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The Lamp-Measure-Seed-Mustard Sequence, Part 1

Could familiarity with Matthew cause you to miss a powerful sequence of meaning in Mark? Could some of Yeshua’s sayings be used in different contexts to mean very different things? Are they multi-use? Mark 4:21-34 is an important sequence of sayings whose meaning in the context of Mark is often obscured by readers who are more familiar with the sayings from Matthew. That is to say, the order in which we read the gospels sometimes affects our interpretation. How does this happen? The different synoptic evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke) often include the same sayings in different contexts. The context of the saying often influences interpretation. The modern reader might wonder if: (a) the sayings are all given in arbitrary contexts with the evangelists rarely if ever knowing what context they may have … Read entire article »

Filed under: Formation of the Gospels, Literary Features, Reading Strategies, Study Tips, Teaching of Yeshua

The Symbolic Use of Abraham

I asked my congregation a test question. I said, “What does Abraham represent in the gospels?” The answer I got was, “Faith.” It’s not a bad answer considering that this was before we had read a few Abraham texts in the gospels. Yet, before we would jump to Paul’s explanation of Abraham (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:7), it is good to consider a step earlier than the realization that Abraham represents faith. It is eye-opening to re-read some of the Abraham texts in the gospels with an eye for first century Jewish ideas about election, covenant, and afterlife. Let’s begin with three texts: Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones … Read entire article »

Filed under: Abraham, Afterlife, Background to Gospels, General, Kingdom Future, Kingdom Present, Teaching of Yeshua

Revealed to Little Children

In “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question,” I listed nine elements of Yeshua’s identity and purpose that add something new to Judaism (see it here). The first of these nine elements has captured my attention and been the source of my thoughts and searching for a few weeks now: Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation. I listed for readers the findings of Paul Anderson regarding the prophet-like-Moses theme in the fourth gospel, which is not a minor motif but a guiding principle of the entire Gospel of John (see my post “Moses-Like-Prophet in John” here). In searching out examples of how Yeshua revealed greater depths of God than had previously been known, I first … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aims of Yeshua, Divinity of Yeshua, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Kingdom Present, Messiah, New Moses Theme

Explaining the Paraclete Passages

The Paraclete. The Counselor. The Advocate. The Comforter. “If I do not go away,” said Yeshua, “the Counselor will not come to you.” Who is the Paraclete? You think it’s as easy as saying, “The Spirit.” Not so fast. There is more to it. Raymond Brown, in Appendix V in Volume II of his exceptional commentary (The Gospel According to John (XII-XXI), The Anchor Yale Bible, original edition 1970) discusses the five Paraclete passages in the larger context of the fourth gospel and the themes of Yeshua going away (being lifted up — on a cross, from the tomb, to the throne). The Paraclete theme in John has bearing on our view of the Spirit, the Presence of Yeshua (as Brown says it, “the presence of the absent Jesus”), and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Ascension of Yeshua, Community in Yeshua, Discipleship - Formation, Preachable Points

A Simple Gospel Test

One of the most read articles ever at Yeshua in Context is “A Gospel Proficiency Test.” But here is an even simpler test and if you don’t know the answer, then you have the common disease of Gospel Attention Deficit Disorder. This disease often occurs in religious communities where favorite passages are read and sermonized irregularly and without attention to context, comparisons with parallel passages, and so on. It results from a lack of two things: (1) consistent, habitual reading of the Bible and especially the gospels and (2) taking the time to check the parallels when you read a gospel story. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reading Strategies, Study Tips

Tracking Down the Beloved Disciple, Polycrates

This Sunday (July 10), I’m repeating the “Eyewitnesses in the Gospels” seminar here in Atlanta (want to bring it your way?). The last of the five sessions is on the Beloved Disciple and the Fourth Gospel. The entire seminar is based on Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and, to a lesser degree, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple. I’ve had a number of “Beloved Disciple” articles here (see “The Beloved Disciple: Who is He?” and “The Beloved Disciple in Relation to Peter”). Now, I’m summarizing Bauckham’s historical detective work following the trail leading to the identity of the Beloved Disciple. It’s a twisted trail sorting through evidence with a number of errors which require explanation. It’s fascinating to historically understand how simple the identification of the Beloved Disciple is and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Disciples & Named Characters, Eyewitnesses, Formation of the Gospels, General

Moses-Like Prophet in John

In the fourth gospel, Deuteronomy 18:15-22 is a key passage. It’s language (from the Septuagint or Greek version) is echoed throughout the gospel of John. Much of the Father-Son language in John comes from concepts and phrases in Deuteronomy 18:15-22, the Torah passage about the Prophet who is to come. Of course, the Deuteronomy passage is in one sense talking about the office of a prophet (and so, in that sense, all prophets like Samuel, Elijah, Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah fit the meaning of the Deuteronomy passage). Yet the Prophet in Deuteronomy was also interpreted in another sense (as evidenced in the gospels) as a singular Prophet who would be greater than Moses. One could argue that this is not what the Deuteronomy passage intended, but there are two … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, New Moses Theme, Yeshua as

The Son Who Has Spoken

Last week in “Why Yeshua? A Jewish Question #1″ and in the Podcast “Mosaic Revealer,” I began to explain nine benefits of knowing Yeshua for those who already know God through Judaism. I’m still mining the very first benefit of the nine, which goes like this: Yeshua is the Moses-like Prophet-to-Come, the New Moses, whose agency as the Voice of the Father reveals depths of God unknown or ambiguous in previous revelation. As you can see from the wording, I am using language from the gospels themselves to describe the benefits of knowing Yeshua. But this is not just theory or theology. Each one of these nine benefits concerns practical matters, things that weigh upon us and are of consequence to everyone on a daily basis. They concern the normal and universal … Read entire article »

Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, General, Identity of Yeshua, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Teaching of Yeshua