assembly, worship, fellowship, and accountability. ( Acts 19:32 Acts 19:39 Acts 19:41 Romans 16:5 ; Colossians 4:15 Ephesians 5:23 Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:27 Ephesians 5:29 ; Hebrews 12:23) The Christian walk was not designed to be a lonely experience or an individual experience, but one designed to incorporate fellowship and worship, together, for the edification and worship of God, the accountability and spiritual growth of Christians and to bear testament to the world of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:7-16 is a reminder the Christian experience does not start and stop at justification, but as the believer goes through the process of sanctification, the importance of pulling together not as an individual, but as the corporate body and witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15) to a growing unbelieving world in need of hope, grace, mercy of God.

Published October 3, 2019, as partial fulfillment for the course, RTCH 500-BO4, Research, Writing, and Ministry Preparation.

 

Works Cited

  1. Arnold, Clinton E. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, Michigan.: Zondervan, 2010.
    Best, Ernest. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians. London: T&T Clark, 2010.
  2. Dockery, David S. The Holman Concise Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Bible Publishers, 1998.
  3. Donne, John. “‘No Man Is An Island’ – John Donne”. Web.Cs.Dal.Ca, Last modified 2019. https://web.cs.dal.ca/~johnston/poetry/island.html.
  4. “Ephesians 4:16 From Him The Whole Body, Fitted And Held Together By Every Supporting Ligament, Grows And Builds Itself Up In Love Through The Work Of Each Individual Part.”. Biblehub.Com, Last modified 2019. https://biblehub.com/ephesians/4-16.htm.
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  7. Snodgrass, Klyne. Ephesians: From Biblical Text– to Contemporary Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996.
  8. Strong, James, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2677”.
  9. Talbert, Charles H.. Ephesians and Colossians. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007. Accessed September 22, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.
  10. Thielman, Frank. Ephesians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=3117023.
  11. Towns, Elmer L., and Ben Gutierrez, eds. The Essence of the New Testament : A Survey. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=4719187.
  12. Walvoord, John F. The Bible Knowledge Commentary New, Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1983.