Slaves for Christ

A favorite teaching practice of many rabbis was the art of allegory.  All of the most famous rabbis were masters of this practice, and of course Jesus and Paul are no exceptions.  Paul used this technique often in his letters and knowing this is important to interpretation.  However, what happens when a master like Paul blends solid teaching about salvation and an allegory that would make perfect sense to his original audience?  We miss it, that’s what.  Let’s look at something that could possibly be underlying Paul’s teachings on slavery.

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The Call of the Prophets

If you were writing a letter to a friend, trying to convince him or her that some very supernatural events were real, what would you do?  I think that a probable course of action is to link it to something in reality to make it more believable and understandable.  You might also link it to the religion of your friend so that it fits into their worldview.  When Luke tells about Paul’s (the text still refers to him as Saul at that point) vision of Jesus (Acts 9) this is precisely what he does.

The Apostle Paul seemed to constantly be fighting an uphill battle in regard to his apostolic authority.  He writes in multiple letters about this topic because some doubted his authority, teaching, and even his motives.  One way for him to link his authority to Jesus, to the prophets, and to God was the retelling of his commission.  How did Paul use this true story to speak to the faithful?  Let’s dig in.

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Hey! You’re not allowed to do that!

If you’re like me, then even after you hagah (roar like a hungry lion and then devour) the scriptures, they’re still bouncing around in your head. After I posted the shorter version of this post I called my friend Bryan Nix and we shot ideas back and forth and in the process came up with some very cool links in these two passages and I wanted to share them.

The blog post that follows is almost all of the text of part 1, but much more in-depth.

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Paul’s Journey to Rome

Every time you read a Bible story, ask yourself: where else in the text can this story be found?  And also ask: how does knowing where this text is coming from help in my understanding of it?  The Bible frequently plays upon and expands upon itself.  Why is this relevant?  A substantial portion of the entire New Testament is written in this manner.  Time after time, Jesus uses the Tanakh (Old Testament) as a foundation for what he teaches and the stories he tells.

Join me today as we look at an interesting story in the New Testament which expands upon at least three other stories in the Bible!  Is this a story about Paul having a hard time getting from one place to another?  Or is there something deeper going on?

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The Good Shepherd

If you are a first time reader of my blog or if you have read every article I’ve ever written, there is a very important concept to understand about the Bible that I continue to reiterate: the text plays and expands on the text.  Over and over again we see this happening.   When you see a story in the text, ask first: where else in the text is this coming from?  Let’s look at an example, in Jesus’ brilliant exposition in Luke 15.

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Does God Care About Me?

I found this quote in the Mishnah last year while I was doing my class The Jewish Context of the Bible while preparing for my lesson on Akiva. After my class that week I wrote a post about two of his sayings, and then filed this third one away for another day.  After my recent post, In the Image of God, it reminded me of Akiva’s saying here so I decided at last to write it out.

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Jesus and his Jewish Parables

I have started a new series at Prestoncrest titled “Jesus and his Jewish Parables”.  Podcasts of the lessons are on my Audio Lessons page.  As of the date of this post there are 2 lessons up already: “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector” and “The Good Samaritan”.

If anyone has any questions over what I’ve taught, feel free to use this post as a place to ask.

Peace to you,

James

In the Image of God

Next week at Prestoncrest (May 2, 2010) I will be starting a new lesson series in the Hearts in Action class called: Jesus and his Jewish Parables.  The focus of the study is to realize that Jesus was not the only Jewish rabbi of the first century who told parables and that by comparing Jesus to his rabbinic contemporaries we can learn quite a bit about Jesus’ own use of the mashal (Hebrew for the literary form known as “parable”).  Many of the parables of Jesus in the Gospels have rabbinic parallels with slightly different characters or a different ending that can shine light on Jesus’ own use of the same story – why he told it, who he told it to, what made the “punch line” so effective.

While doing the requisite reading and research for this series, I stumbled across a rabbinic parable that has no Gospel parallel but I found it deeply provocative.  It’s interesting to me how reading these parables is almost like reading more of Jesus – they look and sound the same.  Come with me now as we look at a parable from Rabbi Meir (ca. 90 – 160 AD?).

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Paul and Silas Sing it Out!

Over and over again in the New Testament it’s clear that the story has some basis in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Over and over again, when we do a little digging, we find that the all-important backdrop of the New Testament is found in the Tanakh. From the way people talk to the things they do, it’s all firmly rooted in God’s book.

A good example of this is in Acts 16.  When Paul and Silas are in prison, what they do there is no exception to this rule, and knowing what the backdrop of this story is helps to enrich it greatly! Continue reading

Face to Face with God

At the Prestoncrest church we have been going through a series on worship on Sunday mornings.  Gordon Dabbs, our preacher, has been doing an excellent job preaching this difficult subject.  Worship is something that has historically divided many churches, and is still an issue today.  Being of a much younger generation, I have never seen it as such a major issue, but I recognize the potential for Satan to use it to divide and conquer.

One key concept of worship that Gordon has been going over springs from how Jesus enables us to worship God face-to-face, without anything in the way.  In my own study and research I’ve found that this subject is a powerful image of the Hebrew culture.

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