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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Class Assignment: Genre Analysis: Wisdom Literature and Prophetic Literature

Genre Analysis: Wisdom Literature and Prophetic Literature


The King’s University, Southlake, Texas

Biblical Background and Interpretation (2021FA-BIBL-2301-ONL)

Professor: Dr. J. Wallace

10/24/2021

By Darrell Wolfe


Wisdom Literature and Prophetic Literature

Modern readers of the Bible tend to treat it as a rulebook. Every story is read as an example, which means the reader should be like that character. Every law is treated as something the reader may need believe or do today. Thus, when they come to a passage about wearing tassels, or not wearing mixed cloth, the reader may become confused, asking if this is something that must be obeyed in the modern era.

In his podcast series on Wisdom Literature, Tim Mackie, PhD makes the case that the entire Bible (even the New Testament, written in Greek by Hebrew minds) should be read as Hebrew Wisdom Literature.[1] Every story, narrative, genealogy, parable, and poem is intended to be pondered over a cup of tea and a pipe, murmuring the words to oneself as one ponders the deeper meanings of a passage, pulling on the threads, and looking for design patterns. When read this way, the Bible ceases to become a book of Do’s and Don’ts. Instead, it becomes an opportunity to reflect on the themes and threads, finding principles to live by in our modern era. Nowhere is this truer than in the Wisdom books themselves. Witherington summarizes this way:

“Wisdom literature then requires not merely reading but rumination. It is meat to tease the mind into active thought, not merely command or demand assent to some particular point of view.”[2]

One genre within the Hebrew Bible that requires special attention, is Prophetic Literature. The Prophet should be seen as a truth-teller, not a future-teller.[3] Prophets were called to speak God’s mind and heart to the people of Israel under covenant with YHWH. They often use poetic and figurative language to paint word images for the people, compelling not just their minds but their hearts back to the covenant. Duvall and Hays observe that Amos does not say “God is mad” but rather “the lion has roared” (Amos 3:8).[4] These figurative ways of speaking open the heart to hear the real message.

Often, these words from God were for the present situation, bringing the people into remembrance of all that YHWH has said and done for them/to them already. In some instances, these words involve impending judgement (typically in the near future). In very rare instances, these prophetic words involve some far future event, and even rarer still are those words intended to be for the “end of the age” or final “Day of YHWH”. Fee and Stuart state: “less than 1 percent concerns events yet to come in our time”.[5] These messages equip one to hear the voice of God then and there, and still ring true today.
 

Bibliography

Duvall, J. Scott, J. Daniel Hays, and Mark L. Strauss and Kevin J Vanhoozer. Grasping God’s Word, Fourth Edition: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 2020.

Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2003.

Mackie, Tim, and Jon Collins. “BibleProjectTM Videos and Podcasts.” Accessed June 18, 2021. https://bibleproject.com/.

Witherington, Ben. Reading and Understanding the Bible. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2015.


Notes

[1] Tim Mackie and Jon Collins, “BibleProjectTM Videos and Podcasts,” *https://bibleproject.com/podcast/series/wisdom-series/*, accessed June 18, 2021, https://bibleproject.com/.


[2] Ben Witherington, Reading and Understanding the Bible (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2015), 40.


[3] Witherington, 46.


[4] J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays, and Mark L. Strauss and Kevin J Vanhoozer, Grasping God’s Word, Fourth Edition: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 2020, 438.


[5] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2003), 182.





 


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Monday, October 18, 2021

Given the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), how would you present the Gospel today?

Q: Given the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), how would you present the Gospel today?

A: My distillation from a year (so far) of listening to NT Wright and Tim Mackie and Michael Heiser:

God created a good world with the intention of being with his humans as co-rulers of that world. 

Rebellions of various kinds have gotten that project off track, and are the source of all the evil and brokenness we see. 

God began restoring the world to himself through Jesus. His spirit filled body are called to work with him to create pockets of heaven right in the middle of all that brokenness. 

One day, Jesus will return and restore all things fully to God's good order. 

In the meantime, we are invited to participate in God's good world by becoming new kinds of humans, being changed from the inside out, to Love God and Love our Neighbor.

If you can feel that something inside of you is broken, even if you cannot identify what it is, God has an offer for you.

Give yourself to Him. Allow him to prune the brokenness out and place a new heart inside and make you into a new kind of human from the inside out. 

He demands your absolute loyalty but not your perfection. 

He will do all the changing, he asks you to let him do it. 

And when he's done some work on you, he'll ask you to start working with others to bring them into this new way of being human. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Obadiah: A structural outline, commentary, and its ties to Divine Council imagery.



Structural Outline: Obadiah


The King’s University, Southlake, Texas

Biblical Background and Interpretation (2021FA-BIBL-2301-ONL)

Professor: Dr. J. Wallace

10/17/2021

By Darrell Wolfe



Structural Outline: Obadiah 1:1-21


Note: Obadiah only has one chapter, the entire book is included in 1:1-21.

Background: Edom is comprised of Esau’s descendants. Esau was Jacob’s (aka Israel) brother, from whom Jacob stole the birthright and blessing. Therefore, the people of Edom are cousins to the people of Israel. There are other details, but this is sufficient to understand the family references in this prophecy. See also Jeremiah’s mirror prophecy against Bozrah, a major city in Edom, using much of the same language as Obadiah (Jeremiah 49:7-22).

  • I. Introduction: The following is a vision the Prophet Obadiah saw, and the words Adonai YHWH says about Edom (the descendants of Esau) (Ob 1:1a NET).(1)
  • II. YWHW’s judgment of Edom’s arrogance (1b-9).
    • A. The announcement encourages the nations to war against Edom.
    • B. YHWH sends a report via a messenger that he will make war on Edom and make them weak (1b-2).
    • C. He announces the first just-cause he has for this decision, which could read more like the underlying issue that lead to the real offense in III.
      • 1. They have pride in their heart and became self-deceived, thinking themselves invincible and safe (3).
      • 2. But YHWH says that there is no place they can go that would be safe from him (not even the stars, a common biblical reference to the fallen Divine Council, members of the fallen Elohim) (4).
      • 3. He introduces a comparison: If normal calamity struck, they could survive, but since YHWH is performing Judgement, it will result in their total destruction (5).
      • 4. Their belongings will be taken (6).
      • 5. The people they partnered with and trusted will be the ones to take them down (7).
      • 6. The wise and the warriors alike among them will be removed from their stronghold and destroyed (8-9).
  • III. YWHW’s judgment of Edom’s failure to honor family (10-14).
    • A. He announces the second just-cause he has for this decision:
      • 1. The people of Edom played a role in harming their relatives, resulting in judgment. The offense was bad enough, that YHWH determines it will be a permanent status “forever”. This is an escalation from the language used in section II (10).
      • 2. Edom is portrayed as sometimes distant and unmoved by Israel’s destruction (as though a passive observer that should have come to her aid) as a foreign invader takes the city, but is then cast as a participant. This is worse than not coming to their aid, but contributing to their harm (11).
      • 3. Edom is portrayed as “gloating”, “rejoicing”, and “boasting” as their cousins suffered at the hands of enemies (12).
      • 4. Edom then decides to help the enemies beat up Israel, looting the city (13).
      • 5. Edom rubs salt in the wound by standing at the fork in the road, killing anyone who escaped (14).
  • IV. YWHW’s judgment expands to include all nations via “The Day of the Lord” (15-21a).
    • A. An unspoken question seems implicit in the following statement. That question: “Why should we care?”
    • B. The answer to the unspoken question:
      • 1. “For the Day of the Lord is approaching for all nations”. There is judgment coming not just to one nation, not just for these actions, all nations are going to stand before YHWH and be judged. In light of this pending end-times judgment, Edom should have known better and done better. Pulling on that ultimate Day of the Lord motif, Obadiah/YHWH lay into Edom’s impending judgment in the here and now. What was done by Edom, will be repaid in full (15).
      • 2. YHWH/Obadiah uses a metaphor about drinking on the holy mountain (16).
        • a. Given the context, it could be that drinking here refers to the idea that Edom drank from victory and now will drink from YWHW’s cup of wrath.(2) In the “now and not yet” fashion of biblical prophetic literature, Edom will suffer a Day of the Lord now, followed later by The Day of the Lord in an age to come.
        • b. It is also relevant that “holy mountain” is yet another core biblical theme referring to God’s Space. Eden is the Garden of God, his Holy Mountain. So too, is Jerusalem. Typically, “the nations” refers to the Table of Nations and the rebel Elohim that rule them. Stars (referenced earlier) are quite often a reference to these fallen Elohim. Given the multiple coded references, “nations”, “stars”, “holy mountain”, and “Day of the Lord”, “the nations” is not likely a generic reference to earth’s inhabitants but a specific reference to these rebel-led nations that often came into conflict with God’s Holy People (Genesis 10-11; Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalms 82, 89). (3) This could be a veiled threat not only to Edom and the nations around them but to the rebel Elohim who rule them and cause chaos.
      • 3. YWHW brings the final hammer down on his judgment (17-21a).
        • a. In contrast to the utter destruction promised to Edom and the fallen nations (and their Elohim), YHWH promises to restore Israel from the remnant (17).
        • b. He then compares Israel to fire and Edom to left-over yard clippings or food waste that will be burned so completely by Israel that they will cease to exist. Here again, escalating the language a third time, and in contrast to the remnant he promises Israel, Edom is promised to be wiped out so completely, that not a single survivor will be left to create an Edomic remnant (18).
        • c. YHWH concludes by saying that other nations will take Edom’s spot in the mountains (another Divine Council reference as well as physical space reference) and that Israel will return and rule over it all (19-21).
  • V. YWHW announces his kingship (21b). With one final line, YHWH announces he will be king, and it serves as the punctuation on the whole prophetic word. This, again, has the taste of a threat not only to Edom, not only to “the nations”, but to the Divine Council members who rebelled. YHWH will have the last word, he will be King.
 
 

Bibliography


Heiser, Michael. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. First edition. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

NET Bible®New English Translation (NET). Online Notes Edition. HarperCollins Christian Publishing; Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., n.d. https://netbible.com/copyright/.

The NET Bible First Edition Notes. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.


Notes

(1) NET Bible®New English Translation (NET), Online Notes Edition (HarperCollins Christian Publishing; Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., n.d.), Obadiah, https://netbible.com/copyright/.

(2) The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Notes for 1:16-#79.
 
(3) Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First edition (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015), *See the work(s) of Dr Heiser for more details on these themes.*.






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Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!

Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

How should we understand Biblical Interpretation?

How should we understand Biblical Interpretation? 

Especially as it relates to The Gospels or Salvation.

While some dispute this, the preponderance of evidence says that: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were individuals who each wrote according to their knowledge and ability to gather testimony and witnesses. Matthew and John were eye witnesses. Mark was Peter's interpretor and assistant. Luke was a researcher and associate of Paul. 

The evidence demonstrates the Mark wrote his gospel early, possibly within the mid century. Matthew and Luke each used Mark's version which was already in circulation and added to it as they saw fit using their own experience and other resources and documents to make their own unique theological statements and claims. 

John, writing much later at the end of his life decided to record his theology and biography of Jesus, choosing details not already accounted for in several instances.

Each author had a theological point to their letter and a reason for choosing and organizing the details they did. 

In each case, you have a representative sampling of the words and interactions of Jesus. 

In no case was a camera following Him around. These are the theological reflective biographical essays presented as the written preservation of oral traditions.

As to interpretation:

All scripture is inspired, so, we SHOULD add as much wait to Ruth, Leviticus, and Job as we do Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John... And Paul's letters... And Revelation. 

And we SHOULD allow each to correlate and add interpretive value to the other. 

Also, Jesus and all early Christians like Peter, Paul, etc. used the Hebrew Bible as their primary meditative text. 

The gospels and letters were a supplement for the new covenant, but not a replacement for the Hebrew Bible. 

Christianity, in its purest form, is a Jewish sect, not a Lutheran or Calvanist one. 

The context for biblical interpretation is the context of its authors (Ancient Near East and Second Temple Period). The context is not Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Wesley, or any other thinker that came after. The context is the authors. So anything said after should be screened out and we should do our best to make sure we understand what the author is saying, not what our "Systematic Theology" tells us it says. 

I would go further, and say that anything from the Systemic Theology bucket is basically trash and to throw it all out. Anything from Augustine to Parham, 300s to 1900 AD, just junk it all. That's probably just an overreaction on my part. I tend to take extreme positions and flow back to the middle after pondering it a while. So I reserve the right to say something different tomorrow, but, that's where I stand today. 

That being said, unless you have the ancient Israelite in your head, you'll never understand the Bible and always Eisegete meanings into the text that aren't there (as so many Theologians did between 300-1900 AD. 

Christianity is a Jewish sect. Period. Gentiles are grafted into Israel, not out away from it. If you miss that point, you run in danger of missing all the points. Most of the wrong headed and silly things modern Christianity says about the "Old Testament" (including labeling it the old testament to begin with) are from a lack of having our Jewish roots firmly in tact. 

And yet, as a further overreaction to that truth, the Jewish Roots movement has people becoming Torah Observant in ways Jesus never intended. But, they are often more right than wrong, and I have some common ground with such people. Almost all the things people learn about Judaism and the Hebrew Bible from western American Christianity are wrong. Including, and especially, our understanding of "The Law". 

The Bible Project has done a great job of breaking this down for us and helping people deconstruct these poor understandings. 

Therefore, as a Jewish sect, any and all interpretation should work from Genesis to Revelation first, before working backward from Revelation to Genesis. In other words, the OT gives us understanding of the NT BEFORE the NT gives us understanding of the OT. 

Most of the NT authors, including the gospels, are making heavy use of the OT theology and passages. 

So much more to say, but that's what I'm getting the need to say today.

The dangers of western American Christianity... and the real Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

*I'm oversimplifying, it's a blog post and I'm just jotting a few ideas down to ponder.

This morning I saw yet another post that derives (whether the author knows it or not) from broken reformation thinking. The poster asks: "Will God save any person that God does not want to save?" 

I don't know if the poster is seriously asking or if they're trolling the Calvinists with such a question, but it prompted me to write the following.

 

Western American Christiany's "Gospel":

When we present the gospel as something akin to "believe these statements, say the magic password, and go live any way you want because you have your ticket to go to heaven when you die"... we basically misrepresent the entire package start to finish. 

Note: God works through imperfect people and imperfect representations of his real offer. Introduce someone to Yahway and Yeshua, and the Ruach will take over and do the rest. But... if we know better, we should do better. 

 

When/How it went off the rails:

As the church grew increasingly full of gentile believers, they eventually lost touch with their Jewish roots. Some late-early church fathers began asking all the wrong questions about a Greek idea of disembodied afterlife in which we leave this mortal coil for the "real thing". 

Side note: Did you see a new Matrix movie is coming out? It asks these questions too. 

To make matters worse, around 312AD the church received a huge blessing, which became its downfall. They went from persecution to favored status. While the relief from persecution was a blessing, various leaders received political power which was not a blessing but a trap. As it is today, which anyone awake should know by surveying the American Christianity landscape in 2019-2021.

And in the transition from the early Jewish+Gentile Sect called The Way or Christians to a Greek/Gentile movement later called Christianity, we lost our moorings and went from being a movement of Jesus Communities quietly loving their neighbor and looking forward to the Kingdom of God, to a religion with priests and temples who did all the wrong things asking all the wrong questions. 

This religion called Christianity (not to be confused with biblical the biblical Christians) took on Greek and Roman questions about a disembodied afterlife. These events, set up the later reformers of the 1500s to start asking all the wrong questions about "who goes to heaven and who doesn't". 

These developments started having us asking questions about "who's in and who's out". Reformers rightly gave us the truth about salvation by grace through faith, but then misdefined all the terms for us.

Today, in chat-rooms all over Christian Middle Earth, people ask "will so and so still go to heaven if", argue about free will vs sovereignty, and debate whether someone who's "in" can become "out". All of this is largely based on the wrong paradigm.

The fact is, the biblical hope has very little to say about "going to heaven when we die". More on that:


What IS the Gospel, then?

Read the book of Matthew and you will find a fascinating theme:  

Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. (Mat 4)  

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24) 

You know what you won't find? You won't find "Believe on me, say a magic prayer, and go to heaven when you die". You'll find a teacher who is very concerned with this world, not another disembodied world. The entire Jewish hope, which is the Christian hope, is The Kingdom of God. It's themes bleed through every page of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. 

This Kingdom is about a New Heaven and New Earth implemented by the Day of the Lord. 

The Gospel is this:  

  • God made a good world to live in with the humans he created to rule beside him as his co-rulers. 
  • This project was delayed by several rebellions, but God has begun to make things right through a man called Abraham and his seed called Jesus. 
  • Jesus defeated death and now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords from Yahweh's throne. 
  • One day, he will return to judge all those who rejected Yahweh (spirit and human). 
  • At that time, he will create a New Heaven and New Earth, and the Kingdom of God will reside on Earth as it was always intended. 
  • Anyone who chooses this Kingdom is invited, free of charge. One cannot earn their place in this kingdom, it's a free invitation. 
  • Accepting Citenship in the Kingdom of God is similar to accepting Citenship in the United States of America, or Canada, or any other large nation. It means learning the culture of this citizenship, and being a good citizen. This invitation will require you die to your old life and allow the Spirit to begin giving you a new heart and making you into a new kind of human. The fact this process is taking place will be reflected by changes in attitude and behavior. But those are fruit of the change only. They are not how you earn or keep your membership in the Kingdom. 
  • All are welcome but only those who remain loyal to Yahweh are welcome to stay. Loyalty does not mean perfection in action but loyalty in believing. You attempt to live rightly before him because it's how you love him. You will make mistakes and they are welcome. What is not welcome is outright rebellion.

Simply Put: You are invited to become a member of the Kingdom of God, it will cost you everything, even your life, but the rewards are membership in a Kingdom that has no end. Even after you die, you will receive a renewed body on a renewed earth in which Jesus is Lord and King. All who join this Kingdom will be there, including anyone you loved who is also a member. Come, join the Kingdom, and look forward to new creation.

Selah



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Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gospel Reading: What is "The Gospel" according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

*A research project for class. What is "The Gospel" according to these four gospel writers (as opposed to what your church always told you it was)? Let's explore those themes.

Gospel Reading: Matthew


Darrell Wolfe

Literature, The King’s University

Life of Jesus (BIBL-2302)

Professor Jason Moraff

October 25, 2020


 

Questions

1.       Lilies of the Field (Matthew 6:28-30). Even Solomon was not dressed like lilies? I get that the point is not to worry. But I feel like there is something I’m missing. How are lilies and clothes comparable? How are Lilies adorned? There is something deeper here. Maybe if I know something about lilies, I could learn something about God’s provision?

2.       Ch. 8 - I still do not understand why the demons wanted to go into the pigs or why Jesus let them. I have theories, but nothing fully satisfying.

3.       Ch. 9 – How could we retool our churches to be hospitals for the sick rather than just schools for the healed?

4.       Ch. 17 – How often do I look down on “little ones”? Either actual children, finding even my own children annoying or distracting from my “real work”. Or spiritual children, those who “know less” than I do? If the least are greatest, am I seeing them through God’s eyes?

5.       Ch. 25 – I can’t reconcile the 10 virgins. Are they believers? But then they’d all be allowed in? Are they Christians but five of them are in name only? Not really saved? Is this parallel to the one taken the other left Jesus referred to at his coming?

Observations

·         Matthew 1: Rahab and Ruth were both foreigners brought into the Kingdom of Heaven by forsaking all they had. Tamar and Bathsheba were women who had been wronged sexually. Mary was an Israelite who forsook her future to say yes to God and was perceived by others to be wronged sexually. These five women made the list of Jesus’ family[1].

·         Ch. 4 - Matthew summarizes Jesus’ entire life message as: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” but not “Repent, receive forgiveness, go to heaven when you die”. Matthew 4:17[2]

·         Ch. 7 - Gentiles come in and sit with Abraham in the Kingdom. Not a new kingdom. Not a different kingdom. We come in; they do not come out. We are grafted into Israel; we are not a separate (implied better) nation. We are part of the same continuous story.

·         Ch. 8 - Peter’s Mom gets sick even though he is serving Jesus. I guess life still happens when we choose to serve. We are not exempt.

·         Ch. 8:20 - Jesus said he had nowhere to lay his head. Spangler and Tverberg pointed out that Jesus would have been an itinerate rabbi[3]. Therefore, Jesus is not saying he was “poor” he is saying that he was rejected by some of the places he traveled and wasn’t accepted into anyone’s home (as was the custom).

·         Ch. 9 – Gentile churches today are often no more friendly to the spiritually sick than the pharisees that Jesus was confronting.

·         Ch. 10 – I often hesitate to accept hospitality from those I have served or helped. I think this a challenge for me to allow community into my life. Breathing in and out, I must serve but allow myself to be served (10:10 NLT). On that note, am I more afraid of what people think of me than what God thinks of me? Am I afraid of people and not afraid of God (10:28)?

·         Ch. 26 – Let this cup pass… Even Jesus didn’t always “want” to do God’s will, but he willed to do God’s will. The emotions need not be present for obedience.

The Gospel According to Matthew

If gospel means “good news”, what was the good news according to Matthew? It was that the old dead religious ways of being were passing away. A new vibrant way of living was among us. Matthew presents a Jesus who is rooted and grounded in the history of Israel’s continuing story both in Jesus’ own family of origin, as well as his fulfillment of prophecy, and he continues the story in our lives. He summarizes the entire life message of Jesus by saying that he came to preach one message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”[4]. I once heard a message from Bob Hamp, LMFT, who said that “repentance” simply means to think differently afterward. As such, Jesus began to challenge the minds of all who would listen. He told parables to attempt to alter the way they thought and the way they saw God’s heart. He said, “you’ve heard… but I say…”. He demonstrated his authority to challenge the status quo by revealing his power in healing and miracles. In one section, Jesus made a point to say that he was showing he had the authority to forgive sins by demonstrating that authority through healing. Matthew does not tell us of a hero but of the first and best role model. He is inviting us into the story. Jesus not only demonstrated this power in himself alone, but he gave it to his apostles as well. This power was available to anyone who would “have faith”. Jesus frequently comments on those who have great faith, little faith, and no faith. He frequently puts the responsibility (good and bad) for outcome back on the receiver, “…your faith has made you whole”. The Good News of Matthew is that if we will hear and think differently afterward, we can enter this Kingdom of Heaven now and live a new kind of adventurous life. He goes on to tell us that there are costs and rewards associated with this adventure lifestyle. And then he ends by telling us that we have access to the power of the risen Jesus to go out into the world and make disciples just as he had. I can almost hear him say “Tag, you’re it”.



[1] Messiah, Immerse : The Reading Bible (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 2017).

 

[2] Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: Key Insights Into God’s Word. NKJV New King James Version, Genuine Black Leather (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2015).

 

[3] Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, Updated edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2018).

[4] Key Word NKJV. 4:17

 


Gospel Reading: Mark

 

Darrell Wolfe

Literature, The King’s University

Life of Jesus (BIBL-2302)

Professor Jason Moraff

November 1, 2020


 

Questions

1.       On its own, the comparison to Jesus as Bridegroom and his men with him not fasting makes sense. I fail to see how the new cloth patching old cloth or new wine and wineskins have any relevance to the question of why his men do not fast. This might be a point where cultural relevance would be at play?

2.       Paraphrase: “Jesus climbed into the boat and the wind stopped. They were afraid. They still did not understand the significance of the loaves.” How were his disciples expected to connect his ability to multiply food with his ability to stop wind? Should they have observed these as power over the natural order of things?

3.       9:10 – Jesus’s three closest men are asking among themselves what “rising from the dead” means. Considering the rest of the story, it means exactly what it means. How often do we make things too difficult or aloof, when he is really telling us quite plainly?

4.       In most instances, Jesus heals a nameless blind person. But here in 10:46 the person is named. It feels odd or out of place compared to other stories of healing. What is naming this person accomplishing? What could his name reveal about him or the story? Is he important in some way in another place? This just stands out to me as a “things that make you go, hmm” sort of way.

5.       Ch. 13 – I am forced to admit that I do not see a “rapture” described in this set of events. I wonder how much we have a proper understanding of what is coming next and what Jesus actually said his second coming would look like (vs what Left Behind said it would be)?

6.       My margin notes say that anything after 16:8 may or may not be authentic. This says more about the scholar than the text to me. Maybe I am just missing something about the history of it. Why do scholars find incomplete copies and then use them to doubt the authenticity of the original?

Observations

·         Throughout Mark, Jesus tells people not to tell what he did for them; and demons not to reveal who he was. This was strange at first until I reached the end. Jesus was, ultimately, crucified for claiming to be the Son of God. So, he kept a lid on this until the time was right to admit it to the leaders at the end. He kept them second-guessing until then.

·         4:24-25 – In the NKJV, this did not completely make sense. But the NLT Messiah version made more sense. “The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given”. I think this is what classes like this one teach us to do. Listen closer. Listen more attentively. Ask questions. Use the background and history to see deeper into the words. Preparing our hearts to be good soil.

·         Jesus is on the way to heal a man’s daughter. They are stopped by a woman who had faith to be healed. He calls her daughter. Between the lines, Jairus is still standing there when he said it. Jesus is building Jairus’ faith by comparing the daughters of healing. The end of this section speaks about Jesus being unable to do any miracles because of unbelief. These stories juxtapose each other to show that we have a role to play in God’s miracles in our lives.

·         9:24 – “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” This could be one of the most powerful prayers I pray. Despite decades walking with God and multiple experiences seeing Him show up for me, I continue to doubt he will do it again the next time. I have grown by leaps and bounds, but the tendency to doubt is strong and one I fight constantly. I love how Jesus met the father at his level. He took that seed of belief and used it.

·         Ch. 11 – Jesus shows up, observes, leaves. He comes back the next day and acts. Also, he speaks death to a tree. The next day, his disciples see the effects of that curse. I enjoyed seeing these weave into each other in the same story. Day 1, Day 2. I wonder how often we are rushed into action without taking time to pray? I wonder how often we pray and do not see anything and give up before the miracle comes?

·         Roman officers were hardened to crucifixions. It must have been an impressive death scene to make the soldier believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

The Gospel According to Mark

            According to Mark, this is the story of Jesus the Messiah, Kingly Son of David, and Son of God, who came preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In Mark’s story, we see an unlikely king. This man is no military leader or revolutionary. He comes as a Rabbi teaching people to see and think differently, and as a result, live differently. His teaching forces the religious leaders, people, and even his own disciples to think deeper and see things from a new (heavenly) perspective. Jesus comes racing onto the scene with a new style of message and new power to back it up. He heals the sick, casts out demons, and raises the dead. Most shockingly to a first century audience, he also comes forgiving sins. This kingdom, however, is no ordinary kingdom. It is a kingdom that is from above. He tells us that it starts small like a mustard seed and grows until it becomes the largest plant in the garden; possibly hinting at the non-geo-political nature of it. It is as if to say, this kingdom will be a kingdom of minds and hearts, worldview altering, but not one of palaces and policies. He even stops his disciples from fighting for him, which is what most disciples would have been expected to do for the Messiah they were expecting. As if to drive the point of Jesus’s heavenly status home, he places the transfiguration and God the Father announcing “this is my Son” at the midpoint (9:7). It becomes the truth upon which the entire story hinges. Then again, at the end, a Roman solider repeats “truly this man was the Son of God” (15:39). This kingdom is lead by a King who conquered death and sits at God’s right hand. The book ends by saying that Jesus tells his disciples to go into the world preaching the good news of this kingdom, and he backs it up with signs following. Even though the story is about the Son of God who introduces a new kind of kingdom, this Good News seems far more interested in how we think and live here on Earth than it does in getting us “saved to get to heaven”.

 


Gospel Reading: Luke

 

Darrell Wolfe

Literature, The King’s University

Life of Jesus (BIBL-2302)

Professor Jason Moraff

November 8, 2020


 

Questions

1.       11:33-36 – I could conjecture, but I’m still vague on what he means about the light of the eye. When we see but not seeing, but, what’s the actual advice or command here? How do I get my eye lit?

2.       I found myself making more observations than asking questions today.

Observations

·         More than any other Gospel, the term “Holy Spirit” comes up frequently. Even before Jesus is born, the Holy Spirit is an active member of the story.

·         4:6 – Jesus never denies that Satan has the authority to give, only that it was not how he would wrest it from him. Interesting to note when we consider “why bad things happen” on earth.

·         Ch. 6 – I found myself uncomfortable, in light of election season, comparing my attitudes to those Jesus commands. Loving my enemies was not the forethought in my mind, as I prepared mentally for the USA Civil War II.

·         Ch. 9 – How often have I heard one side (Republicans & Democrats) so angry at the other that they wanted to cause physical harm to them or their possessions? Yet, Jesus tells us he is not here to burn the enemy camp down, but to save them. His enemies are not enemies at all, but captives that need Freedom.

·         14:26 – Makes so much more sense in light of our readings about first century disciples preferring their Rabbi over their own father. This is a cultural reference and amplified (like his reference to not just adultery but even lust is sin).

·         16:11 – Never noticed this before, if you are not disciplined with your budget and earthly money/income, you will not be trusted with more. Those wanting to serve God must start by getting their own house in order.

·         23:25 – They were expecting a king to free them from Roman rule. They did not just ask for a murder in place of Jesus (picture of forgiveness of sins), they asked for someone (a rebellion leader) who was more like the image they had of their Messiah. They asked for a false Messiah in place of the real one, one that would mold to their own ideas about what Messiah should be.


 

The Gospel According to Luke

Luke presents to us a very Jewish Jesus, rooted in the history of his people and in prophecy. We are well into the story before the Jesus who ministered for three and a half years is introduced onto the scene. After his victory in temptation Jesus is immediately rejected by his own, a paradox. Throughout his ministry, he preaches the Kingdom of God and heals the sick. He then sends his disciples (not just the 12, but the 70 as well) to do the same. These miracles establish his authority. Luke takes his time, builds the character of Jesus through interactions with various types of people. He also shows us why the leaders of the religious sects of the day hated him so much as to kill him. We see him sit at the table in a Pharisees own house, then condemn the entire group for their behavior. Meanwhile, we see Jesus take pity on the least of those in his midst. He makes a point to observe a widow and comment on her giving, show us that we must serve those we come across on the road who have been abused by others (Good Samaritan). Even at the end, as he is being arrested, we see him healing the ear of his captor. Luke ends with the punchline, as though nothing was understood by the disciples until this very last moment. Jesus had to die and rise again, so that the message of repentance and remission of sins could be taken to the whole world. Luke’s Good News is that the Kingdom of God, established and confirmed through signs, results in repentance and remission of sins through Jesus’ death and resurrection. 


Gospel Reading: John


Darrell Wolfe

Literature, The King’s University

Life of Jesus (BIBL-2302)

Professor Jason Moraff

November 15, 2020


 

Questions

1.       3:18-19 – Does God send people to hell? God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it. He who believes is saved and does not believe is condemned (for they rejected the answer). What about those who have never heard? They did not reject him, yet. Hm.

2.       4:46-54 – Jesus is presented with a little girl who is sick unto death, and his response feels dismissive and frustrated? We often paint Jesus as a codependent “Oh, poor baby, I’m coming to the rescue”. But really? He was quite harsh at time, to my ears. What could this response teach me about walking as He did?

3.       Ch 6 – Eat my flesh and drink my blood. Why was Jesus so cryptic with his disciples? He practically provoked them to walk away. Why can’t God just say things as they are? Why do we constantly have to play guessing games with what God’s really saying or doing in our lives? This is a genuine frustration of mine.

4.       11:4 – So, does God bring sickness into our lives on purpose just so he can show off his ability to heal? That seems cruel. Yet, Jesus only ever healed. He never put sickness on anyone. What else could this be saying, rather than what I am hearing it say?

5.       Ch 11 – Jesus Wept. Why? He already said he knew Lazarus was dead and he was headed to raise him up. He just told Martha that was his intention (though she did not understand him). What would cause Jesus to weep here? Some say he identified with Martha and Mary’s pain. That could be true. But as a Widower, as I work with other Widow(er)s, I find myself reliving my own grief process. Could he have had his own earthly father’s death in mind as he wept?

6.       12:20-26 – What does the detail about Greeks asking to see Jesus have anything to do with his “answer” to them?

7.       20:23 – If I forgive someone’s sins, they are forgiven? If I do not forgive them, they are not forgiven? How does this make sense? What does this mean practically for me today?

8.       21:11 – With a limited number of words, John tells us that there were 153 fish in the net. That is a really odd detail to provide John. Why? My only thought so far, is that it is just another example of this grandfatherly style of John’s story.

Observations

·         John tells us that not about the Kingdom of God, but about our status as Children of God (1:12). He goes on to tell us that we are transitioning from Law to Grace and Truth through Jesus.

·         1:35-51 – Jesus started his ministry team with one interaction {Andrew and another (John?)}, and then built his team from there. I often wonder how I could ever build a ministry; it sounds so daunting. This tells me, I only have to reach one, then another, and so on.

·         3:14 – Adam fell to a live snake, Moses lifted up a dead snake, and Jesus became the substitutionary sacrifice to undo all the snake brought into this world.

·         Ch 11 – Two ironies in the Pharisees response. (1) Jesus raising the dead results in their plotting to kill him. (2) The High Priest prophesies the death of Jesus saving Israel, then plots to kill Jesus. His own mouth prophesied but he misunderstood the meaning of his own prophecy.

·         17:15, 21 – Could these statements affect how we consider politics? We are not to be taken out of the world; therefore, must engage it. The 2020 Christians in the USA are as divided as ever. The world seeing our unity will believe.

·         18:28 – Another irony, the Priests who sacrifice the Passover lamb every year, are literally sacrificing the true Passover Lamb himself, and they’re concerned about getting home and eating the lamb, small l.

·         My Bible points out that the Strong’s number for “love” is different between Jesus and Peter[1]. Do you Agape me, yes, I Phileo you. The second time, Agape/Phileo. The third time, Jesus comes down to Peter’s level. Do you Phileo me? Yes, I Phileo you. I think Jesus has to meet me at my level more often than I like to admit.

The Gospel According to John

As an immigrant grandfather telling the grandchildren and great-grandchildren stories of the old world, John tells the intimate story of his experiences with the great I AM. He seldom if ever mentions the Kingdom of God, preferring instead to point out that “… as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). This is the story of the Children of God, and the invitation for all people to become a part of that family. Throughout, John tells details of the land and language to his audience, indicating that they do not already know. This is either because he is writing to a non-Jewish audience or because he is writing after the fall of Jerusalem or both. It is interesting to note that he uses the blanket statement “The Jews” when he is obviously referring to the Jewish leaders such as the Pharisees; presenting a possible line of demarcation between this new broader family (all God’s people) and the old one (Just Israel). Yet, the Jewishness of Jesus is imperative to His story as the Passover Lamb. Throughout the story, Jesus shows us His father which is our Father. John gives intimate details throughout the story, as one who was reliving fond yet sometimes dark memories. He refers to himself only euphemistically as the “Disciple who Jesus loved”. In doing so, we get to live through John as our surrogate, for we too are the disciple whom Jesus loves today. John makes it clear, beyond doubt, that Jesus claimed to be God/God’s son; that Jesus existed long before Abraham was. Yet, this Son of God came to Earth, humbled himself as a man, and walked among us. The word that kept coming to me throughout this Gospel was “Intimate”: intimate details, intimate settings, and intimate loving interactions with Jesus. John even chooses to end his tale with an intimate encounter, beachside, where Jesus restores Peter by coming down to his level/ability to Love (Agape/Phileo). Then he signs it with an admission that he was the disciple whom Jesus loved and a first-hand witness to all these things. The Gospel according to John is this: We are all now part of one family, God’s family. Any and all who believe are welcome in Father’s house. There will be a cost to joining this family, but the cost of not joining is far greater.



[1] The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study BIBLE: Key Insights Into God’s Word. New King James (NKJV) (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, n.d.).






 


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


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