Archive for the 'Bible' Category

What Does “Praying in the Holy Spirit” Mean?

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
Jude 1:20 NIV

Dear friends, use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Jude 1:20 GW

Almost all translations render it, “in the [power of the--GNT, NLT] Holy Spirit”.

Praying in the Holy Ghost. Observe, [1.] Prayer is the nurse of faith; the way to build up ourselves in our most holy faith is to continue instant in prayer, Rom 12:12. [2.] Our prayers are then most likely to prevail when we pray in the Holy Ghost, that is, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and constant persevering [Luke 11:5-10, Luke 18:1-8]; this is praying in the Holy Ghost, whether it be done by or without a set prescribed form.

–Matthew Henry

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 ESV

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew 21:22 NIV

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 12:12 GW

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
1 John 5:14 NIV

Also see:
God’s Will For You | Scripture Zealot blog


Spurgeon on Psalm 116:8

I often miss the spiritual meaning in Scripture. Death here can refer to that, possibly in addition to also being delivered from human enemies. I see it more readily now than I used to. Reading commentaries has helped me a lot with this.

I had a great time reading the first half of Psalm 116 today, which is one of my favorites. At least I thought it was, because I had the title highlighted. But in the past the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened up my eyes to nearly the amount of things I learned today. I spent some time looking at dead white guy commentaries, and this is one of the many gems I found.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” [Psalm 116:8] The triune God has given us a trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from dishonour. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of these deliverances. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried, and fears are banished when the Lord is near.

–C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Scripture Enlightening Scripture – Fear of the Lord and Wisdom

Reading and meditating on Psalm 111, which contains verse 10a:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

may help with learning more about Proverbs 9:10, which says the same thing, along with Job 28:28. Without acknowledging, praising Him for and obeying the things written there, we will not acquire wisdom.

The fear of the Lord, including reverencing him for his spectacular works and righteous character, is the beginning–being both the foundation, and the principal or chief–of wisdom (Henry Smith–paraphrased).

C.H. Spurgeon, who wrote The Treasury of David, in the introduction to this Psalm, writes:

Many are ignorant of what their Creator has done, and hence they are foolish in heart, and silent as to the praises of God: this evil can only be removed by a remembrance of God’s works, and a diligent study of them; to this, therefore, the psalm is meant to arouse us.

Matthew Henry comments on this verse in Psalms:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is not only reasonable that we should fear God, because his name is reverend and his nature is holy, but it is advantageous to us. It is wisdom; it will direct us to speak and act as becomes us, in a consistency with ourselves, and for our own benefit. It is the head of wisdom, that is (as we read it), it is the beginning of wisdom. Men can never begin to be wise till they begin to fear God; all true wisdom takes its rise from true religion, and has its foundation in it. Or, as some understand it, it is the chief wisdom, and the most excellent, the first in dignity. It is the principal wisdom, and the principal of wisdom, to worship God and give honour to him as our Father and Master. Those manage well who always act under the government of his holy fear.

Keil and Delitzsch:

The fear of Jahve, this holy and terrible God, is the beginning of wisdom – the motto of the Chokma in Job (Job 28:28) and Proverbs (Pro 1:7; Pro 9:10), the Books of the Chokma. Psalm 111:10 goes on in this Proverbs-like strain: the fear of God, which manifests itself in obedience, is to those who practise them (the divine precepts, פקודים) שֶׂכֶל טֹּוב (Pro 13:15; Pro 3:4, cf. 2 Chr 30:22), a fine sagacity, praiseworthy discernment – such a (dutiful) one partakes of everlasting praise.

After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Lord gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

You Can’t Out-Think God

You know how when you have a staring contest with a cat? Or maybe you did that with a sibling or friend when you were a kid, or maybe an adult. (This doesn’t include the aspect of who can keep their eyes open the longest.)

Imagine having a thinking contest. With God. Imagine the whole world vs. God. God would win. And he would like it. He would know everyone’s thoughts. It would be easy.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
Psalm 147:5

I want to encourage those who may be under the impression that God doesn’t care about the little things in your life, or has bigger things to deal with. God created us to be in relationship with him, and he wants to constantly hear those who are his children talk to him, think about him, ask him things, and even complain. God never says, “Not now; I’m busy.” Or, “Quit your whining!” I suppose this is a good reminder for everyone.

So after writing all of that, I’ll let Scripture speak for itself. The idea for this post first came when I read the first verse on the list below. These are purposely pulled out of context (except the last one) to get the message across, but I would encourage anyone to look at the context of any of the verses you may not be familiar with. I’m using God’s Word translation, except where noted.

If you have any to add, please post them in a comment, or anything else you’d like to write.

Morning, noon, and night I complain and groan,
and He listens to my voice.
Psalm 55:17

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Continue in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 ESV

Never stop praying.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

We always pray that our God will make you worthy of his call. We also pray that through his power he will help you accomplish every good desire and help you do everything your faith produces.
2 Thessalonians 1:11

I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day when I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did.
2 Timothy 1:3

Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up. He said, “In a city there was a judge who didn’t fear God or respect people. In that city there was also a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice.’ “For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, ‘This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.’” The Lord added, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge thought. Won’t God give his chosen people justice when they cry out to him?
Luke 18:1-7

to persist obstinately in–Liddell-Scott

Psalm 23 Addendum

For those who saw the Psalm 23 post before this post was written, I’m very embarrassed to say that I copied and pasted the wrong translation. It was close enough to God’s Word translation that I thought they may have updated it since my Bible was printed. I was so into the HTML formatting of the indentation that I didn’t pay attention to the differences. Since many people get these posts via email right after they’re put up, and people get them in RSS feed readers the same way, I can’t make any changes that they will see. I apologize. I’ve not made changes to the post.

Psalm 23 – God’s Word Translation

I still really like God’s Word translation, and love my inexpensive plain single column black Duravella cover Bible, which isn’t made anymore. I decided to change the RefTagger (which has some new features) translation to that, even though most probably use NIV. (See Psalm 23:1, which you should be able to hover over or touch or whatever.) I was very pleased when reading Psalm 23 today. I think it’s just slightly more formal (literal) than the NLT, except they use the formal word for to begin many sentences, and more significantly formal than the Good New Bible, but still solidly dynamic in my estimation, although some would list it as intermediate, like Craig Blomberg, whom I just read. I like to go to the GNB when I want to understand a passage, because it does more interpretationing. The NASB is my favorite for when I want to use a translation on the literal/formal end for working on Greek or sentence diagramming. I read the very fine NIV for over two decades before I got into all of this translation stuff.

Regarding Psalm 23, I see that this, and the ESV and KJV are the only ones to mention death in the line about the “the dark valley”. Most of the modern translators seem to have come to the conclusion that death is not necessary or is going too far. I’m not interested in it enough to look into it. If you know the story, let me know.

One feature (or something some people would hate), of God’s Word translation is that it indents poetry, almost like a crude form of sentence diagramming. I kind of like it, but can imagine what some people think of it. I decided to format it below as it is in my Bible.

I don’t expect many to like their favorite Psalm changed, but I was pleased enough with this that I wanted to post it. Maybe you haven’t read it in a while and will see something in a new way.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I am never in need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside peaceful waters.
He renews my soul.
He guides me along the paths of righteousness
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the dark valley of death,
because you are with me, I fear no harm.
Your rod and your staff give me courage.
You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life,
and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.

Scripture of the Day – God is Our Refuge

Not only is God our refuge, but he wants to be our refuge all the time in all circumstances. God is never bothered and loves us to come to him in every way. Praise God for these things. The more I thought about this, the more Scripture came to mind (John 14:26).

We find refuge through prayer and Scripture.

The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10*
(I would guess that a two part sermon could be given on this one verse.)

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
Psalm 19:7

the Lord delights in those
who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.
Nahum 1:7

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Ephesians 6:18

pray continually,
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20

*This is the well-known verse where the traditional translations render it “the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” I always wonder if the tower is padded so that they don’t get hurt. “Look at all of those silly Christians lying around, having run into that tower.” At least they’re safe. Whenever somebody says that they ran into an old friend, I tell them that I hope neither of them got hurt. It can be difficult for those of us who are literal thinkers. I could go on about people who don’t stand in the way of sinners, but that’s another story that most of you are familiar with.

Sorry for the diversion. I pray that we will find refuge in God more and more.

Galatians 3:12 and the Law

Here are some things I pulled together quite a while ago. I can’t remember doing this, but it was in my Drafts area and seems complete.

Laws have nothing to do with faith, but, “Whoever obeys laws will live because of the laws he obeys.”
Galatians 3:12 GW

But the man who shall do these things. The difference lies in this, that man, when he fulfils the law, is reckoned righteous by a legal righteousness, which he proves by a quotation from Moses. (Lev 18:5.) Now, what is the righteousness of faith? He defines it in the Epistle to the Romans,

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom 10:9.)

And yet it does not follow from this, that faith is inactive, or that it sets believers free from good works. For the present question is not, whether believers ought to keep the law as far as they can, (which is beyond all doubt,) but whether they can obtain righteousness by works, which is impossible. But since God promises life to the doers of the law, why does Paul affirm that they are not righteous? The reply to this objection is easy. There are none righteous by the works of the law, because there are none who do those works. We admit that the doers of the law, if there were any such, are righteous; but since that is a conditional agreement, all are excluded from life, because no man performs that righteousness which he ought. We must bear in memory what I have already stated, that to do the law is not to obey it in part, but to fulfill everything which belongs to righteousness; and all are at the greatest distance from such perfection.

–John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries

The law itself is not opposed to faith (see 3:19-25 NLT; Rom 7:7-13 NLT), but trying to be righteous by keeping the law opposes righteousness by faith in Christ. Paul quotes Lev 18:5 NLT to show that life under the law comes by obeying rather than believing. Right standing with God is impossible on that basis (Galatians 3:10-11 NLT).

NLT Study Bible note on Galatians 3:12 NLT

Paul uses Lev. 18:5 ESV to show that the law is not of faith. It is likely that Paul means the same thing here that he meant in Rom. 10:5 ESV, where Lev. 18:5 ESV is equated with “the righteousness that is based on the law” (cf. Phil. 3:9) in contrast to the “righteousness based on faith” (Rom. 10:6). Some interpreters argue that the one who does them shall live by them (cf. Lev. 18:5 ESV) in its original context had to do with the temporal blessing and fullness of life that would come to the one who “does” the law. But it also seems to be a conditional promise within the law indicating that obedience would lead to righteousness (cf. Deut. 6:25 ESV); this promise, however, remains unfulfilled because it relies on the fulfilling of a condition that could never happen: i.e., it relies on a human “doing of the law” in a complete and sufficient way. Others argue the original context of Lev. 18:5 (see note) mainly concerns the means of enjoying life under God’s pleasure by keeping God’s statutes and rules. Because some think the meaning of Lev. 18:5 in the original context is incompatible with the negative way in which Paul is using the verse here, they believe Paul is citing it as a misused slogan of the Judaizers. It seems better, however, to understand Paul as reading Lev. 18:5 ESV typologically—that is, as seeing life in the land of Israel as a typological reference to eternal life. In the Mosaic covenant, salvation was through faith in God’s promise and his atonement, culminating in the Messiah. But now that the new covenant has come, those who insist on the entrance requirements of the old covenant do not have the benefit of sacrifices, so they must “do” all that the Mosaic law requires in order to “live” eternally (cf. Gal. 5:3 ESV).

ESV Study Bible note on Galatians 3:12

so that whatever man does the things contained in the law, that is, internally as well as externally, for the law is spiritual, reaches the inward part of man, and requires truth there, a conformity of heart and thought unto it, and that does them perfectly and constantly, without the least failure in matter or manner of obedience, such shall live in them and by them; the language of the law is, do this and live; so life, and the continuation of that happy natural life which Adam had in innocence, was promised to him, in case of his persisting in his obedience to the law; and so a long and prosperous life was promised to the Israelites in the land of Canaan, provided they observed the laws and statutes which were commanded them: but since eternal life is a promise made before the world began, is provided for in an everlasting covenant, is revealed in the Gospel, and is the pure gift of God’s grace through Christ, it seems that it never was the will of God that it should be obtained by the works of the law; and which is a further proof that there can be no justification in the sight of God by them, see Gal 3:21.

–John Gill, Commentary

The Glory of Christ in the Old Testament

One thing I will continue to harp on is the importance of the Old Testament. (I also harp on how important it is to pray for not only healing, but also all manner of spiritual matters in praying for those who are suffering, among a few other things.)

John Owen writes about this pretty forcefully in The Glory of Christ. A few years ago I planned on doing what I called “The year of the Old Testament”. That turned into two years, although there was a break for surgery in there, I think. I felt like I hardly learned anything, relatively speaking. I learned a lot, for me, but didn’t get very far in learning about how the two testaments of the book of the Bible are connected. In addition to spending time in the larger portion of the Book, I’ll need to spend other years concentrating on it.

Here is what he writes in the chapter titled ‘Representations of the glory of Christ under the Old Testament’. The first part is a quote in full, and there is only a part of each section for each of his numbered portions (those Puritans and their numbers!). Italic are his. Bold is mine. The word mystical basically means unseen. I don’t want some of you to get freaked out about that.

It is said of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he declared unto his disciples in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. It is therefore manifest that Moses, and the Prophets, and all the Scriptures, do give testimony unto him and his glory. This is the line of life and light which runs through the whole Old Testament; without the conduct whereof we can understand nothing aright therein: and the neglect hereof is that which makes many as blind in reading the books of it as are the Jews, — the veil being upon their minds. It is faith alone, discovering the glory of Christ, that can remove that veil of darkness which covers the minds of men in reading the Old Testament, as the apostle declares, 2 Cor. 3:14–16. I shall, therefore, consider briefly some of those ways and means whereby the glory of Christ was represented unto believers under the Old Testament.

1. It was so in the institution of the beautiful worship of the law, with all the means of it. Herein have they the advantage above all the splendid ceremonies that men can invent in the outward worship of God; they were designed and framed in divine wisdom to represent the glory of Christ, in his person and his office.

2. It was represented in the mystical account which is given us of his communion with his church in love and grace. As this is intimated in many places of Scripture, so there is one entire book designed unto its declaration.

3. It was so represented and made known under the Old Testament, in his personal appearances on various occasions unto several eminent persons, leaders of the church in their generations This he did as a præludium to his incarnation. He was as yet God only; but appeared in the assumed shape of a man, to signify what he would be.

4. It was represented in prophetical visions. So the apostle affirms that the vision which Isaiah had of him was when he saw his glory, John 12:41.

5. The doctrine of his incarnation, whereby he became the subject of all that glory which we inquire after, was revealed, although not so clearly as by the Gospel, after the actual accomplishment of the thing itself.

6. Promises, prophecies, predictions, concerning his person, his coming, his office, his kingdom, and his glory in them all, with the wisdom, grace, and love of God to the church in him, are the line of life, as was said, which runs through all the writings of the Old Testament, and takes up a great portion of them. Those were the things which he expounded unto his disciples out of Moses and all the Prophets. Concerning these things he appealed to the Scriptures against all his adversaries: “Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me.” And if we find them not, if we discern them not therein, it is because a veil of blindness is over our minds. Nor can we read, study, or meditate on the writings of the Old Testament unto any advantage, unless we design to find out and behold the glory of Christ, declared and represented in them. For want hereof they are a sealed book to many unto this day.

7. It is usual in the Old Testament to set out the glory of Christ under metaphorical expressions; yea, it aboundeth therein. For such allusions are exceedingly suited to let in a sense into our minds of those things which we cannot distinctly comprehend. And there is an infinite condescension of divine wisdom in this way of instruction, representing unto us the power of things spiritual in what we naturally discern. Instances of this kind, in calling the Lord Christ by the names of those creatures which unto our senses represent that excellency which is spiritually in him, are innumerable. So he is called the rose, for the sweet savour of his love, grace, and obedience; — the lily, for his gracious beauty and amiableness; — the pearl of great price, for his worth, for to them that believe he is precious; — the vine, for his fruitfulness; — the lion, for his power; — the lamb, for his meekness and fitness for sacrifice; with other things of the like kind almost innumerable.

We will grow richer as we understand more of these things.

Reading The Book God Lavished On Us

As the new year comes along, it’s always a good time to consider reading through the Bible, and this blog can’t go without a post on something so important. Scripture doesn’t command us to read it once a year, but there are many who live by a book they haven’t read in its entirety. There was a long period of time when I didn’t read my Bible as much as I should have, but I always loved it, and because of God re-instilling the want to do it, thankfully the enthusiasm and purpose returned later on.

It’s a mystery as to why this is difficult for so many people.

Some don’t seem to care, which is obviously a big problem.

Some want to, but just can’t get themselves to do it. I suppose time management is part of this. It shouldn’t be difficult because it only takes about ten minutes of reading a day to read through the book in a year. It may seem like a big task that’s hard to get started. More importantly, asking God to help one want to read it is as important as anything.

Some feel that they need to understand everything they read. I’ve learned that there are different objectives in the various types of reading and studying. Reading through the Bible is to familiarize ourselves with what it says. This needs to be done regularly, whether it’s once a year, twice a year or once every few years. We need to be saturated in Scripture to learn and be reminded of what it says, which is something the Holy Spirit helps us with (John 14:26). But we have to read it for him to remind us of what it says. Also, if Scripture interprets Scripture, then we need to read the Scripture that might interpret the Scripture that we’re interpreting. There is also repeated reading of smaller portions for even more familiarity. I did this with Proverbs when we studied it in a group and couldn’t get enough of it. I recently read through Colossians in just about every translation I have. There is ‘devotional’ reading, for lack of a better term, where we read a very small portion very slowly and intently and pray over everything we read. There are also various levels of study. Most of us can’t do all of these things at once, but reading through the Bible is primary.

Getting back to that–here is a great post on this subject:
How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 – Justin Taylor

You can also find just about every type of reading plan there is on YouVersion. I would stay clear of the devotionals.

If you’re really ambitious, then you probably know about Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. If you like to use the bookmarks, Nathan Bingham points us to some redesigned ones. YouVersion, or possibly your favorite Bible study site will have an app or other computerized way of telling you what you need to read.

One thing I love to do is read a chapter of Proverbs a day for a month. This book is so rich and full of wisdom, I think it should be read regularly. I’m finishing up with that right now. I think that for those who are new and intimidated, doing this (be sure to read an introduction to it, and understand the wisdom genre being about general truths, not fast and hard promises) and reading part of a chapter of a gospel, or one of Paul’s shorter letters would be a good start. Of course, Genesis may be the best.

In case anyone would care, I like to read at different ‘speeds’ at different times. I’ve read through the Bible in a year maybe two or three times, one of them being The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. I also read through it (NRSV) in 8-10 weeks which definitely has its benefits. When reading through it in a year, by the time you get done, you’ve forgotten what you read a year ago. After reading it that quickly, I read a comprehensive book on Christ, and I remembered just about everything in Scripture that was mentioned (which was a lot) that the Catholic scholar (!) wrote about. Too bad that doesn’t last longer. I read the Bible more this year than past years and read through the OT. I’ve started studying Colossians as deeply as I can, which will be a very long project; I’m sure there will be breaks. As mentioned, I’m reading through Proverbs so that I’m not concentrating on only one book of the Bible, which was a suggestion I read on a blog regarding devotional reading. I’ll probably visit Psalms again, and then I just can’t pass up one of my favorites, Ecclesiastes, to round out most of the poetry, after having read a commentary on Job. Maybe Mark and Revelation after that, having not read them in a while.

What a great treasure we have. I pray that we will all relish Scripture more and more, and that God will reveal more of himself through His Spirit as we read and study.

Also see:
On Reading the Scriptures, Part I
On Reading the Scriptures, Part II
These are written by my friend, Esteban Vázquez, who used to blog. Those were the days.

Scripture of the Day: Trinity Rejoicing

As happens so often when reading Scripture, this stuck out to me. It seems like I hadn’t noticed it before. Right there in Proverbs, Scripture speaks about the wisdom of God (Christ), rejoicing with the Father. I often praise God for His creation and know how much he enjoys it, because so much of it is unseen to us, and yet He created it in all of its intricacy. He rejoices in us too, creating us far more complex than we will ever understand.

I [wisdom] was His delight every day,
always rejoicing before Him.
I was rejoicing in His inhabited world,
delighting in the human race.
Proverbs 8:30-31 HCSB

[brackets are mine]

Scripture of the Day: Encouragement and Assurance

I was thinking of Scripture that can be paired. Maybe this can encourage some believers who aren’t sure if they are righteous, or blameless, or wonder if God really understands our frailty. I’m including only one or two verses each for clarity. I would encourage looking at the context. If you are not a believer, have you heard the gospel?

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:22

Am I righteous? How can I be if I so often ‘miss the mark’?

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21


For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 84:11

How can I be blameless if I’m not perfect? I certainly can be blamed for doing wrong.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Ephesians 1:4


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

Yes, Christ, our high priest, lived as a human being and knows what that’s like. Even if it’s a silly question to ask, does God himself know how frail we are?

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Literal Greek Translation Does Not Work

…in this case.

The translation of the Greek participle is often idiomatic. You must look at what the Greek means, and then figure out how to say the same thing in English. Going word for word will usually not work.

–Bill Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek (emphasis added by me)

In this quote, purposely taken wildly out of context (I really am using the book though, as an addition to Black’s grammar)–taking out the first sentence, and changing usually to often explains how I feel about translation.

I’m just spouting off here. Just take it as rantings from a maniac who doesn’t know what he’s talking or writing about.

I’m extremely thankful for all of the translations we have. One of the best exercises in doing exegesis for me (which is somewhat laughable, but bear with me) is printing out at least six translations of a passage and comparing them. That alone shows how valuable they can be. Various people have various reasons to like certain types of translations.

I disagree when people say that the very formal equivalent (literal end) translations are the best and only ones that should be used as a primary translation, and the dynamic (previous called thought for thought, or paraphrase for those who aren’t familiar with what a paraphrase is) should only be used for comparison. I have to think that they are very educated in Biblish, Scripture and are very used to the language used, which is certainly fine.

I think that translation should be into English English, not Greek English or Hebrew English.

Although I have no problem with literal translations and certainly not with anyone who prefers them, in my mind it seems that literal translations aren’t translated ‘all the way’ into English. They try to use original language grammar and word order and fit it into English, except when they can’t, which is much more of the time than many people think. Some of the language in the ESV for example would get red marks by an English teacher. Bad word order, bad sentence structure, repetitive. I think that translation should be into English English, not Greek English or Hebrew English. That’s an extremely general statement of course, fraught with issues that books have been written about.

Bill Mounce used to be staunchly in the literal camp, but softened a bit when he sat in on updating the NIV (correct me if I’m wrong on the details), although that translation is more on the literal end than many would think. Even though I’ve had detractors, I still love the God’s Word translation. Many translations have been done ‘from the ground up’, like the NIV, but then they still borrow so many phrases from the KJV that you would think it’s a revision of a revision. Even the NLT does that in many places, John 3:16 NLT being the most notable. GW finally breaks out of that pretty well. Koine Greek (as far as that smaller portion of Scripture goes) was the common language of the time, unless that’s been revised. Not that it’s slang or plain, but I see it as a well written novel that nearly everyone could basically understand. Devices like alliteration, idioms and word plays were often used. I see the GW as one that’s just a bit more formal than the NLT in spots, but reads like it was written by someone who knows how to write for a good publication (as opposed to “how they speak on your favorite sit-com”). Unfortunately, it shies away from some traditional theological terms, but you can’t have everything. It still leaves many Hebrew idioms in place, like in Ecclesiastes and other poetry, instead of trying to explain them, which I appreciate.

I’m very thankful for the effort translators have put into what they do, and I pray that more will be done in other languages. I’m glad that after getting tired of reading the NIV for over two decades, as wonderful as it is, and then bouncing from NRSV for three years, to HCSB to REB, the latter of which I think is pretty fantastic, I’ve finally found my home. I can read the Bible for the most part without feeling like I’m reading a translation, but just reading the Bible in our English, if that makes sense.

The thoughts above are completely my own. I just looked at their Translation Philosophy page, which I haven’t seen in a few years, and am reminded how much I like what they have to say there.

Addendum: The one thing I strongly disagree with as mentioned above is not using theological terms. People need to learn them. One advantage to not using them is they can translate the nuances in the original language. Grace can mean different things in different contexts. But convenant is so fundamental. They explain why they don’t use this if you go to the Word Choice page and scroll down to Eliminating Technical Theological Language. I can kind of see their point with covenant, but with justify and righteous, I think it’s better if everyone is on the same page. Learning those terms is part of education. I even think propitiation should be used, even though 1% of Christians (guessing) actually know what it means. But that’s like the most righteous word in the whole English Bible. Word.

How do we know that God is love?

I want to post some quotes from John Owen while reading his book The Glory of Christ, partly because many find him hard to read. I suppose this quote isn’t the easiest one to start out with, but it’s what I came across and have a couple thoughts about. You may want to read the quote more than once if you need to and have the time.

God is love. He is many other things too. John Owen is pointing out here that God isn’t love because He’s a nice gentlemanly fellow and all of the other things we like to imagine outside of what the Bible says. God has primarily demonstrated his love in what he did in sending his only son to die for us. Because so many of us have read and heard about it so many times, it can be even more difficult to grasp the severity of it. Tell someone the (true) story in detail who has no idea of it, and they would probably be much more shocked than some of us are.

I think the translations that put John 3:16 in contemporary language help in describing this just a little bit better. This verse isn’t saying, “God loved the world sooo much (which isn’t what the classic KJV rendering in the language of its time says or means either). Take my word for it.” Telling us exactly how God loved the world is dreadful, descriptive and meaningful.

God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.
John 3:16 GW

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 HCSB

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NET

But the inquiry is as before, — How shall we have a view of this love, of God as love? by what way or means shall we behold the glory of it? It is hidden from all living, in God himself. The wise philosophers, who discoursed so much of the love of God, knew nothing of this, that “God is love.” The most of the natural notions of men about it are corrupt, and the best of them weak and imperfect. Generally, the thoughts of men about it are, that he is of a facile and easy nature, one that they may make bold withal in all their occasions; as the Psalmist declares, Ps. l. 21. And whereas it must be learned in its effects, operations, and divine ways of its manifestation, those who know not Christ know nothing of them. And many things in providence do interpose to hinder our views of this love; — for although, indeed, “God is love,” yet “his wrath is revealed from heaven against the ungodliness of men;” as all things at this day are filled with evidences of his anger and displeasure. How, then, shall we know, wherein shall we behold, the glory of God in this, that he is love? The apostle declares it in the next words, 1 John iv. 9, “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” This is the only evidence given us that “God is love.” Hereby alone is the divine nature as such made known unto us, — namely, in the mission, person, and office of the Son of God; without this, all is in darkness as unto the true nature and supreme operation of this divine love.

Herein do we behold the glory of Christ himself, even in this life. This glory was given him of the Father, — namely, that he now should declare and evidence that “God is love;” and he did so, “that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” Herein we may see how excellent, how beautiful, how glorious and desirable he is, seeing in him alone we have a due representation of God as he is love; which is the most joyful sight of God that any creature can obtain. He who beholds not the glory of Christ herein is utterly ignorant of those heavenly mysteries; — he knoweth neither God nor Christ, — he has neither the Father nor the Son. He knows not God, because he knows not the holy properties of his nature in the principal way designed by infinite wisdom for their manifestation; he knows not Christ, because he sees not the glory of God in him. Wherefore, whatever notions men may have from the light of nature, or from the works of Providence, that there is love in God, — however they may adorn them in elegant, affecting expressions, — yet from them no man can know that “God is love.”

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

Quotes About Jesus in the Old Testament – Pt 1 of Many

I have read three very good books that pertain to Jesus in the Old Testament. Since this isn’t a topic that’s mentioned a lot, I thought I’d post some quotes from these books that I think are helpful. This first book is a very short and inexpensive. If you want to read something that’s less than 40 pages as a primer, this one is great.

These inevitably also show us why it’s important to read and at least have a basic understanding of the Old Testament.

Notice, however, that the writer to the Hebrews grounds his message about the obsoleteness of the Old Testament in the Old Testament itself! He quotes the Old Testament repeatedly to help his readers to understand the glorious greatness of the new covenant in Christ. In other words, to understand the climactic message of the New Testament properly, you first need to understand the preparatory message of the Old Testament. Only then will you be ready to understand the mission of the Christ whom God has sent. This is why many missionaries who translate the Bible into other languages do not start with the New Testament, but rather with Old Testament texts such as Genesis 17and Psalms. Without those foundational passages and their teaching about who God is and how he related to Abraham and his descendants, it is hard for people to grasp the message that this God has now taken flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

–Iain Duguid, Is Jesus in the Old Testament? (Basics of the Faith)