Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Here are some of my favorite Bible commentaries....And they are FREE!:

Sets Covering More Than One Book of the Old Testament
*Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (6 volumes; 1864, 1892). This commentary was recommended to me by a professor in Bible College over 30 years ago and I have never been disappointed. Still one of the best Old Testament commentary sets available (if not still the best) and you can download it for free.

Sets Covering More Than One Book of the New Testament
**IVP New Testament Commentaries at BibleGateway
*Lightfoot, John. A Commentary on the New Testament From the Talmud and Hebraica.
*Lightfoot, Joseph Barber. (Commentaries and other works).
*Moule, Handley C.G. (Commentaries and other writings).
*Nicoll, W. Robertson (editor). The Expositor's Greek New Testament.
*Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament.
*International Critical Commentaries (Old and New Testment)

*Wilmhurst, Steve. A Ransom for Many: The Gospel of Mark Simply Explained. See "how the Gospel of Mark is connected to the Old Testament prophets."


*Haldane, Robert. Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans.
*Hodge, Charles. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

*Luther, Martin. Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. Also available for FREE in audiobook.

A lot more FREE commentaries available at the links below....
*StudyLight.org107 commentaries are hosted here! "StudyLight has more Bible commentaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, lexicons and original language tools than any other website on the internet!"
*Ray Stedman commentaries at Blue Letter Bible
*Tyndale House hosts a very long list of the best commentaries available for free online.
*A humongous list of free commentaries at Bible Researcher (Old and New Testament)
*Tons of free New Testament Commentaries in Tyndale Seminary's "New Testament Reading Room"
*Tons of free Old Testament Commentaries in Tyndale Seminary's "Old Testament Reading Room"
*More than 90 commentaries available online. (Old and New Testmaent)
*More free commentaries. (Old and New Testament)
*Extensive list of Online Biblical Studies Resources.
*Exegetical Fallacies: Common Mistakes Every Student of the Bible Must Avoid by William D. Barrick (a free 11 page ebook)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Those who deny God's existence seek to account for the existence of life on this planet by saying that a living cell somehow arose spontaneously and then evolved continuously until we now have a vast array of incredibly well designed organisms. Here is just one of many problems in that scenario:

(1) J.B.S. Haldane has shown that it takes 300 generations for a single mutation to be fixed within a species population.

(2) This assumes that a beneficial mutation could take place that actually adds information to a given genome (which has not been shown). But for the sake of argument, we will grant that such beneficial mutations that add information to the genome actually exist and we simply have not yet been successful in isolating these instances.

(3) The difference between one genus and another is a matter of much more than a single mutation. The genetic difference between chimps and humans, for example, is no less than 40 million mutations (a very conservative estimate that does not include the so-called "junk DNA"--that which does not code for proteins, but which we are now discovering does indeed have essential functions).

(4) At the very least, this would require a fixing of 20 million mutations (40 million divided by 2). Again, this is a very conservative estimate that assumes that evolution can take a linear path from one to the other, fixing only the needed mutations and no others (a rather unlikely scenario, but for the sake of argument, we will allow it).

(5) Assuming a period of 20 years per generation, this means it would take 120,000,000,000 years for a common ancestor of chimps to evolve into a human. Yeah, that's 120 billion years! (20 years/generation x 300 generations/mutation x 20,000,000 mutations). So even given these very conservative numbers and rather unrealistic assumptions (#2, 3 & 4), such evolution would take more than 30 times longer than the ~3.8 billion years since evolutionists claim that the first living cells appeared on earth (the problems with which I do not have time to go into today). Are you starting to see the problem? But wait! There's more.

(6) During this whole period of time in which we are hoping to fix these 20 million+ mutations in order to bring about the imagined macroevolution from hominid ancestor to modern humans....our genomes have been acquiring deleterious mutations at a rate in excess of 600 per progeny per generation. Over the course of the 6 billion generations that it would take to fix these 20 million mutations, the genome will acquire 3.6 trillion deleterious mutations (if only figuring for the input of one individual per generation). The human genome, for instance, only has a little more than 3 billion potential mutation sites. In other words, the genome that needs to evolve from hominid ancestor to human would have been completely eroded ~1,200 times during the period in which the 20 million+ mutations need to be fixed. That's a pretty serious attrition rate. Yet evolution must somehow overcome all of these impossible obstacles millions of times to bring about the vast number of living organisms. And when it gets down to the nitty gritty of organic chemistry (where such evolution must take place), no one has a clue how it could have happened. Perhaps you believe it can somehow be done. If so, you have more faith than I do.

(7) Still not seeing a problem? This "low rate" of deleterious mutations is due to the incredibly robust duplication system built into our cells that incorporates several proofreading mechanisms. In other words, imagine how much higher the attrition rate would have to be before the imagined evolutionary process got around to building these sophisticated error-correcting features into our replication system....


*You can find an excellent discussion of most of this by one of the world's leading geneticists, Dr. John Sanford, in his book Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome (2005), see especially p.123ff, 149, 159f. (The heart of this argument comes from his book. Some of the observations are mine.) A 2-part video presentation in which Dr. Sanford presents this information.

**It should be noted that Dr. Sanford discusses other factors in his Genetic Entropy book that increase this problem exponentially (p.123ff).

(1) An excellent article that provides a much more serious discussion of the general argument that I have presented here (and discusses not only how Haldane arrived at this conclusion but also more recent studies concerning the same issue), can be found online: Online Article.
(2) No known mutations add information: Besides Sanford's book, also see:  Dr. Lee Spetner's book "Not By Chance" (1996).
(4) The figure of 40 million is based on a 2002 study by Britten which establishes a 5% genetic difference between chimps and humans. Some evolutionists have argued for as little as 1% difference, but the actual difference may be as high as 30% (see the book by Dr. Jeff Tomkins). For an excellent discussion of this issue see the online article by Dr. Jay Wile: online article here. I think it likely that the actual genetic difference is somewhere in the middle; but even if we allow for only a 1% difference, it will still take 24 billion years to fix the needed mutations. that it will still take 4000 times longer for this imagined evolution to take place than the 6 million years allowed by the hypothetical evolutionary timeline. And during that 24 billion year time span, the genome would be eroded 240 times by the accumulation of deleterious mutations.
(3) No junk DNA: Dr. Jonathan Well's book, The Myth of Junk DNA ....also: Online article.
(5) Note: I have edited this figure since original publication, since in my haste I had misplaced a decimal point.
(6) Scientists have no idea how organic chemistry could possibly lead to evolution: Online article.
(7) Proofreading mechanisms: Online article.


“Evolution is a fairy tale for adults,” ~ evolutionist, Dr. Paul LeMoine

“The evolution theory is purely the product of the imagination.” ~ Dr. Ambrose Flemming, served as President of the Philosophical Society of Great Britain

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science.  Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion -- a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality.  I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint -- ...and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it - the literalists are absolutely right.  Evolution is a religion.  This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution today.” ~ Dr. Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph

"It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection.  But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test." ~Patterson*, Colin, Personal Letter to Luther D. Sunderland, April 10, 1979.
*Dr. Patterson was the Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London

"My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed.....It is not even possible to make a caricature of an evolution out of paleobiological facts...The idea of an evolution rests on pure belief." ~Dr. Nils Heribert-Nilsson, noted Swedish botanist and geneticist, of Lund University

“One morning I woke up and . . . it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That’s quite a shock to learn that one can be misled so long . . . I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people: ‘Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, any one thing that is true?’ I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, ‘I do know one thing—it ought not to be taught in high school.’” ~Dr. Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History, in a keynote address at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, in 1981

*"A Billion Genes and Not One Beneficial Mutation" at Evolution News & Views

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Back in the early 1990s while pastoring in the United Methodist Church, I attended one of their liberal seminaries. It was there that I first encountered the idea that some of the books of the New Testament were not written by the authors that bear their name. At the time, I thought that this idea would never be more than an academic concern--an annoying issue among Biblical scholars but of little concern to most people. I was gravely mistaken. New Testament scholar, skeptic and best-selling author Bart Ehrman has totally changed that with his book Forged: in the Name of God— Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

In his book, Ehrman alleges that there are several forgeries in the New Testament. While much of what will be discussed in this article will be applicable to the arguments for other alleged forgeries in the New Testament, this article will focus on the pastoral letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus).

What is the basis of the idea that the pastoral letters were written by someone other than Paul? Are there textual variants giving other names? Are there manuscripts lacking Paul's name? Is there a statement against their authenticity by an early church father? Does someone in the early church even question their authenticity or hint that Paul may not have been the author? No. Nothing of the sort. On the contrary, these letters were used approvingly and recognized as part of the canon at a very early date. More than that, they are always included among Paul's letters in all canonical lists and manuscript collections; and they were never among the disputed letters in the canonical discussions of the early church.

Polycarp's epistle to the Philippians (4:1) says: "But the love of money is the beginning of all troubles. Knowing therefore that we brought nothing into the world neither can we carry anything out, let us arm ourselves with the armor of righteousness, and let us teach ourselves first to walk in the commandment of the Lord"--clear allusions to 1 Tim 6. See also 5:2 which quotes 2 Timothy. Polycarp not only quotes from both 1 and 2 Timothy, but he indicates that he knows they are from Paul. Polycarp is an important witness to Pauline authorship because he was a disciple of the apostle John and also the most important church leader of the early 2nd Century (following the death of John, the last living apostle).

*See the excellent online article by Polycarp scholar Kenneth Berding of Biola: "Polycarp of Smyrna Tells Us Who He Thinks Wrote the Pastoral Letters."

The letters to Timothy in particular are cited approvingly by Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, the Muratorian Canon, Origen, Eusebius, etc. (and also quoted disapprovingly by the heretic Marcion). And Titus is quoted by Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, the Muratorian Canon, etc. (and quoted disapprovingly by Marcion).

So why is there any question that Paul wrote them? The primary reason given by the Bible's critics is that the vocabulary and style of the pastorals seems to be different from that used in the other ten letters that bear Paul's name.

Carson and Moo summarize the argument as follows:

A strong argument is produced from the vocabulary differences between the three Pastoral epistles and the other ten epistles usually attributed to Paul. P. N. Harrison, building on the work of previous scholars, compiled some impressive statistics. He pointed out that the three Pastorals make use of 902 words, of which 54 are proper names. Of the remaining 848 words, 306 (more than a third of the total) do not occur in the other ten Pauline letters. Of these 306, at least 175 occur nowhere else in the New Testament. The argument is then developed in two ways. First, it is pointed out that this leaves 542 words shared by the Pauline letters and the Pastorals, of which no more than 50 are characteristic Pauline words in the sense that they are not used by other writers in the New Testament. Of the 492 words that are found in three bodies— the Pastorals, the rest of Paul, and the rest of the New Testament— there are, of course, the basic words without which it would be impossible to write at all, and words that every Christian writer would necessarily use (e.g., “brother,” “love,” “faith”). Again, some words have different meanings from book to book. Paul, for example, uses (antechomai) with the sense “to support,” “to aid” (1 Thess. 5: 14); the Pastorals, with the meaning “to hold fast” (Titus 1: 9); (koinos) means “Levitically unclean” in Paul (Rom. 14: 14) and “common” (as in “the common faith”) in the Pastorals (Titus 1: 4). Second, it is argued that many of the words in question are found in the apostolic fathers and the apologists of the early second century. Of the 306 words in the Pastorals that are not in the Pauline Epistles, 211 are found in these second-century writings. This kind of reasoning leads many to the conclusion that the author of the Pastorals was not Paul but probably a writer living at the end of the first century or toward the beginning of the second century. It is held to be unreasonable to think that in his old age Paul would suddenly produce a wealth of new words— moreover, words that are found in a later period. Third, scholars point out that of the 214 Greek particles found in the ten Pauline letters, 112 do not occur in the Pastoral Epistles. From this many infer that there is a comparative poverty of style in the latter: the connective tissue of the Pastoral Epistles is apparently very different from that of the Pauline ten. (Kindle Locations 14222-14242).

At first glance, this may seem like a very reasonable--perhaps even overwhelming--argument against the authenticity of the pastoral letters. When examined closely, however, this argument crumbles and is found to be illegitimate. In fact, the more closely I examine this argument, the more astounded I am that this argument has gained such widespread acceptance among Biblical scholars--even among many evangelicals.

Carson and Moo show some of the basic flaws with this statistical analysis:

The arguments sound impressive, but they are not as convincing as they seem to be at first sight. Those who put them forward do not always notice, for example, that most of the words shared by the Pastorals and the second-century writers are also found in other writings prior to A.D. 50. It cannot be argued that Paul would not have known them, nor can it be argued that Paul’s total vocabulary is the number of words in the ten letters (2,177 words). It is not necessary to argue that Paul produced hundreds of new words in his old age, for if he could use 2,177 words, there is no reason for supposing that he could not use another 306 words, most of which are known to have been current in his day. That some of the words are used with different meanings signifies no more than that the contexts are different. Paul also uses words with different meanings in different contexts in the ten letters. It is misleading simply to say that the Pastorals have 306 words that do not occur in the ten Paulines. On Harrison’s own figures, of the 306 there are 127 that occur in 1 Timothy alone, 81 in 2 Timothy alone, and 45 in Titus alone. This means that the vast majority are found in only one of the Pastorals and that the three differ from one another as much as (or more than) they differ from Paul. Are we to say that there were three pseudonymous writers? The statistics constitute no impressive argument for a single author. Or to put the argument in a different way, if the figures show that the three Pastorals were written by one author, they also show that that author may well have been Paul. (Kindle Locations 14243-14264).

They go on to delve further into the problems with the argument based on these statistics, but I will not reproduce the whole of it here. But the central problem can be summed up with a question: Are we really to believe that the other ten letters contain the whole range of vocabulary and expression for one of the most educated, literate, verbal and well-travelled persons of the First Century? The answer is obviously: No. Paul's excellent education, wide exposure to literature, and constant speaking and interacting with people from numerous different cultures would have left him with an immense vocabulary. This objection alone is enough to put this argument to rest. But there are several other very serious problems with this argument.

In this section, I want to look at 7 major factors that would have affected vocabulary and language use in the pastoral letters. Any one of these could easily account for differences between the pastorals and the rest of the Pauline corpus; but when all are considered, there should be no surprise at all that we do indeed find differences.

Paul's use of an amanuensis (or secretary) in the writing of his letters would definitely have had an impact on the language and style used. The following references clearly indicate that Paul did make use of an amanuensis:

*Rom. 16:22: "I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord."
*1 Cor. 16:21: "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand."
*Gal. 6:11: "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!"
*Col. 4:18: " I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand."
*2 Th. 3:17: "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write."

These verses make it clear that Paul used an amanuensis to write down the body of the letter and then to write the greeting at the end of the letter himself. Most likely some kind of health problem made it necessary for him to rely on a secretary (most scholars think he probably had some problem with his eyes: see Galatians 4:13-15).

UPDATE: Luke Was Almost Certainly the Amanuensis for the Pastoral Letters
Recently while listening to a lecture by Ben Witherington (about the 16 minute mark) he made the observation that a close study makes it nearly certain that Luke was the secretary behind the pastoral epistles. He notes that there are about 50 words that are used only in the pastoral letters and Luke-Acts and nowhere else in the New Testament. And that there are 7 or 8 distinct phrases that are shared only by the pastoral letters and Luke-Acts. He also notes that in 2 Timothy 4:18, Paul says: "Only Luke is with me." So the obvious conclusion is that Luke must be the secretary that Paul always necessitates. The great New Testament scholar C. F. D. Moule put it this way: “Luke wrote all three Pastoral Epistles. But he wrote them during Paul’s lifetime, at Paul’s behest, and in part (but only in part), at Paul’s dictation.” [p. 434 of Moule's essay “The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: A Reappraisal,” Bulletin of John Rylands Library 47 (1965)].
Resources for Luke's relationship to the pastoral letters:
*"Luke and the Pastoral Epistles" by Sean at the Initial Explorations blog
*"Luke and the Pastoral Epistles": Excursus 2 of The Birth of the New Testament by C.F.D. Moule

Way back in seminary, I did my own computer analysis comparing a disputed passage with a passage that everyone agrees was written by Paul. It was quite easy to show that an undisputed passage in 1 Corinthians had as many hapax legomena (words used only once by Paul) as the disputed passage in 2 Cor. 6, which some liberal scholars charge is an interpolation. My observation at the time was that subject matter can make a great deal of difference in the language used.

Literary forms in the ancient world (and now) come with certain expectations of structure, type of vocabulary used and range of expression. I actually did a paper on the authorship of 2 Timothy back in seminary. My central thesis back then was that language differences were related to the purpose and subject matter. The pastorals are intended primarily for the purpose of mentoring versus addressing specific needs of local churches. My New Testament professor at the time (though a liberal who was mentored by a student of Bultmann) noted that this was a sound approach (much to my surprise) and mentioned parallels in the Greco-Roman literature.

Carson and Moo note: "If we extend discussion of style to matters of literary genre, there is a little more to be said. Johnson and others have argued that 1 Timothy and Titus fit comfortably into the genre of the mandate letter, and 2 Timothy into the genre of the testament. Both fit Paul’s situation admirably and were common enough to have been known by him, but they would have been somewhat alien to someone writing his name several decades later. Thus, careful reflection on the literary genre supports apostolic authorship." (Kindle Locations 14314-14317).

Furthermore, the critics are comparing ten letters that were meant to be circulated for public reading with three personal letters that are written to men whom Paul affectionately refers to in these letters as "my son" or "my true son in the faith" or "my dear son" (1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4)--men whom Paul often mentions with great affection in other letters and who had been serving at Paul's side for at least a decade.

If you have ever moved to or stayed in another region or culture for an extended period of time you will notice that there are many differences in the use of language. This would almost certainly be even more true in the First Century. (Modern national and international media causes there to be a greater evenness in language use.). Now consider that Paul is constantly on the move over the entire length of the massive Roman empire spanning radically different cultures. They all use Greek, but one can easily imagine that there were some interesting differences in language use from region to region.

To give a modern day example: Imagine an American travelling to England and spending a year there, perhaps attending a college there. Afterwards he travels back to the U.S. and resumes his previous life and continues his friendships in the U.K via email. It would be quite natural for this American to fill his emails with British phrases he learned while living in the U.K. But he would not likely use those same distinctively British phrases when sending an email to his American friends. There would undoubtedly be both similarities between those emails and significant differences.

It should also be noted that while the average person will find himself being unintentionally influenced by these regional differences, Paul's explicit statement of his mode of operation should convince us that he would intentionally speak the language of the people he was addressing (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

Furthermore, all of Paul's general letters are written to Gentiles; but Timothy was raised by a Jewish mother and grandmother (though his father was Greek; cf. Acts 16:1). So in terms of native language use, Timothy probably had much in common with Paul (being a Jew who was heavily influenced by the world of Greco-Roman culture) and Paul probably spoke to him more in the dialect he was used to speaking with his own family.

If we place the pastoral letters in the usually accepted time frame of the early 60s, then they are written about a decade after most of the other letters. However, I no longer think that the usually accepted dates are correct. See my most recent article: "Why 1 Timothy Was Written No Later Than 55 AD and Why That Matters"

But if you do accept the usual dates, consider the following: Time changes all of us. Can you remember what you were doing ten or fifteen years ago? Think about how you have changed since that time. If I ever find those seminary papers I've been mentioning, maybe I'll compare them to this article. I can only imagine the differences after all of the life experiences and changes I have been through since I graduated from seminary in 1995.

It would be interesting to compare something that Ehrman wrote while at Moody to his latest works. Even among his more recent works, it has been noted that there is a big difference between his popular works and his scholarly works. I am certain the differences would be even greater if we could obtain a few of his recent personal letters and compare them to papers or sermons he wrote at Moody.

With this in mind, consider the fact that most of Paul's letters were probably written about a decade before the pastoral letters: The pastoral letters are generally thought to have been written some time between 63 and 68 A.D. And most of Paul's other letters are thought to have been written in the early 50s, one or two others as late as the mid 50s, and four in the early 60s (probably two to five years before the pastorals).

Physical and psychological factors should also be taken into consideration. Stress, mood and one's state of health can certainly affect one's use of language. Remember: when the pastoral letters are being written, Paul is getting old, he has endured a long list of difficulties over the previous 15 to 20 years, he is enduring the hazardous conditions of a Roman prison (at least in 2 Timothy; cf. 1:8; 2:9), and he is now facing his death.

An issue that I have never heard or seen mentioned in the many conversations that I have seen about this over the years is the simple fact that the introductions to the "Pauline" letters often clearly indicate that Paul is not the only author. And this cannot simply be attributed to the idea that those mentioned with Paul in the introductions are merely others who are with Paul or part of his team--as Paul routinely reserves the closing of his letter to mention those who are with him.

*Romans 1:1: Paul
*1 Corinthians 1:1: Paul & Sosthenes (16:19-20: others with Paul are mentioned)
*2 Corinthians 1:1: Paul & Timothy (13:13: others with Paul are mentioned)
*Galatians 1:1-2: Paul & all the brothers with him
*Ephesians 1:1: Paul
*Philippians 1:1: Paul & Timothy (4:21-22: others with Paul are mentioned)
*Colossians 1:1: Paul & Timothy (4:10-14: others with Paul are mentioned)
*1 Thessalonians 1:1: Paul, Silas & Timothy
*2 Thessalonians 1:1: Paul, Silas & Timothy
*1 Timothy 1:1: Paul
*2 Timothy 1:1: Paul
*Titus 1:1: Paul
*Philemon: Paul & Timothy

In summary, 8 of the 13 letters state explicitly that--though Paul is the primary author--others are involved. Only Romans, Ephesians and the pastorals do not indicate plural authorship. Or to put it another way, when the pastorals are being compared to the rest of Paul's letters, we are not comparing apples to apples: The pastoral letters indicate that Paul is the sole author, but 8 of the 10 other letters explicitly state plural authorship.

Perhaps the most important finding that comes from this is that Timothy is explicitly stated as a co-author of at least 6 of the epistles. But he obviously would not have been a co-author of the two pastorals written to him.

The conclusion seems simple. The pastoral letters state that they are written by Paul and we have no sound reason to believe otherwise. The differences in language are hardly an argument for an author other than Paul. There are a large number of significant factors that quite easily account for the differences between these three short letters and the rest of the Pauline Corpus. (In fact, when all the evidence is weighed carefully, I think that it would be much more suspicious if all of Paul's letters were very much alike.)

The reality is that forgeries were as scandalous during the time that the early church was forming as they are now. If they were forgeries, they would not have been accepted as Scripture. As it is, they were widely used and attested to by leaders of the early church.

Dr. Tim McGrew has it right when he says: "Against evidence of this sort [speaking of the testimonies of early church leaders], literary speculations are about as weighty as dandelion fluff. They have very little force. But they are very useful for seeding people's minds with needless doubts." (from the online interview with Brian Auten noted below)

*Thanks to Erik Manning for help with early church references to the pastorals.
*Thanks to Dr. Tim McGrew for getting me started on this and for help with editing.


"How to Be a Biblical Scholar" (2 minutes)
by Lutheran Satire

*Dialogue about Bart Ehrman's book "Forged" between  Ehrman and Darrel Bock on Unbelieveable?

*Dr. Thomas Schreiner has a 42-minute lecture on the authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.
*Brian Auten interviews Tim McGrew: They begin discussing Ehrman's book Forged at about 12:15 and quickly move to discussion of the authenticity of the pastorals.
*Andrew Pitts is interviewed by Nick Peters on the Deeper Waters Podcast. The first 18 minutes are especially helpful for studying this issue related to the pastoral letters of Paul. This two hour podcast then weaves in the issue of the anonymity of the Gospels and textual criticism, and then ends on the authorship of Peter's Letters.
*Justin Langford is interviewed by Nick Peters on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

*Richards, E. Randolph. "Will the Real Author Please Stand Up?: The Author in Greco-Roman Letter Writing." (Chapter 8, p. 113-136 in Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics, edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig). An excellent article on the authenticity of the New Testament letters, especially the pastorals and the letters of Peter. This is probably the best thing I have read on the subject, but I had not read it before writing the above article. I hope to revise my article with things I have learned from this.
*Wilder, Terry. "Does the Bible Contain Forgeries?" Chapter 7 (Kindle Location 3636) of In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture, edited by Steven Cowan and Terry Wilder
*Berding, Kenneth. "Polycarp of Smyrna Tells Us Who He Thinks Wrote 1 & 2 Timothy"
*"The Development of the Idea of Canonical Pseudopigraphy in New Testament Criticism" and "Dilemmas in New Testament Criticism": excellent articles that  Donald Guthrie produced on the issue of pseudonymity in the New Testament.
*Darrell Bock responds to Bart Ehrman.
*Witherington's series of reviews of Bart Ehrman's book Forged.
*Mike Licona's review of Bart Ehrman's book Forged(You have to click the link, then it downloads as a pdf.)
*Tektonics online article.
*Online table showing the use of the New Testament by early church fathers and heretics.
*"Pastoral Letters" (p.658-666, esp. 659-661: Section 1: "Canonicity and Authorship") by E.E. Ellis from Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, edited by Hawthorne, Martin and Reid
*"The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles: An Important Hypothesis Reconsidered" by Jermo van Nes

*Carson, D. A.; Moo, Douglas J.  An Introduction to the New Testament. (2009) Zondervan. My first go-to reference for these kinds of questions is Carson and Moo's Introduction to the New Testament. I've been using it for about 20 years now and I have never been disappointed. These guys are solid in theology and scholarship. They, of course, skillfully defend the Pauline authorship of the pastoral letters.
*Wilder, Terry. Pseudonymity, The New Testament and Deception: An Inquiry into Intention and Reception. (Note: As the one used copy is an astronomical price, you may want to borrow this one from a library.)
*Ehrman, Bart D. Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. The book which has had the most success at pushing the erroneous idea that the pastoral letters (and others) are forgeries.
*Harrison, P.N. The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (London: Oxford University Press, 1921). Probably the most important work in the history of casting doubt on the authenticity of the pastoral letters. See especially pp.20ff, 70. This work is now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free at the title link above.
*Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament : Its Background and Message, 2nd ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 466.
*Gundry, Robert. A Survey of the New Testament, 4th Edition. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)

"St. Paul (First State)" (1514) by Albrecht Durer
Image source: WikiArt (public domain)

Monday, February 17, 2014


In Romans 11:25-26a, Paul makes the bold statement and prophecy that "Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved."  Recently in an online conversation, I found that many evangelicals believe that Paul is saying that all Israel will be saved because true Israel is those who have faith. While it is true that Paul does state in other places that the true Israel consists of all those who believe, the context of Romans 9-11 indicates that Paul is here talking about the nation of Israel that is physically descended from Abraham. If we take a closer look at all of this, we will see that Paul is very clear that at a future time the whole nation of Israel will declare that Jesus is their Messiah.

So let me try and expound Paul's argument in Romans 11 that leads up to Paul's conclusion  that "all Israel will be saved" (11:26a).

Paul's Question and His Emphatic Answer
v.1a: Paul asks: "Did God reject his people?"--a question raised due to his remarks about Israel in the previous chapter that begin with Paul's assertion in 10:26: that "not all the Israelites accepted the good news." The question itself contains the answer: they are "his people."

v.1b: And Paul's answer is emphatic: "By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin." Clearly Paul is saying that God has not rejected the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham. He will go on to show that God is not done with them. He has a future plan for them.

If Paul's answer to this question is simply that God has not rejected Israel because the only true Israel is spiritual Israel, then this answer makes no sense, nor does his following extended argument. He should then simply say: "No. God has not rejected Israel because--as I've already made clear--the only true Israel is spiritual Israel; therefore, Israel is not rejected." But instead he goes on to argue that the hardening of Israel is (1) only partial; (2) for God's divine purpose; and (3) temporary, i.e., only until that divine purpose is fulfilled.

The Remnant Chosen By Grace Proves God Has Not Rejected Israel
v.2-10: Paul notes that as in the past (for example, in Elijah's day), so in his time: "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" (v.5). This remnant of Israel that is saved by grace is Paul's initial answer to the question about whether God has rejected Israel. The answer being: No. That remnant that is saved shows that God has not rejected Israel. After making this point, Paul leaves his argument about the remnant and explains that there is yet more to God's plan for Israel.

The Salvation of the Gentiles Will Make Israel Envious and Turn Them Back To God
v.11: After noting the hardening of all but the remnant of Israel, Paul asks yet another question: "Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?" (obviously referring to those who are not part of the remnant). And his answer is: "Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious....." (an envy that leads to their salvation; cf. v.14) So Paul's answer is that Israel is not beyond recovery; Israel's hardening is not a permanent situation but is to open up a way for the Gentiles that will in turn lead Israel to jealousy so that they turn back to God.

Anticipating the Salvation of the Full Nation of Israel
v.12: He then interrupts that thought and declares: "But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!" Here he speaks with excitement and anticipation concerning the "full inclusion" (πλήρωμα) of Israel being the result of Israel's envy of the favor shown to the Gentiles. The Greek word πλήρωμα (pleroma) that is used here refers to the full number of something.

Can Spiritual Israel Be Jealous of Spiritual Israel?
v. 13-15: Paul elaborates on this very point about Israel's envy of the Gentiles resulting in the "full inclusion" of Israel. He ends this section by asking: "For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?"

So once again, his argument is pointing in the direction of Israel's rejection leading to their eventual acceptance because of their envy of the Gentiles. If the Israel being spoken of here is "spiritual Israel" (which would include Gentiles), how can it be that spiritual Israel is jealous of saved Gentiles? Can it be that spiritual Israel will become jealous of spiritual Israel, so that spiritual Israel can become spiritual Israel? That would obviously be nonsense. And if it is "spiritual Israel" that is in view, it would be further nonsense to speak of this envy leading them to salvation--since, if they are spiritual Israel, they are already saved.

The Natural Branches Take Precedence Over the Wild Branches
v.16-24: Paul's next argument uses the analogy of a domesticated olive tree. Paul reminds his Gentile readers that Israel is the root of the tree and that the hardened Jews are like branches that have been cut off. If then, they (the wild branches) have been grafted in, "how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (v.24)

So to sum up the preceding arguments: In v.2-10, Paul's initial answer to the question of whether God has rejected Israel is that God has always had a remnant among Israel. His remaining arguments in v.11-24 argue that God still has a plan for Israel, that the partial hardening of Israel is temporary, and that Israel's jealousy of the Gentiles will lead to their "full inclusion" (the salvation of the nation of Israel as a whole).

All Israel Will Be Saved
v.25-26a: The next section is the climax of Paul's extended argument in Romans 11. Paul sums up his previous arguments this way: "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved." Or to put it another way, this partial hardening of Israel (not including the remnant) is temporary. After the fullness of the Gentiles has been reached, likewise the salvation of the full nation of Israel will take place.

God Doesn't Change His Mind
v.26b-28: But Paul's argument does not stop there. He then turns to prophecy and the promises that God has made to Israel. First, he blends together prophecies from Isaiah 59:20-21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); and Jeremiah 31:31-34. The focal point of these prophecies is that there will be a day when Israel will return to God and he will make a new covenant with them. The emphatic point that Paul is making is that the new covenant that we Gentiles enjoy was made to Israel (very similar to his point about the olive tree). Let me quote the passage in Jeremiah 31:31-36 in full, and note the emphatic conclusion of this section:

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.”

And Paul closes his argument with these words: "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable." God's promises to Israel will stand. "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19)

Praise God for his faithful and tenacious love!

*All Scripture references are from the New International Version.