Tag Archives: New Testament

Ravi Zacharias – Unplugging Truth in a Morally Suicidal Culture

The pursuit of the Hebrews was idealized and symbolized by light. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.” “This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.” The pursuit of the Greeks was symbolized by knowledge. That’s why the Biblical writers say, “These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life.” For the Hebrews, it was light. For the Greeks, it was knowledge. For the Romans, it was glory. For the Romans, it was glory, the glory of the city of Rome, the glory of the city that wasn’t built in a day. And here we have it. The apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, living in a Greek city, had to give to them the ideal of his ethic. And he says this: “God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.” For the apostle Paul, the ultimate ethic was not an abstraction, not symbolized merely by light, not merely by knowledge, not merely by glory, but in the very face of our Lord. “God who caused the light to shine out of darkness has caused his light to shine in our hearts to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Source: “Unplugging Truth in a Morally Suicidal Culture”


Friday Phraseology: Codex

Codex: The “book” form (as opposed to a scroll) of an ancient manuscript of either papyrus or vellum. The codex was first used by the Romans for business and legal transactions but was also utilized by the early church as they collected and bound



Arthur G. Patzia;Anthony J. Petrotta. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies (p. 26). Kindle Edition.

Exegetical and Theological Issues: Mark 4:10-12

10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:10-12 NASB95)

This text sits awkwardly in its present context. The previous context is about Jesus teaching the crowd in a boat (4:1-2). Without further explanation, Mark shifts the narrative that takes place in private with those around his Twelve disciples (4:10-12), a small group of disciples. Another textual issue that occurs in the passage is the use of plural form of parables, whereas Jesus completes one parable (4:3-9). The placement of the discourse between Jesus and “those around him” also interrupts the sequence of parable. Jesus was still on the boat in the sea (4:1-2), but he and “those around him” appear to be in a private (4:10-12) and the clarification of the parable occurs again in the boat in the sea (4:35-36). At this point, Jesus is again in the public setting with his disciples in the boat. With few exceptions, some scholars believed this passage to be a latter insertion. But this inconsistency is more likely due to tradition, so he decided to leave the setting the way it is now.

Many ascribed the Markan redaction to traditional material. One cannot avoid the questions no matter whether Mark inserted his independent tradition unit or borrowed from the tradition within the parable collection. If he borrowed it from Pre-Markan tradition, where did he find it and what qualified him to apply this text there (4:10-12)? His form, materials within his redaction, and context show that he found it in tradition. Yet there are some questions to be asked. Why did Mark quote Isaiah 6 here? Is the text is about double predestination that only elect or insiders are foreordained to hear the message while outsiders’ ears divinely closed? Some people think that v. 7:17 supports it. But what do we do with 12:12 when outsiders also knew that the parable was about them? As Robert A. Guelich asserts that the text is not about the “double predestination” but about the hardness of heart of those who constantly rejected Jesus and his message.[1]

[1] Guelich, Robert A. Mark 1–8:26. Vol. 34A. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998.

Sabbatum Excerpt: Richard Rohrbaugh on the Ascribed and the Acquired Honor of Jesus

It is safe to say that in telling the story of Jesus both the ascribed and acquired honor of Jesus were of first priority on the agendas of Matthew and Luke. Both of them wrote for literate, urban audiences who expected to read a story of an honorific person. So how were they to gain a hearing when their story is actually one about a lowly village artisan (Mark 6:3)? Moreover, the actual circumstances of Jesus’s birth were potentially embarrassing. In the audiences of Matthew and Luke a carpenter’s son from a village like Nazareth was the kind of person who should be listening, not speaking.

The strategy both Matthew and Luke follow is to move Jesus as far up the honor scale as possible. Moreover, in attempting to do this they each had two basic options. One would be to address the ascribed honor of Jesus, the other to address his acquired honor. Matthew and Luke actually make bold use of both options, …. We shall describe Matthew’s arguments about Jesus’s ascribed honor and then later Luke’s regarding his acquired honor. Each is key in the respective author’s rhetorical strategy.[1]

[1] Richard L. Rohrbaugh, “Honor: Core Value in the Biblical World” in Understanding the Social World of the New Testament, ed. Dietmar Neufeld and Richard E. DeMaris (London: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor and Francis Group, 2010), 120.

Why Should We Care about Good Interpretation?

Many of us might have heard many a time in the church claiming that “this is what the Bible says” and so and so. Some people take the biblical text that was written to address specific people group in the particular time and history literally and apply the text the same way that was applied to the original audience. On the other extreme, people try to find some relevance from the original text and make the verse and message of their own. After all, it is God’s Word that is relevant to all generation! For example, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” On the other hand, there are people out there in the churches who preach that the Sermon on the Mount regarding the teachings of Jesus on divorce and his call to be perfect like the Father does not apply to us. Is this what the biblical interpretation all about?

Taking both these cases, we need to be careful of what we make up of the meaning of the biblical text and apply it in our time to make the message still relevant for us. Bad interpretation can crush people’s faith and shatter their hope. Biblical interpretation is a pivotal job to get across the true meaning of the text to the target group without squandering the meaning that was intended for its original readers. Only proper interpretation can determine the intended meaning in the text.

What then does good interpretation look like? It is necessary that we understand historical, literary, grammatical, and theological context well before we interpret the biblical text. Without having proper knowledge of one of the contexts, our interpretation can become misleading and obscure and, to the extreme, even heretic. Let’s outline them.


i. Original Audience: We need to know who were the intended audiences when the book was written.

ii. Social Situation: When was this written and how was their social situation, culture, lifestyle looked like? What was the purpose of this writing? What happened in the history?

iii. Purpose: In other words, what might have motivated the writer to write the book? If we have answer to these basic questions, we can move along and work on the literary and grammatical area.


Pay close attention to the specific genre of the text. We simply cannot interpret the poem as a narrative and prophecy as an epistle. Scriptural context is another area that demands our attention. Look for language issues like word-meaning. The meaning of the word changes over time. A certain word might have utterly different meaning in the past than we use and understand it in our time. Writing styles are also important, since the Bible is comprised of 66 different books that was written by about 40 different authors over period of 1600 years. So, it is obvious that the writing style and meaning also vary from the time of its writing to in our present day. One more important thing to look for is the word-repetition.  Repeating words should trigger us to look into the text deeper and carefully, as the author is saying something important that he wants his audience to know.


Once we move from the historical, literary and grammatical context, we need to work on the text in its theological context to determine the application of the text. We need to do biblical theology in its framework: (i) Creation (ii) Fall (iii) Redemption and (iv) Consummation. Biblical theology helps us to see the progressive history that how God has revealed himself to humanity and also teaches us about his redemptive work throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. The biblical theology seeks to understand how epochs of the Old Testament have pointed toward the fulfillment of the promise in the life and work of Jesus Christ. The biblical theology thereby encourages us to know the intended meaning of the biblical text by understanding whether the biblical text points toward something in the New Testament or back to the Old Testament. For instance, Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

From here on, we can see what the author’s message was for his audience back in the history. Today, our context is completely different than the time the book was authored. Next, we are not the original audience; however, we can now know the centrality of the message and apply it to our time without claiming or making the verses as our own.