The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Jewish Background of Christianity


A) About the author of the chapter:

John Gresham Machen “studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary …

He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

i) Sources

“The New Testament is one of the chief sources of information about the Palestinian Judaism of the first century. Other important sources are the works of Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, and the Mishna. The Mishna is a collection of Jewish interpretations of the Mosaic law. In its written form it is thought to have been produced at the end of the second century, but it contains a mass of earlier material which had been preserved by oral tradition.”1

ii) Outline of Jewish History

“Old Testament history closes with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the reorganization of the national life which took place under Ezra and Nehemiah in the fifth century before Christ. At that time Judah, or “Judea,” was the only part of Palestine which was occupied by the Jews, and they occupied it only as vassals—though with independence in internal affairs—of the kings of Persia.”2

“The Persian dominion continued for over a century. Then, in the latter part of the fourth century before Christ, Judea was conquered by Alexander the Great. For some hundred years after the death of Alexander, the country was a bone of contention between the kings of Egypt and the kings of Syria—that is, between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. At the beginning of the second century before Christ the king of Syria won a permanent victory.”3

“Under the Ptolemies and at first under the Seleucids, as well as under the Persians, the Jews enjoyed a considerable measure of independence in the management of their own affairs … Under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria (175-164 B. C.), however, the policy of toleration was suddenly interrupted. Antiochus tried to stamp out the Jewish religion by force. The result was a heroic uprising led by Mattathias and his sons, who are called the Maccabees.”4

“The Maccabees were at first wonderfully successful against overwhelming odds; and when the opposing forces seemed at last to have become too powerful, internal conflicts at the Syrian court gave the Jewish patriots that independence which they could probably not otherwise have maintained. Rulers belonging to the Maccabean dynasty governed the Jewish nation for about a hundred years, during most of which period they were independent … Unfortunately the worldly power of the Maccabees had brought worldliness of spirit. The first revolt had been undertaken from a lofty religious motive, in order to maintain the worship of Jehovah. As the years went on, the Maccabean rulers became increasingly engrossed in the extension of political power. Allying themselves with the aristocratic party among the Jews, they came to favor the extension of those Greek influences—though not in the sphere of religion—which at first they had opposed. “5

“Under Queen Alexandra (76-67 B. C.) it is true, there was a reaction. The strictly Jewish, anti-Hellenistic party again became dominant. But under Alexandra’s successors there was civil strife, and the all-conquering Romans found the country an easy prey. Pompey took possession of Jerusalem in 63 B. C.

The years that followed saw the gradual rise of the family of Herod the Great, who, as vassal of the Romans, became king of all Palestine in 37 B. C. and ruled until 4 B. C.”6

“At Herod’s death, his territory was divided among his sons. Archelaus was given Judea, Antipas—the “Herod” of Jesus’ public ministry—received Galilee and Perea, with the title of “Tetrarch,” and Philip received certain territories to the east of Galilee. Archelaus was banished in A. D. 6, Antipas was banished in A. D. 39, and Philip died in A. D. 33. After the banishment of Archelaus, Judea was administered by Roman procurators till A. D. 41, when all Palestine was given to Herod Agrippa I. Acts 12:1-4,18-23. After A. D. 44, procurators were again in control.

The misgovernment of the procurators led to the great revolt in A. D. 66. After four years of war, Jerusalem was taken by the Roman army in A. D. 70. The temple was destroyed, and the offering of sacrifices ceased. The destruction of the temple marks an epoch in Jewish history. Henceforth the national center was gone.

There was another uprising in A. D. 132-135, but that was the last. A Gentile city was erected on the ruins of Jerusalem, and for a considerable time at least the Jews were forbidden even to enter its precincts.”7

iii) Administration and Parties

“After the return from the Exile, the priests occupied a position of leadership. The high priest, whose office was hereditary, was practically head of the Jewish state. With him was associated a council, composed of members of the priestly aristocracy. This state of affairs prevailed during the Persian and Greek periods.”8

“Under the Maccabees the power of the high priest reached its highest point. For after a time the Maccabean rulers themselves assumed the title of high priest, and still later the title of king. The high priest, then, under the Maccabees, was also king. Under Herod the Great, on the contrary, the high priesthood sank to its lowest ebb. Herod made and unmade high priests at pleasure.”9

“The council associated with the high priest was, under Alexandra, opened to the members of the strict anti-Hellenistic party. At the time of Christ it included both Pharisees and Sadducees.

These parties became distinct at the time of the Maccabees. The Sadducees—the origin of the name is not altogether clear—were the aristocratic party, hospitable to Greek culture. The Pharisees were the strict Jewish party, devoted to the law, and opposed to foreign influences.”10

“The name “Pharisee” means “separated.” The Pharisees were “separated” from the mass of the people by a stricter observance of the Mosaic law. At first the Pharisees supported the Maccabean leaders; for the Maccabean revolt was in the interests of the Jewish religion. But when the Maccabees became engrossed in worldly politics and susceptible to Greek influences the Pharisees opposed them.”11

iv) Language

“Old Testament passages in Hebrew were read in the synagogue. Hebrew was used also to some extent as the language of learned discussion. But for all ordinary purposes its place had been taken by Aramaic, a language of the Semitic family closely related to Hebrew. At the time of Christ Aramaic was the spoken language of the Palestinian Jews. Even in the synagogues, the Old Testament passages, after having been read in Hebrew, were translated orally into the language which the people could understand.”12

“But, since the time of Alexander the Great, another language had made its way into Palestine along with Aramaic. This was the Greek. The kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided were Greek kingdoms … With the Greek government came Greek culture and the Greek language.”13

“In other spheres, however, under the Maccabean kings and still more under the Romans, Greek culture effected an entrance. At the time of Christ there were typical Greek cities not only to the east of the Jordan in Decapolis, where magnificent ruins even to-day attest the ancient Greco-Roman civilization, and not only along the coast of the Mediterranean, but even within the confines of Palestine proper. With some truth Palestine in the first century may be called a bilingual country. Greek and Aramaic were both in use.

Aramaic was the language of the mass of the people.”14

“As is proved by the presence of Aramaic words even in our Greek Gospels, Aramaic was undoubtedly the language in which the gospel was originally proclaimed.”15

“It is perfectly possible, however, that even Jesus may have used Greek upon rare occasions, for example in conversation with Pilate, the Roman procurator. His disciples, after the resurrection, found themselves at the head of a Greek-speaking community. The early Church in Jerusalem was composed not only of “Hebrews,” but also of “Grecians,” or Hellenists [Acts 6:1]. The Hellenists were Greek-speaking Jews of the dispersion who were sojourning more or less permanently in the holy city.”16

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 7]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Epistles in General


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

i. The Epistolary Form in Biblical Literature

“This form of teaching was not something absolutely new in the time of the apostles, although we find but few traces of it in the Old Testament. Mention is made there of some letters written by kings and prophets, f. i. in I Kings 21: 8, 9; II Kings 5:5-7; 19:14; 20:12; Jer. 29:1; but these are quite different from our New Testament Epistles.”17

“The letter as a particular type of self-expression took its rise, so it seems, among the Greeks and the Egyptians. In later time it was also found among the Romans and in Hellenistic Judaism, as we notice from the epistle of Aristion, that treats of the origin of the Septuagint. According to Deissmann
the Egyptian papyri especially offer a great amount of material for comparison.”2

“In all probability, however, it was Paul who first introduced the epistle as a distinct type of literary form for the conveyance of divine truth. Aside from the Gospels his Epistles form the most prominent part of the New Testament. In this connection it is well to bear in mind the important distinction made by Deissmann between a letter and an epistle, of which the former is non-literary, or, as J. V. Bartlet says, “pre-literary,” and the latter is a literary artistic form of communication.”3

Thomas Dehany Bernard, The Progress of Doctrine in the N. T. pp. 156, 157: “The prophets delivered oracles to the People, but the apostles wrote letters to the brethren, letters characterized by all that fulness of unreserved explanation, and that play of various feeling, which are proper to that form of intercourse. It is in its nature a more familiar communication, as between those who are or should be equals.” “The form adopted in the New Testament combines the advantages of the treatise and the conversation. The letter may treat important subjects with accuracy and fulness, but it will do so in immediate connection with actual life. It is written to meet any occasion.  It is addressed to peculiar states of mind. It breathes of the heart of the writer. It takes its aim from the exigencies, and its tone from the feelings of the moment ”

ii. The Inspiration of the Epistles

“… in the case of the Epistles, as distinguished from that of the Gospels, it did not almost exclusively assume the character of a ὑπομνήσις [hypomnēsei], but was also to a great extent a διδασκαλία [didaskalos]. Both of those elements are indicated in the promise of the Holy Spirit given by Christ before his departure: “But the Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” John 14: 26. Cf. also 16:12,13.”4

“In the Gospels we have the totality of the apostolic κήρυγμα [kērygma] hence their production naturally depended in great measure on a faithful memory. The Epistles, on the other hand, contain the fruit of the apostles reflection on this κήρυγμα, their interpretation of it. Therefore it was not sufficient that the writers in composing them should faithfully remember former things; they needed more light on them, a better understanding of their real meaning and profound significance.”5

“The apostles were evidently conscious of being inspired by the Holy Ghost in the composition of their Epistles. This follows from the authority with which they address the congregations. They feel sure that their word is binding on the conscience; they condemn in unqualified terms those who teach any other doctrine as coming from God; they commend and praise all that diligently follow their directions; but they also reprimand and censure those that dare to follow another course.”6
See 1 Cor. 2:10, 13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:10-12

“It is true that for a time five of them, viz., the Epistles of James and Jude, II Peter and II and III John, were classed as antilegomena, but this only means that their canonicity was subject to doubt and dispute for a while, not that they were ever numbered among the spurious books. They have been recognized by the majority of ecclesiastical writers from the very beginning, and were generally accepted by the Church after the council of Laodicea in A. D. 363.”7

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 7]”

The Literature of the Old Testament (1913) [Chapter 7]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Age of the Sources: Composition of the Pentateuch


A) About the author of the chapter:

George Foot Moore “graduated from Yale College in 1872 and from Union Theological Seminary in 1877, in 1878 Moore was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry and until 1883 was pastor of the Putnam Presbyterian Church, Zanesville, Ohio.

He was Hitchcock professor of the Hebrew language and literature at Andover Theological Seminary, 1883–1902. In 1902 he became professor of theology and in 1904 professor of the history of religion at Harvard University.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

“Deuteronomy is a fixed point, by reference to which the age of other strata in the Pentateuch may be determined, at least relatively.”8

“The inference is plain that P was written at a time when the principle of the unity of the sanctuary for which Deuteronomy contends with the zeal of innovation was no longer disputed, at least in the author’s surroundings, so that he has no need to enjoin it, and can, indeed, ignore the fact that there ever had been other sanctuaries of Jehovah. Such a state of things never existed while the kingdom stood; it was only in the Persian period, when Judæa was reduced to a circle of a few miles about Jerusalem, that the conditions implied in P arose.”2

“… the older laws in P go back, substantially in their present shape, to the days of the kingdom, and in many cases represent a prescriptive usage which is of remote antiquity; while the latest additions to P were made at a time so recent that they had not found entry into the copies from which the earliest Greek version was made in the third century B.C.”3

“It must be enough here to say that the older laws in P go back, substantially in their present shape, to the days of the kingdom, and in many cases represent a prescriptive usage which is of remote antiquity; while the latest additions to P were made at a time so recent that they had not found entry into the copies from which the earliest Greek version was made in the third century B.C.

J and E are both older than Deuteronomy. In Genesis, as has already been noted, they recite the foundation legends of Shechem, Bethel, Hebron, Beersheba, and other of the holy places of Canaan, telling how the patriarchs built the altars, set up the sacred stones, planted the sacred trees, dug the holy wells, and offered sacrifice to their own God at these spots, by this origin legitimating as Israelite sanctuaries what were, at the time of the conquest and long after, Canaanite “high places.””4

“On the other hand, the strong interest in the origins of the holy places of Canaan indicates that when J and E were written these high places were Israelite sanctuaries, which had as such their sacred legends; indeed, a considerable part of the patriarchal stories is ultimately derived from these legends of local sanctuaries, which form a cycle, harmonized and connected by a migration motive. That both J and E were written long after the settlement of the Israelites in Palestine is proved even more conclusively by the fact that the obligatory religious observances are those of an agricultural people.”5

“It is difficult to reconstruct the narratives of the exodus and the wanderings in the desert in J and E as they originally were. Extensive transpositions seem to have been made at some stage in the transmission, by which parallel relations of the same occurrence are separated and appear as distinct events. There were evidently considerable differences in the traditional accounts which the earliest authors found current. The holy mountain is in E named Horeb, in J (probably) as in P, Sinai; Moses’ father-in-law in the one is Jethro, in the other Hobab. In J there are some traces of a tradition, perhaps the oldest of all, in which there was no mention of Sinai; the Israelites made their way straight from the Red Sea to Kadesh.”6

“A comparison of J and E with the history of the times of Saul and David in Samuel, and with the stories of Elijah and Elisha in Kings, would lead us to ascribe them both to the classic age of Hebrew prose of which those narratives are specimens. On the other hand, in J and the older stratum of E there is no influence of the prophetic movement of the eighth century which left so deep a mark on religion and literature. On these grounds J may be probably ascribed to the ninth century, and E, which is somewhat younger, to the first half of the eighth. Both used older sources, and both were revised and enlarged by later hands; we have had more than one occasion to refer to an edition of E which reflects the teaching of the prophets, particularly of Hosea.”7

“At a considerably later time, perhaps in the fifth century B.C., or even in the fourth, the Origins of the Religious Institutions, a product of the Persian period, with the mass of laws that had been incorporated in it (see above p. 57), was united with JED, thus bringing together into one volume all that was preserved about the history down to the conquest of Canaan and all the various institutions and collections of laws which were attributed to Moses. The author of this comprehensive work, as was most natural, took P, with its sharply marked divisions and outstanding epochs, as his basis, and introduced in each period the parts of JE which seemed to him to belong there. Where P had a parallel narrative, as in the story of the Flood, he wove the strands together with more or less ingenuity, omitting, in ordinary cases, only the most palpable doublets. It is possible that the same author first incorporated in P a large part of the so-called priestly laws; it is more certain that, besides the harmonistic changes necessary in combining his sources, he made numerous additions; but there is usually no way of distinguishing his hand from that of earlier or of still later editors.”8

This hypothesis, which, for all its seeming complexity, is doubtless a great simplification of the actual literary history, is accepted by the majority of Old Testament scholars—with many variations in particulars, it need hardly be said. It is commended to the historian, not merely by the fact that it explains the confusion and contradiction which reign in the Pentateuch and offers a solution of its literary problems, but that, when the sources are distinguished and reconstructed and their age and relations determined, they become historical sources of great value for the times in which they were respectively written, confirming, supplementing, or interpreting the evidence of the historical books and the prophets, and contributing important material of various kinds to our knowledge of civilization in ancient Israel and of its religious development.”9

The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church (1887) [Selected Chapters]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

A) About the author of the book:

“George H. Gerberding was born in Pittsburgh in 1847. He served as a missionary and pastor in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Fargo, North Dakota, and as president of the Lutheran Synod of the Northwest and of the Chicago Synod. He was a professor at the Chicago Lutheran Seminary and Northwestern Lutheran Seminary.” [1]

The following are his educational qualification: “Graduate Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, 1873. Bachelor of Arts, A.M., Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania, 1873. Doctor of Divinity, Muhlenberg, 1894. Doctor of Laws, Lenoir College, 1915.” [2]



Chapter IV: Baptism, A Divinely Appointed Means of Grace


“Our Catechism here also teaches nothing but the pure truth of the Word, when it asserts that baptism “worketh forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and confers everlasting life and salvation on all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare.” Our solid and impregnable Augsburg Confession, also, when in Article II. it confesses that the new birth by baptism and the Holy Spirit delivers from the power and penalty of original sin. Also in Article IX., “of baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that by baptism the Grace of God is offered, and that children are to be baptized, who by baptism being offered to God, are received into God’s favor.””[1]

“Is baptism so absolutely essential to salvation, that unbaptized children are lost? To this we would briefly reply, that the very men who drew up our Confessions deny emphatically that it is thus absolutely necessary. Luther, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen and others, repudiate the idea that an unbaptized infant is lost. No single acknowledged theologian of the Lutheran Church ever taught this repulsive doctrine.

Why then does our Confession say baptism is necessary to salvation? It is necessary in the same sense in which it is necessary to use all Christ’s ordinances. The necessity is ordinary, notabsolute. Ordinarily Christ bestows His Grace on the child through baptism, as the means or channel through which the Holy Spirit is conferred. But when, through no fault of its own, this is not applied, He can reach it in some other way.”[2]

Chapter V: The Baptismal Covenant can be kept unbroken—Aim and Responsibility of Parents


“Our Church does not teach with Rome that “sin (original) is destroyed in baptism, so that it no longer exists.” Hollazius says: “The guilt and dominion of sin is taken away by baptism, but not the root or tinder of sin.” Luther also writes that “Baptism takes away the guilt of sin, although the material, called concupiscence, remains.””[3]

Chapter XVIII: Conversion, It’s Nature and Necessity


“The original and simple meaning of the word convert is to turn—to turn about. This is also the meaning of the Latin word from which the English comes. The Greek word, which in the New Testament is translated “convert” or “conversion,” also refers to the act of turning.”[4]

“Applying this word now to a moral or religious use,it means a turning  from sin to righteousness, from Satan to God. The transgressor who had been walking in the way of disobedience and enmity against God, and towards eternal death, is turned about into the way of righteousness, towards eternal life. This is a change of direction, but it is also something more. It is a change of state—from a state of sin to a state of Grace. It is still more. It is a change of nature—from a sinner unto a saint. It is finally a change of relation—from an outcast and stranger unto a child and heir. Thus there is an outward and an inward turning, a complete change.”[5]

“If we now inquire more particularly into the nature, or process of this change which is called “conversion,” we find in it two constituent elements. The one is penitence or contrition, the other is faith. Taken together, they make up conversion. In passing, we may briefly notice that sometimes the Scriptures use the word “repentance” as embracing both penitence and faith, thus making it synonymous with conversion.

Penitence or contrition, as the first part of conversion, is sorrow for sin. It is a realizing sense of the nature and guilt of sin; of its heinousness and damnable character. True penitence is indeed a painful experience. A penitent heart is, therefore, called “a broken and a contrite heart.” It takes from the sinner his self-satisfaction and false peace. It makes him restless, dissatisfied and troubled. Instead of loving and delighting in sin, it makes him hate sin and turn from it with aversion. It brings the sinner low in the dust. He cries out, “I am vile;” “I loathe myself;” “God be merciful to me a sinner” …


But penitence must not stop with hating and bemoaning sin, and longing for deliverance. The penitent sinner must resolutely turn from sin towards Jesus Christ the Saviour. He must believe that he took upon Himself the punishment due to his sins, and by His death atoned for them; that he satisfied a violated law, and an offended Law-giver; that thus he has become his Substitute and Redeemer, and has taken away all his sins. This the penitent must believe. Thus must he cast himself upon Christ, and trust in Him with a childlike confidence, knowing that there is now, therefore, no condemnation. Having this faith, he is justified, and “being justified by faith, he has peace with God.””[6]

Continue reading “The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church (1887) [Selected Chapters]”

Whosoever Will (2010) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Sermon on John 3:16


A) About the author of the chapter:

Jerry Vines “was educated at Mercer University (B.A.), New Orleans Theological Seminary (B.D.), and Luther Rice Seminary, (Th.D.).

He was [also] elected President of the Alabama Pastors’ Conference in 1976, President of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference for 1976 -1977. He also served two terms as President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1988 – 1989.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

A. T. Robertson: “[The world in John 3:16] means the entire human race.”[1]

R. G. Lee: “Jesus was the only One ever born who had a heavenly Father but no heavenly mother; an earthly mother but no earthly father. The only One ever born older than His mother and as old as His Father.”[2]

“Had Jesus not been born of a virgin, He would have had a sinful nature. Thus, He could not have lived a sinless life. Had Jesus not lived a sinless life, His death would not have been a perfect sacrifice for sin. By the virgin birth, God short-circuited the sin cycle so that Jesus was never tainted by original sin.”[3]

Gerald Borchart: “God is the initiator and principal actor in salvation, and we should never think salvation originated with us. God, however, has given humanity a sense of freedom and requires us to make a choice. Accordingly, people are responsible for their believing. It is unproductive theological speculation, therefore, to minimize either the role of God or humanity in the salvation process. The Bible and John 3:16 recognize the roles of both.”[4]

“The transliteration of the Greek word is pas. It is used 1,228 times in the New Testament. It is translated as “whosoever,” “all,” and “every.” It is a pronominal substantival adjective.”[5]

“Here [in John 3:16] it [i.e. pas] carries the idea of totality. Kittel says it means a totality and an inclusion of all individual parts.13 The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says, “Stress may be laid on each of the many individuals or parts which make up the totality.”14”[6]

13 – B. Reicke, “pas,” in The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; 1969), 5:887

14 – F. Graber, “All, Many,” in The Dictionary of New Testament Theology (ed. C. Brown; 1967), 1:94

“Herschel Hobbs on the Southern Baptist Peace Committee, often reminding us of the use of pas in the phrase “all Scripture” in 2 Tim. 3:16, said it meant the whole of Scripture and every part of Scripture is inspired of God. Likewise, here [in John 3:16] it [i.e. pas] means God loves the whole world collectively, and He loves and will save “whosoever” individually.”[7]

“It is the design of the sovereign God to make the salvation of all people possible and to secure the salvation of all who believe. What kind of God would not make salvation possible for all?”[8]

“It is fascinating to note how often pas occurs in passages about salvation. “He … should taste death for every (pas) man” (Heb. 2:9). “The Lord … is not willing that any should perish, but that all (pas) should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God “will have all (pas) men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God “is the Savior of all (pas) men, specially of those that believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).”[9]

“Three basic ideas are involved [in John’s idea of saving faith]. First is the mental aspect – confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the idea conveyed in John 20:30-31. The use of pisteuōn in 3:15 seems to emphasize the mental aspect of second faith.

Second is the volitional aspect – commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The preposition eis is used in John 3:16 and carries the idea of movement toward.

Third is the emotional aspect – communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. The use of the active participle and auton here suggest a continuing relationship with a living Person.”[10]

“How does this saving faith come about? A sovereign God has given every person the faculty of faith and a will to exercise it (see Rom. 12:3). This does not rob God of His sovereignty. Humans exercise the faculty of faith everyday. They trust that their spouse is not poisoning them, so they eat their breakfast. They trust the banker to keep their money safe so they make their deposit. They trust the pilot is capable so they board the plane.

As Norman Geisler says about humans’ capacity to choose – it has been “effaced, not erased; limited, not lost; damaged, not destroyed.””[11]

“But Paul said to him [i.e. the jailer], “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” (Acts 16:30-31). It would be unreasonable to command someone to do something impossible for them to do. It would be like commanding an armless man to embrace you.”[12]

“John 3:16 begins with the explanatory conjunction gar, which ties it to the preceding verses. In the opening pericope of the chapter, we have the interview of Nicodemus with Jesus, during which the Lord told him he must be born again. The question of how rebirth can occur is raised and is followed with an illustration from the Old Testament. Numbers 21 includes the account of the snakebitten Israelites who could receive new life by looking at the brazen serpent on the pole.”[13]

“The Greek word apolētai, translated “perish,” is an aorist middle subjunctive. The verbs are now in the subjunctive mood, the mood of potential and possibility. This word is used in two ways: a physical destruction (see “Lord, save us: we perish,” Matt 8:25) or a spiritual condition.”[14]

A. Oepke: “[apollymi refers to] an eternal plunge into hades and a hopeless destiny of death … an everlasting state of torment and death.”[15]

R. O. Yeager: “The ingressive and cumulative effects of perishing are eternal. The onset of the perishable state (ingressive) results in the culmination of a total state of separation from God (culminative).”[16]

“The verb [in the phrase “have everlasting life”] is in the present active subjunctive tense. It means “to have now and forever.” The phrase “have everlasting life” occurs 17 times in John’s Gospel. It carries the ideas of qualitative and quantitative life. The idea is of endless and never-ending life and of a difference in quality. This eternal life can be a present possession (see 1 John 5:12) and a hope (see Titus 3:7).”[17]


[1] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. V: The Fourth Gospel and the Epistle to the Hebrews (1932), p.50

[2] Cited in p.21

[3] p.21

[4] Gerald Borchart, John 1-11, New American Commentary (2002), 25b:184

[5] p.24

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] p.25

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] p.26

[13] Ibid.

[14] p.27

[15] A. Oepke, “apollymi,” in The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ed. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich; 1969), 1:394

[16] R. O. Yeager, The Renaissance of the New Testament, vol. 4 (1979), p.415

[17] p.28

Your Mind Matters (2013) [Chapters 1-2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Mindless Christianity


Why Use Our Minds?


A) About the author of the chapters:

“Educated at Cambridge University, [John] Stott was one of the most influential clergymen in the Church of England in the twentieth century. In 1950 he became rector of All Souls Church in London (the parish where he was born), and in 1975 rector emeritus. From 1952 to 1977 he led missions to university students on five continents. In 1982 he founded the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (now part of Christian Impact), serving as director up to 1986 and president from 1986. Chaplian to the queen from 1959 to 1991, he was appointed extra chaplain from 1991 onward and was awarded a Lambeth D.D. in 1983.”10

B) Summary of the chapters:

“What Paul wrote about unbelieving Jews in his day could be said, I fear, of some believing Christians in ours: “I hear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.” Many have a zeal without knowledge, enthusiasm without enlightenment. In modern jargon, they are keen but clueless.”2

“Now I thank God for zeal. Heaven forbid that knowledge without zeal should replace zeal without knowledge! God’s purpose is both, zeal directed by knowledge, knowledge fired with zeal.”3

“As I once heard Dr. John Mackay say, when he was president of Princeton seminary, “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action. But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.””4

“… outward ceremony is not to be despised if it is a clear and seemly expression of biblical truth. The danger of ritual is that it easily degenerates into ritualism, that is, into a mere performance in which the ceremony has become an end in itself, a meaningless substitute for intellectual worship.”5

“God made man in his own image, and one of the noblest features of the divine likeness in man is his capacity to think …

Scriptures assumes and portrays this from the beginning of man’s creation. In Genesis 2 and 3 we see God communicating with man in a way that he does not communicate with animals. He expects man to cooperate with him, consciously and intelligently, in tilling and keeping the garden in which he has placed him, and to discriminate – rationally as well as morally – between what he is permitted to do and the one thing he is prohibited from doing.”6

“It is quite true that man’s mind has shared in the devastating results of the Fall. The “total depravity” of man means that every constituent part of his humanness has been to some degree corrupted, including his mind, which Scripture describes as “darkened” …

So then, in spite of the fallenness of man’s mind, commands to _think_, to use his mind, are still addressed to him as a human being. God invites rebellious Israel: “Come now, let us reason says the LORD.” And Jesus accused the unbelieving multitudes, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, of being able to interpret the sky and forecast the weather but quite unable to interpret “the signs of the times” and forecast the judgement of God.”7

“What Scripture teaches concerning man’s basic rationality, constituted by his creation and not altogether destroyed by his fall, secular society everywhere assumes.”8

“The simple and glorious facts that God is a self-revealing God and that he has revealed himself to man indicate the importance of our minds. For all God’s revelation is rational revelation, both his general revelation in nature and his special revelation in Scripture and in Christ.”9

See Psalms 19:1-4, Romans 1:19-21, 1 Corinthians 1:21

“One may perhaps say that if in nature God’s revelation is visualized, in Scripture it is verbalized, and in Christ it is both, for he is “the Word made flesh.””10

“One of the highest and noblest functions of man’s mind is to listen to God’s Word and so to read his mind and think his thoughts after him, both in nature and in Scripture.”11

“For, although men’s minds are dark and their eyes are blind, although the unregenerate cannot by themselves receive or understand spiritual things “because they are spiritually discerned,” nevertheless the gospel is still addressed to their minds, since it is the divinely ordained means of opening their eyes, enlightening their minds and saving them.”12

“… redemption carries with it the renewal of the divine image in man which was distorted by the Fall.”13

See Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:23, 1 Corinthians 2:16

“… the essence of the argument of the apostle Paul in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans is that all men are guilty before God precisely because all men possess some knowledge – the Jews through God’s written law and the Gentiles through nature and through God’s law written on their hearts – but no one has lived up to the knowledge he has.”14

“God has constituted us thinking beings; he has treated us as such by communicating with us in words; he has renewed us in Christ and given us the mind of Christ; and he will hold us responsible for the knowledge we have.”15

Grace for All (2015) [Chapters 1-2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Arminianism is God Centered Theology


A) About the author of the chapter:

Roger Olson is Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. Before joining the Baylor community, he taught at Bethel College (now Bethel University) in St. Paul Minnesota.

His alma mater is Rice University (Ph.D in Religious Studies). He also graduated from North American Baptist Seminary (now Sioux Falls Seminary). [1]

“A past president of the American Theological Society (Midwest Division), Olson has been the co-chair of the Evangelical Theology Group of the American Academy of Religion for two years.” [2]



B) Chapter Summary:

“What would count as truly God-centered theology to these Reformed critics of Arminianism? First, human depravity must be emphasized as much as possible so that humans are not capable, even with supernatural divine assistance, of cooperating with God’s grace in salvation.”[1]

“Second, apparently, for the Reformed critics of Arminianism, God-centered theology must view God as the all-determining reality including the one who ordains, designs, governs and controls sin and evil which are then imported into God’s plan, purpose and will. God’s perfect will is always being done, even when it paradoxically grieves him to see it (as John Piper likes to affirm).”[2]

“The only view of God’s sovereignty that will satisfy these Reformed critics of Arminianism is meticulous providence in which God plans everything and renders it certain down to the minutest decisions of creatures. Most notably this includes the Fall of humanity and its consequences including the eternal suffering of sinners in hell.”[3]

David Bentley Hart: “It is a strange thing indeed to seek [God-centered theology] … at a cost of a God rendered morally loathsome.”[4]

“Third, to satisfy Arminianism’s Reformed critics, God-centeredness requires that human beings are mere pawns in God’s great scheme to glorify himself; their happiness and fulfillment cannot be mentioned as having any value for God. But this means, then, that one can hardly mention God’s love for all people.”[5]

“… It accomplishes very little to construct a God-centered theology if the God at its center is sheer, naked power of ambiguous moral character. “Glory” is an ambiguous term. When divorced from virtue, it is unworthy of devotion.”[6]

“God is glorious because he is both and good, and his goodness, like his greatness, must have some resonance with our best and highest notions of goodness or else it is meaningless.”[7]

“Real Arminianism has always believed in human freedom for one main reason – to protect the goodness of God and thus God’s reputation in a world filled with evil. There is only one reason why Classical Arminian theology emphasizes free will, but it has two sides. First, to protect and defend God’s goodness; second to make clear human responsibility for sin and evil. It has nothing to do whatsoever with any humanistic desire for creaturely autonomy or credit for salvation.”[8]

John Wesley: “you suppose him [viz., God] to send them [viz., the reprobate] into eternal fire, for not escaping from sin! That is in plain terms, for not having that grace which God had decreed they should never have! O strange justice! What a picture do you draw of the Judge of all the earth!”[9]

“The point that Boice and other critics continually make is that in the Arminian system the saved person can boast because he or she did not resist God’s grace and others did. All Arminian theologians from Arminius to Wesley to Wiley have pointed out that a person who receives a life-saving gift cannot boast if all he or she did was accept it. All the glory for such a gift goes to the giver and none to the receiver.”[10]

“All [Classical Arminians] emphasize the sovereignty of God over his creation including specific providence and all underscore God’s power limited only by his goodness. What throws off Reformed (and perhaps other) critics is the underlying Arminian assumption of God’s voluntary self-limitation in relation to humanity. However, that God limits himself by no means implies that he is essentially limited. According to Arminian theology God is sovereign over his sovereignty and his goodness conditions his power.”[11]

[1] p.4

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] David Bentley Hart, The Doors of the Sea (2005), p.99

[5] p.5

[6] p.6

[7] Ibid.

[8] p.7

[9] John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley (1872), p.221

[10] p.10

[11] pp.10-11

Continue reading “Grace for All (2015) [Chapters 1-2]”

Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918) [Chapter 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Jewish Articles of Faith


A) About the author of the chapter:

Kaufman Kohler “… was educated at the Universities of Munich, Berlin and Leipzig, (1865-69), and received the degree of Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen in 1868.” [1]

“Feb. 26, 1903, he was elected to the presidency of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati.” [2]



B) Chapter Summary:

“… the word used in Jewish literature for faith is Emunah, from the root Aman, to be firm; this denotes firm reliance upon God, and likewise firm adherence to him, hence both faith and faithfulness. Both Scripture and the Rabbis demanded confiding trust in God, His messengers, and His words, not the formal acceptance of a prescribed belief.”16

“Only when contact with the non-Jewish world emphasized the need for a clear expression of the belief in the unity of God, such as was found in the Shema, and when the proselyte was expected to declare in some definite form the fundamentals of the faith he espoused, was the importance of a concrete confession felt.”2

“… Judaism lays all stress upon conduct, not confession; upon a hallowed life, not a hollow creed.”3

“To the rabbis, the “root” of faith is the recognition of a divine Judge to whom we owe account for all our doings. The recital of the Shema, which is called in the Mishnah “accepting the yoke of God’s sovereignty,” and which is followed by the solemn affirmation, “True and firm belief is this for us” (Emeth we Yatzib or Emeth we Emunah), is, in fact, the earliest form of the confession of faith. In the course of time this confession of belief in the unity of God was no longer deemed sufficient to serve as basis for the whole structure of Judaism; so the various schools and authorities endeavored to work out in detail a series of fundamental doctrines.”4

“3. The Mishnah, in Sanhedrin, X, 1, which seems to date back to the beginnings of Pharisaism, declares the following three to have no share in the world to come: he who denies the resurrection of the dead; he who says that the Torah—both the written and the oral Law—is not divinely revealed; and the Epicurean, who does not believe in the moral government of the world.”5

“Rabbi Hananel, the great North African Talmudist, about the middle of the tenth century, seems to have been under the influence of Mohammedan and Karaite doctrines, when he speaks of four fundamentals of the faith: God, the prophets, the future reward and punishment, and the Messiah.”6

See Rappaport; “Biography of R. Hananel,” in Bikkure ha Ittim, 1842.

“4. The doctrine of the One and Only God stands, as a matter of course, in the foreground. Philo of Alexandria, at the end of his treatise on Creation, singles out five principles which are bound up with it, viz.: 1, God’s existence and His government of the world; 2, His unity; 3, the world as His creation; 4, the harmonious plan by which it was established; and 5, His Providence.

Josephus, too, in his apology for Judaism written against Apion, emphasizes the belief in God’s all-encompassing Providence, His incorporeality, and His self-sufficiency as the Creator of the universe.”7

“Abraham ben David (Ibn Daud) of Toledo sets forth in his “Sublime Faith” six essentials of the Jewish faith: 1, the existence; 2, the unity; 3, the incorporeality; 4, the omnipotence of God (to this he subjoins the existence of angelic beings); 5, revelation and the immutability of the Law; and 6, divine Providence.

Maimonides, the greatest of all medieval thinkers, propounded thirteen articles of faith, which took the place of a creed in the Synagogue for the following centuries, as they were incorporated in the liturgy both in the form of a credo (Ani Maamin) and in a poetic version. His first five articles were: 1, the existence; 2, the unity; 3, the incorporeality; 4, the eternity of God; and 5, that He alone should be the object of worship; to which we must add his 10th, divine Providence.”8

“[Samuel David Luzzatto] holds that Judaism, as the faith transmitted to us from Abraham our ancestor, must be considered, not as a mere speculative mode of reasoning, but as a moral life force, manifested in the practice of righteousness and brotherly love. Indeed, this view is supported by modern Biblical research, which brings out as the salient point in Biblical teaching the ethical character of the God taught by the prophets, and shows that the essential truth of revelation is not to be found in a metaphysical but in an ethical monotheism.”9

“The Jewish conception of God thus makes truth, as well as righteousness and love, both a moral duty for man and a historical task comprising all humanity.”10

“5. The second fundamental article of the Jewish faith is divine revelation, or, as the Mishnah expresses it, the belief that the Torah emanates from God (min ha shamayim). In the Maimonidean thirteen articles, this is divided into four: his 6th, belief in the prophets; 7, in the prophecy of Moses as the greatest of all; 8, in the divine origin of the Torah, both the written and the oral Law; and 9, its immutability.”11

“6. The third fundamental article of the Jewish faith is the belief in a moral government of the world, which manifests itself in the reward of good and the punishment of evil, either here or hereafter. Maimonides divides this into two articles, which really belong together, his 10th, God’s knowledge of all human acts and motives, and 11, reward and punishment. The latter includes the hereafter and the last Day of Judgment, which, of course, applies to all human beings.”12 

“7. Closely connected with retribution is the belief in the resurrection of the dead, which is last among the thirteen articles. This belief, which originally among the Pharisees had a national and political character, and was therefore connected especially with the Holy Land (as will be seen in Chapter LIV below), received in the Rabbinical schools more and more a universal form. Maimonides went so far as to follow the Platonic view rather than that of the Bible or the Talmud, and thus transformed it into a belief in the continuity of the soul after death. In this form, however, it is actually a postulate, or corollary, of the belief in retribution.”13

“8. The old hope for the national resurrection of Israel took in the Maimonidean system the form of a belief in the coming of the Messiah (article 12), to which, in the commentary on the Mishnah, he gives the character of a belief in the restoration of the Davidic dynasty. Joseph Albo, with others, disputes strongly the fundamental character of this belief; he shows the untenability of Maimonides’ position by referring to many Talmudic passages, and at the same time he casts polemical side glances upon the Christian Church, which is really founded on Messianism in the special form of its Christology. Jehuda ha Levi, in his Cuzari, substitutes for this as a fundamental doctrine the belief in the election of Israel for its world-mission.”14

“9. The thirteen articles of Maimonides, in setting forth a Jewish Credo, formed a vigorous opposition to the Christian and Mohammedan creeds; they therefore met almost universal acceptance among the Jewish people, and were given a place in the common prayerbook, in spite of their deficiencies, as shown by Crescas and his school.”15

“10. Another doctrine of Judaism, which was greatly underrated by medieval scholars, and which has been emphasized in modern times only in contrast to the Christian theory of original sin, is that man was created in the image of God. Judaism holds that the soul of man came forth pure from the hand of its Maker, endowed with freedom, unsullied by any inherent evil or inherited sin. Thus man is, through the exercise of his own free will, capable of attaining to an ever higher degree his mental, moral, and spiritual powers in the course of history. This is the Biblical idea of God’s spirit as immanent in man; all prophetic truth is based upon it; and though it was often obscured, this theory was voiced by many of the masters of Rabbinical lore, such as R. Akiba and others.”16

“11. Every attempt to formulate the doctrines or articles of faith of Judaism was made, in order to guard the Jewish faith from the intrusion of foreign beliefs, never to impose disputed beliefs upon the Jewish community itself. Many, indeed, challenged the fundamental character of the thirteen articles of Maimonides. Albo reduced them to three, viz.: the belief in God, in revelation, and retribution; others, with more arbitrariness than judgement, singled out three, five, six, or even more as principal doctrines; while rigid conservatives, such as Isaac Abravanel and David ben Zimra, altogether disapproved the attempt to formulate articles of faith.”17

“The present age of historical research imposes the same necessity of restatement or reformulation upon us. We must do as Maimonides did,—as Jews have always done,—point out anew the really fundamental doctrines, and discard those which have lost their holdup on the modern Jew, or which conflict directly with his religious consciousness. If Judaism is to retain its prominent position among the powers of thought, and to be clearly understood by the modern world, it must again reshape its religious truths in harmony with the dominant ideas of the age.” 18 

“Many attempts of this character have been made by modern rabbis and teachers, most of them founded upon Albo’s three articles. Those who penetrated somewhat more deeply into the essence of Judaism added a fourth article, the belief in Israel’s priestly mission, and at the same time, instead of the belief in retribution, included the doctrine of man’s kinship with God, or, if one may coin the word, his God-childship.”19

The Literature and History of the New Testament (1915) [Lesson 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Greek Background of Christianity


A) About the author of the chapter:

John Gresham Machen “studied at Johns Hopkins University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the universities at Marburg and Göttingen. In 1906 he joined the faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary …

He left Princeton in 1929, after the school was reorganized and adopted a more accepting attitude toward liberal Protestantism, and he helped found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

1) The Hellenistic Age

“The Greek world culture which prevailed after the conquest of Alexander was widely different from the Greek life of the classical period. The earlier period is called the “Hellenic” period, the later period is designated as “Hellenistic.”” [1]

“When Greek thought made itself master of the world, it became mingled with numberless foreign elements. The mixture appears most clearly, perhaps, in the sphere of religion. Polytheism was capable of indefinite expansion. New gods could easily be identified with the old, or else be received along with them without a conflict. The religion of the Greco-Roman world is therefore different from that of ancient Greece.” [2]

“The learning of the Hellenistic age was centered in Alexandria in Egypt, a city which had been founded by Alexander the Great.” [3]

“Greek culture had ceased to belong to Greece in the narrower sense. It had become a possession of the world. The great library of Alexandria was a sign of the times. The Hellenistic age was an age of widespread learning.” [4]

“When Rome became master of the eastern world, conditions were not fundamentally changed. Rome merely hastened a process that was already at work. Already the nations had been brought together by the spread of Greek culture; Roman law merely added the additional bond of political unity. The Roman legions were missionaries of an all-pervading Hellenism.” [5]

“The Greco-Roman world was astonishingly modern. It was modern in its cosmopolitanism. In our own time the nations have again been brought together. The external agencies for their welding are far more perfect to-day than they were under the empire. Even the Roman roads would be but a poor substitute for the railroad and the telegraph and the steamship. But on the other hand we lack the bond of a common language. In some ways the civilized world was even more of a unit in the first century than it is to-day.” [6]

2) The Greek Bible

“The Church originated in Palestine. The first missionaries were native Jews. Yet even they had been affected by the cosmopolitanism of the time. Even they could use Greek, in addition to their native language. And Paul, the greatest of the missionaries, though a Jew, was a citizen of a Greek city.” [7]

“The Old Testament was a Hebrew book, but before the Christian era it had been translated into Greek. From the beginning Christianity was provided with a Greek Bible.” [8]

“Everything was prepared for the gospel. God’s time had come. Roman rule had brought peace. Greek culture had produced unity of speech. There was a Greek world, there were Greek-speaking missionaries, and there was a Greek Bible. In the first century, the salvation that was of the Jews could become a salvation for the whole world.” [9]

3) The Papyri

“”Papyri” are pieces of papyrus. Papyrus was the common writing material of antiquity up to about A. D. 300, when vellum, or parchment, came into general use. Unfortunately papyrus, which was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, is not a very durable substance, so that ancient papyri have been preserved until modern times only under exceptionally favorable conditions. These conditions are found in Egypt, where the dry climate has kept the papyrus from disintegration.” [10]

“In Egypt, within the last thirty years, have been discovered large numbers of papyrus sheets with Greek writing.

Of these the “literary papyri” contain simply parts of books. They differ from other copies of the works in question only in that they are usually older than the vellum manuscripts.

The “non-literary papyri,” on the other hand, are unique. They are private documents of all sorts—receipts, petitions, wills, contracts, census returns, and most interesting of all, private letters. It was usually not intended that these documents should be preserved. They were simply thrown away upon rubbish heaps or used as wrappings of mummies. They have been preserved only by chance.

The non-literary papyri are important first of all in the study of language. They exhibit the language of everyday life, as distinguished from the language of literature.” [11]

“The language of the New Testament is more like the language of the non-literary papyri than it is like the language of contemporary literature. The papyri indicate, therefore, that the New Testament is composed in the natural living language of the time rather than according to the canons of an artificial rhetoric.” [12]

4) A Gospel in a Real World

“The people that are introduced to us so intimately in the papyri are probably very fair representatives of the people among whom the gospel was first proclaimed …

The people of the papyri are not the great men of the time; they are just plain folk.” [13]

“Many of the early Christians were slaves, many were humble tradesmen.” [14]

[1] p.15

[2] pp.15-16

[3] p.16

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] p.17

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] p.18

[11] Ibid.

[12] p.19

[13] pp.19-20

[14] p.20

Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 6]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Acts of the Apostles


A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]


B) Chapter Summary:

I) Content

“The contents of this book is naturally divided into two parts; in each of which the main topic is the establishment of the Church from a certain center:

 I. The establishment of the Church from Jerusalem, 1:1—12:25 …

 II. The Establishment of the Church from Antioch. 13:1—28:31.”20 

II) Characteristics

 “1. The great outstanding feature of this book is that it acquaints us with the establishment of Christian churches, and indicates their primary organization. According to it churches are founded at Jerusalem, 2: 41-47; Judea, Galilee and Samaria, 9: 31; Antioch, 11: 26; Asia Minor, 14: 23; 16: 5; Philippi, 16: 40; Thessaalonica, 17:10; Berea, 17:14; Corinth, 18:18, and Ephesus, 20:17-38.”2 

“2. The narrative which it contains centers about two persons, viz. Peter and Paul, the first establishing the Jewish, the second the Gentile churches. Consequently it contains several discourses of these apostles …”3

“3. The many miracles recorded in this writing constitute one of its characteristic features.”4

“4. The style of this book is very similar to that of the third Gospel, though it contains less Hebraisms. Simcox says that “the Acts is of all the books included in the New Testament the nearest to contemporary, if not to classical literary usage,—the only one, except perhaps the Epistle to the Hebrews, where conformity to a standard of classical correctness is consciously aimed at.” The Writers of the New Testament, p. 16. The tone is most Hebraic in the first part of the book, especially in the sermons in chs. 2 and 13 and in the defense of Stephen ch. 7, in all of which the Old Testament element is very large ;—and it is most Hellenic in the last part of the book, as in the epistle of the church at Jerusalem, the letter of Lysias, the speech of Tertullus, and the defense of Paul before Agrippa. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the first part of the book deals primarily with Jewish, and last part especially with Gentile Christianity.”5

III) Title

 “The Greek title of the book is πράξεις ἀποστόλων, Acts of Apostles. There is no entire uniformity in the MSS. in this respect. The Sinaiticus has simplyπράξειςalthough it has the regular title at the close of the book. Codex D is peculiar in havingπράξις ἀποστόλων, Way of acting of the Apostles.We do not regard the title as proceeding from the author, but from one of the transcribers; nor do we consider it a very happy choice.”6

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 6]”