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Difficult Sayings Archives
  • Gad is first mentioned in Genesis 30:11 when "Leah said, "A troop comes!" So she called his name Gad" (KJV), as the traditional translation has it. Whilst the Authorised Version has Gad meaning "troop" the more modern NIV renders the Genesis passage, "Leah said, "What good fortune!" So she named him Gad" (cf. NRSV etc). Gad, the proper name of…
    March 8, 2007
  • This is a very important biblical passage. It is part of the Jewish Shema, the credal declaration of faith that is of paramount importance to every Jewish believer and indeed to Jesus (Mark 12:29) and the early church. It states that God is one, that we should love him with all our being, and teach this to the next generation. Both the rabbis…
    March 1, 2007
  • The terms "Old" and "New" Testaments are so familiar to us yet so rare in Scripture itself. The first term occurs in the "new" Testament, 2 Corinthians 3:14, palaias diathêkês and has been taken to refer to the Old Testament canon, covenant, Pentateuch or 10 Commandments. Indeed in this section of Paul's epistle (3:7-18) he contrasts a "ministry of death" with…
    February 22, 2007
  • I last wrote on this more than 10 years ago for a London Bible College essay on how well Abraham's life fitted in to what was then known about life in the fertile crescent in the second millennium B.C.. The premise of sceptics and liberal Bible scholars was that the early chapters of Genesis were not historical from Adam to Abraham, or even…
    February 15, 2007
  • We all know that Noah was righteous but where do we get the idea of his being a "a preacher of righteousness" when this is not mentioned in the Old Testament. Is this another fiction along the lines of the new children's book Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean? In this soon to be published, Whitbread book award shortlisted…
    February 8, 2007
  • Hate your parents - Luke 14:26
    But 'hatred'? Surely that is taking loyalty to your teacher too far - even if your teacher is God in human form. For another commandment is that of honouring ones parents - which itself cannot be contradicted. Indeed, this verse in Luke has caused much anguish and pain between zealous Christian sons or daughters and their parents, who…
    February 1, 2007
  • Thou shalt not kill - Exodus 20:13
    Kill, murder, suicide, its all the same - or is it? Most modern versions have moved on from mere killing to meditated murder. Some have argued for the AV's accuracy that all killing is forbidden and that modern translations are exhibiting "political expediency rather than objective scholarship". The author of this statement goes on to…
    January 25, 2007
  • The camel and the eye of the needle - Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25
    For the last two centuries it has been common teaching in Sunday School that there is a gate in Jerusalem called the eye of the needle through which a camel could not pass unless it stooped and first had all its baggage first removed. After dark, when the main gates were shut, travellers or merchants would have to use this smaller gate, through…
    January 18, 2007
  • In January 2nd’s Sunday Times a report suggested that the Boxing Day 2004 Asian tsunami which, at the time of writing, has claimed 150,000 lives and made up to 5 million people homeless, was inevitable as would be future catastrophes. Similarly, an article by Simon Jenkins in The Times suggested that society had moved away from blaming…
    January 11, 2007
  • The Virgin Birth, does it matter? - Isaiah 7:14 / Matthew 1:23
    This Christmas week sees the annual nativity-bashing season upon us once again. In London, Madame Tussauds displayed a nativity scene with David and Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh and Becks - the former Spice girl and famous footballer, which was described as "tasteless" and verging on blasphemous by some. After it was physically attacked…
    January 4, 2007
  • Surely, this cannot refer to the simple practice of children calling their parents 'mom' and 'dad'? Sceptics rightly point out the apparent contradiction between this verse and Exodus 20:12 "Honour your father and your mother". It, more likely, pertains to honorific titles given to ministers of God's word. Jesus suggests to his disciples…
    December 28, 2006
  • Not peace but a sword - Matthew 10:34
    The New York Times columnist William Safire commented earlier this year on Mel Gibson's film The Passion, depicting Jesus' violent death. He wrote about the violence of the film in contrast to expectations about Jesus bringing peace and the seasonal message we normally expect on Christmas cards at this time of year: "Matthew in 10:34 quotes Jesus…
    December 21, 2006
  • Abraham's 318 Men - Genesis 14:14
    A London based Pastor asked me the following question this week: In Genesis chapter 14 v 14 - we are told that Abram had 318 trained servants who were born in his house. Is there significance to the number 318? The answer is one of those easy Jewish ones, "yes and no". So I thought I would explain what I mean in this column. For someone to even ask…
    December 14, 2006
  • Tongue for Glory - Psalm 16:9
    The difficulty with this passage is in translation and language differences. The older English versions render the middle phrase "my glory rejoices" which makes little sense but may be a Hebrew idiom. The phrases either side are both parts of the body, "my heart" and "my flesh", but where is "my glory" located? Furthermore why do more recent versions such as the NIV render it "my tongue"? …
    December 7, 2006
  • In the age-old debate of male-female blame various accusations have been levelled. Was Eve weaker? Certainly Paul describes her as the one who, unlike Adam, was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3) and who transgressed (parabasis Strong's #3847) first (1 Timothy 2:13-14) but elsewhere he regards sin (amartia hamartia Strong's #266) as having (Romans 5:12,19). …
    November 30, 2006

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