The Case for Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem

Most Christians tend to take for granted that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but most New Testament scholars think the opposite, that it was an invention of Matthew and Luke to bolster Jesus’ prophetic credentials as the Messiah. New Testament scholar Jonathan Rowland in his paper On Chickens and Eggs: The Use of Old Testament Prophecy in the New Testament Birth Narratives of Jesus makes a scholarly case for why Jesus was born in Bethlehem and why it matters but not exactly for the same reasons as most Christians would suspect. Continue reading “The Case for Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem”

Saved to Rule

New Testament scholar Dr. Haley Goranson Jacob’s Conformed to the Image of his Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory (IVP 2018) is one of the best books in biblical scholarship I have ever come across. I read it earlier this year and it has had a profound impact on my own theology. I have covered or referenced her work multiple times this year, which you can read here including a helpful summary of her book which you can find here. She concludes her book with a powerful statement on how we ought to think of salvation. Dr. Jacob writes,

I return my reader to one of the key questions of this book: What is
the goal of salvation? For too long, scholars and laymen alike have myopically viewed justification and salvation as ends in themselves, whether for the benefit of the individual or of the incorporative body of Christ. The goal of salvation is believers’ conformity to the Son of God—their participation in his rule over creation as God’s eschatological family and as renewed humanity—but only and always with the purpose of extending God’s hand of mercy, love, and care to his wider creation. This was humanity’s job in the beginning; it will be believers’ responsibility and honor in the future; it is God’s purpose in calling his people in the present.

Continue reading “Saved to Rule”

The New Testament’s Favourite Verse

The Bible has always been a central part of Christian life and there have always been particular verses that have stood out to various generations of believers. Indeed, a survey of favourite verses provides a wide-angle snapshot of people’s theology. As I have previously written about, the favourites verses of the first generation of Christians show they had a very a different theological outlook from us today. Now the early church’s favourite verse is something most Christians today are not familiar with. That verse is Psalm 110:1, which says,

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (ESV) Continue reading “The New Testament’s Favourite Verse”

Sky, Land and Sea

The wonderful people at the Bible Project have produced an excellent video and blog post on the ancient understanding of creation in Genesis 1 which you can access below. Continue reading “Sky, Land and Sea”

Before He was Born (Part II)

The Logic of Pre-existence

Our examination of the Trinitarian understanding of what it means for Jesus to be “the eternal Son” in comparison with what the New Testament (NT) actually says highlights another serious problem. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity appropriates biblical language and reinterprets it in such a way it no longer has its original biblical meaning. Sonship clearly means birth as a human, a historical event, and not timeless “eternal generation”, a Trinitarian belief we can be certain no one held in the NT. Jesus did pre-exist his birth but not as the eternal Son. Again, we find no clear evidence of sonship language being used to describe the pre-incarnate Christ. He is now the eternal Son because he lives forever through the power of the resurrection (Romans 1:4.) Since we have established the Trinitarian model is wrong, the outstanding question before us is, before he was born, before God became his Father, what did he exist as? Continue reading “Before He was Born (Part II)”