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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.

Monday, November 28, 2016

BIC Volume 11: Second Corinthians now available in numerous formats

All of the materials relating to volume eleven on Second Corinthians are now posted in the BIC commentary series at The best place to begin is with the HELP page for volume eleven which explains both the options as well as provides some background information. The hyperlink is in the Volume 11 text in the homepage for volume eleven.
Instructions on the use of volume eleven is available in html, video clip, power point, and pdf formats. Just click on the desired format. The video clip has audition as well as visual presentation.

Although the work in creating the 373 page commentary on Second Corinthians took a long time and was filled with very tedious effort, the personal impact on my life through developing this material has been immense. I have come to appreciate how Paul handled conflict in the church at Corinth, especially when much of it was directed against him by some in the Corinthian Christian community. His example of aggressively responding to distortion and deception by professing Christians has much to teach us as Christians in our chaotic world today. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016


What is the best way to finish up a writing project? In our modern western culture the usual answer is to write a CONCLUSION (Schlussfolgerung; Conclusión; Conclusion) in which a summary of the key ideas are repeated in brief expression (Zusammenfassung; Resumen; Résumé). Another possibility is for the Conclusion to be an application of the relevance of the article (Anwendung; Solicitud; Application). 

In the ancient letter writing  pattern which Paul follows in his letters inside the New Testament, none of the above patterns are followed. Instead, most every one of the many thousands of still existing letters out of Paul's world contains a Conclusio element at the end. The content of this ending of the letter could vary widely, but a few items almost always would be included. Especially for Paul both a Greetings and a Benedictio were inserted always. Several other items are found in his canonical letters which vary according to the situation behind each letter. Yet, he always said hello to his readers and offered a concluding prayer for the grace of Christ to be upon his readers. The Greetings were important due to the critical importance of φιλία connections being maintained, and the benediction due to the concluding of the Christian assembly with a closing prayer in following the example of the Jewish synagogue Friday evening gatherings. 

The Conclusio of Second Corinthians is both typical and unique among those in Paul's letters. Available now is the 21 page exegesis of 2 Cor. 13:11-13, the Conclusio of Second Corinthians. It is found in the BIC commentary series, volume 11 on Second Corinthians, at  At the end you will find a summary application of chapters 10-13 of the commentary. Enjoy!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Here at the beginning of November we are entering the holiday season where many people travel to visit family and friends. Lots of time and effort is put into getting ready to receive visitors. In the final segment of the BIBLICAL INSIGHTS commentary on Second Corinthians, volume 11, the impending third visit of Paul to the church at Corinth is discussed in 12:14 - 13:10. Τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς. This third time I am coming to you. (13:1) With this indication, the basic objective of the entire letter is achieved, and especially his defense of his ministry in chapters 10-13. For the Corinthians, Paul was in a love / hate relationship. Most in the community respected him as a divinely called messenger of God, but several hated him passionately. Why? Because Paul insisted on genuine faith surrender to Christ that rejected the tendency to culturally corrupt the Gospel. In his appearance, Paul didn't look or act like a leader. That is, a standard Greco-Roman take charge kind of leader who could be idolized as a heroic figure. Besides, individuals from the Christian community in Judea had arrived in Corinth and questioned Paul's claims as an apostle. Chapters 10-13 contain the apostle's eloquent defense of the kind of ministry he had given to the church at Corinth. It wasn't impressive when viewed from the standards of leadership in the world of non-Christian Corinth. But it was a Christ centered ministry of humble surrender to the will of God.  Paul's ingenious way of defending the God centered ministry challenges all of us today to examine how much our culture shapes our religious thinking rather than the revelation of God in the Bible. This 32 page study will unpack Paul's thinking about ministry.

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.