A few years ago, I was teaching a class on hermeneutics while I was struggling through my antiviral therapy for Hepatitis C. In that class, we would spend part of the class going through the hermeneutical rules we had learned and attempt to apply them to difficult texts. It was a very enjoyable exercise for most, and one of the difficult texts we tackled was 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. I’ve recently been asked about 1 Corinthians 11 and the issue of head covering, and that question comes up regularly for me. Knowing that convictions on an issue come through personally working through the Scripture instead of having someone spoon-feed you an answer, I wanted to provide my bible study on 1 Corinthians 11 for the benefit of a few readers.
I’ve modified it a slight to incorporate a little more interpretive helps, seeing that I’m not there personally with you to help answer questions. Also, you may want to refresh yourself on the basic rules of Bible study here. Also, here’s some basic rules that are part of every Bible study I write:
- The text upon which the study is based is ESV.
- No flippies. Scripture interprets Scripture, sure, but the main focus of the way I study the Bible is to draw meaning from the text at hand. That means no flipping to other chapters, unless you’re told otherwise. Most Christians love to toss out the “Scripture interprets Scripture” line, but in practice it becomes an excuse for what I call “concordant exegesis”: using a concordance to interpret the text rather than the nouns and verbs in their various ascending circles of context (sentence, paragraph, pericope, logical argument, book, testament, theology, history, geography). One should never use one verse to “interpret” another just because they share a common term in an English translation. Dragging the meaning of terms from one passage, in an entirely different context, into another, is a guaranteed way to misunderstand whatever text is currently in front of your eyes. It’s a horrible interpretive habit that has become sanctified simply because it’s common.
- Dig here. Most of the questions are actually as simple as they seem. In my Bible studies, I try to “go deep”, which means I go deep into what the author wrote in this text. That means getting the surface reading right: the terms, the grammar, and the argument/example/principle being put forward. If you miss that but find a whole bunch of cool speculative intertextual or typological connections, you’ve ultimately missed the meaning of the text. When that happens, your Bible Study becomes the exegetical equivalent of all icing and no cake. It might sound great at first, but around 4 pounds into a 9 pound pail of chocolate buttercreme icing, you’ll have an involuntary change of heart (and stomach).
Believe me, I’ve tried…and painfully lost a bet in the process.
- Harder questions are marked. An asterisk (*) question is a “think a little more about this” question. That’s my indication that the question is not a surface level question.
With that small foundation laid, let’s dig through it! Continue reading
In this day, there is no shortage of confusion about Heaven: it’s one of the topics of Christian theology that innumerable unbalanced and unregenerate people love to focus on (that and angels, which is highly related). There is no shortage of fools and frauds that claim to have insight into Heaven; what it’s like, the nature of it, who goes there, etc. Also, the last twenty years or so has produced a gaggle of I Went To Heaven books where some clown claimed to go to Heaven and get the inside scoop (every single one of those people is lying, and I explain why here). There’s no shortage of claims about Heaven out there, and it gets pretty crazy. Try and survive a few minutes of this barking-mad insanity, which is shockingly peddled by the New Apostolic Reformation crowd (Just kidding…I’m not shocked for a second).
So in an effort to help sort through the mess of misinformation, I took my youth group through a brief exploration of the topic of Heaven.
Here’s the notes I gave them, for your encouragement and edification! Continue reading
Although I’m not blogging these days, I’m still very active. I’ve recently been doing some pulpit fill at Grace Fellowship Church Chilliwack. I’ve briskly preached through 1 Thessalonians, and as I was doing my prep for 1 Thess. 4:13-18, I was working through the idea of Christ’s “coming”, and hammering through the term parousia (translated “coming” in 1 Thess. 4:15, as well as many other places) in the New Testament. For interests of time, I won’t go through all the information I found, but I also want to put some helpful information on here for anyone who is interested in working through the issue (and the people who were listening to the sermon and struggling to keep up).
When Paul mentions Christ’s parousia in 1 Thess. 4:15, it’s a term with some specific background and meaning. Examining the background and meaning is helpful in sorting out what Paul’s aiming at in 1 Thess. 4:15.
a. What is a Parousia? Continue reading
There are a bunch of passages in scripture that I used to ignore, mostly because I didn’t know what to do with them. I’m guessing that you’re possibly like me; you know that certain passages are there but you’ve never really tackled them satisfactorily. In a discussion I had with a noted prosperity preacher (who shall remain anonymous), one specific passage came up and I got thinking about how he twisted it. He seemed to be making a fairly simple observation, but it was a text that I knew I had never sorted through and now I was forced to deal with it.
The text was Matthew 17:20.
What does a person do with Jesus teaching on faith in Matthew 17:20?
“…if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
It seems to be suggesting something rather extreme.
So let’s recap.
In the first post, we introduced the topic and gave a broad look at the categories of women in churches that have concerns about modesty (or a total lack thereof). In the second post, we looked at the biblical terminology from 1 Cor 12:23 and 1 Tim. 2:9. I only did that because the verses with the term “modesty” in them are generally the passages that people talk about when the topic comes up. At the end of that post, I brought up the myth that gold, braided hair was the mark of a prostitute in ancient Roman culture. In the third post, we looked at the actual mark of a prostitute in ancient Roman culture; wearing the male Toga (often made out of thin, revealing Coan silk). In the fourth post, we looked at what gold, braided hair indicated in ancient Roman culture; wealth and status.
Now, I’m going to take a quick look at the other significant biblical text that addresses modesty. This whole series would be incomplete without addressing it, so let’s explore 1 Peter 3:1-6: Continue reading