Come Follow Me: Philemon

Philemon used to be covered with Philippians and Colossians, and consequently, it went ignored. (Do you remember the last time Philemon came up in Gospel Doctrine?)  However, Philemon merits our close attention. It’s short and it offers a great discussion point for something really relevant and important. So, I’ll go long on Philemon (and the bottom has some old-post leftovers about Philippians and Colossians.) Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Philemon”

The Importance of Earnest: What Judah and Tamar have to do with Baptism, the Spirit, and Buying a House

Three cryptic times in the New Testament (Ephesians 1:14, 2Co 1:22 and 5:5), Paul speaks of the Spirit as an arrabōn, which the KJV translates as “earnest.” But it’s clearly a noun, AN earnest, not an adjective, “an earnest woman.” So what’s Paul talking about? Continue reading “The Importance of Earnest: What Judah and Tamar have to do with Baptism, the Spirit, and Buying a House”

Come Follow Me: Ephesians

My picture, from the Kidron Valley.

As always, it’s important to start with setting and context. Remember back in Acts 19, where the silversmiths who make Athena shrines start a riot and get Paul thrown out of the city? “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”? Paul met some disciples there and stuck around for three months, and now he writes to that congregation. Paul himself is now apparently in prison (Eph 4:1) and writing letters. Whether in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea, we don’t know.  Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon are known collectively as The Captivity or Prison Letters. These are Paul’s Folsom Prison Concert, if you will. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Ephesians”

NT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3: Luke 2, Matthew 2

Arvo Pärt’s Nunc Dimittis, the Latin text of Luke 2:29-32, “Now dismiss…”

Matthew and Luke provide us with two different but similar narratives, which are probably among the most familiar to any Christian. We typically combine these narratives together in our Christmas celebrations, art, creches, and cartoons, but they *are* different and separate. For example, Matthew talks about the visit of the wise men (not portrayed as visiting soon after the birth), but does not mention shepherds on the night of the birth. Continue reading “NT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3: Luke 2, Matthew 2”

NT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 2: Matthew 1, Luke 1

Arvo Pärt’s magnificent Magnificat, one of many songs based on the Latin translation of Mary’s “my soul doth magnify (magnificat) the Lord” in Luke 1:46ff. (Here’s a small ensemble version)


Both Matthew and Luke give us genealogies, and as moderns, we’re inclined to skip over them, or misunderstand what they’re trying to tell us. In fact, the one thing they are NOT telling us is the one thing we assume they’re telling us: a straight genealogical descent. And this is one reason why we get confused as to why Luke and Matthew’s genealogies differ. Continue reading “NT Gospel Doctrine Lesson 2: Matthew 1, Luke 1”

Brief NT Introduction and Gospel Doctrine Lesson 1: John 1:1-14, Isa 61:1-3, JST Luke 3:4-11

Carl Bloch’s Last Supper, public domain

Let’s start the new year by reminding ourselves how little we know, with a brief quiz. (That’s the grouchy academic in me, throwing a surprise pretest on the first day of class.)

1) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: which are apostles and which are not?

2) Describe the nativity according to Mark.  (HT: Ronan’s post.)

3) Which Gospel gives us the detail about the mean innkeeper, who turned away Joseph and Mary?

If you want to see more such questions, and the midterm and final I gave my BYU NT class, see my post and comments here. Continue reading “Brief NT Introduction and Gospel Doctrine Lesson 1: John 1:1-14, Isa 61:1-3, JST Luke 3:4-11”