• Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    When We Wrestle with God for the Wrong Reasons

    I recently was pointed to an article by Desiring God which encourages the believer to wrestle with God like Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel/Mahanaim (Gen 32:1-32). The implication of the article is that Jacob’s wrestling match with God is a pattern for us to follow—we too ought to wrestle with God! I have written before about the bad habit of reading Bible stories inappropriately, but this is a good example of this bad practice. Like many well-intentioned Bible readers, the author assumes that the actions of the characters in the story are to be emulated and the events of the story should form our expectations of how God operates…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    What Does it Mean: Scripture was Fulfilled?

    We see the use of this terminology all over the New Testament. For example, Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Elsewhere John says that the events of the crucifixion happened “that Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 19:36). These are just two of the numerous examples in the New Testament. The question is, what does it mean? The most common understanding of the “fulfilled” language is that of prediction-actualization. The Old Testament prophets predicted certain things, and the actualization of that prophecy comes to pass (i.e., it was fulfilled). For example, in Isaiah 7:14 we see a prophecy concerning a virgin giving birth. In…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament

    Does Baptism Save You? Looking at Acts 2:38

    There are a few texts that seem to indicate that baptism saves an individual. In order to work through the apparent contradiction in Scripture, many will cross reference other texts to explain away the passage. Last time I pointed out that it doesn’t make sense to read one passage upon another. It can be helpful to cross reference, but the key to understanding Scripture is identifying authorial intent. The key to proper biblical interpretation involves knowing the author, the audience, the purpose of the passage, and the context. Knowing this information keeps us from injecting our own meaning or purpose into the text. It also helps us derive our theology…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    The Danger of a Bible Cross Reference

    We cross reference all the time. A cross reference is simply using one text of Scripture to understand another text. But is it always good to cross reference? Consider the following situation. Let’s say a friend or neighbor comes up to you and says, “The Bible is clear that baptism is necessary for salvation.” Now, you may be immediately put off by such a suggestion, but what if he goes on to quote Acts 2:38? Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How would…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    Red-Letter Christians

    There is an official website called www.redletterchristians.org, with the stated purpose as follows: The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount. I think I understand the intent of this group. However, the premise is mistaken and it leads to the ultimate question: Should we treat the words of Jesus differently than the rest of Scripture?

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Is Jeremiah 29:11 a Promise for Christians?

    It is that time of year—graduations left and right! This time of year often brings about encouraging notes and cards. Sometimes, well-meaning Christians will pencil in Jeremiah 29:11 with a note that says, “I know God has great things in store for you!” This message is not limited to graduations. Growing up, I knew many people who memorized Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise for themselves that God would bless them and give them good things: Read the Whole Article

  • Christian Living,  Church,  Ethics,  Hermeneutics

    Should Women Wear Head Coverings?

    If you walk into almost any church in North America this Sunday you will not see many (if any) women wearing a head covering. However, 1 Cor 11:2-16 seems to indicate that head coverings should be worn by women during the church service. To further complicate matters, one of the reasons given in 1 Cor 11 is because of God’s created order. If Paul is supporting head coverings from the created order, are we not obligated to continue this practice which all the churches of Paul’s time observed (1 Cor 11:16)? Read the Whole Article

  • Hermeneutics,  Textual Criticism

    The Use of Amos 9 in Acts 15 in JODT

    I recently became aware that The Journal of Dispensational Theology published one of my articles in October. The bibliography information is as follows: Peter J Goeman, “The Role of the LXX in James’ Use of Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:15-18” Journal of Dispensational Theology (Summer/Fall 2014): 107-25. Although the article itself requires a certain proficiency in Greek and Hebrew, I will try to summarize the main point of the article here. First, notice the comparison between Amos 9 and Acts 15: Amos 9:11-12 (MT) Amos 9:11-12 (LXX) Acts 15:16-18 In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins…

  • Hermeneutics

    The Prophecy of Caiaphus and Sensus Plenior

    Sensus plenior is Latin for “fuller sense.”  It is the belief that there is at least a partial disconnect between the human author and the divine author of Scripture. In other words, what the human author means in his historical context may not be the full intent of the meaning of Scripture. Those who believe in sensus plenior say that God can have a “fuller” intention behind the words that He inspires, and this “fuller sense” may not be understood until later on. I believe the best understanding of how Scripture is written is best described by what is called confluence. Confluence is the belief that God works through the…

  • Hermeneutics

    How Not to Read Bible Stories

    Everyone loves stories. We like watching movies, reading books, or simply talking to each other about our lives. Stories are a part of us, we cannot escape them. The majority of the Bible is made up of stories. Because we are surrounded by stories all the time, one would think we would understand the Bible better, if for no other reason than the fact that the Bible contains stories. However, we often struggle in narrative passages because we are not sure what the application is for our own life. This often leads to reading Bible stories in the wrong way. A Faulty Approach to Applying Bible Stories The most common…