How Early Greek Papyri Can Shed Light On Church Membership In The New Testament

Introduction:

In today’s post we consider some New Testament texts that refer to a particular practice in the early church known as “letters of commendation”. Much like a resume or reference in today’s world, so-called “letters of commendation” served to validate the character of a person arriving at a location in the ancient world. As we will see in a short-while, such “letters of commendation” provide a strong precedent for the current day practice of church membership “by letter” – but more on that later.

The above image is taken from the classic work by George Milligan entitled: “Selections From The Greek Papyri”. Greek papyri were documents written on the medium of papyrus scrolls that were composed of crisscrossing reeds of papyrus. For centuries this particular method of transmitting writing was used from Egypt through Greece through Rome and in the regions of ancient Israel. Milligan’s book was published in 1912 and made available to scholars and students a glimpse into what was then the recent discoveries of a large cache of papyrus rolls in Oxyrynchus Egypt. What caught New Testament scholarship’s attention was how the words and phrases in these non-biblical, secular Greco-Roman papyri shed light on the background of the New Testament.

The above image is that of a particular papyus “P Oxyrynchus 42”, which is an example of a “letter of commendation”. What makes this letter illuminating is that its style and wording demonstrate that the phraseology of our New Testaments were firmly situated in the 1st century context of ancient Israel and the wider Mediterranean world. Dated by those who specialize in this literature (i.e. papyrologists) to the year A.D. 25, P Oxyrynchus 42 contains a particular man “Theon” recommending his brother “Heralcides” to a particular gentleman “Tyrannus”. The above example in the image contains eight lines of text. In the fifth and sixth lines we find Theon writing the following:

“I urge you with all my might for you to give him a heart commendation.”

The word in red is the Greek present passive participle of the verb “συνίστημι” (sun-his-tay-mee).  Interestingly we find this same verb used by Paul in Romans 16:1 to commend a certain “Phoebe”, which I’ll reproduce in the NASB and SBL Greek text:

Romans 16:1 (NASB) “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.

Romans 16:1 (SBL Greek Text) Συνίστημι δὲ ὑμῖν Φοίβην τὴν ἀδελφὴν ἡμῶν, οὖσαν καὶ διάκονον τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἐν Κεγχρεαῖς,

This letter of commendation for Phoebe by Paul is his way of providing credentials to the church at Rome for this woman Phoebe. As one reads the remainder of Romans 16, we find similar commendations for a number of individuals. Such commendations act as ancient church letters vouching for that person’s character and commitment in their prior locale. Some other examples from the New Testament should suffice to drive home this particular point about letters of commendation.

1 Corinthians 16:3-4 “When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; 4 and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.”

2 Corinthians 3:1-3 “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Philemon 1:10-16 “I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

There are several more examples in the New Testament of similar-styled remarks by Paul and others about certain persons. Whenever we read these “letters of commendation”, we are experiencing a style of character reference common in the ancient world. Milligan’s book contains not only examples of secular “letters of commendation”, but other literary pieces such as marriage contracts, bills of sale and even letters from debt collectors! As we mentioned earlier in this post, the letters of commendation we find in the cited New Testament examples have an important link to our modern day practice of church membership. 

How Early Greek Papyri Can Shed Light On Church Membership In The New Testament

Whenever we turn to Romans 16 in particular, we find Paul commending individuals in and to the church at Rome. As we’ve already observed, such commendations vouched for that person’s character and commitment. Some churches today see no point in church membership. The objections to this practice range from it’s un-biblical sanction to it unnecessarily precluding otherwise healthy Christians from readily involving themselves in the life of the church. Such objections are without foundation.

With regard to the objection that church membership is unbiblical, one only need to consider a few examples in the New Testament that overturn this notion. Acts 2:41 records: 

“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”

Someone was keeping count of those persons that believed on the Gospel and were subsequently baptized. The local church at Jerusalem recognized that those Christians entering into their fold needed counted. This pattern of receiving baptized believers into a church began with the birth of the church. Or again, consider the term used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”

One must not think of the term “members” as, say, having a “membership at a gym” or some other local organization. This term “membership” evokes a biological connotation, such as the different “parts” or “members” of the human body. Moreover, since Paul is writing to a particular congregation (in this instance, that church at Corinth), then the general truth of Christ’s living body “The Church” is manifested in each local body of believers that meet together, celebrate the ordinances (or sacraments, if you like), give heed to the exposition of the scriptures and perform the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.

Whenever we consider such New Testament texts as these, as well as the “letters of commendation” we’ve already explored, the case for church membership is substantiated.

But now what of the second objection that church membership discourages active participation in the life of the local church. Again, one only need to look at the lives of those who involved themselves in the early church of the New Testament. A teacher by the name of Apollos had a letter of commendation written for him in Acts 18:27 to serve in a place called “Achaia”. Apollos was an itinerant preacher. To lay his roots down in Achaia gave more focus to his ministry and life. 

When one turns to Romans 16, we are introduced to nearly 25 people by name at the church of Rome. There is no evidence that church membership (Romans 16 is but one example of an ancient equivalent of a membership roll) hampered the spiritual lives of these people. If for anything, church membership gave more focus. Whenever we consider several of these names in the scripture already referenced, we can find them in other New Testament books. By having such “letters of commendation”, people could check the spiritual lineage of those persons coming into the fold. For the Christian, having one’s membership in one church transferred to their current church “by way of letter” gives a snapshot of one’s spiritual pilgrimage. Far from some sort of legalism, church membership provides needed accountability, structure and a visible snapshot of one aspect of a believer’s walk with Christ in relationship to a given local church.

My wife and I were one time part of a rather large church that did not have church membership. Issues of accountability and the inability of people to stay long-term over the long haul led to a limitation on how far one could grow spiritually in that body. Certainly any church that has church membership is not immune from its own set of problems. But to not have church membership is not only harmful in the long-run, but, as seen in the scriptural and historical case above – unbiblical. 

To illustrate once more the importance of church membership over that of being an “attender”, consider what happens when one moves from one state to another. When my wife and I moved to New York, we for a period of time were visiting the state. However, when the time came for us to move, we had to change over all sorts of legal documents and our place of residence. Why? Could we had evoked the fact we were citizens of the United States? Surely. However, U.S. Citizenship, though necessary to function in, say, New York, is not sufficient to partake of the privileges that come with permanent residency (not to mention ultimately illegal). These two illustrations hopefully drive home how important the principle of church membership is for the Christian. Not only is this a matter of exegesis of the New Testament testimony about the doctrine of the church, but also vital to understanding Christian activity in the local church. 

Closing thoughts 

Today’s post sought to introduce readers to the world of ancient papyri and the light they can shed on the New Testament text. We also considered how the term “letters of commendation” functioned as a piece of the overall evidence for the ancient precedent of the Biblical practice of church membership. 

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“Judgment seat of God” or “Judgment seat of Christ”? Exploring the variant readings of Romans 14:10

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Romans 14:10 (Stephens 1550 GNT) συ δε τι κρινεις τον αδελφον σου η και συ τι εξουθενεις τον αδελφον σου παντες γαρ παραστησομεθα τω βηματι του χριστου

Romans 14:10 (NKJV) “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Romans 14:10 (SBL GNT) Σὺ δὲ τί κρίνεις τὸν ἀδελφόν σου; ἢ καὶ σὺ τί ἐξουθενεῖς τὸν ἀδελφόν σου; πάντες γὰρ παραστησόμεθα τῷ βήματι τοῦ θεοῦ,

Romans 14:10 (NASB) But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Introduction:

The above text touches upon a subject not too often spoken about in today’s pulpits: namely, the time in which every follower of Jesus Christ will stand before Him for evaluation of their post-conversion living in this life. The theological and life-practical elements of this truth provide motivation for godly-living. For readers interested in the rich theological motifs spoken of by the Apostle Paul in this text and elsewhere, I will point to some recent posts (dated March 7,8 and 10, 2018) on my other blog site below:

www.growingchristianresources.com

One idea that courses through my mind is making sure that every decision I make and even every blog I write brings pleasure to the Lord Jesus Christ. From the above text and others (i.e. 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:5-10), we learn that all our works, ways and witness for Christ will be deemed either wood,hay,stubble or gold,silver and precious stones. My hope is that I have more “gold, silver and precious stone” moments than “wood, hay and stubble” moments. 

Today’s post wants to explore an interesting set of variants found in the Greek text of Romans 14:10. The reader can take note of the above opening verses, each from two editions of the Greek New Testament and two from well-known English translations. I have color-coded each text to make for ease of comparison. The particular variants or readings involved have Paul either referring to the Bema or Judgment seat being that of “God” or “Christ”. I’m reminded of textual critic Daniel Wallace’s four-fold classification scheme for assessing variants, which can aid greatly in this passage. Wallace has repeated this four-fold schema in numerous talks and publications.

There are those variants that arise due to spelling errors or nonsense readings, comprising some 75% of all textual variants in the New Testament manuscripts. If the reader compares 

χριστου (Christ)

θεοῦ (God)

The two nouns, both genitive masculines, could not be confused in terms of spelling. The next category listed by Wallace concerns those variants or readings which either cannot be translated or which are synonyms. Again, the two variants would not fit within those two sub-categories. The third category mentioned by Wallace has to do with readings that are meaningful (can change the meaning of the text) but not viable (not a contender for the original reading). Either reading could slightly affect how one interprets the text (is this the “throne of God” with respect to the Divine being of God (and thus entailing all three persons of the Trinity, with the possibility of reference to the Father)  or “throne of God the Son”. Thankfully, there is enough context immediately before or after to make plain the meaning. Both readings have enough of a pedigree to have either as serious contenders for the original text. Hence, Wallace’s fourth category, and the one which will use in treating Romans 14:10 is that of: “meaningful and viable”, which occupy 1% of the total readings spread across the text of the New Testament. 

Assessing the manuscript evidence

Phillip Comfort and Bruce Metzger are two textual critics that have each written textual commentaries on the Greek New Testament. What makes their contributions so valuable is in how they present the variants and discuss some of the relevant manuscript data. Phillip Comfort’s take on the variants of Romans 14:10 is as follows:(1)

WH NU τῷ βήματι τοῦ θεοῦ
“the judgment seat of God”
א* A B C* D F G 1739 cop
NKJVmg RSV NRSV ESV NASB NIV TNIV NEB REB NJB NAB NLT HCSB NET

Some comments on the abbreviations can aid in walking through the evidence presented by Comfort. First, “WH” refers to the “Wescott-Hort” Greek New Testament of 1881. Secondly, the abbreviation “NU” refers to the “Nestle-Aland” and “United Bible Societies” critical editions of the Greek New Testaments. Thirdly, the various letters, the number “1739” and the abbreviation “cop” respectively stand for manuscripts dating from the 4th to 9th centuries which contain capitalized or “uncial” script, “1739” refers to a very important manuscript that carries much weight in terms of its quality and “cop” stands for the family of Coptic translations (a dialect of Egypt that incorporated the Greek alphabet) which have readings traceable to with 200 to 300 years of the Apostles. Lastly, the last line of abbreviation stand for the English translations which match the corresponding reading, and thus the given editions of the Greek New Testament listed on the first line of Comfort’s data.

variant/TR τω βηματι του Χριστου
“the judgment seat of Christ”
אc C Ψ 048 0209 33 Maj
KJV NKJV HCSBmg

Again, we can note some comments on Comfort’s symbols and notations. Per his reckoning, Comfort has concluded that this second reading is the variant reading. The abbreviation “TR” refers to the so-called “Textus Receptus”, which specifically points to critical editions based-off the majority of Greek manuscripts and which provides the textual basis for the corresponding English translations (in this case the KJV, NKJV).

Secondly, the capital letters stand for various manuscripts, much like what was explained above. Thirdly, the abbreviation “Maj” stands for the “Majority text” or the late Greek manuscripts and other manuscripts with similar readings that comprise over 80% of the total cache of manuscripts of the GNT. 

Comfort then gives the following assessment of why he thinks “God” is the more probable reading than “Christ”: 

The WH NU reading has both early and diverse testimony. The change from “God” to “Christ” in TR was influenced by 14:9, where it speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection. The natural follow-up would be to speak of Christ on the throne executing judgment. But Paul identifies “God” as the one who will execute the final judgment where, as it says in the next verse, “everyone will make confession to God.”

The second scholar, Bruce Metzger, has also commented on the variations in Romans 14:10, reaching a similar conclusion to that of Comfort. Much of the comments I said already about Comfort’s abbreviations and nomenclature can be applied to Metzger’s commentary.(2) For sake of clarity, I will make a few additional remarks, since Metzger includes material not found in Comfort’s treatment:

14:10 θεοῦ {B}

At an early date (Marcion Polycarp Tertullian Origen) the reading θεοῦ, which is supported by the best witnesses (א* A B C* D G 1739 al), was supplanted by Χριστοῦ, probably because of influence from 2 Cor 5:10 (ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ).

Metzger’s mention of four early church fathers shed interesting light on the reading “Christ”, which Metzger decided was not likely the original reading. The one church Father, Polycarp, was writing in the mid-second century (150 A.D). Polycarp’s referencing of Romans 14:10 with the reading “Christ” takes us to within 75 years of the original text. Metzger doesn’t see the need to comment on any of the church fathers. Per my Nestle Aland 28th edition (which prefers the reading “God” over “Christ”), all the church fathers cited by Metzger are listed with the variant “Christ” in the textual apparatus or listing of relevant manuscript data for each reading. Metzger believes the reading “Christ” was influenced by Paul’s statement about the Judgment Seat of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:10.  

So which is it? “Judgment Seat of God” or “Judgment Seat of Christ?”

As I look over the comments made by both Comfort and Metzger, a decision must be made. They both certainly possess formidable credentials and make valid points for the reading of Romans 14:10 being “judgment seat of God”. However, could not a case be made for the other reading “judgment seat of Christ”? It is noteworthy that neither Comfort nor Metzger reference the next verse, Romans 14:11. Romans 14:11 is a quotation of Isaiah 45:23b in the Greek Septuagint. The reader can note each:

Isaiah 45:23b (Septuagint) ὅτι ἐμοὶ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ καὶ ἐξομολογήσεται πᾶσα γλῶσσα τῷ θεῷ

Isaiah 45:23 (translation) that every knee will bend to me and every tongue will confess to God

Romans 14:11 (SBL GNT) γέγραπται γάρ· Ζῶ ἐγώ, λέγει κύριος, ὅτι ἐμοὶ κάμψει πᾶν γόνυ, καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσεται τῷ θεῷ.

Romans 14:11 (NASB) For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.”

Amazingly, this same text is used by Paul to describe how “every knee will bow” before Christ in Philippians 2:10. Comfort noted in his commentary that perhaps the reading “Christ” was influenced by the prior Christological context of Romans 14:9. However, it seems one could make the same argument for the “God-centered” context of Romans 14:11 as influencing the reading “God” in Romans 14:10.

Another detail I find interesting is that the reading “Christ” does appear in Polycarp’s writings. Even though one church father isn’t weighty enough on its on to draw a definite conclusion on which reading is the most probable, nevertheless, the reading “Christ” does merit closer scrutiny. It merits further consideration, since the reading “judgment seat of Christ” was known within less than a century after the original of Romans 14:10. If one were to follow from the prior mention of Christ in Romans 14:9 as having died and risen, the capacity of Christ as judge would follow on through to Romans 14:10. Moreover, with Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 45:23 in Romans 14:11, the emphasis then would be placed on Christ’s divine authority to preside over the future judgment of believers. As the Bible Knowledge Commentary notes: (3) 

“What is here called God’s judgment seat is the judgment seat of Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:10. Because God judges through His Son (John 5:22, 27), this judgment seat can be said to belong to both the Father and the Son.”

As mentioned earlier in this post, either reading can find its explanation in the immediate context of Romans 14:9-11. The Nestle Aland 28 does list further evidence for the reading “Christ” that, even though doesn’t possess as formidable manuscripts are the reading “God”, nevertheless, the manuscript evidence for “Christ” is spread over a wider geographical area of readings, covering a wider swath of available manuscript evidence in terms of age and sheer numbers. The 2005 edition of the Greek New Testament, edited by Robinson and Pierpont, does side with the reading “judgment seat of Christ”. It does seem that if one were to go with the reading “judgment seat of Christ”, then the probability of it being the original reading could just as be well-argued (argued way better than the suggestions I’ve made, mind you). In the final analysis, the reading “judgment seat of Christ” merits consideration as being the more probable reading. Thankfully, either reading doesn’t do violence to the overall sense of Paul’s point in showing Christ’s authority in the future handling of rewards to His people. 

Endnotes:

1. Comfort, P. W. (2008). New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (pp. 467–468). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

2. Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (pp. 468–469). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

3. Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 493). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

 

 

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Gleaning Rich Insights From Peter’s Old Testament Quotations In 1 Peter 2

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1 Peter 2:1-3 “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

Introduction:

The unity of the Old and New Testaments is observed in how the New Testament authors quote or allude to Old Testament texts. Whenever one looks at the nearly 300 times the New Testament authors quote or allude to the Old Testament, it bears emphasizing the need to have more than a passing familiarity with the Old Testament. Theologian of yesteryear Roger Nicole notes the following about the New Testament authors’ use of the Old Testament in his essay on the subject (gleaned from the site: http://www.bible-researcher.com/nicole.html )

“The New Testament writers used quotations in their sermons, in their histories, in their letters, in their prayers. They used them when addressing Jews or Gentiles, churches or individuals, friends or antagonists, new converts or seasoned Christians. They used them for argumentation, for illustration, for instruction, for documentation, for prophecy, for reproof. They used them in times of stress and in hours of mature thinking, in liberty and in prison, at home and abroad. Everywhere and always they were ready to refer to the impregnable authority of Scripture.”

In today’s post we want to explore 1 Peter 2 to see how the Apostle Peter utilizes the Old Testament in his exposition on the Christian’s identity built upon Christ the Chief Cornerstone. We will first consider the various ways he incorporates the Old Testament into what he is writing. Second, we will follow up with applications taken from observing the contexts of the Old Testament texts we find referenced in 1 Peter 2. Lastly, we will discover how Peter reinforces life application through his use of the Old Testament and refocuses the reader’s attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of 1 Peter 2.

How Peter uses the Old Testament in 1 Peter 2

Many have written upon the ways in which New Testament authors use the Old Testament text in the New Testament. Three such ways are explained below as we find them in 1 Peter 2.

1. Direct quotation.

In the Apostle Peter’s first epistle, we find him directly quoting three Old Testament texts in 1 Peter 2. Such direct quotations are used to reinforce the author’s main point or demonstrate fulfillment of prophecy. Such quotations of Isaiah 28:16 in 1 Peter 2:6; Psalm 118:22 in 1 Peter 2:7 and Isaiah 8:14 in 1 Peter 2:8 are key examples of direct quotation. Later on in this post we will look specifically at these three Old Testament texts.

2. Allusion.

Sometimes the New Testament author will use an idea from the Old Testament without necessarily making direct quotation of a particular text. In 1 Peter 2:4 we find Peter mentioning how Christians come to Jesus as their “living stone”. The phrase “living stone” is an allusion to a whole batch of Old Testament texts utilizing the “living rock” or “living stone” idea in expressing the faithfulness and character of Yahweh.

For instance, Moses refers to Yahweh as “the Rock of salvation” in such texts as Deuteronomy 32:15. From what follows in studying Deuteronomy 32, we further discover that God as the “Rock” is the source of spiritual life (Deuteronomy 32:18) and ever faithful (Deuteronomy 32:31).

Further study of this theme of “living Rock” yields the prophet Daniel’s use of it in interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the Colossus in Daniel 2:34 and 2:45. I both verses we find Daniel referring to the future Messiah or God’s Kingdom as a “stone that has been cut without hands”.

Without saying which text he is thinking about, Peter’s use of an allusion in the phrase “living stone” aids us in thinking back to these texts. The literature that discusses the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament refers to such methods as “scripture echo” and “intertextuality” as ways in which New Testament authors string together their thinking around Old Testament texts or ideas.

Scripture echoes involve the New Testament author taking an Old Testament text and reading it through the lens of additional texts to carry the resultant conclusion into the New Testament. For example, God’s deliverance of the people out of Egypt in the Exodus accounts were given comment centuries later by the prophet Hosea in Hosea 11:1 as being that of a Father rescuing His Son (Israel). This prophetic take on the Exodus accounts by the prophet Hosea factors into how Matthew would apply it to Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt for safe keeping of the Christ child in Matthew 2:15. The prophetic fulfillment expressed in Matthew 2:15 of “Out of Egypt I called My Son” is far from a reckless use of the Old Testament by Matthew.

Intertextuality refers to how a New Testament author will take a phrase or word play (mainly in the original language of the Old Testament or ancient version, like the Septuagint) and utilize it in the New Testament.  Peter’s description of Jesus as the “living stone” in 1 Peter 2 takes into consideration several Old Testament passages that utilize the imagery of “rock” and “living” to refer to God (see discussion below). This is but one example of intertextuality.

Such methods function as springboards that aid in navigating the richness of Christ’s Person and achievements through His death, resurrection and ascension. Such methods function as springboards that aid in navigating the richness of Christ’s Person and achievements through His death, resurrection and ascension. Examples such as Peter’s imagery of “living stone” points to how Jesus demonstrated Himself as fulfilling such Old Testament imagery by His resurrection from the dead (see Acts 4:10-12, wherein Peter uses the “rock” imagery to refer to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead”).

3. Illustration.

Sometimes the New Testament author will use an Old Testament text to illustrate a truth he is bringing out in his letter or sermon. Peter does this in 1 Peter 2:9 to highlight how New Testament believers are a spiritual priesthood. As Peter quotes Exodus 19:6, the reader is taken back to those early days following Yahweh’s deliverance of the ancient Jews in the Exodus. The ancient Jews were led by Moses and God out to the desert to camp at the base of Mount Sinai. It was there that God manifested Himself as a Theophany of thunder and lightening atop the mountain. It was in Exodus 19-20 that God announced the Hebrew’s covenantal identity as the redeemed nation and kingdom of priests. No longer were the ancient Hebrews slaves of Pharaoh.

Peter’s point in bringing up Exodus 19:6 was to urge his readers to view themselves as under the Lordship of Christ, rather than the under the authorities of culture and this world. Covenant identity is a major theme in both Old and New Testaments. It is upon this basis of reminding the reader of their identity in Christ that Peter delivers his series of moral and spiritual imperative for godly living. (see 1 Peter 2:11-17)

How understanding the Old Testament texts in 1 Peter 2 can lead to life application for the Christian today

Why would Peter utilize the particular Old Testament passages he chose in putting together 1 Peter 2? Noting the context of each Old Testament reference can add insight into the overall thrust of the New Testament text. 

Peter’s first quotation of Isaiah 28:16 in 1 Peter 2:6 hearkens back to a time in Israel’s history wherein she had lost all hope. The time was 722 b.c. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was on the brink of being taken captive by the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom of Judah kept a close watch on all that was transpiring in the lives of her kinsmen to the North. Jerusalem, the capitol of the Southern Kingdom, saw fit to make political alliances to try to protect her interests. The people assumed God had forgotten them. Isaiah describes their actions as making a “covenant with death” in Isaiah 28:14-15. The Lord’s word to the people in eighth century b.c. Jerusalem was to not to abandon their hope in Him. All is not lost! Sadly, the Southern Kingdom of Judah would over the remainder of her history follow in the train of her Northern Kingdom counterpart – resulting in the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem beginning in 605 b.c. Peter’s word to his readers and to us is to not lose hope – but to look to that Precious Cornerstone – the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second Old Testament quotation is that of Psalm 118:22 in 1 Peter 2:7. Whenever one studies the context of Psalm 118, the author of that psalm is praising Yahweh for delivering him from certain trouble. The Psalm is filled with hope and renewed faith in the face of adversity. We know from the background of Peter’s audience in the first century that they were facing increasing difficulties. (see for instance 1 Peter 1:6-7; 3:13; 4:12) By recalling Psalm 118, Peter could show how the same God that answered cries of distress in the Psalmist’s time could do the same for the readers of his first epistle. Thus Peter is reinforcing his overall message to look to Christ as that Precious Cornerstone. Not only is Jesus the believer’s source of hope, He is also precious. 

What about Peter’s third quotation of Isaiah 8:14? The context of Isaiah 8 is that of the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to her defeat and fall at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 b.c. According to the historical backdrop of 2 Kings 15:32-38, Yahweh ordained to permit an alliance between Pekah, son of Remaliah and the King of Damascus of the Aramean Empire (also see Isaiah 7:1ff). God’s purpose was two-fold: to discipline Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom of Judah for their idolatry and to bring an end to the corruption that perpetuated in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

The sense on gathers from Isaiah 8 is that the inhabitants of the Jerusalem were seeing their fellow Jews to the North given in and give up to the threats and pressures of opposing forces. Despite deserving the consequences themselves, God still held out His message of hope and salvation to them. Isaiah 8 carries the message that God always has a faithful remnant of people in every culture and age whom He desires to call forth to be a testimony for Him in the midst of wickedness. For those persons refusing to heed God’s well-meant offer of grace, the result would be their stumbling and judgment.

Is it no wonder that the Apostle Peter appealed to Isaiah 8 in urging his first century readers and us here in the 21st century to not give up – but to persevere? Peter’s use of these three main Old Testament references are even more remarkable when we realize that all three were connected to the ultimate fate of the Jewish temple. In the Isaiah passages, the fall of Samria and the Northern Kingdom would be a precursor to the fall of the Southern Kingdom and Jerusalem. The temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed by 586 b.c. Despite the destruction of the physical temple, God’s message was that His commitment to His people would never end.

Psalm 118 was composed at a time when the temple was still in existence. Both sets of texts communicate the reality of the temple and the people somehow persevering through incredible opposition. None of the Old Testament prophets fully understood what would be the New Testament reality of the church following forth from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. God had all along wanted a temple, not of block and wood, but of His own people. The temple imagery found in 1 Peter 2 expresses the accomplishment of Christ. 

Closing thoughts and applications:

With Peter’s overall message for believers to run to the Precious Cornerstone – it is in 1 Peter 2:21-25 that Peter draws this chapter to its appropriate conclusion. 1 Peter 2:21-25 gives one of the most eloquent expositions found on the Person and work of Jesus found anywhere in the New Testament. In pointing the reader to this final section of 1 Peter 2, Peter completes his overall message of God’s people being a spiritual temple based upon the Precious Cornerstone – Jesus Christ. A brief summary of 1 Peter 2:21-25 could be as follows:

a. Christ is our Example to live the Godly life. 1 Peter 2:21-23

b. Christ’s Effective work to empower Godly living. 1 Peter 2:24

c. Christ’s Exalted role as our Great Shepherd that provides meaning for Godly living. 1 Peter 2:25

The combination of the Old Testament quotations and extraordinary exposition of the Lord Jesus Christ grant readers all they need to discover just how well-built salvation is in Jesus Christ. May we take these truths and by faith rely upon the Great Shepherd, the Precious Cornerstone – the Lord Jesus Christ.  

 

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A New Critical Edition Of The Greek New Testament: The Tyndale House Greek New Testament

Tyndale GNT_Closed

Introduction:

In November of 2017, Tyndale House,  Crossway Publishers and Cambridge University Press jointly released their critical edition of the Greek New Testament. A critical edition of the Greek New Testament refers to any edition that takes into consideration all of the known manuscript readings and variations. Such a project attempts to produce a representative text which can be studied, used for translation and for exegesis of the New Testament books. As with any effort of textual criticism, critical editions attempt to get the modern reader as close as possible to the wording of the original text.  The details about this new edition are available here: https://static.crossway.org/excerpt/esv-greek-new-testament-tyndale-house-nb.pdf

In this post I want to express three appealing reasons as to why I would choose to have this edition of the Greek New Testament in my library.

1. First, what makes this particular edition appealing is the underlying theological assumption of the Bible being the Word of God. In the link I just listed above, Tyndale House notes the following about this edition:

“The Greek New Testament is the very Word of God. It is so unspeakably precious that even the smallest details deserve careful attention. The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (GNT) aims to be the most accurate possible printing of the New Testament in its earliest well-documented form.”

Such a statement gives me much comfort, since as a pastor, my primary responsibility is to carefully and rightly divide the Word of truth on a weekly basis (see 2 Timothy 2:15). The following video link features an introduction to this edition of the Greek New Testament, along with explanations of its significance by the two main editors, here:  http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2017/11/tyndale-house-greek-new-testament-intro.html

The whole project took ten years of painstaking labor to produce.

2. A second detail worth noting is that the publishers are making the entire text available free of charge in digital form. On the publisher website, one can download a sample of Mark’s Gospel here: https://static.crossway.org/excerpt/the-greek-new-testament-mark.pdf

This free public access is an excellent way to read the text and compare it to other already well-known editions of the Greek New Testament (such as the Nestle-Aland 28th edition, Society for Biblical Literature Greek New Testament). As a matter of curiosity, I downloaded the free sample of the Tyndale text to explore how the editors handled the ending of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:8 and 16:9-20). In the sample, one can view the text and the textual apparatus below the text that lists the manuscripts and variants. This blogger really liked how the apparatus lists out the manuscripts, places the variant readings and demonstrates why the editors made the choices they did. When I compare this arrangement to the copy of the Nestle-Aland 28 Greek New Testament, it is evident that Tyndale House has worked hard to make their Greek New Testament more user-friendly to a wider audience of scholars, translators, student and pastors.

3. A third and final reason to consider ownership of the Tyndale Greek New Testament is that the price is well within reach. Depending on the whether one wants a hardback or various leather editions, prices can range from $21 to $34 on Amazon to upwards of $130 (depending on which site you choose to use, you can get some incredible deals).  

As one who is ever desiring to “get it right” when it comes to exegeting and interpreting the texts of the Old and New Testaments, the Tyndale Greek New Testament sounds like a worthy investment.

 

 

 

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A wonderful way to maintain one’s competency in original language texts of the Old and New Testaments

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Genesis 6:5  

אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ׃

Genesis 6:5 (NASB) These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

Introduction:

The demands of life, family and ministry can tempt anyone to abandon regular commitment to the original language texts of the Old and New Testaments. Thankfully we are living in a golden age of technology that makes access to the underlying Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek texts fairly commonplace. Of course one must exercise caution, since Bible software can easily be abused and take the place of doing the honest work of translation, exegesis of the text and parsing of verbs. Still, when used appropriately, electronic programs and online websites like the one I’m mentioning today can aid in checking one’s work. The website that I’ll be referring to today is http://www.scholarsgateway.com.

The website “Scholar’s Gateway” and its value for studying the English Bible

Thankfully the “Scholar’s Gateway” website isn’t only for original language students and scholars. Anyone who wants to study the Bible in popular English translations (ASV, KJV, ESV, Young’s Literal Translation) can do so by simply pressing the “view available sources button”. Whenever one presses the “commentary” button on the chosen text, Matthew Henry’s classic work will appear. 

The website “Scholar’s Gateway” and its value for studying the Hebrew Old Testament, Greek Septuagint and Greek New Testament

In the above opening verse of Genesis 6:5, we see the Hebrew text with all of its various features (vowel points, cantillation marks and punctuation). Whenever one goes onto the website, the scripture passage can be typed into the search window. On the right side there is a historical archive of previous searches kept as the user does multiple tasks. In the tool bar above the text, the user can activate or deactivate features (such as vowel points, cantillation marks) and even highlight those particular grammatical parts of speech pertinent to the given study (verbs, adverbs, adjectives and so forth). 

Concerning the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint text, much the same options are available. For those desiring to dip their toes into the Greek Old Testament, the site offers the text and ability to translate, parse and do similar things as mentioned with respect to the Hebrew text. The sample of Genesis 6:5 should give the reader an idea of what the text looks like from the site: 

αὗται δὲ αἱ γενέσεις νωε νωε ἄνθρωπος 

δίκαιος τέλειος ὢν ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ αὐτοῦ τῷ 

θεῷ εὐηρέστησεν νωε

There is of course access available to the entire Westcott-Hort text of the Greek New Testament for those desiring to study the Greek New Testament. A sample verse from 2 Peter 3:10 gives a very readable font: Ἥξει δὲ ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν

  οἱ οὐρανοὶ ῥοιζηδὸνπαρελεύσονται 

στοιχεῖα δὲ καυσούμενα λυθήσεται καὶ 

γῆ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα εὑρεθήσεται.

Other details to note about “scholars gateway” and obscure original language texts 

There is an option to register on the website, which gives access to options for interacting with other users and offering suggestions. The only weakness to report is that some words may not have given definitions. For instance, the second noun in Genesis 6:5 , תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת , which means “generations, records” has no definition given when placing the cursor over the word. This of course reminds any student of scripture that electronic tools, though valuable in aiding study of God’s Word, are still secondary sources and ought to be used alongside printed reference tools.

A couple of final notes worth mentioning before closing out this post. In the “view available resources” button, one can choose not only from the Greek, Hebrew and English resources already mentioned, but also choose the Latin Vulgate and two rather obscure but important texts pertinent to Old Testament studies: Akkadian hymns to Marduk and the Code of Hammurabi. This author was surprise to learn that these texts are not English translations, but are in their original Akkadian language.  

The only thing that can be noted about Akkadian is how its grammatical features have helped shed light on Hebrew Old Testament studies. Both the Hymn of Marduk and The Code of Hammurabi are valuable in being contemporaries to the writing of Genesis to Deuteronomy. The way in which the Code of Hammurabi lays out its legal material is similar to what we find in the Pentateuch, demonstrating the antiquity of the Pentateuch and Mosaic authorship. For anyone who has studied Akkadian (this author hasn’t), the texts featured do not offer instant definitions for the words like in the already mentioned original language texts. It is likely that such a feature will be forthcoming. 

Closing thoughts

It is hoped that readers may check out this resource mentioned in today’s post. There is no doubt that we are living in a time where studying God’s Word in English, the original languages, or simply trying to keep up with them, is becoming more feasible. May every reader dig deeper into the Biblical text, regardless of what language he or she may know. 

 

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The City Of Lights – A Study Of Isaiah 60 And Ephesians 5:13b-14

Midtown_Manhattan_as_City_of_Blinding_Lights

Ephesians 5:13b-14 “for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” (NASB)

Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Introduction:

Cities have always captured the imagination of people throughout the ages. Ancient cities like Athens or Rome dominated the minds of the Greeks and Romans. Certainly the city of Jerusalem became the epicenter of ancient Israel. In the picture above, New York City is most commonly associated with movies or depictions of the American mindset. For the Christian, there is one city to which the scripture points and which more and more comes to characterize the Christian longing for eternity with God. What is this city of which I speak? Zion. 

Whenever one preaches regularly every week, there are times where what could be said or expounded never gets a chance to see the light. In a recent message, I had preached from Paul’s exposition on the Spirit-filled life in Ephesians 5. (1) 

Why is it that Paul writes: “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” Paul’s allusion to Isaiah 60:1 had a purpose in making his point about the value of Spirit-led living. The Holman Christian New Testament Commentary states: 2

“Sins are exposed by shining light into sin’s darkness. An amazing thing happens. Darkness can no longer hide its nature and acts in secret. All is exposed to light. Light that makes everything visible brings an even more radical element. Literally, this reads, everything that is revealed is (or becomes) light. Light turns darkness into light. This is the church’s mission. Whether the people in darkness are church members or society members, the goal is to transform them completely from darkness to light.”

In today’s post I want to look closer at Ephesians 5:13b-14 and see why Paul refers to Isaiah 60. As will be seen in the remainder of this post, promises relating to the coming age of Christ’s coming Kingdom blend into the realities of Christian living today. 

Isaiah 60 – A Glimpse Into The Future “City Of Light”

The emphasis upon “light” that is a feature of the Holy Spirit’s illuminating ministry to the Christian (see John 14:8-12; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 John 2:20,27) dominates the thought- pattern of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 60. The Hebrew text of Isaiah 60 contains seven different words for “light” with nearly 20 references to the concept in the chapter. In the course of Isaiah’s prophecy, the reader discovers this final section that portrays what will be Yahweh’s eschatological restoration of the City of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.

The New American Commentary notes the following on Isaiah 60: (3)

“The first message of salvation describes how God’s glorious coming as a light to Zion (60:1–3) will glorify God and the city of Zion where he will dwell. His coming will attract Hebrews and Gentiles from around the world. They will come with gifts of gold, sacrifices, and praise to God (60:4–9). Although in past times Judah was judged (60:10, 15, 18), in the future all who oppose God will perish (60:12) and all those who love God will come to the holy city of the Lord. Then Hebrews and Gentiles will experience the presence of their Savior and Lord (60:16) and the transformation of Zion. In that day God’s light will be brighter than the sun (60:19), and everyone there will be righteous and bring glory to God (60:21).”

If one were to survey the immediate surrounding contexts of Isaiah 60, a remarkable feature would emerge: reference to what would be the first and second comings of the Messiah.

Isaiah 59:15-21 gives a preview of what would be Messiah’s 1st coming (59:15-18) and the New Covenant arrival of the Holy Spirit (59:19-21). From the vantage point of the Old Testament era leading up to Christ’s entry-point into history, the prophet Isaiah was viewing this as one future coming.

Little did Isaiah realize that there would be an unforeseen parenthetical period of some 2,000 or more years between the 1st coming of Messiah (Jesus Christ) and the yet to occur second coming. Isaiah 61:1-2a is quoted by Jesus at the beginning of his earthly ministry to signal the beginning of His public Messianic life in Luke 4:18. The remainder of Isaiah 61:2bff refers to what will be Christ’s second coming in the establishment of His Kingdom.

When we come to Isaiah 60, the prophecy (from an Old Testament standpoint) is speaking entirely of a future age. The city of Jerusalem is foreseen as being somehow made by Yahweh into a spatio-temporal reality shot-through with the celestial, uncreated light of God Himself. Like a stained-glass lampshade refracting the light from a bright lightbulb, Jerusalem somehow be the eschatological city-of God. References abound in Isaiah 60 of gentile nations being drawn to this “city of light” (Isaiah 60:3, 4, 5b, 6, 7, 9,10-12, 16). 

Outlining Isaiah 60

The theme of “light” pervades Isaiah 60. In reading through this particular vision, the following outline of Isaiah 60 can be offered:

1. Light of God’s Glory Upon The City. Isaiah 60:1-3

2. Illumination of God’s Glory Within The City. Isaiah 60:4-9

3. Light Draws The Nations To The City. Isaiah 60:10-18

4. Light Will Shine Upon The Earth. Isaiah 60:19-22

The outline attempts to bring out how the city of lights is being viewed by Isaiah in the vision. We see the city viewed with reference to Yahweh as its light source in 60:1-3. We then travel from looking upon the city to viewing God’s glory from within the city’s walls (60:4-9). Isaiah then focuses upon the city’s relationship to the nations of the world, giving us a clue to Yahweh’s calling and mission for this future metropolis (60:10-18). Finally, the extraordinary reality depicted in Isaiah’s vision includes how this holy city of Zion will have not only earth-wide, but cosmic-wide influence – not needing illuminaries like the sun or moon (60:19-22). 

How the “City of Light” Applies To The Christian Church 

It must be noted that Isaiah 60 is situated between to major chapters predicting the coming of Messiah. The full reality of this city of lights in-breaks into this present age by two ways as expounded by the New Testament.

The first of these is the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As already mentioned, Jesus had referred to His own ministry as an inauguration of the coming Kingdom (see Isaiah 61:1-2a and Luke 4:18). Doubtless is our Lord’s awareness of His ability to inaugurate the coming Kingdom of God by his miraculous deeds, parables, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.

In the wake of Jesus’ accomplished redemption, resurrection and ascension, we find a second avenue of connecting the future spoken of by Isaiah into this present age – the church. The New Testament church exists as a result of Christ’s ascension and subsequent sending of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; 8; 10; 19). The seeds of the glorious kingdom and city spoken of in Isaiah 60 germinate in the seed-bed of Christ’s church in this present age. Like Abraham in Hebrews 11:10-16, New Testament believers look for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. 

In considering Christ’s ministry and the reality of the church as the means by which the future coming Kingdom is pulled into this present age, we return to Paul’s reference in Ephesians 5:13b-14.

This God-centered reality of the coming age in Isaiah 60 gives one of the clearest statements of Christ’s Deity in the New Testament. The Hebrew text of Isaiah 60:1 states: ק֥וּמִי א֖וֹרִי כִּ֣י בָ֣א אוֹרֵ֑ךְ וּכְב֥וֹד יְהוָ֖ה עָלַ֥יִךְ זָרָֽח׃. Whenever we look at the corresponding red words in the NASB, we see that the glory is question is that of Yahweh by the phrase: the glory of the Lord”. This same phrase is used to describe the Shekinah glory of God that dominated the Tabernacle in Moses’ day Exodus 40) and Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:11). Thus, when Paul refers to “Christ shining upon you” in Ephesians 5:14, the equating of Christ with Yahweh in terms of Deity, power and glory is inescapable (see other references, such as Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:1-4).   

Other New Testament authors capitalize upon the eschatological city of Zion mentioned by prophets like Isaiah. Whenever we note the New Testament testimony about the “city of lights” that we observed in Isaiah 60, it is very clear: the future Kingdom of God has broken into this present age, informing both Christian identity, conduct and hope. Let the reader consider the following New Testament texts the point to the immediate application of texts like Isaiah 60: 

1. John 14:1-3 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

2. Hebrews 13:14 “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”

3. Revelation 21:2-3 “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”

Closing Thoughts And Applications

Whenever we consider how the New Testament authors read Old Testament passages in light of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension – we can then see why Paul saw fit to utilize Isaiah 60 in Ephesians 5:14. The theme of “light” which characterizes the age to come ought to also characterize Christian life and conduct in this age. Undoubtedly, the need for the Holy Spirit’s leading in His filling ministry is required if followers of Christ expect to be salt and light wherever they go. 

Endnotes:

1. In Ephesians 5:13b-14 the text appears as follows in the Greek: πᾶν γὰρ τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστιν. διὸ λέγει· Ἔγειρε, ὁ καθεύδων, καὶ ἀνάστα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ Χριστός. The NASB translates Ephesians 5:13b-14 as follows (note the corresponding red words): “for everything that becomes visible is light. Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 60 provides the backdrop for the exhortation to live the Spirit-filled life. The present passive participle, “τὸ φανερούμενον” (that which is illuminated) speaks of an object or person receiving light from an outside source. The present or continuous aspect of the participle refers to either ongoing reception or intermittent action, depending upon the context. Whenever we consider the strength of Paul’s admonition to be Spirit-filled and awakened to the deeper life in Jesus Christ, it would seem the preference to be that of an ongoing, growing state of repeated illumination.

2. Max Anders. Holman New Testament Commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Logos Software. 

3. Gary V. Smith. New American Commentary – Isaiah 40-66. Logos Software

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A Great Phone App For Studying And Reading The Greek New Testament

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It wasn’t too long ago that a downloadable app for Android phones was made available to users that features the Societies For Biblical Literature Greek New Testament (from here-on SBL GNT). The phone app (called “SBL GNT”) is available for free on “Google Play” and contains a wealth of useful tools for anyone desiring to increase their competency in the Greek New Testament. Readers can also go to the following web-page that links you to the app here: https://www.bible.com/versions/156-sblg-sbl-greek-new-testament

In this post I want to highlight some of the features of the app so as to encourage readers to try it out for themselves. I promise that I am in no way a spokesman. I’m simply a busy pastor that loves studying the Greek New Testament.  So what are some of the features of this app that are applicable for persons desiring to maintain their study of the Greek New Testament?

First, the app features the entire text of the “SBL GNT”, a widely available text of the Greek New Testament. Each word in the text features a built-in lexicon and parsing guide that pops-up on the user-screen when tapped by the finger.

Secondly, various options are included for increasing one’s speed and fluidity of the text. For instance, there are various reading plans and a button that causes the text to scroll down at varying speeds. The reading plan can be utilized for anyone desiring to use the text in their daily devotions.

The automatic “scroll-down feature” makes the text go down while you attempt to keep up. Overtime, as ease of reading increases, the speed can be adjusted. New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace’s reading plan for journeying through the New Testament in 12 months, one month or going through portions is utilized. I recommend the plan of working through the three-week reading plan of the General Epistles (James, 1 &2 Peter, 1,2,3 John and Jude).  

As a final comment, the SBL text in the app can be read in a “day-time” format with black lettering on white background or a “night-time” feature with white-letters on black-background. I believe anyone who downloads this app will find immediate gratification and the ease that comes with taking the Greek New Testament with you wherever you go. 

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