Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Vision (6/30/11): 2011 VBS: The Life of Abraham

Image:  Llewellyn R. teaches the children a song about the books of the Bible in VBS this week.

This week in Vacation Bible School (VBS) at CRBC we have been studying the life of Abraham.

Here is the ground we have been covering and our focus verses:

Monday: The Call of Abraham (Genesis 12-15)

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6).

Tuesday: The Promise of Isaac (Genesis 16-21)

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen 18:14)

Wednesday: The Sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22)

“And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD-Will-Provide” (Genesis 22:14 NKJV).

Thursday: Finding a Wife for Isaac (Gen 23-24)

“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (Gen 24:4).

Feel free to quiz the children this Sunday and let them tell you about the life of Abraham.

Our VBS has also providentially corresponded with the sermon series in Romans 9 in which Paul reflects on the true seed of Abraham (see Romans 9:7-8). Paul’s argument all throughout Romans requires that his hearers are fully acquainted with the Old Testament narrative. Our prayer is that our children are not only learning about Abraham but better understanding (or being prepared to understand) the gospel.

“And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

Grace and truth, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Registration Open for 2011 Keach Conference

Registration is now open for the 2011 Keach Conference which will meet Friday-Saturday, September 30-October 1, 2011 at Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Warrenton.

You can register online at the RBF-VA website.  By God's grace and the generosity of supporting churches and individuals there is no cost for the conference.  That's right:  It costs nothing to attend!  This year's preregistration (the first year we've tried it) is to give us a better idea of the attendance.  So, if you plan to attend, please register today!

The 2011 speakers are Dr. Joel Beeke of Puritan Reformed Seminary and Pastor Malcolm Watts of the Trinitarian Bible Society.  The theme will be the doctrine of Providence.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The lament of the wicked man's body: "O that I had rather been the body of a toad..."

In Thomas Boston’s discussion of the final resurrection in Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, he speculates as to what the body of a wicked man might say to his soul on that day of condemnation:

Then we may suppose the miserable body thus to accost the soul, ‘Hast thou again found me, O mine enemy, my worst enemy, savage soul, more cruel than a thousand tigers. Cursed be the day that ever we met. O that I had rather been the body of a toad, or serpent, than thy body; for then I had lain still, and had not seen this terrible day! If I was to be necessarily thine, O that I had been thy ass, or one of thy dogs, rather than thy body; for then wouldst thou have taken more true care of me than thou didst! O cruel kindness! Has thou thus hugged me to death, thus nourished me to the slaughter? Is this the effect of thy tenderness for me? Is this what I am to reap of thy pains and concerns about me? ….


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Word Magazine (6.25.11): MacArthur and Mark's Ending

I posted another edition of Word Magazine today titled "MacArthur and Mark's Ending."  The focus is on a sermon preached by John MacArthur back on June 5, 2011 on Mark 16:9-20 completing a multi-year process of preaching expositionally through the NT.  As I note on the broadcast, for some reason MacArthur had been on my mind of late.  I have been reading his exposition of Jude (in the booklet "Beware the Pretenders"), and I just finished reading Iain Murray's new Banner biography of him.

MacArthur's message on Mark 16:9-20 is titled, "The Fitting End to Mark's Gospel"  (for an archive of all of MacArthur's sermons over 42 years look here).  In it he argues that the traditional (or Longer Ending) of Mark is not part of the original text of Scripture and that Mark's proper ending is at Mark 16:8.  He also gives equal validity to the so-called "Shorter" or "Intermediate" ending of Mark (as included in the ESV notes).  Though, as I note in the broadcast, I appreciate the fact that MacArthur does not dodge this issue and that he teaches his congregation on textual issues, I disagree strongly with his conclusions.  I have some hesitation on directly critiquing MacArthur's sermon.  Hopefully, the treatment is charitable.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Vision (6/23/11): Paul's Burden for Israel

Image:  Hawaii scene.

Last Sunday morning we began a journey through Romans 9-11 and the doctrine of election. In the opening verses (Romans 9:1-5) Paul expresses his burden for his fellow Jews who have overwhelmingly rejected the gospel. Here are some of the sermon notes:

After all the glories of the picture of assurance Paul presented in Romans 8, he begins Romans 9 by saying, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” (v. 2). Why would he say this?

The answer comes in v. 3: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Though Paul knows the excellent glories of assurance in Christ, he has a deep and abiding burden for his fellow Jews who have persisted in rejecting Christ.

We can offer this analogy, hopefully without trivializing Paul’s sentiments:

Imagine you are part of a family that has always wanted to take a vacation to Hawaii. This has been your family’s dream. You have watched videos about Hawaii, read books on Hawaii, talked about Hawaii, and dreamed about Hawaii. One day you get a call and discover that a benefactor has given you a ticket to Hawaii. But there is just one ticket available. You can go, but you will have to leave your family behind. Maybe this is dimly analogous to the way Paul was feeling.

To make the analogy more accurate, however, we would need to alter the scenario. Imagine that you received tickets from the benefactor for yourself and for all the members of your family. When you gave them their tickets, however, they laughed at you, mocked you, and ripped up the tickets in front of your face. What is more, they even tried to destroy your ticket. Maybe this is closer to capturing Paul’s state of heart. He had been given to know the gift and grace of God in Christ, but his people, his ethnic family, had by and large rejected Christ.

One of our applications at the conclusion of the sermon centered on the question of whether or not we too carry a deep and abiding burden for the salvation of those nearest to us. The Reformer John Knox is said to have prayed, “Give me Scotland or I die!”

Where is our burden for our families, for our community, to hear the gospel?

Grace and truth, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Murray on MacArthur's Trials in the Ministry

I am finishing up reading the new Iain Murray biography John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock (Banner of Truth, 2011). I plan to do a full review in the next issue of the RB Trumpet.

In a chapter titled “Threatening Reversals” (pp. 43-56) Murray describes various struggles that MacArthur encountered in his ministry, including a painful rebellion by his staff (“Black Tuesday”) and a 1980 lawsuit brought against MacArthur charging “clergy malpractice” after the suicide of a church member.

Murray begins his summary of this section (p. 53):

The trials I have sought to describe undoubtedly strengthened his understanding of the nature of the Christian warfare and of the only effective response. Of course, critical men and women do not know that they are being used by the powers of evil. The weapons those employ

consist of lies of all kind—elaborate lies, massive philosophical lies, evil lies that appeal to humanity’s fallen sinfulness, lies that inflate human pride, and lies that closely resemble the truth. Our weapon is the simple truth of Christ as revealed in His Word (the latter paragraph is a quote from MacArthur’s The Truth War, p. 49).


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

John Gill's Exposition of Jude

Image:  John Gill (1697-1771)

I listened yesterday to an audio recording of high Calvinist and old school Baptist John Gill's (1697-1771) Exposition of Jude (it's 110 minutes long but goes pretty quickly on high speed playback).  A few observation on Gill's exposition:
  • Gill, like Calvin, takes the author of the book to be Jude the Apostle and not Jude, the brother of the Lord.
  • Gill is fully aware of the major textual issues in Jude (e.g., whether theos should be included in v. 4).  He notes differences between the "Alexandrian" and traditonal text and makes reference to divergent readings in the Syriac.  This again affirms the fact that the Reformation, Puritan, and post-Reformation Protestant exegetes were fully aware of the textual challenges to the traditional text, and yet they affirmed it.  The rise of the modern critical text and translations based upon it, leading to the overthrow of the received text, did not primarily come about as the result of "new manuscript discoveries" in the modern era.
  • Gill takes the mention of Michael the archangel in v. 9 as a reference to the pre-incarnate Christ.  He also argues that "the body of Moses" is a metaphorical refence to the OT Scripture (the law).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Erasmus' 1516 Novum Testamentum Online

I just discovered that the University Library in Basel Switzerland has posted online a digital version of Erasmus' 1516 Novum Instrumentum and the Annotations.  Pretty amazing world that we live in when we can have access to documents like this with the click of a mouse!

One of the things that I find amazing is the fact that Erasmus' Annotations (his notes, including his discussion of textual and translation issues) have never been completely translated from Latin into English.  This is especially curious given the widespread discussion in textual studies in the English-speaking world about the role of Erasmus' Greek NT in the development of the printed Textus Receptus.  There was a massive project started in 1968 at the University of Toronto to translate Erasmus' complete works, and the Annotatations on Romans were translated, but the completion of this project seems to have stalled without the rest of the Annotations being translated.  Even when one reads scholarly works, one finds references to secondary sources or the passing on of undocumented Erasmus' "traditions" but few direct citation from the original Latin text with a corresponding English translation.  At any rate, for those willing to wade directly into the Latin, you can now save the plane ticket to Basel, download a pdf, and read it on your machine.


Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Cove Creek Closing Ceremonies

Image:  Sam poses with his Sportsmanship and Tournament Champ trophies.

2011 Closing Ceremonies were held last Saturday at Cove Creek.

The Riddle family kept our five year streak alive of having at least one person in a championship game on Closing Day.  This year it was Sam's Angels team in the Major Leagues.  They beat the White Sox (who had upset the regular season champion Rangers in the semis) by a score of 4-3. The Angels entered the  the bottom of the sixth inning trailing 3-2 but won in dramatic fashion with a walk-off single that scored runners from second and third.  Sam played shortstop the first three innings and pitched the final three innings to earn the win.  He also hit second in the line-up, went 1 for 3, and scored the Angels' first run of the game.

At the closing ceremonies, three individual awards are given in each division.  I am very proud of Sam who received the Sportmanship Award by the vote of his peers at the Major League level (11-12 year olds).

My Hot Rods team in Rookie League finished the season at 8-12, getting knocked out in the tournament semis against the Astros last Wednesday.  Our highlight of the regular season, however, was getting a coveted win against the Astros (the regular season and tournament champ), giving them their only loss of the year.  In that game we were down 12-1 after two innings but came back to win 13-12 in six innings.  Isaiah was a steady first baseman, pitcher, and lead-off hitter for the team, and Joseph served as our most excellent bat boy.


Michael Haykin on the 400th Anniversary of the KJV

Image:  Hugh Broughton (1549-1612), an early critic of the KJV.

Michael Haykin has posted online his paper, "Zeal to Promote the Common Good":  The Story of the King James Bible.  He presented this paper in March 2011 as the Staley Lectures at Charleston Southern University in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the KJV.  In the paper Haykin provides a sketch of Tyndale's translaition of the NT and the Geneva Bible as forerunners to the KJV.  He also provides a helpful sketch of the process that led to the publishing of the KJV.  He closes with a discussion of Hebraist Hugh Broughton's acerbic critique of the KJV when it was first published.  Haykin concludes:  "But thankfully no one listened to Broughton; the KJB was not burnt; and, in the due course of providence, it became the version of the English Bible that made the English speaking peoples a people of the Book."


Friday, June 17, 2011

Milk or Orange Juice?

As I preached through the life of Saul the past few weeks I have been struck by the theme of obedience. Saul’s failure as king was due to lack of obedience to the Lord’s commands. Samuel’s confrontation with Saul in 1 Samuel 13:13 is typical: “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom.”

This theme of obedience is especially related to worship. Saul fails to obey the Lord’s command at Gilgal to wait seven days for the return of Samuel before offering sacrifices. He acts pragmatically and presumptuously takes matters into his own hands before Samuel returns (see 1 Samuel 13:8-11).

In 1 Samuel 15, Saul is told to utterly destroy the Amalekites, but he decides to spare the best of the men (King Agag) and the best of the livestock. When confronted, Saul claims the people spared these to offer worship to the Lord at Gilgal (15:21). This is when Samuel offers his classic rebuke: “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

In preaching this text last Sunday, I used this illustration:

Imagine a father who tells his son, “Son I want you to go the store and buy a gallon of milk.” And the son goes out and brings the father a truck filled with orange juice, and he says, “Dad, here’s your orange juice! Aren’t you pleased with me?” The stunned father replies, “But son I asked you to bring me a jug of milk, not orange juice.” Then the son replies, “But Dad don’t you see that to bring you this orange juice I had to empty my bank account and borrow this truck. This took all my money and all my time today to bring this gift to you.” And the father responds, “But son, this is not what I asked you to do.”

One of the applications at the close of the message was on the importance of worshipping the Lord not according to our preferences but according to his commands (what is typically referred to as the Regulative Principle of worship):

What is the most important thing for God’s people to give to the Lord in worship? Is it effusive sacrifice? Is it effusive energy and exuberance? No, the thing that that honors the Lord most is obedience.

And so the key question in evaluating worship is not “What do I prefer?” but “What does the Lord require?”

Have we brought the Lord orange juice rather than milk?

.[Note:  This illustration is, of course, necessarily flawed.  Orange juice, for example, though not what the father requested is, nevertheless, still a healthy drink.  It might well be argued that offering worship without Scriptural warrant is not merely benign but wicked and foul in the Lord's sight.  In that case one might substitute "whiskey" for orange juice or even "putrid swill" or  "strychnine.”]


Jude 1:9 and Michael's dispute with the devil about the body of Moses

Image:  Mount Nebo

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

I did an exposition last Sunday afternoon that covered Jude 1:9.  This verse includes a reference to Michael the archangel's dispute with the devil over the body of Moses (an event without narration in the canonical Scriptures but described in the extra-biblical Assumption of Moses).  Here are some notes: 

What do we make of this event? Why did the devil want Moses body? In his exposition of Jude, MacArthur writes that he believes the devil was claiming Moses’ body because he was a murderer (Exod 2:12; Beware the Pretenders, p. 58). He also suggests that perhaps the devil wanted the body of Jesus to have it become a relic, an object of false worship (see p. 59). In this way the body of Moses would be like the supposed pieces of the cross that were venerated during the Middle Ages or a tooth from St. Francis! Moses—like Calvin centuries later—would leave no record of the physical place where he was buried. His death is recorded in Deuteronomy 34 but not the resting place of his body. No shrine to Moses could be raised by Israel.  One might add that perhaps Satan was grasping for a way to thwart Moses’ participation in final the resurrection.  This would, of course, fail.

Jude’s primary desire in this passage, however, is to illustrate the proper attitude of the faithful in responding to false teachers. Even Michael when confronting as diabolical a figure as the devil himself, did not denounce him in his own power. Instead, he made his appeal to a sovereign God, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee!” The emphasis, then, is on the humility of Moses in spiritual conflict.


It is always wrong to pronounce a “railing judgment” [AV: “railing accusation]…against someone in authority. And if Michael would not speak evil of Satan, how much more should we not speak evil of governmental authorities, church leaders, and especially God Himself! In fact, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to “speak evil of no man” (Titus 3:2 KJV) [p. 58].

When we face false teachers, Jude urges, we should trust the Lord of all the earth to do right in the end. He will rebuke those who oppose him.

Here is the model: As Michael responded to the devil, so orthodox believers are to respond to false teachers.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Vision (6/16/11): Return to Romans

Image:  An ancient Roman road

This Sunday morning at CRBC we will be returning to an exposition of the book of Romans, looking at chapters 9-11. We have noted that this great “Constitution” book of the Christian faith might be divided into three basic units, each with its own central focus:

Romans 1-8: The doctrine of salvation;

Romans 9-11: The doctrine of election;

Romans 12-16: The doctrine of living the Christian life.

As we go through these great chapters together we need to strap on our thinking caps and buckle our seat belts. As James M. Boice wrote, in these chapters “Paul introduces some of the most profound and mind-stretching material to be found anywhere in the Bible” (Romans, Vol. III, p. 1011). In these chapters, Boice says, “we are dealing with a Christian philosophy of history” which asks and answers, “What in the world is God doing?” (p. 1009).

In his classic commentary, John Murray wrote that “these chapters delineate for us the worldwide design of God in reference to Jew and Gentile. They disclose to us in a manner that is without parallel in the New Testament revelation the ways in which God’s diverse providences to Jew and Gentile react with one another of the promotion of his saving designs” (Romans, Vol II, p. xiii).

No doubt our encounter with this choice portion of God’s word will lead us to the same conclusion that Paul reached in the doxology that concludes this section of Romans: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).

Grace and truth, Pastor Jeff

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Piety of "Stonewall" Jackson: Part Seven: Upholder of Divine Providence

Image:  Sign at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia where Jackson and 144 other Confederate veterans are buried.

In Life and Campaigns, Dabney gives great emphasis to Jackson’s unwavering “belief in the control of Divine Providence” which was “most rational and scriptural" (p. 98). It was this profound trust in God’s guidance in all circumstances that gave Jackson his famed calm and fearlessness in battle. According to Dabney it also made him “a happy man" (p. 110). “His habitual frame was a calm sunshine. He was never desponding, and never frivolous" (p. 110). His pastor said “that he was the happiest man he ever knew" (p. 111). 

The proof of Jackson’s firm confidence in the Lord’s providential guidance of all things, came in the difficult and sorrowful moments of this life. In 1854, he lost his first wife, Eleanor Junkin, after only fourteen months of marriage. Dabney observes: “It is related that his grief was so pungent, as not only to distress, but seriously to alarm his friends. Yet even then he was most anxious not to sin by questioning in his heart the wisdom and rectitude of God’s dealing with him" (p. 115).

In an April 18, 1857 he wrote a letter to his second wife in which he commented on the painful death of a friend’s child:

I was not surprised that little M. was taken away, as I have long regarded his father’s attachment to him as too strong; that is, so strong that he would be unwilling to give him up, though God should call for His own. I am not one of those who believe that an attachment ever is, or can be absolutely too strong for any object of our affections; but out love for God may not be strong enough. We may not love Him so intensely as to have no will but His (p. 120). 

Jackson’s resolve was finally tested and proved when he received his mortal wound and had his shattered arm amputated. Dabney records that when Jackson’s chaplain saw his wounded leader he exclaimed, “Oh General! What a calamity!” to which the General responded:

You see me severely wounded, but not depressed; not unhappy. I believe that it has been done according to God’s holy will, and I acquiesce entirely in it. You may think it strange; but you never saw me more contented than I am today; for I am sure that my Heavenly Father designs this afflictions for my good. I am perfectly satisfied, that either in this life, or in that which is to come, I shall discover that what is now regarded as a calamity, is a blessing. And if it appears a great calamity, (as it surely will be an inconvenience, to be deprived of my arm,) it will result in a great blessing. I can wait, until God, in his own time, shall make known to me the object he has in thus afflicting me. But why should I not rather rejoice in it as a blessing, and not look on it as calamity at all? If it were in my power to replace my arm, I would not dare to do it, unless I could know it was the will of my Heavenly Father (p. 707). 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Andrew Fuller Sermons

I have added two more audio readings of sermons to the Andrew Fuller Library.

The first is Affectionate Concern of a Minister for the Salvation of His Hearers (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). Fuller stresses the centrality of the minister’s work as preaching the gospel:

Make a point, then, of distinctly and habitually preaching the gospel. Do not suppose your people are so good, and so well informed, as not to need this…. Many sermons are ingenious essays; but if they bear not on this great object, they are not the gospel. Woe unto you if you preach not the gospel!

The second is The Young Minister Exhorted to Make Full Proof of His Ministry (2 Timothy 4:5-6). This message was delivered to ministerial students at the Stepney Academical Institution. Fuller speaks as an elder statesman among the ministers of his day exhorting the younger men that will take the reins of ministry leadership from his own generation.

One highlight is his noting of “two extremes relative to this work,” one on the part of ministers and the other on the part of churches. The first extreme is that of the ministers abusing the office of ruling. The second extreme is that of the people imagining “from the idea of ministers being servants … that they are their masters.” Fuller stresses that the minister's ultimate accountability is to the Lord:

It is true they have a Master, and one to whom they must give account; but it is not to the people of their charge. As Christians they are accountable to one another, the same as other Christians; but as ministers, to Christ only. In serving the church of God, you will act as a faithful steward toward his lord’s family; who renders service to them all, but is accountable to his lord only.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Text and Translation Note: 1 Samuel 13:15

The issue:

The issue here is a significant addition in the LXX and Vulgate of this verse that does not appear in the traditional Hebrew text. Many modern translations include this expansion in their translations despite the fact that it is recorded in no extant Hebrew manuscripts.

A comparison of translations demonstrates the issue:

Translations based on traditional text:

Geneva 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose, and got him up from Gilgal in Gibeah of Benjamin: and Saul numbered the people that were found with him, about six hundred men.

KJV 1 Samuel 13:15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

NKJV 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men.

Translations generally based on the modern critical text but which follow the traditional text in 1 Samuel 13:15:

RSV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose, and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

NIV 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

NASB 1 Samuel 13:15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

Translations which depart from the traditional Hebrew text by including the LXX expansion (emphasis added):

NEB 1 Samuel 13:15: Samuel left Gilgal, without more ado and went on his way. The rest of the people followed Saul, as he moved from Gilgal towards the enemy. At Gibeah of Benjamin he mustered the people who were with him; they were six hundred men.

Jerusalem Bible: 1 Samuel 13:15: Samuel then rose and left Gilgal to continue his journey. Those of the people who remained followed Saul as he went from Gilgal to Geba of Benjamin.

NRSV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal. The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

ESV: 1 Samuel 13:15: And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.

An ESV note explains: “Septuagint; Hebrew lacks The rest of the people … from Gilgal.”


It is sometimes suggested that the major Biblical textual issues are confined to the NT. Here, however, we see a significant question about the proper text of the OT. Is the Hebrew MT authoritative? Some modern scholars and translators have clearly decided that the proper text here is preserved in the LXX and has no extant Hebrew witness. One may not be surprised by the addition of such a conjectural reading in liberal translations like the NEB and the NRSV or in a Roman Catholic translation like the Jerusalem Bible (given that the expanded reading is also reflected in the Vulgate). The surprise is that this reading is including the evangelical ESV (departing even from the RSV upon which it is based). When a similar conjectural reading occurs in Psalm 145:13b, the reading is, at the least, included in brackets. Here it appears as part of the text with no brackets and an explanatory footnote. Again, it is ironic that many modern critical text advocates howl at the inclusion of passages like the comma johanneum (1 John 5:7b-8a with weak external attestation) in Reformation era translations, but they are then content to include conjectural readings like this one in 1 Samuel 13:15 (and Psalm 145:13b) which are not recorded in any Hebrew manuscript.


Friday, June 10, 2011

SBL Greek New Testament

P. J. Williams has posted an extensive review of the new The Greek New Testament:  SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) Edition (SBLGNT), edited by Michael Holmes, at the Evangelical Text Criticism blog.  The production of this new resource will undoubtedly have a huge impact on future text criticism and translation work.  For years the dominant modern critical texts have been those published by the United Bible Society (UBS) and the German Bible Society (Nestle-Aland).  This resource may well eclipse them both in popularity.  For one thing, the SBL Greek NT is the first primarily electronic Bible,  available for free to download online (though you can also purchase a print edition) and offering various formats and apps (note especially the Lexham English Bible interlinier).  For now it closely resembles the NA 27th ed, though Williams notes there have been some major editorial changes:

What may be said is that Holmes has been a thorough and bold editor, generally eschewing brackets as a poor substitute for decisiveness. One may wonder why the Pericope Adulterae and Romans 16:25-27 are relegated to footnotes, whereas the ‘Intermediate Ending’ of Mark is placed in a section in the main body of the work in a section entitled ‘Other Endings of Mark’. Perhaps at least Romans 16:25-27 ought to have merited a section entitled ‘Other Endings of Romans’, since it is far more widely attested than the ‘Intermediate Ending’ of Mark.

So, the new SBL Greek NT has removed John 7:53-8:11 and Romans 16:25-27 from the text of Scripture.  It has also added the so-called "Intermediate ending" of Mark.  It appears that it will only be a matter of time before modern Bible translators that have abandoned the traditional text of Scripture and are wholly dependent on secular modern text criticism produce vernacular Bibles that reflect these kinds of editorial decisions in their base text.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Vision (6/9/11): Lloyd-Jones: What the world expects from Christians

I ran across these quotes this week from a 1927 sermon by British Pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

The world expects the Christian to be different and looks to him for something different, and therein it often shows an insight into life that regular church-goers often lack. The churches organize whiste-drives [social gatherings to play cards], fetes, dramas, bazaars and things of that sort, so as to attract people. We are becoming almost as wily as the devil himself, but we are really very bad at it; all our attempts are hopeless failures and the world laughs at us. Now, when the world persecutes the church, she is performing her real mission, but when the world laughs at her she has lost her soul. And the world today is laughing at the church, laughing at her attempts to be nice and to make people feel at home. My friends, if you feel at home in any church without believing in Christ as your personal Savior, then that church is no church at all, but a place of entertainment or a social club. For the truth of Christianity and the preaching of the gospel should make a church intolerable and uncomfortable to all except those who believe, and even they should go away felling chastened and humbled….

We have lost the idea and view of life which was so forcefully stressed and emphasized by the Puritans and the founders of the churches to which we belong, the idea that life is a pilgrimage and that while here on earth we are nothing more than travelers….

Source: Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 (Banner of Truth, 1982): pp. 142-143.

May the Lord continue to shape us into being his pilgrim people!

Grace and truth, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Text and Translation Note: 1 Samuel 13:5

The Issue:

The issue here relates to the number of chariots among the Philistines who opposed Saul and the Israelites. The traditional text says that there were 30,000 chariots. The question is whether or not this large number represents a “scribal error.” Should the reading be 3,000?

External Evidence:

The traditional reading of 30,000 is supported by the Hebrew MT, the LXX, the Targum, and the Vulgate. There is apparently a variation, however, in the Syriac version and in a few LXX manuscripts where the reading is 3,000. The external evidence is thus overwhelmingly for the reading of 30,000.

Internal Evidence:

A minority of text critics would suggest that the true text has been preserved by the Syriac and that the reading here should be 3,000. Such a reading is guided by a rationalistic effort to make the number more reasonable. How could a mere 600 men (1 Sam 13:15; 14:2) defeat 30,000 chariots, not to mention 6,000 horsemen and a host of others? Of course, it is also completely reasonable to assume that the Syriac and the isolated LXX manuscripts were guided by this same rationalizing impulse to alter the text.

Translations and Study Bible Notes:

I located only locate two translations that abandon the traditional reading of 30,000 here.

One is the Jerusalem Bible which reads “three thousand chariots.”

The other is the NIV which also reads “three thousand chariots” and includes the note: “A few late manuscripts of the Septuagint; Hebrew does not have thirty.”

In addition, we can detect a trend as evidenced even in modern evangelical Study Bible notes to challenge the traditional reading. Examples:

In the MacArthur Study Bible the note for this verse reads: “This is probably a scribal error, since the number is too large for the corresponding horsemen. Three thousand is a more reasonable and is found in some OT manuscripts” (p. 394). I find this note confusing since the reader might believe that “OT manuscripts” refers to Hebrew manuscripts (of which there are none that read 3,000) rather than to the Syriac version and an isolated LXX tradition.

Likewise, the ESV Study Bible the note for this verse reads, “Thirty thousand chariots seems very high, and perhaps the Syriac translation (and one tradition of the Septuagint) preserves the true reading, ‘three thousand’” (p. 511).

Contrast this prevailing skepticism with the comments of the Puritan Matthew Poole who begin his comments on this passage: “this number seems incredible to infidels….” He acknowledges that even if scribal error were admitted it would not compromise the doctrinal fidelity of the text, but then proceeds to defend the rationality of the traditional reading of 30,000. He argues that the word “chariots” can mean both the chariots and the men who rode on them, challenging: “And let any caviling infidel produce a wise reason why it may not, and ought not, to be understood here.” He concludes:

And if it be further inquired, Why the Philistines should raise so great an army at this time? the answer is obvious, That not only their old and formidable enemy Saul was yet alive, but a new enemy was risen, even king Saul, who was lately confirmed in his kingdom, and had been flushed with his good success against the Ammonites, and was likely to grow more and more potent, if not timely prevented; and they thought that now the Israelitish affairs were come to some consistency, being put into the hands of a king; and therefore they thought fit, once for all, to put forth all their strength to suppress the Israelites, and to prevent that ruin which otherwise threatened them.


The external and internal evidence is overwhelming in support of the traditional reading of 30,000 in 1 Samuel 13:5. This reading should not be abandoned as it has been by the JB and the NIV under the pressure of rationalism. There is a continuing subtle effort to undermine the traditional reading, even in evangelical circles, that should be rejected.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Text and Translation of 1 Samuel 13:1

Note:  This post was updated on June 9, 2011 by adding information on the NEB and Jerusalem Bible renderings of 1 Samuel 13:1.

The issue:

The question here concerns the proper translation of the text of 1 Samuel 13:1, which, according to many modern scholars, presents a major challenge. The verse does not appear in the LXX. Dale Ralph Davis observes: “The textual problem of 1 Samuel 13:1 is notorious” (1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart [Christian Focus, 2000]: p. 133, n. 1). Davis asks, “who swiped the numerals from the text”? (p. 133).

The various modern English translations reflect this perceived problem interpreting the text by speculating as to the age of Samuel and the length of his reign and often coming to varying conclusions. Compare the NEB, NIV, and NASB renderings of this verse:

NEB:  1 Samuel 13:1:  Saul was fifty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel for twenty-two years.

NIV 1 Samuel 13:1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.

NAS 1 Samuel 13:1 Saul was forty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-two years over Israel.

The disparity comes with the specualtive addition of numerals not found in the Hebrew text. The NEB says that Saul was 50 years old and rules 22 years.  The NIV says that Saul was 30 years old and ruled 42 years. The NASB says Saul was 40 years old and ruled for 32 years. All three supply numbers that they assume to be missing in the original text.  The result for a reader consulting these translations would be confusion.

The RSV/NRSV/ESV tradition takes a different approach by providing two ellipses in the text where they assume numerals have dropped out:

"Saul was … years old when he began to reign; and he reigned … and two years over Israel."

The RSV provides a note at the first ellipsis which reads, “The number is lacking in Heb.” At the second ellipsis, a note in the RSV reads, “Two is not the entire number. Something has dropped out.”

The NRSV provides a note at the first ellipsis which reads; “The number is lacking in the Hebrew text (the verse is lacking in the Septuagint).” At the second ellipsis, a note reads, “Two is not the entire number; something has dropped out.”

The ESV provides a note at the first ellipsis which reads, “The number is lacking in Hebrew and Septuagint.” This note is confusing as it might lead a reader to understand that mere numbers are omitted in the LXX, rather than the entire verse! At the second ellipsis the ESV note reads: “Two may not be the entire number; something may have dropped out.” Note how the ESV tones down the certainty of the RSV/NRSV notes by using the tentative word “may.”

Perhaps the most radical translation decision is that reflected in the Jerusalem Bible which completely omits the verse enitrely and substitutes an elipsis. 

The Hebrew Masoretic Text:

From the modern translations, one might assume that there were Hebrew manuscripts of this verse with gaping lacunae where the proper numbers should appear. This, however, is not the case. The traditional MT reads:

`laer'f.yI-l[; %l;m' ~ynIv' yTev.W Akl.m'B. lWav' hn"v'-!B, WTT 1 Samuel 13:1

The old translators had no difficulty in giving this verse a reasonable translation. Compare:
Geneva: “Saul had now been King one year, and he reigned two years over Israel.”

AV: “Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel.”

In his commentary, Matthew Poole explains that the Hebrew beginning of v. 1 literally reads, “the son of one year in his reigning.


Modern translations present the translation of 1 Samuel 13:1 as more confusing than it needs to be. The Hebrew text uses an unusual but not an illogical expression to describe time frame for the setting of the events of 1 Samuel chapters 13-14. The Masoretic scribes did not see the verse as difficult nor did the Reformation era translators.

The Jerusalem Bible and RSV/NRSV/ESV renderings are particularly vexing since their use of ellipses imply that the original text of Scripture has gaping holes and/or missing numerals. What impact might this have on the reader’s sense of the authority and integrity of the text of Scripture?


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Spiritual Questions from Sermon on 1 Samuel 14

I closed Sunday's message on The day God did not answer (1 Samuel 14) with four series of spiritual questions drawn from this passage:

1. Do you have the God-centered perspective on the providential circumstances of your life that Jonathan reflects in v. 16 when he said, “it may be that the LORD will work for us”? How will this affect your view on the things that the Lord allows to happen in your life? How will it affect your prayer life? How and what you ask the Lord to do in your life?

2. Have you surrendered to the sovereignty of God in your heart of hearts? Can you affirm with Jonathan that “there is no restraint to the Lord”? Has your flesh revolted against this? Are you going to stand with clinched fists before your God saying “Let’s fight!” or will you stand with hands raised and say, “I surrender.” I am not only resigned to acknowledging your sovereignty, but I glory in it!

3. Like Saul have your actions troubled the land in which you live? Have your commands and desires brought you and others to trespass God’s commands? Have you gone through the spiritual motions and built your own altar to God, but has he met all your spiritual activity with silence? Has he done so because he is displeased with you? Have you called out in earnest to him to return to you? James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

4. Have you made a rash vow? No. Not to refrain from food till after the battle or to kill your son! But there may be other vows you have made and not fulfilled. Did you once promise to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Did you promise to take up your cross daily and follow Christ? Have you left your first love? Here is the wonder. Far as we know. Saul never repented. He never had a second chance. But today through his Word an outstretched nail pierced hand is being extended to you. Would you live for him who died for sinners?


Text and Translation Note: Jude 1:4

The issue:

The issue here is whether or not the accusative noun “God” (theon) should appear in the final phrase of the text of v. 4. The traditional text includes it and the modern critical text omits it.

External evidence:

The traditional text (emphasis added): kai ton monon depoten theon, kai kurion hemon Iesoun Christon arnoumenoi: “and denying the only Sovereign God, and our Lord Jesus Christ [my translation].” This reading is supported by K, L, P, Psi, and the vast majority of manuscripts. It is also supported by some manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and by the Syriac.

The modern critical text: kai ton monon depoten kai kurion hemon Iesoun Christon arnoumenoi: “and denying the only Sovereign, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” This reading is supported by p72 and the heavyweights Sinaiticus and B.

Internal evidence:

Metzger suggests that theon was added by the orthodox for Christological reasons “to avoid the ambiguity” as to whether despoten refers to Christ or God (Textual Commentary, p. 723). The question, however, is whether or not it might have been intentionally omitted for Christological reasons to avoid a direct affirmation of Jesus as God.

Translation Comparison:

What do the various English translations do with this phrase? Here is a brief comparison (with emphasis added):

Following traditional text:

Geneva: “and deny God the only Lord, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

AV: “and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

NKJV: “and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Following the modern critical text:

NIV: “and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

NASB: “and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

RSV/NRSV/ESV: “and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”


Monday, June 06, 2011

John Piper's Rick Warren Interview and "The Purpose Drive Life" Revisited

Neo-evangelical Calvinistic Pastor John Piper raised eyebrows in 2010 when he invited pragmatic meg-church pastor Rick Warren to speak at his popular annual pastors' conference.  As it turned out, Warren was unable to attend the event, but Piper recently conducted an hour and a half follow-up interview with Warren (you can watch the entire interview here).  I listened to a large chunk of the interview last week.  The conversation primarly revolves around Calvinism and Warren's bestselling book The Purpose Drive Life.  Piper had a long list of notes from his reading of the Purpose Drive Life but, in the end, he found little to challenge in Warren's theology and more to appreciate.  Tim Challies has written a charitable but firm critique of this interview:  "Thinking about John Piper & Rick Warren."    Listening to this interview also sent me back to my files to revisit my notes from a mid-week teaching I did back on March 9, 2005 in which I offered a review and response to The Purpose Drive Life when it was at the height of its popularity.  This review is now newly posted on my book review page.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

CRBC Worship June 2011

Note: Lord willing, we will continue to meet for public worship at 10:30 am and 1:00 pm each Lord’s Day in June. In the morning services we will continue our study of the life of Saul in 1 Samuel (through 1 Samuel 15) and then resume our study of Romans (focusing on Romans 9—11). In afternoon worship we will continue our exposition of the book of Jude.

June 5

AM The day the Lord did not answer (1 Samuel 14)

No. 526 Psalm 30

Psalm 31:1-16 (ST. THEODULPH)

No. 437 Christ, of all my hopes the ground

PM Exposition of Jude 1:7-8

Psalm 109:21-31 (STUTTGART)

Psalm 31:17-24 (ST. THEODULPH)

No. 699 ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

June 12

AM To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15)

Psalm 45:1-7, 17 (DIADEMATA)

No. 79 The Lord will provide

No. 700 Trust and Obey

PM Exposition of Jude 1:9-10

Psalm 102:1-12 (PARK STREET)

No. 421 Rock of Ages

No. 7 (CCH) Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

June 19

AM Paul’s Burden for Israel (Romans 9:1-5)

No. 400 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing


Psalm 50:1-6 (ST. THOMAS)

PM Exposition of Jude 1:11-12

Psalm 102:13-22 (PARK STREET)

No. 505 All the way my Saviour leads me

No. 32 The God of Abraham praise

June 26

AM The purpose of God according to election (Romans 9:6-13)

No. 17 Ye angels bright

No. 322 Lord of the Sabbath

Psalm 145:1-10 (DUKE STREET)

PM Exposition of Jude 1:13-14

Psalm 102:23-28 (PARK STREET)

No. 271 How sweet and awful

Psalm 145:11-21 (DUKE STREET)

The Vision (6/2/11): Romania Mission Update

Image:  Fellowship after Worship on a recent Lord's Day at CRBC.

We received the following email update on Wednesday (6/1/11) from Sam Waldron through Grace RBC in Mebane, NC:

Brothers and Sisters,

I want to write and thank you all for your prayerful support of the ministry God placed in my hands here in Arad, Romania. The public portion of that ministry is now complete. I spoke for about 30 minutes on Friday night, taught four times Saturday at the conference, and spoke in three different churches on the Lord's Day. Though speaking through translation is quite different, I have reason to thank God for his help and assistance in each of these ministries. The conference was very well attended. The meeting hall on Saturday at Mircea's church seats about 60 and was quite full for all 8 sessions on Saturday. Though I had slept well the night before, jet lag prevented my sleeping at all the night before the conference. I am therefore constrained to give much praise to God for the way he sustained me all the day during the conference.

Let me ask you to intercede especially for Pastor Mircea Aioanei and his church. He seems to be a fine pastor. The facilities of his church are very presentable even by our American standards, but he faces the challenges any small work faces. Please pray that God will add to their numbers and provide for the needs of Mircea and his family.

The Lord Reigns, Pastor Sam

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Reformed Baptist Trumpet (April-May-June, 2011)

I sent out the April-May-June, 2011 issue of The Reformed Baptist Trumpet today.  You can read the issue online here.

Inside this issue:
  • D. Scott Meadows on "Hell is Real."
  • Book reviews of Joel R. Beeke and Anthony Selvaggio, Eds., Sing a New Song:  Recovering Psalm Singing for the Twenty-First Century; Albert Martin, Preaching in the Holy Spirit; Leland Ryken, The Legacy of the King James Bible.
  • Andrew Fuller, "The Importance of Christian Ministers Considered as Gifts of Christ."
Thanks to Judi LaGrange for help with preparing this issue.