Church Write-Up: Acts 8:26-40; I John 4:1-11; John 15

I went to the Wednesday Bible Study at the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.  This post will convey some points that I heard.

A.  One of our texts was Acts 8:26-40, in which the deacon Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch.  The pastor set up some context by discussing the ordination of the deacons in Acts 6.  He said that the name Philip is Greek, but Philip may still be Jewish, since Jewish men could have Greek names.  If Philip was Gentile, then that was an example of the Gospel going beyond its Jewish roots unto the Gentiles, as Jesus forecast in Acts 1:8.  The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch is a definite example of that, as Ethiopia was deemed to be at the ends of the earth (according to Strabo).  This discussion stood out to me, because I have read about the debates over the identity of the Hellenists in Acts 6.  Many maintain that the Hellenists were Hellenistic Jews and that the Gospel officially started going to the Gentiles in Acts 10, not before.  Kirsopp Lake, by contrast, argued that the Hellenists were Greeks, and that one cannot neatly assert that Acts 10 marks the church’s outreach to Gentiles.  After all, the church was reaching out to Gentiles before then, with the Ethiopian eunuch.  The pastor seemed to prefer Lake’s view.

B.  The pastor gave us background about Ethiopian eunuchs.  In Meroe, a kingdom in Ethiopia, kings were considered to be too holy to be administrators, so the Queen-Mother, called the Candace, administered the realm.  Eunuchs served the Queen-Mother and guarded the harem, and they were made eunuchs so that they would not sleep with the women.  The eunuchs were probably mocked by their subordinates, and, under Deuteronomy 23:1, they were excluded from the assembly of the LORD; the pastor said that they were limited to the Court of the Gentiles, but may even have been excluded from there, on account of their condition.  The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 is reading Isaiah 53, which asks who will declare the Suffering Servant’s generation after his life was taken from the earth.  The pastor speculated that the eunuch may have identified with the Suffering Servant, who was rejected and without offspring.

C.  Another text that we read was I John 4:1-11.  The pastor talked about the docetists and the Gnostics: people who denied that Jesus came in the flesh, died for people’s sins, and rose bodily and physically.  Because of their contempt for the material, they were very licentious in their lifestyles.  They were people who deliberately rejected Christ and were part of the “world” that John criticizes.  Persecution of the church was taking place, and John was seeking to reassure the believers that Christ was greater than the world.  John also talks about how confessing Christ—-and knowing and being known by Christ in intimate relationship—-leads to love for God and neighbor.  When the church helps people, it is testifying to the world about who Christ is.

D.  I asked a question.  In I John 4:3, the author tells the community that it knows the Antichrist would come.  The author states, though, that the Antichrist is in the world already, as manifest in those denying that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.  I wondered if the future Antichrist, likewise, would deny that Jesus came in the flesh, or if the spirit of Antichrist can manifest itself in different ways.  The pastor responded that amillennialists (which LCMS Lutherans generally are) think we have been in the end-times since Christ’s ascension, but that the similarity between the Antichrist spirit of I John 4 and the Beast of Revelation 13 is that both deny who Christ is.  The Antichrist will claim to be Christ himself, putting himself above Christ and saying that Jesus is insufficient to be Savior.

E.  We also read John 15, in which Jesus affirms that he is the vine and the disciples are the branches.  Jesus prunes what is spiritually unproductive in us through his word, his teaching.  There is also the significant factor of intimacy, as Jesus is intimate with the Father and believers.  The fruit of all this is prayer, love for God and one another, and obedience to Christ, all of which glorify the Father.

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The Enlightenment, Biblical Studies, and the Development of the Dispensationalist and Hebrew Roots Hermeneutic (With Reference to Doug Hamp) — The Evangelical Calvinist

Here’s a repurposed post. I originally applied this to Dispensationalism. This time I want to expand its reach and application to another form of biblical literalism I’ve been exposed to from a guy I had contact with back in my Calvary Chapel days. He has since changed his positions, and leans heavily into the Hebrew […]

via The Enlightenment, Biblical Studies, and the Development of the Dispensationalist and Hebrew Roots Hermeneutic (With Reference to Doug Hamp) — The Evangelical Calvinist

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Review: The Return of George Washington — Bob on Books

The Return of George Washington, Edward J. Larson. New York: Morrow, 2014. Summary: An account of the life of George Washington, between his retirement as General of the Continental Army in 1783 until his inauguration as the first president under the new U.S. Constitution. In December of 1783, having successfully led the Continental Army to victory […]

via Review: The Return of George Washington — Bob on Books

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Gnuse and Hoffmeier-the mystery mountain


Both Robert Karl Gnuse and James Hoffmeier deal with the question of the location of Sinai/Horeb.  Gnuse, in The Elohist,  says that in E the operative phrase is the “mountain of God.”  Horeb, he thinks, has become attached to this concept.  But the mountain of God is not a particular geographical location.  It is whichever mountain God may use for self-disclosure.

Hoffmeier, in Ancient Israel in Sinai, takes the location of the mountain as a particular place much more seriously.  He rejects the documentary hypothesis.  He says that Horeb is a desert.  In fact, the word means desert.  The term “mount Horeb” is only used once (Exodus 33:6).  It is not the name of a mountain but means the mountain that is in the Horeb wilderness.  Sinai is the name both of a mountain and of a wilderness.  The Bible definitely uses it sometimes as the name of…

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If I Could Go Back…15 years (Part 2) (Gupta)

Crux Sola


Let me take you back 15 years. The year was 2003, and I was about halfway through Seminary (and 2 seasons into Alias). I studied for my M.Div and Th.M. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I chose GCTS for its emphasis on biblical languages and Christian discipleship. When I started at seminary, I didn’t have a particular vocation in mind, but I will say teaching/academia was not on my radar. Because my studies (from grade school through college) had been in the secular educational world up to that point, I just had never imagined what it would have been like to be a “Bible prof.” But as I journeyed through seminary and came alive in these Scripture courses, I had a fire in my heart for lifelong study of the Bible and the compulsion to share with others what I was learning.

When did I “know” I wanted to be a…

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If I Could Go Back (20 Years)…: Preparing for a Career in Biblical Studies (Part 1)

Crux Sola


I am starting a new series called “If I Could Go Back…” I am now almost a decade into my teaching career, and it has given me a chance to look back and appreciate some things I did right, and also to consider how I could have better prepared for this vocation as teacher and researcher.

In this first part, I am going back 20 years to 1998. I was a sophomore in college at Miami University (OH). First I will talk about good decisions, then about what I could have done differently.

Good Decisions

I kind of stumbled into a major – I started first in music education. But I realized quickly this was not that interesting to me as a career. Then, I switched to “Speech Communication” as a placeholder. I had some interest in ministry (youth or college ministry of some kind). It didn’t occur…

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Gnuse-situating E after the northern exile


When I last wrote about Robert Karl Gnuse’s book on The Elohist, he had argued that the circles that produced the stories about Elijah and Elisha must have been composed earlier than the Elohist because they tell strange, incredible tales. By earlier, he means at least a century earlier.

This argument sounds impressive. But I think about the present day.  I am aware of a Pentecostal culture where contemporary people tell all kinds of stories about current revelations from God, demon possession and exorcism, and even recent resurrections from the dead. These circles are not centuries apart from communities more defined by modernity. The credulous and the skeptical exist at the same time.

My point is that such differences do not require different centuries, just different communities and cultures.

If the Elijah and Elisha cycles originated with itinerant bands of charismatic prophets and the Elohist source came from a…

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