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

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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

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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. 

Posted in Contemporary Issues, Greek New Testament study, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Has The Bible Been Discredited By Archaeology And Genetics? Critiquing A Recent Article

Joshua 16:10 “But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.”

Introduction:

Today I read a news article claiming that recent genetic testing and archaeology discredits the historical accuracy of the Bible. The title of the article: “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon”. Whenever one reads the title, let alone the article, where does one start? The writers make it sound like this serves a deathblow to the reliability and credibility of the Bible’s accuracy. As will be seen, a simple question can be asked: “Is there any proof that the skeptic has read the Book of Joshua, or the Old Testament, in making their case?” Below I will offer a simple critique of the article and demonstrate why it fails to disprove the narrative of Joshua. To make this evaluation as brief as possible, I will lay out in summary form the central idea of the article by constructing the following four-point argument:

1. The Bible claims that all the Canaanites were wiped out by the Israelites, per God’s command, thus there ought not to be modern-day descendants

2. Recent DNA testing from ancient Canaanite remains links genetically modern-day descendants

3. Therefore the Bible’s claim about the Canaanites being wiped out is false

4. Therefore it follows, the Bible is false

For those desiring to read the article in its entirety, the link is here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/bible-canaanites-wiped-out-old-testament-israelites-lebanon-descendants-discovered-science-dna-a7862936.html

In order to respond to the claims made by this article, one only needs to deal with the first premise or statement in the above argument, namely: “The Bible claims that all the Canaanites were wiped out by the Israelites, per God’s command, thus there ought not to be modern-day descendants.”  One only needs to explore whether or not the Bible actually makes such a claim. If no evidence can be found for this central thought proposed in the article, then the arguments are invalidated. 

As we have noted already, if we simply ask the critic whether or not they have read the Biblical account, we find out quickly whether or not their arguments are solid. So, did the Israelites wipe out every single living Canaanite? Consider the following Biblical texts:

Joshua 16:10 “But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.”

Joshua 17:12 “But the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.”

Joshua 17:13 “It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.”

Joshua 17:16 “The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.”

As can be seen in the underlined texts of Joshua, there were still Canaanites living in the land after the Northern and Southern campaigns led by Joshua. As one goes later on into Old Testament history, we still find left-overs of the Canaanites. Take for instance the Jebusites who occupied what would become the city of Jerusalem during the beginning years of King David (2 Samuel 5). David’s driving out of the Jebusites and turning their stronghold into the famed “City of David” shows that Canaanites were still alive some 350 years after Joshua. 

Or how about even later still, in the New Testament, in Matthew 15:22 “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” This episode in the ministry of Jesus occurs over a millennium after the recorded events in Joshua. Canaanites were still around in Jesus day! He demonstrated incredible mercy to this woman – a profound lesson on the mercy of God!

If we take the Biblical data, the first premise of the above re-constructed argument is show invalid. In terms of the central point of the article, we then find that its insistence on the Bible being inaccurate is also rendered invalid. Whenever we find a skeptical argument rendered false by a simple reading of the Biblical text, whatever other details mentioned by the critic are rendered irrelevant. So what if Lebanese people are descendants of the ancient Canaanites? If there is evidence of survivors from the Canaanites throughout the Bible (which there are), then the information about the DNA linkage is just simply information and doesn’t overturn Biblical reliability, the existence of the God of the Bible nor the Christian worldview. 

Closing thoughts

The above evaluation ought to remind everyone who is a Jesus-follower and student of the Bible to be sure they know their Bibles. Sadly, too many unsuspecting Christians can be shaken by such a poorly researched article like the one written above. If we know our Bibles, we can say with confidence that it is accurate and that as always, any attempt to discredit the Bible fails in the long-run. 

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Death’s Obituary: Interpreting And Applying 1 Corinthians 15:55

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1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NASB) 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Introduction:

Today’s post wants to consider Paul’s Old Testament quotations in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, wherein He is announcing the victory of Jesus Christ over death by His resurrection from the dead. The quotes are interesting for a number of reasons – among those reasons being the fact that Paul is drawing from not one but two Old Testament references. What this post aims to do is two tasks:

1. To explore these quotations in terms of how Paul uses them in supporting his closing remarks in 1 Corinthians 15. 

2. To understand both the textual and theological features of the Old Testament texts from whence the quotations derive.

By exploring Paul’s Old Testament quotations and their theological and textual features, we will discover why his closing remarks are so potent in closing out his powerful argument for Christ’s resurrection. In short, what Paul is doing in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 is declaring a sort of obituary concerning death, and Christ’s decisive victory by way of His resurrection. So with those sentiments, let’s dig into the text!

Paul’s use of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:34 in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

As we noted earlier, Paul quotes not just one – but two Old Testament texts. The NASB text of Isaiah 25:8 reads-

He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.”

This first line (in red) in Isaiah 25:8 is alluded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:54, which reads in the NASB:

“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.‘” 

The second Old Testament text quoted by Paul in his closing remarks of 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 is from Hosea 13:14, which again the NASB renders:

“Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

The red line highlighted in Hosea 13:14 is referenced by Paul in slightly different wording in 1 Corinthians 15:55 – 

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

A read through Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13 and Hosea 14 reveal God’s intent to restore the nation of Israel not only to its former glory, but beyond to that of eschatological glory in the age to come. For the Old Testament prophets at least, the age of Israel’s restoration was set to occur at the end of history under the reign of the Messiah (see for example Ezekiel 37-39; Daniel 12; Joel 2; Amos 9; Zechariah 12-14). The concept of the people of Israel being resurrected at the end of history is alluded to and mentioned as occurring during this same future time-frame (see Job 14:14; 19:28; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 12). With these two main thoughts of “restoration” and “resurrection” being tied together in the prophets, connecting them with Messiah’s coming at the end of the age was how the Old Testament viewed the situation.

What made the aftermath of Jesus’ remarkable life and death so life-altering and history-altering was when the apostles began proclaiming that Jesus Christ had raised from the dead. Furthermore, for Paul to take texts like Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 and apply them as having been initiated in their fulfillment by the resurrection of Jesus meant the “age to come” had broke into “this current age”. The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarizes Paul’s reason for utilizing these texts in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55:

“The apparent victories of Satan, in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:13) and on Golgotha (Mark 15:22–24) were reversed on the cross (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14–15) and vindicated in the resurrection of Christ. From the vantage point of the certain resurrection of the saints, Paul voiced his taunt against death and Satan.” 

The Textual And Theological Features Of Paul’s Quotations In 1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Thus far we have summarized what Paul was quoting (Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14) in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 and the point he was making (to show Christ’s decisive victory over death by His resurrection from the dead). Such an argument by Paul reminds one of an obituary of sorts – or what we could call “death’s obituary”. The textual and theological features of these quotations will be briefly considered. 

In the New Testament, we discover that whenever an author quotes or alludes to the Old Testament, they are using one of three sources: the Hebrew Old Testament, the Greek Old Testament (i.e the Septuagint, LXX) or some other version of the Old Testament (examples: Aramaic Targum or unknown version).

To mention the first reference used by Paul – Isaiah 25:8 – the verbs for “swallow” are different, indicating that Paul may had derived his quotation from another Old Testament version. Below we can see a comparison of the Greek Septuagint text of Isaiah 25:8 and the Greek New Testament text of 1 Corinthians 15:54b with translations:

Isaiah 25:8 (Septuagint) κατέπιεν ὁ θάνατος

                                          Death is gobbled up

1 Corinthians 15:54b Κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος.

                                         Death is swallowed up in victory

 

The theological context is that of Yahweh restoring His people and the earth to such a degree as to wipe out death itself. The curse is reversed in Isaiah 25, effectively disarming and dismantling the curse of Genesis 3. In Jesus’ victory over death, we discover that the beginning phase of God’s restorative efforts has begun! Paul’s entire argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is to show that all who are united to Jesus in saving faith have this restorative process initiated in themselves. Truly what we see here is an “already-not yet” reality.

So with this first text studied, what about the second text: Hosea 13:14? Again, we consider the text of 1 Corinthians 15:55, first in the Greek Text (SBL Text) with the English rendering of it:

1 Corinthians 15:55 “ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ νῖκος; ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον;

1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where for you, Oh Death, is the victory! Where for you, Oh death, is the sting?” 

The second person singular pronouns (in red) could just as easily refer to death’s ownership of victory and the sting it administers as to reference to Death as the object of Paul’s taunt. In modern editions of the Greek New Testament, question marks (in green) are shown as English semi-colons (;), thus, Paul is asking more of a rhetorical question here. It is obvious what has happened: Jesus has snatched the victory and sting of death from its jaws! The point of Paul’s quotation is to do a theological equivalency of “na na na na na” to death. Again, the quote is taken from Hosea 13:14, which is difficult to render from its Hebrew original. The Hebrew of Hosea 13:14 is as follows:

Hosea 13:14 (Hebrew text)  מִיַּ֤ד שְׁאוֹל֙ אֶפְדֵּ֔ם מִמָּ֖וֶת אֶגְאָלֵ֑ם אֱהִ֨י דְבָרֶיךָ֜ מָ֗וֶת אֱהִ֤י קָֽטָבְךָ֙ שְׁא֔וֹל נֹ֖חַם יִסָּתֵ֥ר מֵעֵינָֽי׃

English translations have difficulty rendering this text due to the fact that it is hard to decide whether the Lord is addressing His people in the form of a series of rhetorical questions (example: will I rescue you from the hand of Sheol? = מִיַּ֤ד שְׁאוֹל֙ אֶפְדֵּ֔ם) or is He addressing them with the promise to redeem (example: I will rescue you from the hand of Sheol. = מִיַּ֤ד שְׁאוֹל֙ אֶפְדֵּ֔ם). We find the major English translations handling Hosea 13:14 as follows:

A. ESV of Hosea 13:14 “I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes. ”

B. NASB of Hosea 13:14  “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death?
O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

C. NIV of Hosea 13:14 “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”

D. KJV of Hosea 13:14  “I will ransom them from ithe power of the grave; I will redeem them from death:
O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”

As can be seen, the issue of which sentences are to be interrogative sentences and which ones are to be declarative makes rendering this text a challenge for the interpreter. The NET Bible has excellent translators notes on this text, which I will place in the footnotes of this post for anyone wanting to dig even further.Even though the translation issues are difficult, they need not be impossible. Sometimes whenever we are attempting to translate the Hebrew, we can compare the Greek translation of the Old Testament (i.e Septuagint), which is rendered below along with an authorized English translation of the Septuagint Text:

Hosea 13:14 (Septuagint Greek text) “ἐκ χειρὸς ᾅδου ῥύσομαι αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐκ θανάτου λυτρώσομαι αὐτούς, ποῦ ἡ δίκη σου, θάνατε; ποῦ τὸ κέντρον σου, ᾅδη; παράκλησις κέκρυπται ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν μου.”

Hosea 13:14 (Lexham English Septuagint)  “From the hand of Hades I will rescue, and from death I will ransom them. Where is your penalty, O death?
Where is your sting, O Hades? Comfort is hidden away from my eyes.”

Whenever we take the Septuagint text’s rendering of the first two sentences as declarations, we find God promising to restore His people. The next two sentences are rhetorical taunts against death, as seen in the interrogative pronouns (red) and question marks (green semi-colons). The final sentence then is God declaring to His people that (for the time being in their day), His comfort is hidden due to His wrath. Thankfully, Hosea 14 shows God’s true intention to redeem His people, which matches the first two sentences of Hosea 13:14. So whenever we compare the Greek Septuagint text of Hosea 13:14 to the portion of it quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55, what do we discover? Note the comparison of the portions in red:

Hosea 13:14 (Septuagint) “ἐκ χειρὸς ᾅδου ῥύσομαι αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐκ θανάτου λυτρώσομαι αὐτούς, ποῦ ἡ δίκη σου, θάνατε; ποῦ τὸ κέντρον σου, ᾅδη; παράκλησις κέκρυπται ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν μου.”

1 Corinthians 15:55 (SBL Greek New Testament) ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ νῖκος; ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον;

Paul’s quotation differs from the Septuagint text by one definite article (τὸ = the) and two nouns (νῖκος = victory and θάνατε = death) , with the words in black (in 1 Corinthians 15:55) being synonyms. It seems Paul is taking the sense of the Septuagint text as capturing what He is conveying about the lopsided victory of Christ over death.

Closing thoughts:

Taunting death is Paul’s way of saying that what Christ achieved is decisive or, to put it another way, “an already done deal”. In the Hebrew text, we have Yahweh stating His intent to destroy death: אֱהִ֨י דְבָרֶיךָ֜ מָ֗וֶת אֱהִ֤י קָֽטָבְךָ֙ שְׁא֔וֹל = “I will make a decree against you, Oh death! I will destroy you, O Sheol!” In the Greek text of the Septuagint, we have God taunting his enemy death in what appears to be His inevitable victory over it. In short, we can use Paul’s quotation and use of Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:55 as an authoritative method of rendering Hosea 13:14. In Paul’s quotations of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14, the point is being made: death has been decisively defeated. The restoration of redeemed humanity and the created order has begun in the resurrection of the Son of God. Whenever we consider the wider contexts of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14, as well as their respective renderings in the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint, we discover how potent of a conclusion is drawn by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. In short, Paul has spelled out death’s obituary, a victory anticipated by the prophetic Spirit operating through Isaiah and Hosea and fulfilled by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. 

Endnotes:

1. The translation of the first two lines of this verse reflects the interpretation adopted. There are three interpretive options to v. 14: (1) In spite of Israel’s sins, the LORD will redeem them from the threat of death and destruction (e.g., 11:8). However, against this view, the last line of 13:14 probably means that the LORD will not show compassion to Israel. (2) The LORD announces the triumphant victory over death through resurrection (cf. KJV, ASV, NIV). However, although Paul uses the wording of Hosea 13:14 as an illustration of victory over death, the context of Hosea’s message is the imminent judgment in 723–722 B.C. (3) The first two lines of 13:14 are rhetorical questions without explicit interrogative markers, implying negative answers: “I will not rescue them!” (cf. NAB, NASB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT). The next two lines in 13:14 are words of encouragement to Death and Sheol to destroy Israel. The final line announces that the LORD will not show compassion on Israel; he will not spare her.

 

 

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