Thursday, December 28, 2006

Acupuncture and Christians

I had a conversation today with some people about Acupuncture, and so I thought it would be good to write in this blog about the implications of Acupuncture for Christians.
To know about Acupuncture you have to know about Qi, Yin and Yang, health and finally Acupuncture itself:

Behind Acupuncture is the idea that the human body has a life force in it called Qi (Chee). This lifeforce is described as:
'The Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. A person's health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang . ('

Qi travels through special pathways around the body called Meridians.

Yin and Yang:

Wikipedia defines these as:
'two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe.'

For good health, a good flow of Qi is needed. If this is not the case then there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang, and illness will occur.

By putting needles into the skin where the mederian points are,
the Qi is able to circulate evenly and the balance of Yin and Yang is restored.

Is it scientific?
There is a popular belief that Acupuncture is in fact scientific and not spiritual. This has not been scientifically proven however and reminds me of the misinformation that used to be put out that it had been proved scientifically that homosexuals were born gay. This was in fact never proved scientifically (nor has it ever been proved for heterosexuals either). What has been happening recently however is that doctors have been recommending Acupuncture to clients, not because it is scientific, but because a number of people claim to have experienced pain relief from Acupuncture. Given its apparent lack of side effects, it would seem to some doctors to be a safer choice than drugs.
It should be noted that there is a lack of scientific evidence that Acupuncture can actually heal people, and it is mainly claimed to bring pain relief rather than healing. This pain relief may possibly be from the 'placebo effect', or could even be from the spiritual forces that the method seeks to employ. Scientists have come up with many conflicting theories on why Acupuncture sometimes works and given the age of Acupuncture a consensus may never be drawn (unless we all agree on the original idea behind it).

Was Acupuncture invented by God?
Some believe that God may have created the human body with these meridians in them, so that humans would be able to heal themselves using the technique of Acupuncture. If this was the case then why is this not mentioned in the Bible? Why do we instead find it in Taoism? Why was it not mentioned in the Torah where God had been so specific about how to treat mildew in the camp? According to it's adherents, Acupuncture has been around for 5,000 years. That would make it accessible to the people in Moses' time. Perhaps some of the Canaanites practised it? Perhaps they didn't! But what we do know is that God warned the Israelites
to not copy the practises of the heathen: 'You must not worship the LORD your God the way they worship.' Deuteronomy 12:4 NET Bible.

As Christians we base our beliefs on the Bible. This means that if scientists teach a theory of evolution that denies a creator God then we ignore this theory in favour of the Bible's account of creation. Interestingly a great number of scientists are leaving the 'Big Bang' theory arguing that there is no good scientific proof for it. We find a similar situation in the case of Acupuncture:
Scientists have been unable to prove it is a scientific method of healing or pain relief, in fact they have come up with many conflicting theories of why Acupuncture sometimes works. Even without this fact however, we Christians must base our beliefs and actions on the Bible rather than any scientist's or healer's opinion.

With the lack of scientific consensus it seems unwise for Christians to undergo Acupuncture when it's teachers teach that it is based on a belief of Yin and Yang and Qi: Apart from the obvious spiritual implications of being involved in such a practise, there is the command from God to not worship the way the heaven do, and to avoid the appearance of evil (1Thes 5:22).

For myself as someone who experiences chronic back pain, I believe that God is far more powerful than any Yin and Yang force, and that ultimately he can heal me if he desires to. I know that Biblicaly it is acceptable to see doctors (Paul used to take Luke the physician around with him), however I do not believe that I would be glorifying God by seeking Acupuncture when the basis of it appears to not be on physiology, but rather on Oriental mysticism.
At the end of the day our actions must glorify God,
'So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.'
1 Corinthians 10:31 NET

Peace D

Monday, December 25, 2006

Keepin it real at Christmas

My wife and I have wanted to make sure our 3 year old daughter properly understood what Christmas was about, and so I thought I'd share what we did with her in the morning to celebrate Christmas.
Shay (my wife) made a pretend stable out of chairs and blankets, and put toy animals inside it, and a car seat with our 6 month old baby boy Josiah in it. His job was to play the part of Jesus. We crawled into the stable and explained to Jayda where we were and that Josiah was playing Jesus and asked Jayda who she wanted to be. She decided to be a shepherd, and that Shay and I were to be wise men! We all put blankets with bands around our heads, and Jayda grabbed a cuddly sheep. I then read out the Christmas story from Jayda's beginners Bible, leaving gaps like, "in the town of ...." for her to fill in. We had a really good time doing this, and then we prayed and sang happy birthday to Jesus.
It was a wonderful family time of remembering Jesus breaking into the earth, and of thanking him for doing this. Its one of the many things we can do with our children to keep it real at Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Free Preaching Class

The people at Biblical Training have just put up a new set of mp3s on how to preach. The series is by Dr. Bryan Chapell. I've only listened to the first one so far, but it was excellent.

Here's a little preview of what he says, he defines expository preaching as,
"The meaning of the passage, is the message of the sermon."
- I thought that was a very succinct way of saying something pretty important in this day and age.

Check it out at

Enjoy D

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How important is studying the Bible?

Here's a quote from Grant Osborne,
There is no greater privilege or joy than studying the Word of God. When we realize that God loved us enough not only to send his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but also cared enough for us to give us his revealed truths to challenge and guide our lives, we are amazed at how little we deserve and yet how much he has done for us! There is only one set of final truths in this world, not mathematics or science (for all physical laws are invalid in a quasar or a black hole), but only the Word of God. In this the eternal principles intended to direct us through this life are truly found. Therefore it is both a priviledge and a responsibility to study God's Word as carefully as possible. To fail as a Christian to study God's inspired revelation is tantamount to refusing to know the laws of the country we live in and breaking those laws with impunity. It is a failure that can and will have catastrophic results, for it means we do not care about the rules we have promised to obey by virtue of being citizens of our country - whether that be the USA or Britain or heaven (cf. Phil 3:21)

Grant R. Osborne The Hermeneutical Spiral 2nd Ed. IVP. 2006

B.T.W Further to the previous section on Textual Criticism, I made some scribal errors myslf when copying this text. These involved the anglicanisation of "realise" instead of "realize", and 'God lived' instead of 'God loved'. Imagine what textual critics would have made of this in 1,000 years if I had not been able to correct them easily with a computer?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Nativity Story film review:

Enemy soldiers, a perilous journey, mass murder, and the King of the Universe breaking into this world – what more could you want from a film? Not much, this film is hard to beat.

General vibe of the film:

Overall I thought the film gave the watcher a good sense of living in 1st Century Israel. With only 2 chapters of the Bible to go on (Matthew 2 and Luke 2) the writers had to speculate a lot, but this speculation did not seem to be irreverent or to take the focus too much off the arrival of the Messiah on the earth.

I found the film exciting, and would recommend others to see it.

A Carpenter?

Joseph is portrayed as a wood carpenter, which is the traditional view and is quite possible, however it is also very possible that he was a stone mason. The Greek word tektoon is the word for a builder who uses wood or stone or metal, and as in that area there was more stone than wood, Joseph (and Jesus) may well have been stone masons. This is interesting because it suggests that Jesus was quite a bit tougher than he is often portrayed.

The Magi:

The Magi provide some humour in this film, enough to be enjoyable but not so much as to take away from the seriousness of the plot.

Fortunately in the film they are accurately portrayed as astrologers/wise men and not as Kings. Magi studied the stars and supposedly used both religious and secular knowledge in their studies. In the film they are studying a star and mention some prophecy about a star. I am not aware of any such prophecy in the Bible, but it is thought that in those times stars were seen to signal the births of important people.

We do not know how the Magi came to find out about this star, but God did say in Genesis regarding the creation of stars:

NAU Genesis 1:14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;

So we can see how God could allow Magi to understand somehow that this star was a sign.

Just like many Christmas cards the film portrays 3 Magi and gives them the traditional names. This information is not found in the Bible but this does not appear to be a big problem.

One complaint worth making however is that in the film the Magi decide to not go back to Herod; In the Bible this is because of a dream, but this is not shown in the film.

Roman Occupation:

I thought the film did a good job of showing what living in an occupied country would be like. The Roman soldiers turn up all over the place on their horses, either chasing enemies of the state or collecting taxes.

This was a good backdrop for showing the Messianic expectation of the Jewish people at that time.

Messianic Expectation:

Throughout the film you see people making references to the Messiah who they believe will save them soon. As far as we know there was a great deal of Messianic expectation at this time in history, and so this is a good portrayal of the Jewish people. Furthermore there were Jews who were genuine about their worship of God, which is refreshing from the often stereotyped view that every single Jew was a hypocrite.

What was really good was the fact that references were made to the prophecy of the Messiah coming from Bethlehem, we know from Matthew 2 that the chief priests and scribes knew about this and that they told Herod. This element of the film shows how Jesus’s birth was a fulfilment of ancient prophecy.

Tree crucifixions:

The fact that the film maker had consulted scholars about the cultural background of this film is clear from background scenes like people hanging crucified on trees. In those times a number of crucifixions were done this way.

It is worth noting that the well known New Testament scholar Darrell Bock was one of the experts consulted for this movie.

Animal sacrifice:

You will actually see one happen in the film, even with one bloke putting his hand on the animal as a symbol of their sins being transferred to the animal. If you want to read up on this then check out Exodus 29, and Leviticus 4 and 18.

This is a wonderful backdrop for the fact that Jesus is coming and at the end of this life, the sins of the world will be transferred onto him when he dies.


Joseph points out that the shepherd led lonely lives, which hopefully makes the watchers aware that they were not too high on the social strata in those days. Yet God still chose to reveal to them that the Messiah had come.

Sadly you do not get the multitude of angels praising God (Luke 2:13-14). This would have been great part to put in the film.

Also they put the Shepherds together with the Magi at the same time, when the Magi probably arrived a time after.

However it could be argued that this telescoping would not have been a problem to the Jews in those days. What I mean by that is that in ancient Semitic thought it would be okay to paint a picture of Tony Blair and Winston Churchill together in the same painting, both as fully grown men. Of course they would not suppose that the 2 men were around at the same time, but this would be acceptable as an artist’s portrayal. Perhaps therefore we should allow the film maker to portray the two separate visits as one.


The film is reasonably accurate. It is passionate, and I believe it glorifies the Messiah. It’s the best film I’ve seen this year, and it made me want to be even closer to Jesus. Please go and watch it!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Greek for the Street 03a: Greek manuscripts

As promised, here's a video which will explain the history of how the New Testament was passed down throught Alexandrian Greek papyri, Byzantine texts and the Textus Receptus, and subequent English translations of the Bible. It looks at the variations between these manuscripts, and how they prove that the New Testament was not doctored by the church or any one particular group. This is the first part of the Greek for the Street DVD3. The second part (on the DVD) shows how to use ESword Bible software to analyse some of the most common textual variants. If you want to get the DVD then you can get them from our website.

Enjoy, D

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

N.T Exegesis Step 4: Provisional translation

This is an exciting part of the exegetical process. When you get to actually translate the original Greek into your language. I say your language because you will be using English words that have a meaning to you slightly different to other English speakers. English Bible translations are normally either focused on American English speakers or British English speakers and there are differences in the nuances of each.
I enjoy reading the NET Bible, but there are times when a particular word has been used that appears to be more American than British. (Being married to an American is a big advantage in these situations).
So at this stage you will get to translate the Greek into your own receptor language.

Before you can do this however, you need to establish what the text of the passage is:

4a) Establish the text.

You probably know that there are around 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. As with all other ancient works of literature, no manuscripts are letter for letter the same. This is often shocking to those of us who were born after the printing press was invented, but before then no-one ever expected their copy of a book to be exactly the same as their neighbour's copy of the same book. This is because without the use of printing presses and computers, human beings made human mistakes when copying manuscripts. What this means is that we have around 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that more of less say exactly the same thing as one another, but there will be variations in spelling of some words, and sometimes a wrong word will be written in one manuscript, and sometimes a whole line will be missed out in another manuscript. Now this isn't really a big problem, because by looking at all the different manuscripts it becomes easy to see where mistakes were made. However there are a very small number of instances (we're talking about less than 5%) where scholars have been divided about which manuscripts have got it right, and which have got it wrong.

When doing exegesis it is important to know if you are exegeting one of these passages. For example, Romans 5:1 in some Greek manuscripts writes 'echomen' with a long 'o', but others write 'echomen' with a short 'o'. This might not look like a significant difference, but in actual fact its the difference between "Let us have peace with God" (short 'o') and "We have peace with God" (long 'o').
It's not easy to know which is the right one (B.T.W it's not a Byzantine verses Alexandrian matter).
So if you're exegeting that verse you need to know that there is a good chance it could mean either, and look at the textual evidence for both and be able to either be convinced in your own mind, or to be aware that you might not be able to be dogmatic about it. This is really important if you are going to teach on this passage. You don't want to dogmatically teach something that might be based on a scribes typo hundreds of years ago!

So how do you look this stuff up?
First off I would suggest the NET Bible. If you can't afford a leather version, then download it for free from, or use the NEXT Bible online on their website. This contains thousands of notes on Textual Criticism and is very helpful. B.T.W Textual Criticism doesn't mean criticising the Bible! It's a term that can be applied to any ancient work, and is the process of working out which textual variants are scribal errors (or margin notes) and which are correct renderings of the original autographs.

If you want something more in depth than the NET Bible notes, and with more discussion, then Bruce Metzger's commentary on the New Testament Text is excellent.

If you want to go further than that, then get Nestle- Aland's 26th or 27th edition of the Greek New Testament and learn to read the apparatus on that.

You can also use Esword to look up some of the major differences between the Alexandrian and Byzantine and the Textus receptus manuscript lines.

I have talked about this extensively on my Greek for the Street Series (DVD 3) where I demonstrate how to use Esword to look up these, and the class performs some textual criticism on some interesting variants.

To finish this post I should end with a word of warning. Textual criticism is a highly specialised field. Be careful about making assumptions that are not backed up by evangelical scholars. For the novice I would suggest merely using it as a way of understanding what commentators are talking about, and for seeing how sure you can be that your particular English translation is using the correct text.
if you want to progress above this level, be prepared to spend a lot of time studying this field so that you avoid committing pulpit crimes.


P.S I'll post the intro to my DVD on Textual criticism soon.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

NT Exegesis Step 3c: Identifying the text's role within it's context:

So far we've looked at
1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.
3) Literary context.
- a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.
- b) identifying the limits of the text.
and now we will look at

3c) identifying the text's role within it's context.

This is where we look at the text we have chosen to study and try to work out how this piece fits into the rest of the puzzle.

This means that we don't treat our text as a text we have found in the middle of a black hole, but instead a text that is surrounded by other texts.

To do this we ask ourselves questions like,
"Why did the author put these verses in this part of his book?"

"How do these verses add to his argument?"

"How does this fit in with the section before or after?"

Often this stage is missed out because it's tempting to just dive into the text we are studying and just understand it on its own merits. The problem with this is that its like ripping open a letter someone sent to you, and just trying to understand one paragraph within that letter without reading the whole thing - it will be easier to understand any given paragraph when you see how it fits in with the other paragraphs.

I've been writing a paper on Romans 7:14-25 recently, and it appears that some have tried to understand what it means without looking at how it fits in with the sections before and after it. This approach makes the task much more difficult, and increases the possibility of getting it wrong.
If however you look at chapter Romans 7:1-13, and then Romans 8 - You can ask the question,
"Why did Paul put in 7:14-25?"
"How would his train of thought have worked without it?"
"How would the listeners have understood the Paul's point it without it?"
then it becomes much easier to ask,
"What is Paul's train of thought in 7:14-25, as it relates to 1-13 and Chapter 8.

B.T.W it can be helpful to write down headings for each section of text to help you follow the train of thought.

Next time we'll look at Step 4: Provisional translation.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Funny things that children say: Old versus New Covenant:

I just found my 3 year old daughter pretending to paint on my door. She told me she was putting blood on the door.
The reason was because of Pharaoh!
I told her that I've got Jesus' blood instead, she replied that she's got Moses' blood!
I now feel like Paul having to explain the superiority of the new covenant over the old covenant mediated by Moses!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NT Exegesis step 3b) Identifying the limits of the Text

So far in our look at New Testament exegesis we've looked at the first step:
1) Spiritual preparation.
the second step:
2) General introduction.
and we started looking at the 3rd step:
3) Literary context.
which we can split into 3 different processes:
a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method. (which we looked at last week)
b) identifying the limits of the text.
c) identifying the text's role within it's context.

Today I'm gonna talk about
Identifying the limits of the text.

When we study a New Testament a book we find that it is made up of many sections of text. These sections themselves are normally made up of smaller units of text.
In this stage of exegesis we look at the passage we are studying, and try to identify where the unit of text begins and where it ends.

When we do this we ignore the chapter and verse numbers because these were added hundreds of years after God breathed (inspired: 2Tim 3:16) these words.
Neither the Holy Spirit, nor the original authors put the verse and chapter numbers there 2000 years ago.

There's a number of ways to find where the unit starts and stops, but here's 5 suggestions:

1) Start reading the book a few paragraphs before the section you want to study, and keep reading it till a few paragraphs afterwards. As you read look out for any change in topic, time or place, or even literary style. Another thing to look for is if the person changes, in other words is the writer talking about "You" and then starts saying "They"?

2) If you have a Greek New Testament then you can see how they have divided the text.

3) If you don't have a Greek New Testament, you might have a study Bible that in the introduction to the book gives an outline of how they interpret the text divisions (NIV study Bible does this).

4) Good commentaries will provide their interpretation of where a unit starts and stops.

4) Bibleworks 7 (which is my favourite Bible software) has Metzger's Bible outline on it, which I find useful.

5) If you know Greek you can also look to see what words are used where you think a unit starts or stops. This can be very useful where the NIV might start a new sentence, but in the Greek it's still the same sentence. In fact it is a tendency of the NIV to put long Greek sentences into shorter English sentences to make it easier to read. If you can look up the sentence in the Greek you can see more easily if there really is a new sentence, or it the train of thought is actually still flowing on in a really long sentence (Paul sometimes uses really long sentences!).

Now it's usual for there to be differences of opinion about where a unit starts and stops - so be careful to not be dogmatic about it. But often you will find there is a lot of agreement amongst scholars about where a train of thought starts and stops.
By trying to find this out for yourself, not only will you have a lot of fun, but you will get to know the text so much better.

Have fun detecting the units!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How to read Genesis

Here's some teaching on hermeneutics of Hebrew narrative, and how to read Genesis in the Old Testament Bible. Narrative makes up most of the Bible, but sadly this genre is often misunderstood.
Enjoy D

Friday, October 27, 2006

Exegesis:Step 3: Literary Context -

a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.

To follow on from the last post I will give an example of how to approach the gospels:

The gospels are complicated because they contain reported speech of what Jesus and others said, but they have also been written from the persepctive of the gospel writer.

Because of this we need to look at two things:
1) What Jesus was saying to the people around him,
2) What the gospel writer is trying to communicate to his readers.

The need for this two pronged approach is made clearer when we look at a gospel story in a synopsis (a book that puts all of the gospel accounts in the same page in a parallel format). Each gospel writer tells the story of what Jesus said and did, however each writer gives different emphasis.

We want to know what Jesus was communicating to the original audience that was listening to him, but we also want to know what particular emphasis any one gospel writer was trying to push in his gospel.

This means that when I am studying Matthew, and I reach step 3 of the exegetical process, I open up a synopsis, and see in which ways his account differs to Luke or Mark.
=> this may help me to understand the main point that Matthew is trying to make.

With this approach we're not then looking at teaching a sermon which involves every single aspect of all of the four gospel accounts, but instead we're looking at the main point that Matthew was making in this story (whilst at the same time looking at the main point Jesus was making).

This part of the process is a bit like being a detective, and is very interesting, and avoids the muddle that sometimes comes when we try to just squeeze all 4 gospel accounts into one sermon.

This is the approach for the gospels, there is a different approach to Acts, the letters, and Revelation.
I won't write about these now, but you can read about them in Fee's book.

I will soon however post a video I have on how to interpret Hebrew narrative, specifically on Genesis. I know this is Old Testament and we're talking about New Testament exegesis, but it will give you a flavour of how much information there is to learn about different genres in the Bible (and it may be helpful with understanding narrative in the New Testament).

Peace D

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Testament Exegesis Step 3a

So far in this blog I've talked about the first 2 steps of NT exegesis:
1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.
the next step is:
3) Literary context.

This last step can be broken up into 3 sections:
a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.
b) identifying the limits of the text.
c) identifying the text's role within it's context.

For now I will just talk about
a) identifying the literary type and appropriate interpretation method.

The New Testament contains many books, and these books are not all in the same genre.
The gospels are different to Acts, which is different to the letters, which are different to Revelation.
All of these different genres need to be handled in different ways.
The way that we approach the gospels in exegesis is quite different to the way we handle the letters. This doesn't just apply to Bible study, but also applies to studying English literature - for example if someone is studying a poem, they will approach it in a different way to a historical document.

So once we have identified which type of genre we are studying (Gospel, Acts, Letter, Revelation), we then need to find out the correct way of approaching the particular genre.

For this I have found the following books very helpful:
(in order of usefulness)
"New Testament Exegesis" Gordon Fee
"How to read the Bible for all it's worth" Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart
"Playing by the rules" Robert Stein
All of these were written by top evangelical scholars, and are easy to understand.
"New Testament Exegesis" is more thorough than the others, and has more focus on writing exegetical papers, whereas Fee & Stuart's collabo is designed more for lay people, and Stein's is more of an introduction on hermeneutics.

I'd say buy them all! But if you're strapped for cash then get the Fee one - you won't regret it and you will never get rid of it!

One example of the usefulness of Fee's book is it's tips on the literary content of the gospels. Fee recommends using a synopsis to compare the different gospel writers accounts of the same story in order to see which emphasis a particular gospel writer was making compared to his counterparts.

I will write more about this later.

Peace D

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Myths about Jesus

Here's a video about common assumptions people make about Jesus.
I've put this up for my friend Justin B, who I was talking to last week about Jesus.
Have a watch of this, and let me know what you think.
Peace D

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mistakes in the Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci code has just come out on DVD, so I thought it would be worth posting this video which shows key mistakes made in the both the book and film.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Testament Exegesis Step 2:

We looked at step one last week, now I'm gonna talk about step 2.

1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.

Imagine if someone sent you an important letter, and instead of reading the whole thing, you just read one sentence in the middle of the letter! How well would you then understand the meaning of that one sentence?

Many of us have misunderstood scriptures because we have remembered verses, but not remembered the context they were given in, hence the phrase " taken out of context".
At step 2, we want to look at the context of the book in which the verses we are studying were written in.

The obvious way to do it to read the book!
Last year when I was about to start teaching through 'Matthew' I sat down and read through the whole of Matthew, I also listened to it on mp3. I have the New testament in mp3 format for the New Living Translation and for the NET bible (which is now available free on-line through Next bible).

During this time you can take down notes, but don't go too in-depth.

Once you've done this it's a good idea to read an introduction to the book by well known scholars.
'Introduction' by the way is a technical term referring to matters of authorship, date, purpose etc. So don't look at a book that says "Introduction" and think, "Well I've been a Christian for years, I don't need that!"

A book that I have is called "An Introduction to the New Testament" by D.A Carson, Douglas Moo, and Leon Morris, published by Zondervan. The authors of this book need no introduction from me!

Some study Bibles also have introductions (although these will not be so in-depth). The NIV study bible has introductions written by some very well known and respected scholars, including William Mounce in Revelation.

Step 2 is a good way to get a feel for the book, and missing this step out could lead to some disastrous mistakes later (when you realise that the point you made in chapter 2, is totally contradicted in chapter 10!)

Next time it's step 3 - Literary Context.

Peace D

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Boarding school renunion:

Big up to everyone who came to the Christ's Hosptial renunion tonite, and especial big ups to Charlie for organising it.
I feel priviledged to have spent 7 years growing up with you lot, and priviledged to be invited to the renunion as well.

If you've come here to check my blog then thanks. I appreciate that it might not be the kind of blog you're used to seeing.
The main emphasis of this blog is on how to study the Bible.
But you are more than welcome here anyway, and I hope that you would all read the Bible for yourselves someday - it is the greatest book in the world.
Peace D

How to Survive In London Col1:9-14

Here's an expository sermon on Colossians 1:9-14, the Theme is "How to survive in London" and contains applications for how to cope in London with the many challenges it poses today. This was a joint service with Calvary Chapel South London.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Different translations

In the last video you would have seen using the NET bible's translation of the text, which is quite different from the traditional translations of the Lord's prayer.

Apparently in the past translators have been encouraged to stick to a more traditional (well known) translation because it is one of those favourite pieces of scripture that people don't like to hear changed - If you change the Lord's prayer slightly then not as many people will buy your translation.

Here's where the NET Bible comes in: It was never created to make money, but to be a ministry tool, so the translators had the liberty to translate how they wanted to.

Some people might not like hearing the Lord's prayer in the NET bible translation, but I hope that my teaching in this video will demonstrate some of the arguments in favour of their translation.

Here's a little test for you: When you hear something translated differently to what you're used to, how do you react? Do you say, "No that's wrong because my favourite translation says something different!" or do you say, "Hmmm, I wonder what the original language says?"

Hopefully you think the later, but often translations are judged by what people are used to hearing.
Many people (without knowledge of the original languages) say, "I think the such and such version is a better translation." But without comparing the translation to the Greek or the Hebrew or Aramaic they are not really able to have an authoritative opinion about which translation is best. That is not to say that people cannot have informed opinions without knowing the original languages, but those opinions are not authoritative opinions.

Often the more people study Greek, the more they appreciate the various translations of the New Testament. There is a saying that 'translators are traitors', because they always either over translate or under translate. This is why you sometimes find one translation to be superior in it's translation of one verse, but another translation superior in another verse!

If you'd like to know more about all the different translations then I cannot reccomend enough Mounce's "Greek for the rest of us" book with comes with a multimedia CD-rom of his lessons where he gives many examples of where different translations have either hit the nail on the head, or missed it slightly. I found it very informative, and as a result I found that I appreciated different translations all the more.

The Lords Prayer

Here's some exegesis of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 5:9-15.

Here you will see me using the NET bible's translation of the text, which is quite different from the traditional translations of the Lord's prayer. For more information in this check the next post.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Greek Word Studies Tips

For anyone who wants to jump ahead to step 7 and learn about word studies (this is normally what people want to know first!) here is a 20 minute video of a lesson from my Greek for the Street series. This is part 1 of the Word Studies DVD.
All the DVD's are available to order on our church website.
BTW the decor of the DVD's gets slightly better later on in the series!
Peace D

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Exegesis Step 1: Spiritual preparation:

There are two common imbalances made in studying the Bible, one is to believe that because we have the Holy Spirit there is no need to use exegetical tools and methods to study the Bible - and the other is to believe that because we have good exegetical tools we have no need of the Holy Spirit.

The first approach is a problem because the books of the Bible were not originally written to us Londoners in the 21st century, and so were not written with words and concepts that we easily understand today.

The second approach however ignores the fact that we have the Holy Spirit as a helper to us, and furthermore that any study of the Bible should lead us to walk more closely with God, and so therefore should start with us walking with God.

Before getting the books open, it is worth (even essential) to spend time praying, praising, and asking God to help us to understand what he meant when he wrote the text, so that we can now learn to obey it correctly.

Robert Stein writes about how although an unbelieving scholar can understand the meaning of a text well, and even understand implications from it - they will have no significance to him.
NET 1 Corinthians 2:14 'The unbeliever* does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.'
*Grk "natural person." Cf. BDAG 1100 psuchikos "an unspiritual pers., one who merely functions bodily, without being touched by the Spirit of God."

A believer however can understand a number of implications from a text, and the Holy Spirit can make one of those implications in particular jump out and have important significance for that believer.

If you want to read more about this then Stein's book is very easy to read and informative (especially his definition of implication rather than application), it's called "Playing by the rules: A Basic guide to Interpreting the Bible" Robert Stein.

Each week when I'm preparing sermons I find a number of implications in the text, but I'm hoping the Holy Spirit will give one of them significance to me where I have a life changing experience. I'm also hoping the same to happen for the congregation - and for this to happen I need to be led by the Holy Spirit to know which implications to make known to the congregation.

So even though we have many exegetical tools at our disposal, we still need the Holy Spirit's help so that our study of the text results in life changes.

Another important part of spiritual preparation I believe is to place ourselves under the authority of the text. Sometimes when appraoching exegesis we can feel that we are mastering the text, instead of realising that what we should be doing is understanding the text so that we can come under it's authority.

I also sometimes find it helpful to view exegesis as part of my worship to God. Sometimes I play a worship CD in the background and break into a song everynow and then during my exegesis - try it some time.

Peace D
Next time Step 2: General Introduction

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Exegesis is the term used for finding out the meaning of the text. When Bible students attempt to find out what the Bible text means, they are doing exegesis.
To be able to do exegesis correctly is important so that we avoid doing eisegesis - which is when we read into the text what we think should be there, rather than trying to discover what the Holy Spirit and the human author meant when they wrote it.

2 Books that I would recommend on this subject are, "New Testament Exegesis", G.Fee, and "Biblical Greek Exegesis" by G.Guthrie & J. Duvall. The last book is only useful for those who know (or are learning) New Testament Greek.

For those interested in exegesis I have outlined below 12 steps to take in exegesis (these are straight from "Biblical Greek Exegesis"):

1) Spiritual preparation.
2) General introduction.
3) Literary Context.
4) Provisional translation.
5) Grammatical Analysis.
6) Semantic Diagram and Provisional Outline.
7) Word and Concept Analysis.
8) Broader Biblical and Theological Context.
9) Commentaries and Special Studies.
10) Polished Translation and Extended Paraphrase.
11) Application.
12) Preaching/Teaching Outline.

I will write more on each point later.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Gospel Nite:

On Friday nights we do an outreach called "Gospel nite" on the Alton Estate, Roehampton. There we do bible studies for urban youth to get away from street life for the evening and learn about Jesus instead. Tonight a 10 year old boy came and proudly told me that he knew the golden rule, and then explained it to me.
I was surprised not just that he knew it, but that someone had bothered to explain it to him.

Often people assume that the youth in council estates wouldn't be interested in the Bible, and so arrange entertaining activities for them instead of teaching the Bible. From my own experience as a youth in Roehampton and from my brothers and sisters in our small urban church, it seems that young people from council estates love to study the Bible.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14 NIV

I hope that we don't hinder them.
Peace D

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Unity at any cost?

The book of Deuteronomy could be seen as the consitution of Israel, and it shows us what an ideal Israel would look like.
One of it's themes is oneness - one people, in one land, under one God.

How did Moses promote this unity? Was it by pleading that everyone would just get along with one another? Was it through a prayer meeting? Was it through 2 services, one for the older folks and another for the youth? Was it through suggesting that everyone avoid discussing the fine points of the law?

No! It was through 3 sermons that he preached which emphasised the stipulations of the covenant God had brought them into.

This makes sense because if everyone is told the rules, and subsequently plays by the rules, then everyone can have unity as one people under one God.

The application for today is obvious, but sadly has been clouded by the many aforementioned 'unity' efforts that we have become accustomed to. If we as Christians devoted ourselves to reading and studying God's word, we would find a common ground that has been lacking for so long. If we devoted our lives to living out the Bible's teachings we would be players on the same team playing by the same rules.

Unfortunately the message that if often promoted today by us Christians is, "Unity at any cost!" "Leave out the doctrine that divides!"
- but none of us are wise enough to choose what to leave out, as Moses made clear:
Deuteronomy 4:2 'Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I am delivering to you.'
Furthermore when we throw out doctrine we throw out the very means by which we can obey God.

Last week some of us met to play monopoly, as soon as the game had started we realised that we all had different ways of playing the game. We had a choice, to either argue about it, or to get the rule book out and read it.
Some people would argue for a 3rd option which is to ignore the fact that we have different rules, and to just try and have unity.
If that's you, then why don't you try that next time you play monopoly!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Google desktop:

I've just installed google desktop on my computer, and set it up to do a little slideshow in the corner of my screen of all the photos on my hard-drive.
The cool thing about it is that you get to see photos you had completely forgotten about, like this one of me and Jayda.

Google desktop also has a scratch pad feature, which I use for jotting down sermons notes and ideas throughout the week.
The cool thing is that it can run on any computer that you have, so what ever you type on one computer will end up on another.

Oh, and you can also set it to notify you when blogs have been updated, like mine!
Peace D

New Online Bible Software:

For those of you interested in the studying the Bible with your computer, have just set up a new online program called "Next Bible", and it is quite a serious bit of kit.
It's an online NET bible (New English Version) with all the notes that it's famous for, plus a whole bunch of search tools, dictionaries, articles and sermon illustrations written on the passage you are browsing.
If you are familiar with then imagine having all of the files on that site integrated into an online bible software program, and then you've got the Next Bible learning environment (as it's called).

Check it out at

Spend some decent time checking it out because there is more than meets the eye at first glance.

Happy Bible studying!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hopefully I will soon be writing some info about Bibleworks software, Libronix and a whole bunch of books useful for New Testament exegesis.