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Grew up in farm and ranch life about 70 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas near the small community of Perrin. Did undergraduate degree at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas (BA, 1964) and masters (MDiv, 1968) / doctorate (ThD, 1975) at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth. Taught Koine Greek and New Testament at SWBTS 1974-1997. Then taught at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC (1998-2008). Pastored the IBC Baptist Church in Cologne Germany (2008-2010) before retiring and moving to Santa Ana, Costa Rica, where Claire and I now live.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DEFENDING ONE'S MINISTRY, 2 Corinthians 11:1-12:13
This segment of the commentary covers essentially chapters 11 and 12 of Second Corinthians as a part of volume 11 of the Biblical Insights Commentary. It is 90 pages in length as a pdf file. The original Greek text is one of the most complicated text sections in the entire Greek New Testament.
The apostle Paul in chapters 10 - 13 of this letter is defending his ministry against criticisms leveled against Paul from two sources. First, came the insider criticisms from select members of the Christian community at Corinth. Mostly, Paul addresses these individuals in chapters ten and thirteen. However, in chapters eleven and twelve he primarily targets outsiders who have traveled to Corinth evidently from Judea and have severely questioned Paul as a divinely called messenger of the true Gospel. Their claim, naturally, is of having a superior message and credentials to teach this alternative message.
Paul's challenge is to confront these false teachers in an appeal to the Corinthians church to remain faithful to the initial apostolic Gospel preached by him at the establishment of the church some years earlier. How to best do this?
Feeling some pressure from the Corinthian church members, Paul steps out of his comfort zone and adopts a rather popular strategy of defending his ministry through the use of a 'fool's speech,' that is contained in 11:1-12:13. This literary device was popular in Greek and Latin speaking circles of the mid-first century, but not used much at all among Jews. The heart of the device was to argue one's case by adopting the techniques of one's opponents in a Greco-Roman setting. Mostly, this centered on a bragging contest of one-up-man-ship about who has the best credentials and best message or teaching. Thus comparisons with one's opponents functioned at the heart of the contest of boasting. The 'fool's speech' made heavy use of biting sarcasm in the bragging.
Paul's uncomfortableness with this approach is expressed several times through the speech. But he felt compelled by Corinthian demands that he defend himself with a way of thinking that the Greek and Roman oriented Corinthians themselves knew and understood. His choice was brilliant and he makes a powerful case for a ministry that, instead of being self generated as the outsider group claimed for themselves, was instead a divinely blessed superior ministry in and through a man who himself was a nothing. The insider critics who claimed for themselves superior skills in Greek rhetoric etc. to Paul came to discover that this know-little Jewish preacher possessed brilliant skills with one of the most complex ways of making one's case known in the ancient world. These two chapters are a masterpiece in the use of biting sarcasm embedded into surprising and unexpected ways of setting up comparisons with one's opponents.
For us modern readers, this is the source of the huge difficulties in understanding Paul's ideas in these two chapters. We want everything presented in simple black and white terms. But in these chapters Paul lives in a weaving pattern of idea expression virtually completely in the grayish mid tones with only a few black/white expressions. The English language reader will notice this somewhat by a confusing maze of very differing translations of these two chapters. And one can be certain that the simple idea expression in some of the more contemporary English translations especially are giving you, the reader, a highly re-contextualized translation assuming modern frameworks, not the first century framework that Paul is working in.
What can we learn from Paul's example here? The final section of this commentary chapter attempts to pull together some lessons from these chapters. I'll leave it up to you to go through these and see whether you agree or not with my conclusions.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Paul and the Corinthians

Sometimes in doing in depth Bible study an idea in the text just jumps out at you. In the exceedingly complex expression of Paul defending his ministry to the Corinthians in chapters ten through thirteen of Second Corinthians, he uses an intriguing image in 11:2-4. Outsiders have come into Corinth and become influential over a small group of members who do not care for the apostle. Thus criticisms of Paul's ministry to the church are being leveled against him by the hostile members. These chapters especially in the letter are devoted to a defense of his ministry strategy and style to the church over the several years prior to the writing of the letter in the mid 50s. 

In 11:1-15 the apostle puts on the table before his Corinthian readers the profile of the outsiders and then sets forth his approach to the Corinthians. In verse 2, he does something very creative:
ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς θεοῦ ζήλῳ, ἡρμοσάμην γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἀνδρὶ παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. In the context of the universal practice of arranged marriages in the first century, Paul pictures himself as the father of the daughter, the Corinthian church, who has arranged for a wedding day for his daughter to marry a husband, who is Christ. His creativity is seen especially in the modification of a common OT image of God as husband of covenant Israel the bride (e.g., Hos 1-3). 

Paul modifies the image to fit the situation of the Corinthians while drawing from two major emphases of the OT image: God's jealousy for Israel as her 'husband' and the bride Israel's tendency toward unfaithfulness to her husband. Paul in the Corinthian adaptation of the image is the bride's jealous father as the founder of the church. He has entered into a marriage contract with God the Father for his daughter to marry Christ at the future eschatological wedding day. That is, he has betrothed, ἡρμοσάμην, her to Christ.  

Now his task as father is to keep her pure from immorality for the wedding day: παρθένον ἁγνὴν παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ. The outsiders who have come into Corinth are thus seen as seducers who are trying to entice the daughter into betrayal of her betrothal to Christ as husband: φθαρῇ τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότητος καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος τῆς εἰς τὸν Χριστόν (v. 3). Those attracted to these false teachers in the church were just like ancient Israel with a penchant for unfaithfulness to Christ (v. 4). Just as the first century father was obligated to present his daughter as a virgin to her betrothed husband on the wedding day, Paul feels an obligation toward the Corinthians to do everything in his power to keep the Corinthian church faithful to its commitment to Christ. 

By portraying himself as a jealous father and the false teachers as seducers, he develops a powerful image to challenge his opponents in the church to rethink their attraction to these false teachers, and to understand clearly where he is coming from in his rebuke of them. 

The resulting question that emerges here is Who are we as spiritual leaders? A protective father? Or a seducer of the bride of Christ? Is our ministry centered on keeping God's church faithful to Christ? Or, is it more interested in building man centered devotion to a preacher?    

Saturday, August 6, 2016

In Second Corinthians 10:1-18, the apostle Paul challenges one of the most deeply embedded values of modern western culture: competition. His opponents in the Corinthian church contended that he and his message stood as inferior to them and their message. They based this contention on a self-comparison to others around them. In reaction, the apostle condemned comparison to others as a standard of evaluation: Οὐ γὰρ τολμῶμεν ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι ἑαυτούς τισιν τῶν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστανόντων, for we dare not evaluate or compare ourselves to some who are commending themselves (v. 12a). People who do this do not possess good sense: ἀλλʼ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἑαυτοὺς μετροῦντες καὶ συγκρίνοντες ἑαυτοὺς ἑαυτοῖς οὐ συνιᾶσιν, But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense (v. 12b). 

Volume 11, Second Corinthians, in the BIC commentary series now contains the indepth commentary for chapter ten of this letter. In this scripture text, how to properly do Christian ministry is set forth clearly and forcefully. The message of this chapter is vitally needed in our contemporary world! Note especially the CONCLUSIONS drawn at the end of the exegesis to our world and church life. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

BIC changes

With volume 11 of the Biblical Insights Commentary there comes a change in strategy for writing and posting. The single volume and the topics sections will reflect the same original writing source. Once the study on Second Corinthians is completed as chapter ten of THE APOSTLE PAUL: SERVANT OF CHRIST study, it will be posted in its entirety under the single volume hyperlink. 

But as the major sections of the scripture text are completed they will be posted in twenty to fifty page sections. This will make accessing smaller portions of the commentary easier and less cumbersome. 

Gradually over time previous book studies will be set up this way as well.  Additional supplementary aids will also continue to be added as they are developed. The pdf format will continue to be used. If you have difficulty accessing them, most likely you need to do a free update of your Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bio Update

I have been updating some information on with the bio information. The more complete and up to date life story is at Check it out and learn what has been happening recently in our lives in San Angelo, Texas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Continuing Renewal

Continuing Renewal: a study of 2 Cor. 4:16-18

In the Biblical Insight Commentary, volume 11, on Second Corinthians, is a short study that was presented at the Senior Adult Luncheon and Rally at the Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas, on March 11, 2016. Listed in this web page under 2 Cor. 4:16-18 are three pdf files:
These files contain 1) the background exegesis of the passage; 2) the slides from the power point presentation to the group; and 3) a one page handout given to those present. If you would like to have the presentation file, send me an email at, and I will send it to you via email attachment. 

This passage is very interesting due both to its content and also for the important role it plays in Paul's defense of his ministry to the Corinthians in these early chapters of Second Corinthians. It stands as a rich reminder on how to avoid burn out in ministry, along with how to remain consistently faithful over a life time of devotion to Christ. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Starting Over

For a 74 year old codger, this is rather daunting! But in following God's leadership over the half century plus of ministry, the challenge of starting over has come along several times. From a purely human standpoint the move from Santa Ana, Costa Rica to the Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo, Texas has gone surprisingly smoothly. No major obstacles have come our way thus far.

Much of this has come about -- I believe -- through a combination of following God's leadership and careful, detailed planning ahead. The move has generated a lot of emotion for both Claire and me. The sad part was in leaving behind many, many friends in Costa Rica. Claire made small Christmas ornaments as farewell gifts for friends and we gave away almost 90 of them, mainly to friends in Santa Ana, as well as at church. We had not realized the extent of acquaintances that we had made in the town where we lived for five plus years.

Upon arriving in San Angelo, Tuesday, Dec. 8, a whirlwind of activities was unleashed in getting set up to occupy the duplex apartment, which we did on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Everyone here has been very gracious and helpful to us. Within this almost two week period of time, we have begun to realize just how profoundly this move is impacting our lives. On the positive side, it has been really fun to begin again in setting up a household with virtually everything being brand new. Never been able to do that before in my 74+ years on planet earth. But spending so much money in such a short period of time has felt really strange. Fortunately, we had saved up a nest egg of funds to enable us to be able to do this. Keeping track of orders and deliveries has within itself become quite a task. We have a garage literally full of packed boxes that will need to be emptied over the coming few weeks. This especially after the 64 boxes shipped from Costa Rica arrived on Friday.

We are really liking our apartment. It's small and compact -- a little larger than the one in Wesseling Germany but smaller than the one in Santa Ana, Costa Rica -- but I think it is going to work well for us. Especially the single level with no stairs to climb. The biggest challenge probably is going to be for Claire and me to share the second bedroom as an office. This we have never tried before, so a lot of patience will be necessary. With the apartment being just across the street from the "highrise" building that is the center of the independent living section of the retirement center, everything is very convenient. Already we are meeting many new friends here at the center and are looking forward to getting acquainted with many more as we get settled in. A college friend from Wayland days now living in Oregon sent me the phone number of dear friends of hers who live here at the center. So we are looking forward to meeting them.

Following God as He directs one's path through life is always exciting, daunting, and a wonderful adventure. Certainly that is the case for us as we move into this new phase of our life in San Angelo. Never could I have ever imagined what that path from the Lord would have followed over these seventy plus years. But I wouldn't trade it for all the money in the world!