Monthly Archives: June 2016

Bono and Eugene Peterson and the Psalms

A few months ago, the video above was released and was passed along quite readily over social media.

The film highlights how Bono, the front man for the band U2 and Eugene Peterson, the scholar who worked on the paraphrase of the Bible called The Message, formed a surprising friendship over the subject of the Psalms.

In the film, there is a segment where the cameras run as they meet in person at Peterson’s cabin in the woods to share their experiences and perspectives on the Psalms and their lives of faith.



Old Testament from 35000 Feet–20 Key People of OT (Part A)

God worked through different people in the Old Testament. They were far from perfect just like us. So what can we learn about these people?

In this presentation, we get a quick sketch of 10 of the key people.

6 key people in Genesis: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.
4 key people before the kings: Moses, Joshua, 12 Judges, Samuel.

Are we like them in some ways? God used them!

In later episodes: 4 key people during the time of the kings and 6 key people after the kings.

Sean McDowell – the Fate of the Apostles

Image source:

Was listening to a Stand To Reason archive podcast because the title caught my eye: “Sean McDowell – the Death of the Apostles” (November 6, 2015).

Apparently, McDowell worked on the topic as a dissertation and turned it into a book. Alas, the book is an academic print run and costs $119.95 and not likely to be purchased by the average reader!

McDowell has blogged about some of the content of the book at his web page and one can listen to the STR podcast.

Briefly, the premise of his project was that he (and most of us) have often heard that most of the Apostles died for their faith. McDowell decided to try to track down the historical data to see if this assertion is born out.

As one might imagine, trying to find evidence for something that happened 2000 years ago isn’t easy. In the podcast, he discussed the nature of the evidence for the deaths of Peter and Paul, James the brother of John, and James the brother of Jesus. He, along with other history scholars, rate the evidence for these as pretty good.

The support of what happened to Thomas and Andrew is not as strong but on balance is plausible. The data on the remaining apostles is not conclusive and sometimes contradictory.

He and Greg Koukl also discussed the data on the Apostle John. The main view is that he died of old age on while in exile on Patmos or shortly after leaving Patmos. However, there is a subset of scholars who cite some suggestive evidence he might have died for his faith somewhere in the time period covered by the Book of Acts. He appears active in early chapters in Acts and then suddenly isn’t mentioned. That is an argument from silence but scholars point to some external (non-Biblical) sources that also point to a possible early death.

Whether all the Apostles actually died as a direct result of their faith, is not knowable from the historical data. However, what can be said is the following:

(1) The NT writings suggest that suffering for the faith was something the believers should expect and in some case had already experienced.

(2) The message of the faith and the motivation to persevere was the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus.

This does NOT prove the resurrection of Jesus but it does prove that the resurrection was central to the early Christian message and motivation for the faithfulness of the first Christians.


How to study the Bible – Applications

After doing thorough observations and interpretation in context of the passage, you can begin to think about application.

Check out this video for guidance on how to go about it.

Old Testament from 35000 Feet – Megiddo (Part C)

Food for thought, in this video, Megiddo as a metaphor for a “strategic” place is discussed in this video.

Interestingly, Nazareth, where Jesus was grew up, was near Megiddo.

How about us?

How might we have an influence for God in where we are placed?

Interpreting the Scriptures

After you make observations of the text, you will need to make interpretations – determining its meaning.

There are some basic ideas you should keep in mind when interpreting the Scriptures. Check out this informative video for some practical guidance to do this properly!

Interpretation – translations and context and the meaning of words?

In Bible study, observation is gathering the facts about a Bible text one is looking at. Interpretation is figuring out what it means. One key thing to do is determining the meaning key words in the text. Sometimes the Bible translators will help out with that task.

Let’s take a look at Colossians 2:18-23 (NIV) …..

18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Let’s take a look at Colossians 2:18-23 (NASB)

18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence .

As you can see here, the NIV translation uses two different words while the NASB uses only one word.

What is going on?

The Greek word in question is: σαρκὸς. This is Strong’s Greek word number 4561 sarx. Thus, in the Greek text, there is only one word in question. Depending on context, that word could have different shades of meaning. In v. 23, the meaning is “the animal nature with cravings” while v. 18, the meaning is “the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence.”

As you can see the two translation teams made different choices in terms of English words. In the NASB case, they opted to stick closer to the Greek word and used the same English word. While the NIV opted to get at the meaning of the word and thus used two different English words to render the one Greek word. This is a decision that is constantly in front of Bible translators to balance translating the thoughts and the words.

As such, it is always a good idea, if possible, when studying the Scriptures, to have two translations at different points of the spectrum of the word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation spectrum. And, if you feel ambitious, be ready to go to the internet and find the Greek or Hebrew behind the English translation!spect

Image source: