Wednesday, January 4, 2023

MOBC23 Bible Reading Matthew 3

 In today’s reading, Matthew 3:13-4:17, Jesus goes to John for baptism and then on to the wilderness where He is tempted. There are really a couple of things going on here that we should look at, and while they seem disconnected, there is a relationship.

First, the baptism of Jesus occurs. This is seen by most of us as the start of His public ministry time--before this, He has perhaps done a bit of teaching but when it comes to thinking of the work He does in the Gospels, it all really starts here.

Moreover, this is one of the passages in Scripture from which we really get the idea of God’s eternal existence in Trinity, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While this is not a doctrine that can easily be explained and must instead be held in faith, it is also easily gotten, well, wrong. It usually drifts into modalism where the idea is that God is sometimes Father, then Son, and now Spirit. But the Baptism Narrative disproves that, as all Three are present at the Baptism: the Father speaks from Heaven, the Spirit descends, and the Son is standing right there.

In all, we’re better off trusting by faith, as the church long has, that God is Trinity. One of the earliest explanations (translated, not by me) puts it this way:   

That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,

   neither blending their persons

   nor dividing their essence.

       For the person of the Father is a distinct person,

       the person of the Son is another,

       and that of the Holy Spirit still another.

       But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,

       their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

So, clear as mud? Good. Not everything is explainable, no matter our desire. The main point here is that Jesus went to John for baptism, and from this we take that we should be baptized as well, because if Jesus said it was part of His obedience, how much more might it be part of ours? Not necessary for salvation--after all, the One who needed no salvation was baptized--but part of walking righteousness.

The second part of this passage gives us the temptations placed before Jesus. We would do well to notice how He is tempted, how He withstands the temptations, and then to remember that it is very unlikely that this was the last time Jesus was tempted by sin. After all, we are not only tempted three times in a row then left alone, are we? And if Jesus is our Savior, Lord, and example to follow...

As you look at the three expressed temptations, also note that later on during His ministry, Jesus does multiply food--to serve others. He does walk right through an angry crowd that wanted to stone Him--protected because it was not yet His time. He consistently draws worship away from earthly things--what do you think cleansing the Temple partly included?

We see that not only does Jesus reject the temptations (not The Temptations, He probably likes Motown) in one setting--He shows that He could have done each of these things. Sometimes, we prepare ourselves to reject temptations that will be out of our power--what good is it that I say I would reject misusing great political power? I’ll never be elected President to have any! Be ready to face temptations that you will actually face.

After all, Jesus faced temptations that He could have done but rejected them. That is what He has strengthened you to do--if you will trust in Him.

(Above quote is from the Athanasian Creed)

Best explanation of the Trinity you'll find? This video: 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

MOBC23 New Testament Reading: Day 2

 Matthew 2:13-3:12 is today’s reading. It picks up with the Christmas narrative and shows Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fleeing from Herod into Egypt. Why Egypt?

This is fun, because there is both an eminently practical answer to that question and a spiritual answer. Practically, there had been a Jewish community in Egypt since at least the time of the prophet Jeremiah, so about 6 centuries at the time of Jesus’ birth. Egypt was a different Roman governing unit, so Herod could not just send his guys down to kill the baby. Roman senior leaders tended to help each other out, but you couldn’t just send armed troops into each other’s territory, and if you wanted a baby dead you would have to seriously explain the situation. Egypt, then, is practical and safe.

There was another reason, though. Hosea 11:1 refers to God summoning His Son out of Egypt. The Israelites would have long associated that to their own Exodus and deliverance, but Matthew connects it to Lord Jesus being brought back into Israel after the family’s flight to Egypt. This is often how God works: we see practical, He is working out promises.

Then we see the great tragedy of Christmas, the slaughter of the baby boys of Bethlehem. Some would minimize it, noting that Bethlehem did not have that many babies since it was a small town. Certainly the traditional image of 1,000s is overstated, but how many does it take? One child is one child too many--let us never underplay a tragedy because, since it didn’t impact us, it was too small.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus then return to Israel and move to Nazareth. Here, Jesus would have been to grow up in the family business of construction/carpentry/stonework. It’s very likely Joseph work with all these materials, not just one or the other.

There’s a story here about how our culture affects our understanding: we mainly get the ‘carpenter’ image from the Reformation Era when Martin Luther, in the midst of a German forest, translated the word in Greek that usually means “builder.” What did they build with in Germany? Wood. So...that influenced his translation.

The rest of the section picks up John the Baptist as he declares his message of repentance. I’d lean hard on Matthew 3:8 and remember that we should bear fruit that shows repentance. That does not negate salvation by grace through faith. It just involves faith that results in action.

Monday, January 2, 2023

MOBC New Testament 2023

Welcome to the Mt. Olive Baptist Church New Testament Read-through for 2023! 

Our read-through-the-New Testament plan starts here: Matthew 1:1-2:12

And some thoughts:

Good morning and Happy New Year! We are starting off 2023 with the goal of reading through the New Testament and Proverbs this year.

We’re going to start by tackling the Gospel of Matthew. If you have a study Bible, you can look at the information about authorship and audience for the Gospel’s original intention. For our purposes, we will stick with the tradition that Matthew was written by Matthew the Apostle, also known as Levi. He was called by Jesus from his work as a tax collector (Matthew 9 includes this event) and church tradition suggests to us that he was killed for his faith in Jesus.

He starts with the genealogy of Jesus, tracing the heritage of the Messiah back from Abraham down. That gives the placement of the Incarnation in the overall context of God’s work in the life of the world through the people of Israel. It also establishes Jesus’ lineage as heir to the throne of David.

These kinds of things are often considered less important by those of us who live in democratic nations, but for the 1st Century, this was a big deal. Further, the connections are noted throughout the changes in Israel’s life. Special note should be taken of the women mentioned explicitly in the life of Jesus. None of them matched the “ideal” of the era--and likely would never be featured as “ideal” Biblical women by some even today.

The passage does not stop with the genealogy, though, but goes on to record one of the two birth narratives of Jesus. Matthew gives us the story of the angel appearing to Joseph and the visit of the Magi, two subjects well worth your further reading.

To summarize it all, briefly, though, is this: the birth records show Jesus as the King of Israel, the Virgin Birth shows Jesus as fully human, and the visit of the Magi reminds us that He is with not only Israel but all humanity.

As Matthew 1:23 reminds us: He is called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Sermon recap for January 1 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Friday, September 30, 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Book: Ephesians Big Greek Idea Commentary

So I still, from time to time, get books to review. It works like this: I get a free book and agree to review it. Then I beg for an extension of the due date for the review. Then I do the review. This is that review.

Ephesians is an entry in the "Big Greek Idea" series of Biblical commentaries from Kregel. The overall concept of this series is to provide a commentary based in New Testament Greek rather than from an English translation. However, the goal is not to create a commentary that is too academic and technical but rather to hit the pastoral and preaching-teaching needs of users who are functional in Greek but are not all-day academic workers.

The Ephesians volume is prepared by Benjamin L. Simpson, who is an Assistant Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He holds a PhD and serves with their Washington, DC, campus. 

The format of the volume is laid out by section, but rather than drawing from any English Bible translation, it's drawn from the paragraphing used in the NA28 Greek Text. That text is provided in a causal outline format for the reader, which is then followed with syntax explanations for the whole section before the verse-by-verse walkthrough is shared.

The verse-by-verse walkthrough primarily pulls out specific words, usually verbs, and highlights how they clarify the meaning in the passage. Scattered through this are highlight boxes giving more background on textual criticism and theology.

It is hard for me to find a flaw in the Big Greek Idea Ephesians volume. If there is one, it's in the Greek background work and I am not at a level to call it out. There are two dangers to avoid for the user, though. The first is that a first-year Greek student will get ahold of your copy and never really learn the skills to work with the Greek themselves. Keep it safe :)

Second is that, with the easily accessible format you might be tempted to put too much Greek forward into your presentation. Remember that, just because you've got this book, it doesn't mean anybody else does!

I would highly recommend, though, that pastors and Bible teachers pick up Ephesians. This will be a good resource to have on your shelf. And I would recommend it on the shelf and not in the device. The causal outlines work better, at least for me, in print.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Goodbye Lines: 1 Thessalonians 5

Wow. It’s been awhile since I last visited this project. I’m quite scared to look back at the prior entries I’ve written, knowing how much learning and growing has happened since the first one. Still, we keep going.

In Summary:

Today we examine 1 Thessalonians 5, the closing chapter of this epistle of the Apostle Paul. It’s an epistle, so that means it’s a letter but we give it a fancy name. As the closing of any letter would have, Paul finishes his thoughts from earlier and then says goodbye.

Of course, Paul’s a preacher. So it takes a chapter to wrap up and a paragraph or two to say goodbye. That’s how we all are, even the introverts. 

1 Thessalonians 4 has talked some about the return of Jesus and tried to prepare the church for those times which are yet to come, and the thought continues at the beginning of this chapter. Here, we see the instruction that the church is to stay awake and be self-controlled, following Jesus.

We get an interesting comment at the beginning of the chapter, though, where the church is told that “you do not need anything to be written to you.” Why would that be? It’s important for us to remember that Paul’s letters were not the only way in which he taught. Most of his writings go to churches that he has been with personally and further are being sent with people who have traveled with and spent time with Paul. Some matters do not need writings because they were covered face-to-face! He simply calls to mind the prior teaching they had received.

(Much to our chagrin, true?)

The next paragraph reads like the bullet points of reminders that a professor might spout at a student group right before the test: it’s short, punchy, and easy to remember. It also lacks details—why “Do not treat prophecies with contempt” (5:20)? What are “prophecies” in this case? What was covered in sermons that we just don’t get today? There are questions here that require thought and humility.

In Focus:

Let us put the focus, though, on the conclusion: 1 Thessalonians 5:28 gives us “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” What can we draw here?

First, our shared relationship with Jesus: Paul does not speak of “his” Lord or to the church of “their” Lord, but of “our” Lord. That matters—while we should not hinge doctrine entirely on a pronoun, there is a useful reminder here that preachers, teachers, apostles, missionaries, churches all share the same Lord: Jesus Christ. There is no division, not through distance nor through work in the Kingdom.

Second, our continued need for grace. Sometimes, our traditions put the whole emphasis of grace onto the moment of conversion, but the letter is to the church, to those who have been converted. There is grace for the past, grace for the future, and even grace for right now.

In Practice:

Practically, then, we ought to seek unity: there are many parts of the body of Christ but only one Lord. One source of grace. And we can, through our actions and inactions, push away from Him and His grace for our current needs. Paul gives us the keys to holding true, though: prayer and fellowship. Prayer for others, fellowship with our family of faith, and trust in Jesus.

And then, as we contemplate the return of the Lord, we should remember Paul’s points of emphasis: that we live for the Lord, that we live like it is day and work like it is day. It may be our calling to work through the whole of our lives for Jesus, as has been the calling for all the generations before us. Why should we expect Jesus to come back and keep us from having to be faithful through our death? So strengthen your hands, serve the Lord, and build good relationships with fellow believers that you can encourage and be encouraged by.

In Nerdiness: 

This chapter gives us some good moments to contemplate what it means to work on the inter-cultural understanding of Scripture. First, there is the translation of the Greek word that is most commonly rendered as “brothers.” That word (adelphoi, roughly) can be used to indicate both a group of men and a mixed group of men and women. Gendered languages work like that—usually informed by male dominance, mixed groups take the masculine form of the word.

So what do we do with that word in Scripture, like 1 Thessalonians 5:25-27? Some translations go with the literal translation: “Brothers.” Some interpret the idea: “fellow believers” or “believers.” Some interpret the idea with the family view: “brothers and sisters.” Which one is right?

Good question. Most of us would agree that even translating as “brothers” should not be seen to exclude women—and if you disagree we have much deeper issues—so we would still update our idea. Why not render it that way into English, since the Greek can be understood to mean something more than just literal brothers? 

Second, we see the concept in 5:26 of greeting with “a holy kiss.” Now, we don’t typically smooch one another at church—so what do we do here? Obey literally? Or obey the concept of relational intimacy and vulnerability? It would be easier to adopt the physical, Latin American or Italian “kiss on the cheek” idea than to be relational and vulnerable in modern America…but what’s the real point?

MOBC23 Bible Reading Matthew 3

  In today’s reading, Matthew 3:13-4:17 , Jesus goes to John for baptism and then on to the wilderness where He is tempted. There are really...