Two major puzzles about the trial of Jesus deserve answers. First, on which day of the week did it happen? Second, how do we explain how his trial breaks all the rules for a Jewish trial? Read more

The ancient Qumran community was so strict about the Sabbath that their rules did not even let them use the restroom on that day! They taught that on the Sabbath, a member was not to walk more than 1000 cubits outside his city. But their community’s latrine was 1500 cubits (3000 feet) outside the city, to prevent grossing God out (Deuteronomy 23:12-14). How did they solve this problem? Josephus says: they didn’t. Qumran is the place where we found the… Read more

The Pharisees have had a lot of undeserved bad press. Like the Puritans, they have unfairly become victims of a merciless historical spin machine. They have become everyone’s whipping boy. It’s hard for us to conceive that the Pharisees were actually the liberals of Jesus’ day. Read more

The Hebrew concept of being “upright,” doing what is “right,” the opposite of crookedness, is expressed by the word yashar, meaning “straight” or “level.” It is used in famous verses such as Judges 21:25: “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Read more

Does God do “bad?” It depends on what you mean by “bad.” The Bible teaches that God does not do what we would call moral evil. But yet at the same time, the Bible does teach that God makes stuff happen that we would call “bad” in a broad sense. When talking about a subject like this, language is everything. The Bible has several specific words for moral evil. They include the Hebrew words resha‘ (wickedness), pesha‘ (transgression), ‘awon and… Read more

Church compensation has come a long way from the days of the early church, or the days of the Hebrew priests and Levites. Have we have departed from the Biblical foundations for what we are doing? What would God say about how we are implementing God’s original intentions for church compensation? Read more

Lawlessness is not where people commit crimes, but when law itself is dismantled by those who are in power. Lawlessness is uglier than sin itself. It’s ugly when we get the idea that no one can stop us from evil. Read more

“Drag” versus “draw” – which way would be the best word to translate what Jesus says when he says in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”? And what are the implications for what we believe about God and how God operates? Does God sweet-talk us or persuade us into faith? Or does God drag us into belief, kicking and screaming, against our will? The word Jesus uses in John 6:44… Read more

In my first post on holiness, I introduced the novel idea that holiness means simply being different from a dysfunctional world. I also gave some examples of being different in an attractive way, including selflessness, not living for money or possessions, being a true listener, and not being hateful or malicious. Now, let’s look at some more examples. Believe it or not, the world is looking for people who live the Bible’s sexual ethic: sex exclusively between a husband and… Read more

Here at the start of Lent is a good time to reexamine the meaning of holiness. What exactly does it mean to be holy? The answer might surprise you. When we say the word “holy,” we often think of some kind of sinless perfection, to be a religious super-hero like Mother Teresa or someone who has reached the Hall of Fame we call “sainthood.” We think of someone who scrupulously obeys a long list of do’s and don’ts. We bristle… Read more

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