The Second Half…

B-Quad begins today. That means I’m adding 2 more classes to my schedule. While my eagerness to learn and to study has not waned, I am a little overwhelmed at the prospect of adding more assignments, more research, more writing, more translating than I’m already doing. God’s grace will remain sufficient.

That (probably) means less blogging.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 6:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Paul’s Teaching on Widows Marrying

Last night, a classmate astutely pointed out a couple of tough texts in Paul’s letters that seem to contradict one another. The texts are 1 Cor. 7:39, which says, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord,” and 1 Tim. 5:11-12, which says, “But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.” So, Paul, can widows marry, or do they “incur condemnation” if they marry? This, of course, is one of the reasons many scholars say that 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus must not be written by Paul. However, let’s look closely and see what each of these passages is trying to say.

1 Cor. 7:39 is fairly straightforward here, but I think it is important to take careful notice of the way Paul says what he says. Paul says that the widow “is free to be married.” She may choose whether or not to marry again; she has the right or the freedom to marry…with one important limitation: “only in the Lord,” which I understand to indicate that the man whom she would marry must be a believer. But, at any rate, the widow may marry if she so chooses.

1 Timothy 5 is a little more complex. The issue Paul wants Timothy to address is whether or not a widow should be enrolled on the church’s official list of widows who receive support from the church. The widows who are to be taken care of by the church are only widows who have no other family who can support them. Thus, these widows are completely alone now that their husband has died (1 Tim. 5:5). Therefore, Paul says that these widows put their hope on God and are devoted to constant prayer because they are in desperate need. So, the church, as the body of Christ, must supply their needs, as God answers their prayers through the church. Then, Paul adds some other qualifications that widows must meet in order to be enrolled and thus taken care of by the church. They must not be younger than about 60 years old (which was a rare age for people to live in his day anyway), and must have lived lives of godliness up to that day (1 Tim. 5:9-10). This is where verse 11 comes in. Paul commands Timothy not to enroll younger widows, which I suppose means widows younger than about 60 years old (but I suspect he has much, much younger women in mind). His reason for this refusal of younger widows is his observation that their sexual impulses run rampant now that they are left all alone, tempting them to abandon their faith in Christ. Since their sexual desires are unable to be abated, he says, they will then desire to be married again, to fulfill their sexual needs. And Paul seems to be saying that this desire to be married will lead them to incur condemnation, but the specific reason they receive condemnation is because they “have abandoned their former faith.” This is an odd phrase, indeed, but I think it refers to their profession of faith in Christ, since earlier he indicated that their sexual desires, as they get out of hand, would draw them away from Christ. So, how does their desire to be married fit into this scheme?

Well, I think the main issue that we need to hold onto is that Paul is concerned that younger widows will deny their faith and abandon Christ if they are put into this situation. We also need to keep in mind the purpose of the list on which these widows are being enrolled. Widows are enrolled because they have no one left in their families to care for them, and they are turning to God to provide for them through the church. So, I think the issue with the younger widows is that, once they have been placed on the list, and therefore are receiving care from the church, they are more prone (perhaps) than older widows to be drawn away from relying on God to meet their needs through the church, and have a tendency to desire for another husband to take care of their needs (including their sexual needs, which the church cannot provide). I think this is the case because Paul says that, instead of being enrolled on the official support list, younger widows should go get married, “and give the adversary no occasion for slander”! Thus, Paul is concerned to protect the faith of these young women. Their condemnation is due to their response to their widowhood, not specifically because they desire to marry again. He also predicts that such women will not only abandon their faith, but they will even become idlers, gossips, and busybodies, which Paul may mean to include their carrying of false teaching from house to house.

Painstakingly translating Hebrew

After a summer of hardly looking at the Hebrew Bible, or any other Hebrew text (like vocabulary or verb charts…yea, those would have been a good idea), tackling Joshua 1:1-9 is…well…tough!

After about two hours, I made it through the nine verses for which I’m responsible tomorrow in class. Despite the slowness of my work and having to look up more than a few unfamiliar words, the recognition that my diligence is glorifying God, even as he works incredible patience in me, leaves me peacefully satisfied…and ready for bed!

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Another school year begins

Tomorrow begins my second year in graduate school! I’m slightly nervous and mostly excited. Starting my final semester of Hebrew is daunting, particularly since I didn’t work on it at all during the summer. Oh, well. Perhaps the Lord (and the professor) will be gracious to me and I will be able to catch up quickly.

I’ll be taking the following courses:
New Testament Theology: Dr. Douglas Moo
Intermediate Hebrew: Dr. Michael Graves
That’s all until mid-October; then I’ll tack on two more courses:
Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament: Dr. Lynn Cohick
Greek Exegesis of Colossians: Dr. Ben Gladd

I’m most excited about New Testament Theology and Colossians. Jewish Backgrounds should be fun and interesting. I’m dreading Hebrew. However, if, by God’s grace, I can do well in Hebrew now, I’ll be better prepared for the coming semesters in which I will be working more intensely with the Hebrew text. So, I intend to work as hard as I can. Perhaps I will experience what Paul talked about in Colossians 1:29–“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Indeed, anything good that any of us does is reflective of Jesus the Messiah (see v. 28) powerfully working in and through us. And learning Hebrew is only a means…a means to the same thing Paul was talking about in this passage, namely proclaiming Jesus the Messiah clearly and boldly (again, see Col. 1:28).

So, Hiho, Hiho, it’s off to toil joyfully, I go!

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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another year

Birthdays are always contemplative days for me. I enjoy reviewing what God has done for me over the past year and begin to think through hopes and dreams for the coming year.

This 24th full year of life has been filled with all kinds of change, growth, and suffering. I left Texas for the first time as a permanent move to begin graduate school. In the midst of preparing to move, our house in Texas was flooded, and my wife and celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Change, growth, and suffering all wrapped up into these events.

Now, I sit excited about a snowy men’s retreat with a group of men whom I’ve only known for a few weeks. These men have given me the community I have desired. God uses these men to help me grow, and, hopefully, God will use me in their lives as well.

Next year, I begin graduate school full time. This excites me and makes me nervous. I won’t be working at the same time. This presents a multiplicity of new opportunities for temptation, being home alone more often. Mostly, I find myself tempted to remain lethargic, sleeping or watching movies when I ought to be reading, writing, and researching. I pray the Lord will fortify the weapons of my warfare and solidify the armor of God in my life.

I have already begun a massive research project, completely independent of school or any other responsibilities. I have begun to attempt to develop a biblical theology of sin. The question, “How does sin affect my relationship with God as a believer?” still weighs heavily on my heart and mind. I am in the beginning stages of collating the data from the Scriptures, reading all the passages that use the Greek terms for sin in the LXX and the NT. I have already traced the usages in the ancient world up to the time of the LXX, and I have had difficutly ascertaining when or how ἁμαρτία, for example, began to be used for offenses in a moral sense. In many Greek historical sources from the 3rd through 5th centuries B.C., it is used in military contexts in which some general or army made a strategical mistake on the battlefield. In English translations of these works, the most common translation of the term is “blunder.” At any rate, I am eager to pursue this further. So far, all that I have concluded is that preachers need to cease speaking of ἁμαρτία as “missing the mark.” Granted, this word did have that meaning, in contexts of archery and other similar contexts, in Homer, for example. But after the 8th century B.C., with Homer, I have not found a single attestation of that meaning again. It is deceptive and unhelpful to state in sermons that, “To miss the mark is the fundamental meaning of ‘sin.'”

Mostly I have great hopes for next year because I see my friends pursuing abundant life in Christ. Also, I enjoy watching romance bloom in the midst of pursuing obedience to the Lord. What great joy the Lord has granted to me!

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 8:35 am  Comments (2)  
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