Question #1: Greetings, What would you suggest are good tools or aids, for Bible study? Also I would like your opinion of the book from Chafer titled Systematic Theology. Please give your thoughts on his background, method of teaching, and if you would suggest it as tool, or aid. I am looking for some good new quality reading material.
Chafer was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. His Systematic Theology
is a seminal work of eight volumes. Its readability, like most systematic
theologies, is largely in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I very much
admire Chafer, and consider his work one of the last things worth having in this
arena. I have gotten much help from it, but have always used it as a tool rather
than as reading material.
As far as tools / reading material are concerned, it really depends upon what your purpose and objective are. Clearly, there is much out there, from apologetic works, to commentaries, to motivational books, to encyclopedias, to histories, to handbooks - and of course plenty of stuff that is specifically language related. Some of it is helpful, much of it nearly completely useless, all of it is expensive. The fact there is so little available in any format (word, or voice, or print) that is truly directed towards spiritual growth from the standpoint of looking into what the Bible actually teaches has been one of the main motivations for this ministry since its conception many years ago. For specific suggestions, please see the following site:
Bible Study Links at Ichthys
And please see also the following links:
Tools and Techniques for Bible Translation.
Hebrew Language Study Tools.
The Greek Text of the New Testament: Some Issues of Textual Criticism.
Bible Interpretation: Interlinears, Academics, Versions et al.
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III
Bible translation and John 8:58
Are New Bible Translations Part of a Conspiracy?
Changing the Name of God?
How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys.
In our Lord.
Greetings, What do you use when you study the Bible? In asking this I am familiar with your educational background, and realize that I could not reach your level of knowledge as far as languages or the understanding of scriptures are concerned on my own. Perhaps more curiosity than anything, although I must say that I do have a sincere desire to learn, and it is true that this site has taught me many things that I believe to be true. I do not mean to sound skeptical, there is just so many sights, so many teachers, so many shows, and the majority differ in their opinions, they all cannot be right? What method is used when you write your information. If I may ask , what is the reason for the shift from the CT series, to the BB series. Thanks in advance.
To take the last question first, I am very interested in continuing and in
finishing the Coming Tribulation series
(now available through
part 6: The
Millennium and New Jerusalem). The reason for switch-over is not
because of any reluctance to press ahead, rather, it is out of a desire
to have the Basics series finished at some point in the not too terribly
distant future. Were I to leave it entirely alone until CT was done,
that day would be pushed off by a couple of years at least. Things
always seem to take longer than one anticipates – and to be longer too.
My present approach is, actually, to work on both in tandem.
As to your other two questions, you are right to be skeptical, and in my overview about the need for Christians to engage in individual Bible study I make this point rather forcefully (see, if you have not already done so, "Read your Bible"). But the frustration of there being "so many" teachers, preachers, books, shows, churches, and denominations is also a benefit – we do have the freedom to seek and therefore through the grace of God to find the truth (Lk.11:9-12). This is certainly true to a much greater degree today than it was in the past. In fact, the opportunity now exists for us to get to all the truth of the Bible in a way that wasn't even conceivable a few centuries ago. Of course, we do have to find it and we do have to evaluate it. That is also an essential job. The Roman Catholics point to precisely this issue overwhelming variety as their main argument for why one shouldn't read the Bible for content or believe anything that anyone says outside of R.C. church doctrine – namely, that there are so many voices, they can't all be right, so let's stick with our tradition. The problem is that their tradition is clearly wrong. And in all this it is important to remember that God is in control, that He knows the end from the beginning, that He knows who is His and who is not, that He will never let one of His own go without the refreshment of the water of truth if the desire for it is truly there.
I don't think it is an accident that He has led me where He has led me or that He has led you where He has led you.
Nevertheless, it is important for you to ask these questions. As I have said elsewhere on this site and in these writings, I try my best in all of these materials to show "where I got" what I got. I try to set forth the argumentation, the linguistic evidence, the theological antecedents, and, above all, the scriptural evidence for each and every point, however large, however small. It is my hope that the reader will be guided by the Spirit to judge the quality of the work, whether gold, silver and precious stones, or, God forbid, wood, hay and stubble. It is my main purpose and heart's desire to achieve the former while avoiding the latter – and that is my daily and constant prayer as well. I will attempt to give you some insight below, but I want to make clear my position first. If what I have written is correct, then it really doesn't matter if there is no one else who agrees. I had to choose my path many years ago, and I chose to follow the truth wherever it led, no matter what the cost. It would have been easily possible for me to follow along more familiar tracks, would have meant a more secure and bountiful lifestyle – but there is no way that this ministry would exist in its present form, no way that these writings would have come to be, had I done so (new wine in old jars). From the reader's point of view, the question really is, after reading and giving careful consideration to the evidence presented, does the voice and power of God's Word come through under the influence of the Spirit? For me, as I evaluate the works of others, this is a fairly easy test at this point. I know what a rose smells like, and what garbage smells like; I know what Bach sounds like, and what cacophonous rap sounds like. In a similar way, the test of the power and light of the truth, whoever presents it, is likewise not a difficult one to employ under the guidance of the Spirit. I hope that you will find that these writings pass that test, but that is a decision you have to make yourself and a process you have to go through on your own. In my experience and observation personal, historical, and scriptural, it is a general rule of thumb (at least up to a point) that the fewer the people there are who agree with something, the more likely it is to be true.
As to my methodology, it is a continual process. I have been at this for many years, and it was many years before these things started to take final written form. Some of the notes used for the study I am currently completing were penned in the 1980's, and my thinking on them and about them goes back further than that. The key ingredient in my research and writing process, however, has always been scripture. I read the Bible every day, in English, in Greek, and in Hebrew. I try to listen to it read as well, and give my thoughts over to it. And whenever I do, it seems I am always seeing something new or at least some new aspect of something old. When I do, I try to record my observations for future analysis and application at the time when said topic comes up in formal presentation (or, if it is an expansion or clarification of something already produced, I try to get to that immediately). It is not a process I chose consciously, but it serves me well, and in this I believe I have the Spirit of God.
I'm not trying to pass myself off as perfect - believe me. And I have benefited from the work of others, and when that contribution is seminal or otherwise significant I try and make it a point to reflect that in a footnote. I do use commentaries, encyclopedias, Bible introductions and dictionaries, lexicons and concordances, and almost every other manner of tool. However, the deeper I have gotten into the truths of scripture, the less benefit I have been able to derive from secondary sources. In any area of doctrine, one may penetrate to a certain point and, inevitably, one finds that one has to leave the superficial behind or stop altogether. For me, this is one of the most exciting aspects of this ministry – even if it is the one that requires the most faith to pursue both for me and for my readers.
But I certainly don't ask you to take any of this entirely on faith. Read the citations, consider the argumentation, contrast and compare to the work of others, and, above all, be sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit. If the road is wrong, you should be able to tell pretty quickly and with not too much trouble. If the road is right, be assured that this does not mean it will be smooth and level. The road to Zion is steep and narrow. Why do we expect that the process of spiritual growth and of finding the truth will be otherwise? But we must understand that God will never allow our desire for the clear, clean, cold and refreshing water of the Word to go unsatisfied, if only we are truly willing to make the commitment of getting it quenched in a right and good and righteous way, no matter what the cost, no matter what anyone else may think.
I hope this helps with your questions. Please feel free to write me back about this.
Yours in Him who is the only truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hello. A friend at work was troubled by some statements on your website, and she
asked me to look at them. After looking at her print-outs and then exploring
your site myself, my impression is that your main motivation for writing is
psychological. You express such a need to prove your faith! And you have
developed your theology to support that need.
If your goal was theology, it seems that you with your keen mind would give much more biblical detail when you discuss, for example, the security of believers. You wouldn't employ facile rationalizations to gloss over the hard questions about election that have so engaged great thinkers throughout Christian history. You would exercise the intellectual integrity it takes to really grapple with the Bible's difficult issues.
Thank you for considering my thoughts about your postings.
In all things, I have been guided by scripture. Scripture has led me to change many of my prior views, at great personal cost in some cases. The false doctrine of eternal security is a good case in point. Please consult the following links on this issue. I think you will find them sufficiently detailed and would be more than happy to discuss any of those details with you:
Apostasy and the Sin unto Death (in BB 3B)
The Process of Apostasy (in CT 3A)
"The False Doctrine of Positional Security" in Peter #27.
If you believe that the Bible is our sole guide on matters of faith and practice, might I suggest that the real issue here is neither my motivation nor Church history, but what scripture truly teaches, and whether or not these writings accurately reflect that teaching.
To that end, I am happy to discuss your specific objections to any teaching or interpretation that appears on Ichthys.com – and equally happy to be instructed by you of any errors in my materials, large or small, if it so be that the Lord is using you to point me to the right way.
I can assure you that this ministry is the result of over 25 years of careful study and exegesis, and much "grappling with the Bible's difficult issues". But I do not quite see how the fact that you and I may have come to different conclusions about this doctrine makes me intellectually lazy or dishonest.
Your brother in Jesus Christ,
I have a question on the verse said to be from Ephesians:
When our life in the world is viewed in this light, we can see Satan's cosmos entirely for what it is: a battlefield wherein our adversary the devil has established many hostile fortifications, land-mines and booby-traps. It is a dangerous place garrisoned by his forces of darkness, an area under hostile fire wherein we are combatants. It cannot be emphasized often enough that the world is therefore not "fixable" any more than a combat zone can be "fixed" in any way before the enemy who disputes its control has been utterly defeated. At the second advent, Jesus Christ will return in glory to completely vanquish the forces of Satan, human and angelic. Until that day, as long as we campaign here on the devil's earth, we must fight our battles on the spiritual plain with the "sword of the Spirit", the Word of God (Eph.6:17):
Was this just a re-wording or is it actually from Ephesians, because I looked
in Ephesians in my bible and it was written differently. And if you did not just
re-word this, what version of the bible is it from?
Translations at Ichthys.com are usually indented from the rest of the text
and marked at the end of the translation with 1) the specific Bible reference,
and 2) if not original, the version being quoted. The majority of passages
directly cited are my own translations from the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
Abbreviated citations within the text in parentheses, like (Eph.6:17), are
cross-references, that is, passages which support in one way or another the
point being made in the sentence. Let's have a look at part of the passage you
are asking about:
Until that day, as long as we campaign here on the devil's earth, we must fight our battles on the spiritual plain with the "sword of the Spirit", the Word of God (Eph.6:17):
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful for God, for the destruction of strongholds, destroying sophistries and every presumption that raises itself up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought prisoner so as to obey Christ. 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5
The 2Cor.10:4-5 passage is a direct translation and so is indented (and since it doesn't say, i.e., KJV, you can tell that it is my own translation of the original Greek). In the lines that precede, however, the parenthesis "(Eph.6:17)" means that the words in quotation marks, i.e., "the sword of the Spirit" are from that passage, not the entire sentence or paragraph that precedes.
You can find out more about the method and sigla I employ at the following link:
How to use Bible translations at Ichthys
And there is a more or less complete index of all the original translations at the site as well (link: Translation Index).
Please don't hesitate to get back in touch with me if there is anything that is still
unclear about all this. I would be only too happy to help.
In our Lord Jesus Christ,
Please forgive me if my question seems to be poorly phrased, but what text do I
need in order to help me see all the various word tenses (base word variations)
used throughout the Bible? For example, the use of the Greek word 'Keras'
(singular), 'Kerata' (plural) – horn vs. horns. The difficulty I struggle with
occurs whenever I cross-reference a transliterated English word to Strong's
Hebrew or Greek concordance. Strong's reference numbers only reflect the base
word, i.e. the Greek 'Keras' 2768 (horn) is referenced for both the singular and
plural usages of the word. Robert, in my Biblical discussions my inadequate
grasp of Hebrew and Greek is a recurring problem/embarrassment. If you have any
suggestions, it will be most appreciated.
The problem is that Greek and Hebrew are not simple, and they are especially
complicated from the perspective of modern language speakers of languages which
are not "highly inflected". What I mean by this is that while, historically,
English was also inflected, over time we lost most of the changes that took
place in our verbs and nominal forms. For example, "I run, you run, we run,
y'all run, they run, he/she/it runs. But in Greek and Hebrew, all
these forms are different (and there are other forms besides). The tense systems
are more complicated because they are more full (we don't have much of
subjunctive left, for example, and our participle only has one
form, e.g., do-ing). A common Greek verb has somewhere around 300-500 forms, all told, so that no dictionary, lexicon, or concordance could ever hope to list and explain them all. Same sort of thing is true in nouns/adjectives. We say "who" for subject, "whom" for object, "I" for subject, "me" for object, but beyond these and a few others, most of our inflected forms have disappeared (and even "whom" is on the endangered forms list). Not so in Greek – Hebrew has additional complications arising from adding objects and subjects to the inflected forms!
So, short of actually learning Greek and Hebrew, it is a nigh on impossible task to know what is going on in the nuts and bolts of the text. In fact, if a person does get there without formally learning the language, I would wager to say that such a person has, in spite of himself, learned the language informally.
There is a good on-line resource for Greek to which I can point you, namely, the Perseus Project. They have the Greek New Testament in toto with hyperlinks to almost every word which, when clicked, purport to give you the parsing of the word (that is, the case, gender, number and dictionary form for the nominal forms, and all the other information, like tense and voice, for the verbs). They also have the best Greek lexicons on-line tied to these links. It is not a perfect system however, as they used computer generation to get most of the stuff rather than human selection (and in the case of ambiguous forms which admit of multiple interpretations the computer usually selected erroneously – and sadly there are many such forms). But it is about 70% very helpful and effective. Here is the link:
Perseus Project: Classics Resources (scroll down to "New Testament").
You can find some good resources at my links page: Bible Study Links
And I wouldn't beat myself up if I were you. All of us who have gone to the exceptionally time-consuming trouble of acquiring a good working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew understand what a difficult struggle it is. The worst thing is to assume that one knows what one does not. After all, Socrates proudly proclaimed that he was smarter than anyone else simply because "he knew that he didn't know anything". It's not the Bible, but it is humble, and we could all learn a thing or two from that perspective.
In our Lord who knows all from the end to the beginning.
I am beginning to truly appreciate from reading your words the reality of our living in "GOD'S STORY." You are helping me to uncover the breath-by-breath meaning of this truth. What part of "GOD'S STORY" am I given an opportunity to participate in today? What's unfolding in me and around me in this moment, and what role can I play in learning and sharing the teaching of Jesus Christ in this situation? What lessons from the Bible can I draw on to share here? Yes, I remember Bob Luginbill writing something on this subject? What verse did he quote? Let me see if I can find it. How glorious and wonderful the promise in the future history of how "GOD'S STORY" is to end for those who love and live the words of His Son, Jesus Christ!
Bob, that's the way my mind is working these days.
In Jesus Christ, Our Lord, and Savior, At All Times,
I love your perspective. It is very helpful to me to hear it, and is a good
example of the encouragement we are to give our fellow brothers and sisters in
Christ. For when we hear that others are focusing on the Lord, on God's plan for
them, and on Him instead of on the world, we are motivated to do better with
this as well. I am, of course, also at once humbled and thrilled that some of
these writings have been of help to you in the endeavor. Keep your mind working
just this way – it helps me and us all to do the same.
Keep on fighting the good fight of faith for Jesus Christ.