Saturday, May 23, 2020
Last Tuesday (5.19.20) I was in a debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA. This brought to mind the two WM podcasts I did in 2014 (hard to believe it was that long ago!) reviewing a sermon by evangelical pastor John Piper in which he makes some of the same arguments as Boyce on the PA, especially in suggesting that the PA is a "true" story that is not in the Bible.
In these podcasts I point out some of the problems I see with this rejection of the authenticity of the the Pericope Adulterae (PA), John 7:53-8:11.
I have added video versions of WM 31 and WM 32 to the Word Magazine channel:
Friday, May 22, 2020
Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May 2020
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 20.
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live (2 Kings 20:1).
Notice the ominous beginning: “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death” (v. 1a). We are told later that he had a boil (v. 7). An abscess or infection could, no doubt, be lethal in those days.
There is a sense, however, in which all of us have a sickness unto death. The old saying is that there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. The mortality rate for healing evangelists is 100%. The great faith healer Oral Roberts, the “godfather of the charismatic movement” died on December 15, 2009. The apostle Paul said, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27).
The Lord’s minister, the prophet Isaiah, came to the king and said to him, “Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live” (v. 1b). This was God’s word, and it is always fulfilled. Many have their lives taken swiftly from them. They leave the house one day and never return. There is an accident or the heart fails and their deaths come unexpectedly. I remember years ago a minister acquaintance then the “ancient” age, from my 30 something perspective, of 52 years of age, thin as a rail and seemingly healthy as a horse, went out for a run on Sunday morning before church and died of a massive heart attack. Others have time to anticipate that which is to come. I remember my father being told by the cancer doctor he had four months to live and, sure enough, nearly four months to the day he passed from this life to the next. It is interesting to ponder which way we’d prefer, but we have no say in the matter. Isaiah’s word came not from doctors, who are not always right (as they had happened to be in the case of my father), but from the LORD.
Whatever prospects we face in life and the circumstances, God’s word to Hezekiah could well be his word to us: “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” This is what God is saying through his word today to each one of us today.
What is out of order? What needs to be corrected? What needs to be removed? What needs to be added? What must happen for you to set your house in order?
Then, having set our house in order, let us live, without worry of death, for Christ, the one who had a truly “perfect heart” (cf. 2 Kings 20:3), who lived a sinless life for us, who died on the cross for sinners, and who was raised for our justification.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Image: Paul de Samosata predikt voor de vroeg-christelijke gemeenschap (Paul of Samosata preaches for the early Christian community), etching by Jan Luyken (1700), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History. Here is Book 7, chapter 26-29. Listen here:
Notes and Commentary:
These chapters describe the transitions of various bishops in the city centers of early Christianity, as one bishop was succeeded by another. It describes,in particular, the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s long and effective ministry. It also describes disputers over and the “unmasking” of Paul of Samosata at Antioch on the charges he held Jesus to be merely human and not divine.
Chapter 26 describes the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s ministry, including several anti-Sabellian letters sent to various bishops, including four to his namesake Dionysius of Rome.
He also wrote a treatise in letter form to Timothy “his boy” (son? servant?) on Nature, another on Temptations to Euphranor, an exposition on Ecclesiastes, and other works.
Chapter 27 turns to describe various transitions:
Xystus at Rome was succeeded by Dionysius of Rome.
Demetrian at Antioch was succeeded by Paul of Samosata, who held “low and mean views as to Christ.” A council was held to discuss Paul of Samosata’s belief, which the aged Dionysius of Alexandria could not attend but to which he wrote his opinion. Paul was confronted as “a spoiler of Christ’s flock.”
Chapter 28 describes those at this council, the best known of whom included Firmilian of Cappadocian Caesarea, Gregory and Athenadore of Pontus, Helenus of Tarsus, Nicomas of Iconium, Hymenaeus of Jerusalem, Theotecnus of Caesarea, and Maximus of Bostra. Paul and his party tried to conceal his heterodox views, while the orthodox pushed to reveal them!
At that time Dionysius passed away after 17 years as bishop and was succeeded by Maximus in Alexandria.
In the Roman Empire, Gallienus was succeeded by Claudius, who then handed over the government to Aurelian.
Chapter 29 describes a final synod held in the reign of Aurelian in which Paul of Samosata was “unmasked,” condemned as heterodox, and excommunicated from the “catholic [universal] churches under heaven” (note the Greek has “churches” plural, not singular). His chief accuser was a man named Malchion, the head of a school of rhetoric and elder at Antioch. He had a dispute with Paul and stenographers took notes, which, Eusebius, says, could be read in his day.
These chapters provide an account of the end of Dionysius’s ministry, as well as the “unmasking” or denunciation of Paul of Samosata (of Antioch) for his low Christology. It shows the early controversies over Christology that would later be addressed in the great ecumenical councils. As usual, Eusebius stresses the orderly transitions of the bishops, parallel to the transitions of the Roman emperors.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
I have posted some new audio material to sermonaudio.com from the two presentations I did yesterday on the text of the NT: (1) The audio of the CB Roundtable # 2: The Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8); (2) The audio of my debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA (John 7:53-8:11):
I have also posted a video version of WM 54 The Comma Johanneum and the Papyri (from 7.13.16):
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
God willing, I'm planning to take part this evening in an online debate with Stephen Boyce a staff "apologist" at City Light Church in Seattle on the "Talking Christianity" podcast at 9 pm EST (8 pm CST).
The topic: “Is the PA an authentic part of John's Gospel? The PA should be rejected on external, internal, and historical grounds."
The PA refers to the Pericope Adulterae or woman taken in adultery passage in John 7:53--8:11, one of two major textual issues in the NT (the other being the ending of Mark).
My opponent will be arguing that the PA is spurious and should be removed from our Bibles. I will be defending the PA as Scripture.
Monday, May 18, 2020
"...Your Word is perfect and nothing is missing. This text is better than phones and message. I praise the Lord for the Textus Receptus....God has preserved his Word through the church..."
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Here's the video from the first Confessional Bibliology Roundtable (5.12.20).
You can also listen to the audio here:
Image: St. John Monastery on the Island of Patmos, Greece
This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History. Here is Book 7, chapter 25. Listen here. Or watch here:
Notes and Commentary:
This chapter conveys the observations of Dionysius of Alexandria on the book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse of John.
He notes that some in the past had rejected the book as “unintelligible and illogical.” They also said that it appeared under a false title, since it is neither an Apocalypse, which clearly reveals anything, nor is it by John the Apostle. He notes that some claimed it was written by the heretical teacher Cerinthus, since it taught the kingdom would be on earth (a literal millennium).
Dionysius, however, says the book is not to be rejected, but it cannot be understood on a literal sense. He confesses he has reached the conclusion that the book’s thoughts are “too high for his comprehension” but “I do not reject what I have not understood, but I rather wonder that I did not indeed see them.”
He also questions whether the John of the title is John the Apostle, since in the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles, the apostle John never explicitly identifies himself as does the author of Revelation (see Rev 1:1, et al). Furthermore, the John of Revelation is never explicitly identified as John the Apostle (using terms like “the beloved disciple” or the “brother of James”). He points out that there were other early Christians named John like John Mark in Acts and that there were two tombs in Ephesus which were said to hold someone named John. He adds that the vocabulary and style of the Gospel and epistles of John are similar, and they have common themes (like “light,” “truth,” the command to “love one another”, etc.) which are not stressed in Revelation. Revelation is also written, according to Dionysius, in a less polished Greek style. He makes sure that he offers these observations not to denigrate the book, which he respects, but to point out its dissimilarity with the Gospel and epistles of John and to understand Revelation better.
This chapter indicates how the book of Revelation continued to be one of the most debated and discussed books of the NT canon and how controversy surrounding it led to a slower process of its recognition and acceptance among early Christians. It is also interesting to see how Dionysius approached Revelation as a pre-critical interpreter, arguing that it not be interpreted literally but according to “a deeper meaning” which “underlies the words.” He also freely questions the authorship of the book, suggesting that it was not from the apostle John, and the quality of its literary style, but these considerations did not disqualify its acceptance and usefulness.